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Human Resource Management: Functions and Features Essay

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Human Resource Management commonly known as HRM entails the use of human beings in a productive manner to achieve the organizational goals and objectives. Human resources management could be defined as a field of management that is concerned with planning, organizing and controlling the workforce in an organization.

It involves activities such as procuring, developing and maintaining workforce in an organization. The success of any business is largely dependent on the HRM due to the fact that, HRM affects the customers and the performance of the firm.

Successful organizations usually maximizes their human resources through such means as selecting employees with top talent, encouraging employees to raise issues in an open manner, encouraging teamwork, providing employees with guidelines on how to improve on their poor performance etc.

Though HRM has acquired some of the attributes of a profession, it has not yet emerged as a fully pledged profession i.e. it has not been able to achieve the global standards. This is because of several factors such as environmental factors, job attitudes, technological innovation etc. and these factors have thus made each country to adapt its own HRM practices (Dyck & Neubert, 2008, 357).

The following essay examines the distinguishing features of Human Resource Management in a developing country Ghana. The essay also examines the Human Resource Theories, history of Human Resource Management, function of Human Resource Management, distinguishing features of Human Resource

Distinguishing features of Human Resource Management in Ghana

The following are the basic characteristics of Human Resource Management which are also evident in the Ghanaian human resources management; HRM supports the business strategy i.e. it helps in establishing the organizational plans, metrics and goals through the HR planning.

This is important as it allows the employees to prioritize on those Programmes that are important as far as the organization is concerned. Human resource management is all-incisive i.e. HRM covers and manages all the employees in the organization i.e. it applies to workers, supervisors, managers, top executives, and officers’ etc.

Human Resource Management is people oriented for instance, HRM focuses on individual employees and groups within the organization by enhancing human relationships. HRM aims at ensuring that the individuals carries out their tasks in an effective manner so as to realize the organizational goals.

HRM ensue that both the individual goals and the organizational goals are well met.HRM places great emphasis on the employees by empowering them i.e. it organize the employees for involvement by creating self managing work teams.

In their empowered roles, the employees are expected to look for ways to perform their jobs better and to improve organizational functioning (GRATTON, 1999, 123).

HRM is action oriented i.e. it focuses on an action rather than record keeping or procedures. It stresses on the solutions of personnel problems in order to ensure that both the organizational and personal goals are attained (Condrey, 2010, 38).

HRM is individual oriented i.e. under HRM, each employee ion the firm is regarded as unique and so, the HRM provides the employees with programs aimed at facilitating their growth and happiness (Gratton, 1999, 123).

HRM is development oriented i.e. it is concerned with developing the workers’ potential so that the employees can benefit as they work and in turn perform better so as to attain the organizational goals.

HRM usually take into consideration the interests, opportunities, capabilities of the employees and also seeks to help the employees in realizing their full potentials (Marinus, Kok & Kok,2003,23).

It perceives function i.e. HRM is present in every organization at various levels i.e. HRM is not common in one sector alone. HRM is thus equally important in government, sports, banking sector etc. also percolates all the functional areas of an organization i.e. production, finance, marketing etc. (Kumar, 2003, 4).

HRM is future oriented i.e. it helps a company to attain its future goals by ensuring that employees are well motivated and also competent.HRM thus enhances collaboration of employees in order to attain the organizational objectives (Heneman, 2002, 355).

Human Resource Management Theories

There exist a number of theoretical perspectives of Human Resource Management among them General Systems, the Role Behavior, Institutional and Resource Dependence, Human Capital and Transaction Costs. The general system is concerned with the open and closed systems that interact with one another.

In this theoretical perspective of them the employees’ abilities and skills are deemed as inputs whereas the employees’ performance and satisfaction are considered as outputs. The role behavior perspective is concerned with the roles of individuals within an organization.

Usually, every individual is expected to behave in a certain manner to yield a positive outcome. The institutional theory is concerned with the internal as well as external influences that affect the performance of an organization.

Resource dependence theory is concerned with the relationship that exists between an organization on one hand and the organizations’ constituencies on the other hand. The theory emphasizes that this relationships is enhanced by the exchange of resources and the main source of power is the ability to control valued resources (Schuler & Jackson, 2007, 25).

History of HRM in Ghana

The history of Human Resource Management in Ghana dates back to colonial days. Ghanaian organizations adopt Western systems of HRM, which were implemented by British colonials. The historical-political factors have been the driving force behind the Human Resource Management in Ghana.

