Human resource can be defined as the individuals’ contributions to an organization in terms of efforts, skills and capabilities, thus enabling the organization to maintain its existence. On the other hand, human resource management (HRM) is the division of the organization that deals with the management of human resource (Dessler, 2008, p. 4).
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Human resource management can be looked at in two different perspectives: First, human resource management is the personnel or support function in the firm. They provide backing to the HRM issues to keep workers in line, or individuals who are directly involved in the production process. Secondly, Human resource management is a duty of the senior level staff. Whether in the formal or informal sector, the management of employees is always a function of the managers (Sokun, 2004, p. 3).
The management and staffing in organizations are done by individuals and without these individual organizations cannot exist. As a matter of fact, the prospect and challenges of developing and managing an organization is normally caused by individual-related problems that originate within them (Cascio, 2006, p. 43).
On the other hand, individual-related problems often originate from the misconception that all people are equal and deserve equal treatment in organizations. However, this is far from the truth. No two humans are precisely the same, even with identical or fraternal twins. Each and every individual is unique both physically and psychologically (Cascio, 2006, p. 43).
Even among individuals who are almost the same physically they must have different psychological characteristics. A number of them will be sociable, others snobbish; some will be gifted, others not. The point this study is trying to bring up is that the disparities among individuals in an organization call for more attention in order to maximize their potential. It also enables the organization to enhance efficiency and optimize the use of its human capital (Cascio, 2006, p. 43).
Managing human capital is an important role of the managers because of the current changes both within and without the organization. Studies have shown over and over again that HRM practices cam makes a significant, feasible difference in terms of crucial organizational results (Sokun, 2004, p. 3).
Maintaining a high level HRM system promotes strengthens employee commitment and loyalty which is very important in attaining business objectives. This applies to all types of businesses whether public or private. The success of any organization depends on the ability of the human resource department to acquire and assign individuals to a right job and pass on to them the necessary skills and knowledge (Wexley & Latham, 2002, p. 12).
Therefore, the management of human resources should be on top of the list of the managers’ plans since it enhances productivity, effectiveness and efficiency and also improves the competitive advantage of organizations. Human resource management in Price Waterhouse Coopers is based on the above principles. The company has put HRM on top of the list of its agenda and this has helped it to gain competitive advantage over the rivals.
This essay aims at exploring the human resource system used by the Price Waterhouse Coopers. Among the items that will be covered in the study include job design matters, training activities, recruitment, selection methods used, performance appraisal system used, promotion systems implemented, remuneration, and the overall style of supervision used and how they complement each other. The paper will be based on a case study of the company’s business in Cambodia.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is an international corporation that deals with professional service. The company is ranked among the top companies offering professional services and accountancy. The company’s headquarter is in London, United Kingdom. PricewaterhouseCoopers operates in about 160 countries across the globe and has over 180000 employees.
PwC was founded in the late 90s through a union between two major business service companies- Coopers and Lybrand and Price Waterhouse. As part of restructuring and re-branding exercise in 2010, the company’s trading name was changed to PwC (Pricewaterhouse coopers, 2013).
Although the company is found all over the world, most of its business is in Europe. The company’s services are grouped into the following major classes namely: information risk advisory, tax consultancy and general advisory. The first one is an independent professional service aimed at enhancing information or information context for decision making purpose and to minimize information risk.
Tax advisory service encompasses international tax planning and conformity with domestic tax laws, tariffs, HR consulting and pricing of transfers. Lastly, general advisory deals with other consulting activities such as performance enhancement, corporate finance, sustainability and management of crisis among others (Pricewaterhouse coopers, 2013).
The company’s service lines in each market segment are specialized as follows: ICT (information communication technology) and entertainment, financial services, public/government utilities, consumers and industrial goods and services, and private company services. A number of these services may vary in different segments.
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PricewaterhouseCoopers has come up with numerous consultancy initiatives in corporate risk management, global outsourcing service, and global advisory in politics among others. Other advisory services offered by the company include actuarial and insurance management and human resource services. The company also services government agencies through their public sector practice (Pricewaterhouse coopers, 2013).
