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In any organization that is keen on achieving success, human resource is a precious commodity that must be guarded and protected jealously because it is to a large extent the major component of the organization’s brand name, which is the key to its success because personnel forms the backbone of the firm.
For this reason, quality of employee is closely correlated with the quality of work output which is all the more reason why the company should adopt best practices in HR management.
Because this paper intends to analyze and discuss the concept of human resource policies in general especially in the organizational context, our main focus will be on one of the most recently advanced human resource model and its subsets that is proving effective and reliable in human resource management; this is the Strategic Human resource management (SHRM).
SHRM is a concept that had been advanced more recently by human resource specialist that recognize employee as key factor to the success of the organization (Pinnington and Edwards, 2000). SHRM is different from traditional personnel management in that it recognizes the need to incorporate and align employee work procedures with the organization’s long term business operations strategic objectives.
Thus, SHRM is concerned with attainment of two main objectives, that is best utilization of the human personnel which is achievement of the organizations strategic business and operational objectives as outlined in the organization’s mission statement as well as ensuring that the human resource achieves job satisfaction in the process (Stone, 2006).
Unlike ordinary personnel management strategies, SHRM goes beyond the routine activities of human resource such as recruitment, training, personnel development, and salary processing.
The key concept of a SHRM is to achieve an efficient human resource that complement the organizational business goals and visions which also build on a framework that integrates the external factors of the organization as well (Fernado, 2005).
The SHRM model is based on seven groups of characteristics that have been designed to highlight the core values of a framework which should be incorporated in any form of employee management that is designed to be effective.
There are four models of SHRM which have so far been advanced: Harvard, Soft or Hard, Unitarist or Pluralist and Relationship to IR (Butod, 2009). The Harvard model concept is build around employee efficiency that it identifies to be of crucial value that an organization must invest in order to achieve organization desired goals effectively.
Hard or Soft HRM model is a two part approach to employee management where the Hard element of the model focuses on strategic employee management to achieve personnel efficiency, and Soft engages employee in workplace through consultation, communication and cultivates personnel commitment (Stone, 2006).
Unitarist or Pluralist is also a two part model where Unitarist strives for commitment through development of mutual objectives between the organization and employee that are aligned together, Pluralist anticipate conflict with employee and therefore develops contingencies.
Finally the HRM and Industrial Relationship model argues that organization leaders must factor in complications in personnel management due to interference from employee union organizations (Butod, 2009).
The core SHRM characteristics can be summarized in seven groups of practises that defines the way that organizational should ideally interact with their employees.
Time and Planning Perspective is one of the characteristics; under this characteristic an organizational has three objectives to deliver as far as human resource are concerned. One, a company applies long term measures towards solving employee problems and therefore promotes employee retention (SouthPacific.edu, 2010).
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Two, an organization should anticipate, design and implement policies that are in the best interest of the company and employee welfare long before employee start agitating for them, this way employee feels contented at all times with their jobs.
Finally an organization develops employee policy reforms that are consistent with it future strategic goals and objectives, which is notably one of the core features of SHRM.
The second characteristic that an organization has to its employee under the frameworks of SHRM is referred as Psychological Contract, towards this end an organization approach to human resource management aims to achieve commitment from personnel rather than enforce compliance (SouthPacific.edu, 2010).
This way high compliance rate is achieved as well as favourable working condition and the organization gets to save on costs associated with enforcement of organizations policies in the process.
A third characteristic of SHRM is Control System which requires an organization to implement systems that promote employee self control as a strategy for personnel management rather than internal or external control systems.
Fourth, Employee Relations Perspective requires organizations to apply Unitarist theory towards employee management and therefore cultivate a culture of trust between personnel and organizations management (SouthPacific.edu, 2010). The fifth characteristic is the need for organizations to have Proffered organizational theory which should ideally be a devolved structure with flexible employee roles.
Closely related to this characteristic is the organizations role in creating personnel jobs; as such employee job responsibilities according to SHRM should be integrated with organizational operational and business strategies. Finally, SHRM requires organization to redefine the way it undertakes it evaluation criteria which should involve engaging with employees for purposes of maximum utilization (SouthPacific.edu, 2010).
Collectively these seven characteristics as well as the various SHRM models defines the concepts of SHRM that organizations are ideally expected to implement when designing a human resource policy and is very different from traditional human resource management approaches.
