Human Resource Development

Human Resource Development

Human resource is needed to be developed to suit the change in the external environment of an organization. Human resource development (HRD) helps to adapt such changes through the development of existing human resource in terms of skills, knowledge and the capacity to perform. It represents the capability enhancement of human resource within an organization through the development of both the employee and the organization. The capacity of the employees depends on their access to education. HRD is the integrated use of training, organization, and career development efforts to improve individual, group and organizational effectiveness. HRD develops the key competencies that enable employees of an organization to perform current and future requirement of the assignments and/or jobs through planned learning activities. HRD is also used to initiate and manage change.  It also ensures a match between the needs of the employees and the organization.

HRD is a function in an organization that provides opportunities for an individual employee to improve current and future job performance, while simultaneously best utilizing human capital in order to improve the efficiency of the organization itself. Ideally, well developed and well implemented HRD systems are integral to the organization’s strategic plan and benefit both the employee and the organization. HRD activities of an organization are shown in Fig 1.

HRD activities

Fig 1 HRD activities of an organization

The importance of HRD is obvious in an organization when one considers that in any activity of an organization it is the human element that commands, directs, organizes, controls and maximizes the factors which influences the performance. The quality of people appropriate to a particular level and complexities of the activity determines how well or poorly, the tasks are accomplished.

With the rise of learning society and lifelong learning during the second half of 1990s, employer sponsored training and other developmental interventions began to occupy a central position in the running of the everyday working life. During this time, the traditional understanding of training and development activities as nothing more than formal training courses was gradually extended by new ways of thinking, even to support other ways of embedding learning opportunities present in doing one’s job. These new trends highlighted activities which were seen to contribute to the transformation of the workplace into a learning place. Such trends included the connection of HRD activities to business strategies, learner centered and self directed approaches, team learning, internal consultancy, knowledge management and the learning organization. As the scope of developmental activities broadened, this activity taking place in organizations was more and more often described as HRD.

The complexity of HRD as an organizational activity is due to its relatively short history as a distinctive field of practice in the management of an organization.

HRD mainly consists of three areas of activity which are training, education and development. Training includes learning focused on the present job of the learner, education is learning focused on a future job for the learner, and development is learning without a focus on the job. Organized learning is the core of HRD. Uniqueness of HRD compared to other human resource activities in an organization is in its adoption of learning to reach individual and organizational objectives.

HRD is undergoing presently an evolutionary transition. While HRD has retained some of its roots in the areas of education, training and development, its focus in recent times has broadened considerably. HRD has now diverging purposes of meeting the needs of individual employee as well as those of the organization. There is a shift in the role of HRD in the organization level. From a tactical reactionary level, the role has a shift towards having an impact at a strategic level. In recent times an increasing importance is being given to the role of HRD in improving the performance of the organization. HRD is being given an important position in the strategy development of the organization since it has a high value and has a big contribution in improving the organizational performance. HRD has now a multi faceted nature which includes the orientation towards learning as well as performance improvement.

The developmental shifts in defining and practicing of HRD is given in Tab 1

Tab 1 Developmental shifts in defining and practicing HRD

  Traditional view Recent view
Focus Performance improvement of job, organizational and individual needs separated Continuous development of competence, organizational and individual needs integrated
Change, learning, time perspective Quantitative, adaptive, short term Quantitative and qualitative, adaptive and transformative, long term
Organization A machine A flexible system
Organizational context Static, predictable Dynamic, surprising
Status of HRD Support Integrated
Placement of HRD Training centre, external course, external consultancy Management, strategy, every day job, internal consultancy
HRD activities Focused on training Various developmental interventions

Analysis of recent times definitions of HRD suggest two distinct schools of HRD. The US school predominantly defines HRD in terms of learning. It places emphasis on the developmental aspect of the term ‘Human Resource Development’. In contrast, the European school appears to be more focused on linking HRD to strategy. In this regard, the European school focuses on the resource potential of the employees inherent in the term ‘Human Resource Development’. Definitions of HRD in recent times in these two schools are given in Tab 2.