The commercial enterprises and British colonialists introduced the Western labor practices into the country. In Ghana, the rights of workers are represented by the Trade Union Congress commonly referred to as UK. The TUC is concerned with coordinating the activities of affiliated unions and giving guidance on human resource matters.

The Trade Union Congress is usually represented on several committees and boards, which handle matters that concern the employees. The Government of Ghana has legislated trade unions to ensure that the fundamental rights of employees are safeguarded.

The Government of Ghana is has also emphasized on minimum education qualification and minimum desirable standards of performance to ensure that the human resource management in the country achieve professionalism.

The Government of Ghana has also set general and specific management policies aimed at establishing and maintaining suitable organizations that encourages cooperation. Faith-based organizations have also played an important role in Ghana’s Human Resource Management by enhancing staff retention particularly in health sector.

The Ghanaian Government has also enacted such Acts as the Industrial Relations Act that regulates the relationship between the employees and the employers. In Ghana, organizations have assumed bureaucratic forms of hierarchy and formalism.

Many organizations have adopted a centralized decision -making and therefore employees have become aware of maintaining good relationships with their employers.

However, this subordinate-superior form of relationship in Ghana has become more personalized rather than being contractual and this has implications on employee’s treatment (African Studies Association of the United Kingdom, 1979, 19).

Function of Human Resource Management in Ghana

Human resource in Ghana has been the main reason behind economic development as it helps the country to increase its productivity, eradicate economic backwardness, increase its entrepreneurship etc.

Ghana, HRM has the following roles i.e. performance and potential appraisal, training function, the compensation function, recruitment and selection function, integration function and maintenance function. Performance appraisal is among the most crucial roles of team leaders.

Performance appraisal enables the team leaders to evaluate the performance of the employees and thus to know areas that an employee requires to work on. Performance appraisal is done periodically and requires the team leader to impartially rate an employee concerning his or hare present role.

Performance appraisal plays an important role of providing a suitable database that allows the senior leadership team to make such decisions as transfers, promotions, salary increments, placements etc. Performance appraisal thus enables the senior leadership team to identify the employees’ potentials and weak areas.

This is important as it identifies the training requirements of the workers. Performance appraisal also motivates the subordinate workers by enabling them to plan their career paths. It helps in developing positive superior-subordinate relations and thereby reducing grievances. Performance appraisal helps to facilitate research in personnel management.

In Ghana, performance appraisal is done yearly and many organizations uses formal system of evaluating the performance of their employees. In Ghana the supervisor ratings plays an important role in enabling the personnel managers to make decision concerning employees’ transfers and promotions.

However, the adoption of hierarchical structures in Ghana implies that it is difficult to adopt newer modes of evaluating the employees e.g. the 360-degrees feedback (Budhwar & Debrah, 2004, 201).

The training function of Human Resource Management entails the act where employees are prepared mentally and it is usually performed far-off the normal working area. Employees are systematically trained to acquire new skills and to be able to carry out their tasks in effectively.

There are many forms of training among them executive development and career planning and development. The main objectives of employees’ training includes the following; to develop the employees so as to be able to carry out tasks of higher-grades, to rain new workers in an organization, to enhance the employees efficiency and performance standards among others.

In Ghana, the training activity of Human Resource Management has been practiced in public sector. The activity is also done in local organizations as well as multinational; organizations.

The Government of Ghana has sponsored several institutions for training the employees among them the Civil Service Training Institute, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration etc. This World Bank, UNDP and other development agencies have also played an important role of funding the employees’ training programs in Ghana.

Private organizations in Ghana such as the Barclays Ban, Standard Bank, Ghana Airways have provided training institutions where employees are trained on refresher courses. Senior workers in most of Ghanaian organizations are usually sent abroad particularly in a situation where the multinational company has a subsidiary in Ghana (Kamoche, 2004, 127-129).

Compensation is another function of HRM and it involves providing employees with financial payments as a means of motivating them to perform their duties enthusiastically. The senior leadership team should ensure that employees are fairly and equitably remunerated for their efforts in the company.

Organizations should also carry out surveys to determine the compensation structure within an organization. Organizations are required to offer such benefits as sick leave, annual leave etc. so as to enhance working life of the workers.

Other form of compensation includes bonus payment whereby, all the permanent staff members are appraised at the end of every financial year and their contribution towards the overall success of the organization is determined.