A Case Study: Price Waterhouse Coopers in Cambodia
The company’s background
PwC is one of the leading business service companies in Cambodia. The company has four main offices in Cambodia based in Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Phnom and Vientiane. With over 60 professional monitors across its main offices, PwC has carried out numerous visits to industrial units as part of their public compliance conformity screening service.
In addition to the worker’s profound knowledge of the local environment, they also have far-reaching experience in working with manufacturing companies. As a result, they are most respected by the factory employees and the management (Sokun, 2004, p.3).
Price Waterhouse Coopers has been helping a number of multinational corporations, especially from the U.S. and Europe is sourcing their goods and services in Cambodia, by carrying out public compliance screening service in their factories (Sokun, 2004, p.4). Why is public compliance so significant in Indochina? Many global brands/ retail outfits acquire their goods from the local manufacturers in budding economies.
This strategy is aimed at minimizing the cost of production and maximizing profits since the labour cost in the developing economies is relatively low. All together, these companies are expected to conform to the national laws and public standards. The general working condition of their facilities is always under inspection. The persistent media focus on the working condition of these facilities is of great concern for both the companies and the consumers (Sokun, 2004, p.5).
The public compliance services offered by Price Waterhouse Coopers include public compliance monitoring, advising on public compliance matters, and lastly training services. Public conformity screening entails regular visits to the factory facilities where the assessors check the facility standards and employees working conditions. The procedure is aimed at identifying potential non-compliance and advice accordingly.
In addition, companies normally experience public compliance issues but are short of resources and expertise to resolve them. Owing to PwC’s profound understanding of domestic laws and the industry at large, they generally provide significant advices to assist their clients to promptly resolve such issues.
Lastly, PwC’s training services entail scheming programs based on domestic laws and social standards and training companies’ public compliance teams. PwC also regularly updates these teams on the current laws and social standards (Pricewaterhouse coopers, 2013; Sokun, 2004, p.5).
Nature of PwC’s Business
As already mentioned, PwC was founded in the late 90s through a merger between Coopers and Lybrand and Price Waterhouse. The two companies had already established themselves in the Cambodian market.
Since entering the Asian market, the company has increased its services and currently ranked as the top consultancy firm. The company has employed more than 80 employees in the country, both locals and expatriates (Sokun, 2004, p.7).
Price Waterhouse Cooper’s experience in local market has provided them with a wealth of knowledge and this enabled it to offer a variety of consultancy service to its customers. Particularly, the company’s position has enabled it to develop a rapport with public institutions and non-governmental organizations in the country (Sokun, 2004, p.7).
PwC also has a thorough understanding of the country’s policies and regulations covering investment, taxation, accountancy and consultancy. The quality of PwC’s services conforms to the standards set by its parent company. Some of the services offered by PwC in Cambodia include assurance and industrial advisory services, business and technological solutions, taxation and legal services, human resource services, and corporate finance services (Sokun, 2004, p.8).
PwC’s Human Resource Management
Human resource activities in PwC have generally been implemented as follows:
The PwC recruitment process is normally carried out annually and it targets young fresh graduates. Choosing and developing career is one of the most difficult tasks facing many gradients. As a result, Price Waterhouse Coopers more often than not organizes or participates in job fairs where the university graduates meet the company one on one and gain more knowledge about PwC.
At these events, the concerned graduates can attend the company’s presentation, get hold of the brochures and interact directly with the PwC’s staff. The company’s yearly presentation has almost become a norm. It provides the company with an opportunity to meet potential employees individually, market the company, and respond to specific questions.
During these presentations, the candidates are made aware of the company’s motivation and individual preferences. PwC normally considers the following during the recruitment process: General business knowledge; excellent interpersonal and communication skills; novelty and ingenuity; flexibility and adaptability; capability to work under pressure; a good team player; passion and desire for success; good English; commitment to career development; and superb academic qualification.
PwC also adds a list of accepted behaviours to the above qualifications. They include accountability, entrepreneurship and sharing. Accountability involves taking responsibility for customers, tasks and individuals; being frank and straightforward about the goals and performance; and accepting criticism and willing to learn from others.