Tab 2 Recent time definitions of HRD inn two schools of HRD


European school of HRD

US school of HRD

HRD is the strategic management of training, development and management/professional education intervention, so as to achieve the objectives of the organization while at the same time ensuring that the full utilization of the knowledge in detail and skills of the individual employees. (Garavan 1991) HRD is a series of organized activities conducted within a specific time and designed to produce behavioural change. (Nadler1970)
HRD can be described as training members of an organization in such a way that they have the knowledge an skills needed within the context of the (changing) objectives of the organization. (Bergenhenegouwen 1992) HRD focuses on the central goal of developing human potential in every aspect of lifelong learning. (Craig 1976)
HRD is the process whereby people develop their full potential in life and work. (ITD 1992) HRD is a systematic expansion of people’s work related abilities, focused on the attainment of both organization and personal goals. (Jones 1981)
HRD is an integrated and holistic approach to changing work related behaviour using a range of learning techniques and strategies. (Megginson 1993) The discipline of HRD is the study of how individuals groups in organizations change through learning. (Chalofsky and Lincoln 1983)
HRD is a holistic societal process of learning drawing upon a range of disciplines. (Stead and Lee 1996) HRD consists of programs and activities, direct and indirect, instructional and/or individual that possibly affects the development of the individual and the productivity and profit of the organization. (Smith 1988)
HRD encompasses activities and processes, which are intended to have impact on organizational learning. It assumes that organizations can be constructively conceived of as learning entities and that the learning processes of both organizations and individuals are capable of influence and direction through deliberate and planned interventions. (Stewart and McGoldrick 1996) HRD is the integrated use of training and development, career development and organizational development to improve individual and organizational effectiveness. (Mclagan 1989)
HRD is concerned with the provision of learning, development and training opportunities in order to improve individual, team and organizational performance. It is essentially a business led approach to developing people within a strategic framework. (Armstrong 1999) HRD is organized learning activities arranged within an organization to improve performance and/or personal growth for the purpose of improving the job, the individual and/or the organization. (Gilley and England 1989)
HRD is the creation of a learning culture, within which a range of training, development and learning strategies both respond to corporate strategy and also help to shape and influence it. (McCracken and Wallace 2000) HRD is the study and practice of increasing the learning capacity of individual, groups, collectives and organizations through the development and application of learning based interventions for the purpose of optimizing human and organizational growth and effectiveness. (Chalofsky 1992)
HRD focuses on theory and practice related to training, development and learning within organizations, both for individuals and in the context of business strategy and organizational competence formation. (Gourlay 2000) HRD is the field of study and practice responsible for the fostering of a long term work related learning capacity at the individual. group and organizational levels. As such, it includes – but is not limited to – training, career development and organizational development (Watkins and Marsick 1997)

The importance or significance of HRD in an organization is given below.

  • HRD develops the skills and knowledge of individual employee. Hence it helps to provide competent and efficient human resource as per the job requirement. To develop employment’s skill and competencies, different training and development programs are launched.
  • HRD helps to grasp the career development opportunities through development of human skills and knowledge. Career development consists of personal development efforts through a proper match between training and development opportunities with employee’s need.
  • Trained and efficient employees are committed towards their jobs which is possible through HRD. If employees are provided with proper training and development opportunities, they will feel committed to the work and the organization.
  • When people in the organization are well oriented and developed, they show higher degree of commitment in actual work place. This inspires them for better performance, which ultimately leads to job satisfaction.
  • HRD facilitates planning, and management of change in an organization. It also manages conflicts through improved labour management relation. It develops organizational health, culture and environment which lead to change management.
  • Training and development programs are tools of HRD. They provide opportunity for employee’s development by matching training needs with organizational requirement. Moreover, HRD facilitates integrated growth of employees through training and development activities.
  • HRD develops necessary skills and abilities required to perform organizational activities. As a result of which, employees can contribute for better performance in an organization. This leads to greater organizational effectiveness.