Introduction: What One Must Know about HRM and Company Culture
There is no secret that in a prosperous company, every single employee is like a detail in a clockwork mechanism; each performs his/her own function, each has a unique set of qualities according to which they are assigned with individual tasks.
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However, according to the recent researches, HRM also has a considerable impact on the corporate culture and, therefore, on the relationships between the employees and the managerial, as well as on employees’ performance. Analyzing the way in which HRM impact corporate culture, one can possibly come up with the suggestions on how to make the HRM impact milder or more favorable.
Corporate Culture Concerns: Subordination
Before going into details concerning the way in which HRM impacts the employees’ organizational behavior, it is reasonable to touch upon the specifics of the corporate culture, its definition and significance for the well-being of the company. Once defining the major features of corporate culture, one will be able to define the factors which can influence it most, which will, in its turn, lead to the discovery of the ways in which HRM personnel can impact corporate culture.
Corporate culture definition
Before going any further, the phenomenon of corporate culture must be defined. According to the ideas offered by Grugulis and Wilkinson, corporate culture is values, norms and behavioral patterns that a group shares (Grugulis & Wilkinson, 2002).
According to Herzog, there has not been an adequate definition of the issue yet, which can possibly mean only two things; namely, the issue is either too simple or, on the contrary, too complex to define. It is also necessary to mention that, unlike national cultures, corporate culture is not quite prone to the outside influence; hence, it can be changed to a considerable extent, depending on the people who are selected by the current HRM staff.
Types of HRM Strategies and Their Impact on Corporate Culture
As it has been explained above, HRM specialists’ actions are directly related to the people who are picked for certain jobs and, therefore HRM managers somewhat responsible for the atmosphere in the working place. In its turn, the positive change of organizational culture will trigger the increase of revenues.
For example, in the UK, a specific HRM strategy was applied to the major food organizations. As the research results show, “In1973,the top five retailers accounted for less than 30 percent of the total food market.However,by1988 this figure had increased to 56 percent and by 1997 it had increased to 70 per cent” (Ogbonna & Harris, 2002, p. 681).
Soft HRM strategy
Of all the strategies which used to be key principles of human resource management, the soft HRM strategy seems to root way back in the past traditions of company management. While the given strategy gave the employees independence and allowed them to take chances in their projects, it actually had little to do with shaping the company climate, though.
As Willmott explains, the given phenomenon is a manifestation of hypermodernity which presupposes that “a (self-defeating) correction of the deficiencies of rationalism is sought by inciting management to colonize the ‘softer’ features of organization” (Willmott, 1993, p. 518). Presupposing that the employees should follow the company’s already established values, the given strategy allowed for little flexibility, which stands in sharp contrast to the current state of affairs.
Quite in contrast to the previously described strategy, the next one, which is often referred to as the “defender” strategy (Ogbonna & Whipp, 1999, p. 76), has little to do with creating specific relationships within the team of employees. Aimed at making the company superior in the existing market, the defender strategy is a new step in the development of corporate culture; and, unfortunately enough, it is a huge step backwards.
While it does cultivate certain moods within the company, the defender strategy is still more focused on the market and the process of “securing a slow but steady growth in market share” (Ogbonna & Whipp, 1999, p. 76), while the company staff also needs a focus. Hence, another strategy has to be incorporated with the existing one to make sure that all the issues are addressed by the HRM specialists.
When the idea of developing an analytical strategy for the HRM personnel appeared, a new epoch in the human resource management has been heralded. At the given point, the issue which Legge brought up in his work, namely, the relation a the HRM staff to compliance and commitment (Legge, 1995), appears.
It must be admitted that the approach of analyzing the recruitment tactics and developing the strategy to pick the people who will not only do their job diligently, but also integrate into the company atmosphere swiftly, is truly innovative and successful.
For example, analyzing the market, the HRM specialists in Britain realized in 1988 that women tended to avoid full-time and managerial positions, which shaped the then HRM strategy towards helping women obtain jobs: “in1988, 65 per cent of the female employees in food retailing worked in part-time capacities.
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However, by 1997 this figure had increased to 77 per cent” (Ogbonna & Harris, 2002, 681). The given approach was helpful for both female workers and the UK companies. Therefore, a compromise is an important element of an HRM strategy.
Corporate Values and the Way to Influence Them: Analysis
As it has been mentioned above, HRM does have its impact on corporate culture, shaping it to a considerable extent. Choosing people with certain temper for performing certain types of operations, HRM specialists contribute to the change of the company climate greatly.
Defining the phenomenon
An essential element of any company, corporate values have evolved greatly over the past few decades from a simple idea of the company rules to a complicated concept of the relationships between the company members. According to the existing ideas, corporate values can be defined as the set of principles according to which the company structures the relationships between the employees and the attitudes of the latter towards their jobs.
It is important to keep in mind, thought, that the offered definition of the corporate cultures is not the only one. As Willmott (1993) emphasizes, the idea of a corporate culture is comparatively new and, therefore, is currently in its evolving stage.
Although at present, corporate culture phenomenon embraces the employees’ attitudes towards their jobs, the company’s policy towards its employees and the rules on keeping the conflicts arising among the employees and between the latter and the management to a minimum, the future definitions of a corporate culture might be slightly different from the current ones.
HRM makes first steps
When it comes to defining the impact which HRM has had on the corporate values, one must mention the fact that human resource management offers motivation theory, hence, incorporating the employees’ needs and the company’s requirements.