On the other hand, entrepreneurship entails taking initiatives and being upbeat; persuading other people to be business-minded and providing professional advice; setting connections, searching for solutions and winning customers. Lastly, sharing involves contributing knowledge and ideas related to customers, business opportunities and organizational performance.
Individual skills are also evaluated in accordance with the job demands. If the skills match the job demands then an applicant can be called for a string of interviews and aptitude tests with the HR professionals and the heads of a particular department or line of service.
In cases where job applications are received when there are no vacancies in the organization, they are saved in the company’s database. They can later be reviewed when something comes up. The CV can also be forwarded to another recruiting firm who may consider it in case of other vacancies.
Selection involves both the applicants and the company and therefore is a dual process. The company also makes sure that candidates have full information in order to make an informed career decision-wise. PwC normally achieves this by arranging informal and formal meetings and interviews between the staff and the applicants.
The company generally selects candidates through the following stages. The first stage is reviewing of the application form. At this level the company normally searches for a balance between the excellent academic qualifications and evidence of the above mentioned skills and expected behaviour.
The second stage entails testing candidates on their proficiency in English language. As already mentioned, most of the company’s clients in the country are large foreign companies that predominantly use English during their transactions. As a result, English is a fundamental requirement of the company.
English Test encompasses reading and writing test. English test also involves an aptitude test which takes approximately 2 hours. The test is administered to assess an individual’s level of reasoning, interpretation of information and theoretical skills. All candidates progressing to the next stage must pass the aptitude test.
The third stage entails visiting a centre of excellence. The aim of these centres is to evaluate the applicants’ aptness for a position as a graduate associate by assessing them based on various proficiencies pertinent to the company’s work environment. At the centre, candidates are required to complete several exercises individually and in groups to demonstrate their skills.
Assessment centres provide candidates with an opportunity to demonstrate their skills practically instead of narrating them. Assessment in these centres takes about three hours. Soon after passing the English test candidates are invited to the proximal assessment centre.
The fourth stage of the selection process entails interviewing and workplace familiarization. During the first interview, applicants have the opportunity to meet different line managers. The candidates are then taken round to familiarize themselves with the office environment they could be working in.
They also get an opportunity to interact with other members of the staff. Subsequently, the candidates that have passed the first step at the centre of excellence will proceed to another interrogation with one of the company’s professional expert. This objective of this interview is to elucidate the candidates’ potential for the job sought. The interview involves a range of question and discussions related to their experience.
The initial interview is characteristically a group and takes about one and half an hour with a panel of 20 service line managers. Some of the qualities evaluated here incorporate teamwork, management, zeal, communication and presentation. For that reason, the company requires more than just technical skills. This is the stage where the applicants can now choose what they interested in. Applicants also have another chance to mingle with fellow applicants and other staff members.
The next stage is the last interview. The last interview gives the company an opportunity to clarify any pending matters. Similarly, it provides the candidate with an opportunity to raise any outstanding issues. Candidates who have completed the first interview will proceed to another vigorous interview with another expert.
The interview will take less than half an hour and will mainly focus on the candidates’ Curriculum Vita (CV) and his/her experience up to that moment. Finally, the sixth and the last stage is employment offer. After the company has offered a candidate a job they are allowed take time and think about it. At this stage, the company encourages candidates to speak with their recruitment contacts to clarify certain matters. The offer is only given to the best candidates.
Currently, most of the hurdles to international trade are being eliminated systematically. As a result, the main competitive advantage of most companies is in their human resource. This is in relation to the employees’ knowledge, proficiency and adaptability to change. The acquisition and nurturing of these competencies is a significant strategic advantage, and the company’s professional trainers play a major role in the training process.
For instance, they provide a methodological support, assist in choosing and executing support systems, and aid in getting hold of competences. The company’s customers benefits from its global organization which emphasizes on the cultural diversity and execution of procedures of consistently superior quality regardless of the locality.