Appropriate bonus is thus given to each employee based on his or her contribution and his or her level in the organization (Kamoche, 2004, 127-129).

In Ghana, the determination of salaries and wages is comprised of benefits, allowances and basic wages. In case of semi-skilled and unskilled workers, their basic wage is determined on Ghanaian minimum wage by the Ghana’s Tripartite Committee on Salary and Wages.

The Ghana’s Tripartite Committee on Salary and Wages considers capacity of employers to compensate his or her workers as well as the economic state before deciding on minimum wage. In Ghana, most corporations have a wage and salary structure and thus the annual increments are the ones that the trade unions negotiate due to inflation.

The starting salaries for employees are based on such aspects as initial entry points and educational qualifications. The Ghanaian society is largely dominated by males but gender discrimination does not exist as far as earnings are concerned.

Women in Ghana are more focused with feminized occupations like nursing and teaching in primary schools but they usually earns same wages as males who perform similar jobs.

Allowances and benefits have been the motivating factors among the Ghanaian employees and many organizations across Ghana offers such benefits as housing allowance, medical benefits, maternal leave, annual leave etc.(Panford,2001,47).

Recruitment and selection is the other function of Human Resource Management. This function locates and encourages applicants to submit their applications for a new job opening. There are certain factors that the senior leadership team considers before decision on the kind of recruiting source to use e.g. the firm’s reputation, job attractiveness among others.

In Ghana, many organizations usually place their advertisements in professional magazines and local newspapers for professional and managerial positions. Other modes of recruitment that are used in Ghana includes written notices around organizations a, visits to colleges and university campuses etc.

Ghana, selection interviews forms the most widely used form method of selecting employees. Other methods of selecting employees include recommendation letters and academic qualifications. However, the psychological tests, work simulations and work samples are not widely used in Ghana.

The Human Resource Managers usually makes the hiring decision in Ghana. Decisions concerning hiring managerial and professional employees are usually made by the senior management team together with the Human Resource Manager (Kamoche, 2004, 127-129).

The other function of HRM is the integration function, which entails the act of merging the goals of the workers with those of the company.

Integration in an organization is enhanced through such activities as handling the employees issues, encouraging employees to participate in decision making, resolving conflicts in a fair manner, providing the employees with counseling services as and when they requires among others.

The Ghanaian constitution have set provides regulatory framework regarding Human Resource Management so as to address such issues as HRM policies, employees rights, working environments etc. (Greene & Kirton,2010,6).

The maintenance functions of Human Resource Management. This function of HRM aims at ensuring that the employees well being is safeguarded. In Ghana, the senior leadership team in most organizational ensures that there are safe and secure working environments and this is important as it enhances the employees’ loyalty.

The senior leadership team should set up workers assistance Programmes in order to assist employees in dealing with challenges. The preference among managers and the preference among the employees as to how they wish to be managed interact with the cultural dimensions.

If management attempts to enforce culture that is unacceptable to employees, there will be a reaction such as sabotage of work etc. management should thus ensure that employee’s preferences are put into place to avoid a culture of conflicts (Singh, 2009, 30).

Challenges facing HRM in Ghana

The main challenges facing Human Resource Management in Ghana are; In Ghana, the Structural Adjustment Programs i.e. SAPs has brought about challenges for Human Resource Management in Ghana.

The Ghanaian government has over the years attempted to woo the foreign investors and this has made the Human Resource Managers to work hard in order to enhance the Human Resource Management practice as many organizations operates in an environment that is highly competitive(Hodgson & Willem, 1994,11).

Ghana is a developing country implying that there is the scope for developing HRM further is little because of inadequate expansion of Ghanaian economy. Despite the introduction of structural adjustment programs, the country has remained a rural economy that depends on export of commodities such as cocoa.

Manufacturing industries have significantly reduced over the years as a result of high rates of interest, competition from Japan and China, limited foreign exchange and lack of adequate infrastructure.

Therefore, Ghana is mainly focused on agricultural economy and any meaningful Human resource Management in Ghana is limited about large companies in service and manufacturing sectors (International Monetary Fund, 2006, 46).

In Ghana, the traditional practices and colonialism influences also affects the Human Resource Management practices. These traditional practices and colonialism influences affects decision making in organizations leading to complex situations that undermines the performance in many organizations.