As Hollway explains, the motivation theory, which incorporates Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and Herzberg’s attempt to consent into commitment and compliance into cooperation (Hollway, 1991a, p. 105), helps focus on the needs of the employees and therefore, offer the desirable thing to the latter as a result of fruitful work.
HRM Impact on Corporate Culture: Concerning the Selection Stage
As it has been mentioned previously, HRM has a considerable impact on the corporate culture and the way in which the system of corporate values is built (Ogbonna & Harris, 2002). There are legitimate reasons to believe that the bulk of the future corporate values system is made in the process of selecting the staff for the company.
Indeed, when picking certain personnel the HRM specialists can choose the people of certain tempers, who will further on impact the system of company’s values greatly. Analyzing the elements of the model of influence of cultural values suggested by Stone & Romero, one can possibly realize how HRM influences the corporate values.
According to the results of Stone and Stone-Romero’s research, there is a strong connection between the level of the employee’s performance and the job desirability. As Stone and Stone-Romero explains, “The desirability of job attributes influences individuals’ attraction to organizations and job choice decisions” (Stone & Stone-Romero, 2008, p. 29). Increasing the significance and desirability of a certain job has become another option of the modern HRM to boost the employees’ performance.
Therefore, corporate values are in direct proportion to the employees’ performance. Judging by the previously stated facts, the HRM can impact the former, which means it can also change the employees’ score. According to the results of the case study offered by Ogbonna and Whipp, “in 1992 68.5 per cent of the total turnover was generated by only 16 businesses out of a total number of 55,416 businesses” (Ogbonna & Whipp, 1999, 80)
According to what Thompson and McHugh claim, taking the feelings of others into consideration is quite a recent addition to the overall company culture idea (Thompson & McHugh, 2009). As the latter claim, “It slowly became clear that national and even regional cultures do matter for management” (Thompson & McHugh, 2009, p. 71).
Hence, in the present-day world, the interactions among the employees, as well as the relationships between employees and the management are also taken into account. The given tendency stands in a sharp contrast to the recent idea of nothing-personal standard of employees and managerial interaction, which means that the standards of organizational culture have risen considerably.
Hence stems the issue of team work, without which cooperation would be impossible, as the notorious Flight 52 demonstrated: “Failures in teamwork due in part to national culture were cited as probable causes of this accident” (Stone & Stone-Romero, 2008, 117). The above-mentioned accident was the result of lack of teamwork within the crew.
Perceptions of control
One of the most challenging elements of the HRM personnel’s work, the need to make the control over the staff not quite tangible yet very efficient, seems to have increased over the past few years considerably (Hollway, 1991).
It is quite impressive that in the present-day world, the need to transform the staff’s perception of the work and the workplace has become an integral part of the HRM personnel’s job; as Hollway (1991) explains, over the past two decades, it has been discovered that, transforming consent into commitment and compliance into cooperation, the HRM staff can achieve much more impressive results than by just finding the people who can do certain type of work.
Hence, the HRM development has one through the stages of fitting people into specific jobs to the stage of transforming people’s ideas of the jobs in question.
Evaluating the HRM Effect: The Strategies of Yesterday and Tomorrow
Now that the ins and outs of the way in which HRM specialists change the corporate climate have been researched, the effects of the HR managers should be checked. While it is clear that HRM specialists have a lot of impact on the way in which the corporate ethics and values are shaped, it is still questionable whether the effects described above should be classified as positive or negative for the company’s well-being.
It is essential that, picking certain people for specific jobs, HR managers can choose skilled professionals. Hence, the quality of the performed work rises. In addition, the fact that the choice of the HR managers is based solely on professional qualities allows for employees working on the culture of their relationships on their own, which makes the culture much more flexible and prone to changes. Van Meek explains that “both culture and structure are abstractions, not tangible entities” (Van Meek, 1988, p. 465).
However, like any other process that is carried out in a company, the choice and recruitment of the new staff by the people who have certain ideas of what the above-mentioned personnel must be like has its downsides. To start with, there will always be the human factor in the way of an objective choice.
In addition, the notorious human factor is to be kept in mind when defining the significance of the HRM choice. While the latter can display impressive skills in picking certain people for the corresponding positions, the manner in which these people will act and what climate they are going to create in the organization is unpredictable.
However, it would be quite a far stretch to consider the unpredictability issue a problem for the present-day companies. As Ogbonna & Whipp explain, the term “corporate culture” is used rather loosely in the modern companies:
Eight or nine years ago we did not make any attempt to create any kind of culture. We now go about creating the kind of climate to suit the culture we actually want to see in the business… What used to be right in (Lake) nine years ago may no longer be right in today’s climate. (Ogbonna & Whipp, 1999, p. 81).
Therefore, while it is reasonable to maintain control over the staff, it is also significant to let the things take their own course rather than forcing fake values on the employees.
Conclusion: There Is Still a Long Way to Go
Choosing the personnel for the company and assigning people with specific positions, HRM contribute to the way in which the corporate climate and culture are shaped.
Despite the fact that the choices of the HRM personnel supposedly impact only the quality of the services which the company provides, picking specific people contributes to creating a specific atmosphere, which means that HRM specialists can shape the company climate considerably. However, when focusing on the compatibility of employees’ characters along with their professional skills, one can expect a considerable improvement of the working atmosphere.
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