Programme PhD Term VI Academic Year 2021-22

Course title Future of Work and implications for HRM and ER Area Human Resource Management Credits 1.00

Prof. Biju Varkkey & Guest Faculty

Course Description & Objectives
Work is considered as a basic human activity, and work itself, workplaces and workers have evolved over time. The evolution of the future of work (FOW) is attributed to various factors (not limited to); like changes in technology, demography, globalisation, new ways of working and organising, along with increasing pressure on organisations to address its social responsibilities and adherence to governance standards. Future of work and its implications because of rapid developments in technology, connectivity, demographics and new business models has turned focus of both academics and practitioners to examine future of work as a research and discussion topic. Over last few years, multiple centres/interest groups have been set up in academic institutions and public policy think tanks to conduct focussed, interdisciplinary work in the area.
The future of work requires the workforce to be equipped with new skill sets, be adequately trained and adaptive to change. At the same time the new workforce seeks work flexibility, non-traditional career growth, pay equity, work life balance and more from their employers. Correspondingly, the future of work raises questions about human and labour rights at the work place and increasing vulnerability of the workers.
From research perspective the future of work and workers is an emerging research area with more possibilities arising. Hence it is vital to understand the forces that impact future of work and examine how organisations can prepare their workforce to be future fit, resilient and adaptable for the new era.

The course ‘Future of work and implications for HRM and ER’ analyses and addresses the emerging research issues in the uncertain future of work, its impact on workers and work design and the HRM/ER impact. Heavily based on contemporary research and reviews the discussions in the course will revolve around the following five themes. In addition to literature regarding FOW, students are also encouraged to look for practitioner and grey literature in the area.

Forces impacting the future of work: The course begins with addressing some popular research questions: What is future of work? And what are the forces that are impacting the future of work ? (Santana, M., & Cobo, M. J. 2020). We explore the positive and negative impact of artificial intelligence on work, the workforce (Malik, N., Tripathi, S. N., Kar, A. K., & Gupta, S. 2021). Also, with changing demographics, the course touches upon the expectations of the new workforce (including millennials and Gen-Z), to what extend has the approach to work changed and what impact it will have on organisations? 

New types of work and designs of work: Due to technology, social and economic factors the world of work has witnessed dramatic and revolutionary changes (Aroles, J., Mitev, N., & de Vaujany, F. X. 2019). The emergence of a “gig economy” has made possible to distribute jobs to an external workforce, however the identity of the gig worker is still questioned. (Graham, M., Hjorth, I., & Lehdonvirta, V. 2017). Other external workers who are the products of technological advancements are popularly known as digital freelance workers, platform workers, crowd workers. At the same time traditional workplaces also exist where humans and machines (Robots/AI/ Machine Learning etc.) co-exist. We explore the impact on such changes on definition of work, and how work will be designed in future. The course takes up some pressing issues like; will advances in technology lead to substantial job losses or will it create new job opportunities?

HRM systems, practices and the future of work:  the future of work is expected to change the way HRM systems are designed and practices implemented in future. With diluted and overlapping boundaries between different groups of workers, it is important to address HRM’s role in shaping the future workforce, including skill building, career management and other people management practices.

Labour/employment relations and future of work:   Riding on digital transformation and the new forms of work, an increase in work formats diverging from the traditional standard employment relationships can be seen to be operating. With rising changes in the labour market, the need to incorporate a parallel workforce into the existing ER framework has become a central point. We examine how labour is valued and treated in the FOW scenario, and how ER will be shaped. At the same time the emerging fragmented online workforce is setting up internet-based communities which enables workers to support each other and increase their security and protection. This calls for discussions on how can the role of trade unions be extended to cover the new workers? 

Work and society: With growing international governance and regulations around social and environmental responsibility of businesses, organisations no more treat ESG adherence as an afterthought. ESG has evolved to be core decision making criteria for investors, rating agencies and other stakeholders. At the same time the rising new forms of digital employment, necessitates changes in existing social protection systems in order to cover all types of workers under the ambit of universal social protection (Behrendt, C., Nguyen, Q. A., & Rani, U. 2019). We also discuss the family and community aspects of FOW.