Read this article to learn about the evaluation and development of personnel management in India!

The personnel management function in India has been a product of various factors. Labour legislation has been considered as one of the important factors contributing to the growth and development of personnel management function in India.

In 1929, Royal commission of Labour was set up. In 1931, the Commission recommended the appointment of labour officers in order to protect the workers from the evils of jobbery and indebtedness, to act as spokesmen of labour and to promote an amicable settlement between the workers and management.


Royal Commission pointed out that “no employee should be engaged except by the Labour Officer personally in consultation with the departmental head and none should be dismissed without the consent except by the manager after hearing what the labour officer has to say”.

The qualities needed for Labour Officers were “integrity personality, energy, the gift of understanding individuals and linguistic faculty”, consequent upon the recommendations of the Royal commission, the Bombay Mill Owners Association, Indian Jute Mills Association have appointed Labour Officers on their own, and who were required attempt to settle grievances and disputes arising between workers and management.

After achieving Independence in 1947, the Factories Act of 1948 has come into force in India. The Factories Act has set the provisions and rules for the appointment, duties, and qualifications of new statutory officers called ‘welfare officers’. By 1960s another designation that appeared was ‘personnel officers’.

These officers-—labour officers, welfare officers, personnel officers—deal with labour welfare, industrial relations and personnel administration, respectively. All these are different branches of discipline ‘personnel and human resource management’.


In the beginning, personnel management was neither given any particular status, attention, or place in the organisation system nor did professionals find themselves suitably placed in enterprises. But now, personnel officers are frequently labelled as ‘buffer zone” between labour and management and hence are necessary for the existence of the very organisation.

Personnel officer is also treated as non-aligned professional, a social worker. He is treated by a variety of titles because of the vast parameters of his job. But surprisingly and unfortunately, these personnel officers have not won a place of pride and are not vested with sufficient authority and responsibility.

Earlier, they used to command less respect and less recognition from blue-collar employees, trade unions, technical and managerial personnel.

The following factors were responsible for the snail-paced growth and development of personnel function in India:


(a) Section 49 of the Factories Act, 1948 has done more harm than good to the personnel function by creating ‘welfare officers’. The statutory welfare officers have not won support of line managers.

(b) Industrial relations and trade unions have become mere rituals and too legalistic. Often, a personnel officer is unsafely caught in the web of complex legal provisions and complications. As a consequence, he is preoccupied with legal procedures, legislations and is left with little time to attend to several other important matters or activities in an organisation.

(c) The job of personnel management has some notable, inherent weaknesses. For instance, the results of personnel management cannot be measured in absolute terms and this may be frustrating to many personnel managers.

In a sharp contrast, the results production managers can be measured in terms of annual production indices, and the results of a marketing manager can be measured in terms of capturing the market share in the industry, etc.


(d) Personnel manager, by performing the fire-fighting function, is finding himself in the awkward position and occupying the most vulnerable position hence. Sometimes, in the process of heading off union disputes and troubles, a personnel manager may become notorious because any unfavourable decision against employees (though justified) may produce a kind of bad image in the minds of employees about the manager himself.

Thus, the personnel manager becomes the centre of controversy in spite of his justified and genuine approach in solving labour-management problems.

(e) Adding fuel to the fire, the personnel manager sometimes becomes victim of the line and staff conflicts. Personnel manager, by virtue of his qualifications and professional knowledge, feels himself superior to the line managers and in this process he may have the tendency of underestimating the potentials of the line managers.

Line managers, on the contrary, overestimate themselves by virtue of their authority they possess and in this process they grossly neglect the valuable advice rendered by the personnel manager.


(f) Personnel managers are, in general, found to be rigid, inflexible and characterised by unchanging attitudes, bereft of behavioural values. As a consequence, they do not possess the zeal to change according to the situational demands. This rigidity made them more notorious in the organisations.

(g) Finally, personnel management has not yet been accorded the totality of acceptance by all concerned because it would be very difficult to appraise the performance of personnel managers. Unlike the professions like engineering and medicine, where the result of any faulty decision or action becomes almost immediately obvious, the result of faculty decisions on the management of human resources is not felt immediately and the responsibility for it can be safely shifted to someone else in some other department.

For instance, if the production supervisor is at fault, the production department is put to blame rather than the personnel manager who was responsible for inducting the wrong man on the wrong job.


In order that the position of personnel manager must be improved, the following points may be given due weight age:


(i) The present focus on legal aspect must be minimised.

(ii) Personnel managers should be adequately trained before being inducted in large organisations.

(iii) Organisations should be designed in such a fashion that the line-staff conflicts get minimised and their interdependence and mutuality promoted.

(iv) Personnel manager should reorganize his own perception about the job role he performs. He should be innovative rather than rigid. He is not expected to behave like a ‘frog in the well’ rather should be open and be prepared to face challenges boldly.


Thus, at present, the personnel officer in India presents a kaleidoscopic picture of his multi role structure, namely that of:

1. The buffer zone between labour and management.

2. The third force in the industry.

3. The non-aligned professional.

4. The social worker in an industrial setting.

5. The staff advisor in the organisation.


6. The executive in personnel and welfare spheres.

These days, personnel management in India has become entirely professionalised. Various institutions like IIPM (Indian Institute of Personnel Management), NLRI (National Labour Relations Institute), XLRI (Xavier Labour Relations Institute), etc have been established. Personnel management now satisfies all the attributes of profession—corpus of knowledge, a code of conduct, and a period of learning.