GLOBAL. The current economic situation in developing nations like India presents a challenge not only for government leaders, but also for those who aren’t normally in the political spotlight: entrepreneurs, managers, and specifically, human resources staff.

In a highly volatile marketplace, the work world is undergoing significant changes. Globalization created a constant reform of labor laws and added incentives for entrepreneurs.

On one hand, there are more opportunities available to begin a business than ever before; on the other, the number of layoffs is making the job market increasingly competitive. Where, how, and for whom people work is transforming company structures and cultures. Without the proper training and expertise, it is easy for human resources staff, let alone managers, to feel challenged.

Backing this up, a recent survey conducted by the World Federation of People Management Associations (WFPMA) and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in 2010 sought to identify the most critical challenges faced by organizations in the field of human resources. According to the survey, which sampled around 4300 executives, “managing talent” ranked first, followed by “improving leadership development” and “strategic workforce planning.”

When managing employees, the “personal factor” is key: individual peculiarities, unpredictable natures, idiosyncrasies, emotions, attitudes, psychological frame of mind are all very important factors to consider, not to mention culture, race, gender and other factors. An organization may have adequate logistics, financial stability and even a highly technically competent leader. However, if it does not take into account the individual characteristics of its employees, all efforts by any head of the institution will be in vain.

In today’s economy, the number of under-employed is rising, and though it would be utopian to say that managers should rid the market of underemployment, they can certainly make an effort to discover and tap the hidden skills of their employees. This can begin right from the interview phase; often a simple conversation is not enough and applicants should be put in real-life situations to evaluate how they would act.

Once on the job, keeping employees motivated is key. Cooperation must be encouraged through communication, not only through top-down management. Without a doubt, these times are challenging for all, but instilling basic principles such as mutual respect, honesty, accountability, trust and team commitment will only be helpful. If the standards are high for subordinates, it is important to keep them high for managers as well. The Maastricht School of Management provides some excellent suggestions from experts on how to do so.

The principal aim of organizations is to achieve objectives, which can only be done through people. Creating an effective work synergy can only be accomplished when people are handled humanely and fairly.

Increasing the productivity of a nation, therefore, is not only a question of money: it is a matter of people. The term “human capital” was coined for a reason. People are the most important, and yet least discussed, asset. Now, it’s time to start talking about them.