PwC encourages their players to get professional training that is suitable for their job. The Association of Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA) is at the moment the most recommended qualifications for Assurance and Business Service and Taxation and Legal Services The cost of the training is normally covered by the company.
All the staff in Assurance and Business Service at the management levels must have a statutory auditing licence. The company also covers the costs of studying for any particular certificate or licence. All the employees are responsible for their career development in the company. Employees can discover their development needs by talking to the career counsellors or supervisors. Any qualifications attained besides the ones listed in the company database must be important to the execution of duties.
Education provides employees with an opportunity to access a wide rage of knowledge and experience. Classroom training encompasses numerous activities and most of them are practical and requires group participation The Company’s classroom training program facilitate exchanges of knowledge and ideas similar to on-work training.
The company also offers “Just-in-time” learning through personal training and development on a daily basis. In addition, the company has career coaches who help employees to maximize on their experience in order to develop their careers.
Some of the company’s on job training includes learning while working, learning from other employees, learning from clients, and learning from knowledge-based tools. Learni8ng while working is meant to empower the staff to learn. The team senior managers offer constant on-job-training while the peer mentors assist with fresh recruits to acclimatise them to the working environment.
The company’s employees also have access to rich knowledge through online knowledge-based tools. The K-based tool acts as knowledge warehouse and procedural tools that helps employees to make the most of shared knowledge. Close engagement with the customers also provides fresh challenges and opportunities to gain more knowledge and experience.
The company’s culture is built an extensive knowledge of their clients through day to day experience. Knowing the client in and out helps employees to gain more knowledge about the industry, corporate strategies, and other issues facing the business.
Examples of the training programmes offered by the company include ACCA training programme, annual international courses and a range of informative events and seminars. The ACCA training program requires the candidate to pass fourteen tests and for that reason employees who sit for these exams acquire global accreditation and can even become members of the ACCA.
The complexity of the questions offered in the annual international courses depends on the knowledge and experience of an employee. The events and workshops address pertinent matters and new techniques of doing business. In addition, the company encourages mingling during free times to promote teamwork. They facilitate this by organizing various events, for instance, sports.
PwC’s Career Development
PwC is highly devoted to developing the professional career of its staff. The company normally promotes the most competent and experienced staff.
Employees are usually assigned a career counsellor who works closely with him/her. The counsellor helps the employee to prepare his/her career development path by taking into consideration the employees’ dreams and individual state of affair. They also assist employees to improve on their strengths and make the most of opportunities.
The career development path of PwC is as follows: employees who have worked for a year or two are entitled to a promotion; those who have worked for more than two years can be promoted to higher positions; employees who have worked for the company for more than four or more years can be promoted to top most positions in the organization. The two main fundamental components of career development in the company are: exact and prompt performance evaluation; use of models that enhances opportunities and innovations.
The company uses models that connect worker’s ambitions and their career development. These models take into account the fact that individuals have unique aspirations. The model offers assessable structures that are important in the development of employees’ careers. The company rewards and distinguishes highly performing and competent staff. The system offers momentous flexibility to adjust company’s objectives, career plans and strategies to maximize on employees’ strengths and ambitions.
The PwC career development system links it with the company’s philosophy of “grow with us”. The model allows employees to develop skills and competence in a number of fields or build expertise in a single field. The promotion and reward as said earlier are based on individual performance consistent with his/her capabilities.
In addition to the apparent benefits to the employees, the models have strengthened the company by encouraging entrepreneurial culture. Price Waterhouse Coopers flourishes through the development of groundbreaking products and services, whereas the career development programmes promotes required environment for growth of expertise.
The company not only recognizes workers’ career development but also promotes it. Currently, most organizations are experiencing high employee turnover. This is attributed to increased competition in the labour/talent market. The disadvantages of job mobility include loss of friends and benefits as well as the uncertainties of blending into a new environment. For that reason, the company is always sensitive to the affairs of the employees.
Employees who want to change their job are always free to do so as long as the position they are looking for is vacant. They are allowed to make a confidential self-nomination for any particular job and maybe change their job. They will still leverage all they have vested in the company. The vacancies are posted in the company’s career choice database. Besides self-nomination, the employees are allowed to recommend their families, friends and relatives.