The traditional practices usually conflicts with the economic rationality and this has the effect of making operating levels to be costly and ineffective. In addition, the people of Ghana have a tendency to forgive one another and this affects management concerning punishment and transgression issues.

The forgiveness behavior among the Ghanaian society extends to modern organizations implying that one is usually forgiven if he or she violates the organizational rules. The forgiveness situation poses a major challenge as far as employees’ discipline in organizations is concerned.

Therefore, a Human Resource Manager is expected to forgive a transgressor and if he or she fails to do so, then he or she may be regarded as wicked and insensitive person. Also, the Ghanaian Human Resource Managers do not invoke the disciplinary actions against workers who violate the organizational rules as they fears incurring the employees’ wrath and in turn become unpopular.

The elderly people in the society are usually accorded much respect in the Ghanaian society and this provides young Human Resource Managers with difficulties of disciplining older subordinates.

In addition, many large organizations in Ghana pay increases based on matters of seniority instead of performance or merit and this poses a challenge as far as Human Resource Management is concerned (Towers, 1996, 488).

Time-keeping is another factor that provides a challenge in Human Resource Management in Ghana. In African culture, time keeping is not much emphasized about organizational life.

Thus, most Ghanaians have time-keeping problem and lateness in workplaces is endemic. This thus provides a major challenge for the performance of organizations and Human Resource Management in particular (Towers, 1996, 493).

Another aspect that poses a challenge to Human Resource Management in Ghanaian organizational life is masculinity. In Ghana, both masculinity and feminist exists but masculinity is often emphasized as far as organizational life is concerned.

Thus, the behavior of male chauvinist is prevalent among many Ghanaian organizations and this implies that women are discouraged on taking managerial positions that are mostly held by males.

This thus makes it hard for women to advance in their careers as finding a mentor or a role model is difficult. This also implies that Human Resource Management profession in Ghana is dominated by men (Budhwar, & Debrah, 2004, 199).

In addition, the recruitment and selection of employees lacks objectivity and this affects the Human Resource planning and job analysis. Many organizations in Ghana do not consider Human Resource planning to be important.

Furthermore, the economic environments and political instability in Ghana provides a challenge about HR planning. The Human Resource training departments in Ghana do not have adequate personnel who have statistics expertise and forecasting (Heeks, 2001, 137).


In Ghana, Human Resource Management is concerned with performance and potential appraisal, training, compensation, integration, selection and recruitment and maintenance functions.

Human Resource Management in Ghana is faced with such challenges as limited economic growth, lack of objectivity in the recruitment and selection of employees, masculinity in organizational life, time keeping problems, traditional practices and colonialisms and the introduction of SAPs, which in turn leads to global competition.

In order to enhance HRM in Ghana, the Human Resource managers requires to set up such policies as unbiased recruitment and selection procedures, time keeping among others.

Reference List

African Studies Association of the United Kingdom., 1979. African research & Documentation. .Michigan: The University of Michigan.

Budhwar, P.S. & Debrah, Y.A., 2004. Human Resource Management In Developing Countries. London: Routledge.

Condrey, S.E., 2010. Handbook of Human Resource Management in Government. Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons.

Dyck & Neubert, M., 2008. Management: Current Practices And New Directions. Stamford: Cengage Learning.

Gratton, L., 1999. Strategic human resource management: corporate rhetoric and human reality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Greene, A & Kirton, G., 2010. The Dynamics of Managing Diversity: A Critical Approach. London: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Heeks, R., 2001. Reinventing government in the information age: international practice in IT-enabled public sector reform. London: Routledge.

Heneman, R.L., 2002. Human resource management in virtual organizations: IAP.

Hodgson, H & Willem, V., 1994. Negotiating structural adjustment in Africa. Oxford: James Currey Publishers.

International Monetary Fund, 2006. Ghana: Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. Washington, D.C: International Monetary Fund.

Kamoche, K. N., 2004. Managing Human Resources In Africa. London: Routledge.

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Panford, M.K., 2001. IMF-World Bank and labor’s burdens in Africa: Ghana’s experience. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Schuler, R.S. & Jackson, S.E., 2007. Strategic human resource management.Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell.

Singh, Y.K., 2009. Human Resource Management. New Delhi: APH Publishing.

Towers, B., 1996. The handbook of human resource management. Hoboken: Wiley- Blackwell.

Towers, B., 1996. The handbook of human resource management. Hoboken: Wiley- Blackwell.

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