The company’s performance assessment programmes is a blend of excellent practices, strategies and ideologies. The performance appraisal programs develop and mature consistently, in order to provide the staff with the best guidance achievable.
The programs are designed to facilitate dual communication. In other words, the programme allows the employee and the evaluator to discuss and concur on the set goals and assignments. At the end of a given project, the two are allowed to sit down and talk before the evaluation process commences.
The model enables employees to play a major part in the performance appraisal process, for instance, in setting up objectives. The approach encourages success both from an individual and company’s point of view. The approach also guides employees and help them to understand what is expected of them. In addition, they offer required flexibility and space for ingenuity and employee development. Lastly, they act as controls and assist employees in understanding organizational goals and objectives.
A study conducted by Aksu & Aktas (2005) regarding job satisfaction of employees in service industry established that improved working conditions can enhance job satisfaction. Improved working conditions in this case encompass work promotions, boosting morale of employees, financial rewards, fringe benefits and compensation, and realistic working hours.
Aksu and Aktas (2005) suggested in their study that training and development can assist in enhancing job satisfaction in the service industry. The study also found out that an employee in the service industry plays a significant role in work commitment and satisfaction.
The company’s main objective is to high highly qualified personnel and to reward those who perform exceptionally. Besides the normal salary, they give annual bonuses in accordance with performance and give allowances for special occasions, for instance, weddings, birthdays and leave.
The best human resource management practices are the one that is all inclusive and continuous in nature. All inclusive in this case means participation without discrimination and consensus building. HRM activities should be done on a regular basis and not on a spontaneous basis. The activities should aim at establishing the solutions to the current looming challenges and developing new ideas/ innovation. Human beings are always sceptical in nature when it comes to innovations. Therefore, apart from developing new strategies and ideas, HRM should act as a means of communication between the management and the employees. This provides the employees with confidence, trust and belief when implementing the new strategies/ideas. The employees in this case understand the benefits of the new ideas/ strategy and its challenges. The best design and strategy in HRM must integrate training with other elements of the organizations such as organizational structure, performance evaluation system, organization’s culture among others. This is the only way to achieve sustainability and organizational success. Strategic human resource management is a key component of strategic staffing; many organizations with efficient strategic planning techniques are always one step ahead of the competitors. Thus, it is really important for a manager to think strategically for the benefit of the company or organization as a whole unit. Key issues that hinder strategic human resource management should be identified at an early stage and dealt with in time.
In order to achieve the most effective and efficient HRM in Cambodia, the PWC should consider the following: first, for recruitment activities, the PWC should consider using the internet to advertise job vacancies and receive applications (Wexley & Latham, 2002). Use of the internet for recruitment process enhances the company’s image and profile all over the world. At the same time, it minimizes costs and time wastage. The company can also improve its recruitment campaign with the use of conventional media, for instance, newspapers, radio and TV among others. For the selection process, the company should do thorough reference checking to confirm the candidate’s background and competencies. This will also ensure that the company is not penalized in the future for negligent hiring. For training activities, the company can make use of the worksheets to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. They can also liaise with institutions that specialize in certain areas to develop their employees further. For performance appraisal, the company should introduce accomplishment-based performance standards and assessable results. In addition, they should introduce a reward system that recognizes the hard work and contribution of the employees in other spheres besides their normal routine.
Aksu, A., & Aktas, A. (2005). Job satisfaction of managers in tourism: cases in the Antalya region of Turkey. Managerial Auditing Journal, 20 (5), 479-488.
Cascio, W. (2006). Managing human resources: managing productivity, quality of work, life, profits. 7th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Dessler, G. (2008). Human resource management. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs.
Pricewaterhouse coopers (2013). Company Profile. Retrieved from https://www.pwc.com/.
Sokun, N. (2004). Human Resource Management of Price Waterhouse Coopers. ASEAN Business Case Studies No. 23. Phnom Penh, Cambodia: National University of Management.
Wexley, K., & Latham, G. (2002). Developing and training human resources in organization, 3rd Ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.