Roles of HRM
A core feature of HRM involves personnel management duties as well as management of systems within the work systems. Thus, because HRM is a process that involves personnel and systems management there are two possible approaches that HRM can adopt which include instrumental (hard) and humanistic (soft) (Stone, 2006).
Under Instrumental approach the HRM recognizes the need to strategic and qualitative management of human resource under a framework that is oriented towards improving employee performance and increasing the competitive advantage.
In humanistic approach the HRM strives towards integrating the organizations policies in employee job responsibilities without compromising on employee development, trust, collaboration, informed choice and active participation.
It is from this background that the roles of a human resource manager can be comprehensively understood because they are based on these two approaches and core duties that we have so far discussed.
In this section we are going to discuss the major roles of a human resource manager based on the SHRM model and concepts. There are four major roles that an effective HR manager must consistently strive to perform in order to achieve ideal employee work output in an organization.
The major roles of a HR manager according to Stone involve strategic management, administrative expert, employee championship and catalyst for change agent (2006). One of the unique features of SHRM that sets it apart from other human resource management approaches such as Clerks of works or even Contracts negotiator is its strategic management aspect.
As a result, strategic management is arguably one of the core duties that HR manager is expected to deliver under the SHRM model; the essence of strategic management is based on five components.
These are organizational mission and objectives, industry environmental analysis, SWOT analysis, strategy implementation, performance evaluation and a component for feedback (Stone, 2006).
These five components are essential to designing the types of strategies that HR manager needs to develop for the organization. Some of the types of strategies undertaken by HR manager include retrenchment, stability, growth and international strategies among others (Stone, 2006).
Ultimately the objective of strategic management by the HR department is undertaken for several reasons some of which include integration of HR functions with organizational business operations, focus on empowerment and utilizations of organizations human resource, management of organizations culture, behaviour change and work environment among others.
The importance of HR managers role of strategic management cannot be more emphasized if one was to consider the fact that good employee management skills is crucial in enabling an organization attain high level of employee retention which is key to its competitive advantage.
Examples of strategic management activities in organizations include harmonizing employee career objectives and that of the organization to ensure that employees and organization achievements feed on each other which is consistent with SHRM hard model framework.
Another example of strategic management role of HR includes focus on employee skill building and adoption of policies that recognize employee as a core resource for the company.
It is also through strategic management that HR manager is able to work toward strengthening the overall employee teamwork relationship in a way that employee workforce is efficiently directed towards meeting organizational objectives.
The following is a representation of the Havard model that illustrates the necessary interventions needed by the HR in order to align employee’s objectives with the organization’s goals which can be used as an ideal framework of employee management.
The Harvard Model
Source: University of South Pacific 2010
Because motivation is a central feature in any ideal employee management program, let us briefly discuss its place in a well designed human resource policy. Motivation refers to the desired positive mental attitude in an employee that emanates from activities done by the employer or that comes from within the employee that serves to promote job satisfaction and over achievement (Reeves, 2008).
Therefore motivation is in two parts, that which an organization undertakes through such activities as motivational talks, salary increase and improved work environment, or through personal motivation that comes from within the employee.
Motivation of employees in work environment has several benefits; it benefits the employee through job satisfaction which usually results to the employee being more creative at work place (Kouzes and Bulker, 2007). This is besides the direct benefit that motivation has to the organization (Erez, Earley and Hulin, 2004).
An innovative employee is more proactive in tackling job related issues with little if no guidance from the management; in addition, they are creative in developing and providing solutions for job related problems since they have interest in their job and therefore are well versed with their job procedure thoroughly (Kouzes and Bulker).
An employee is able to achieve personal motivation if the job description matches with their skill which makes it easier and enjoyable to do; other reasons are personal happiness, financial security and perceived value (Marlock, 2007).
The perception of an internal management system that rewards productivity and which detects nonperformance is both deterrence and a motivator to employees (Pearce and Robinson, 2008) that prevents employees from lapsing and at the same time serves as a motivation to work hard and perform in order to progress rapidly through the organization defined career path.
Pfeffer has identified seven key areas in organization that build on employee efficiency and directly contribute to the company performance. These key areas are: employment security, self-managed teamwork, pay rise pegged on personnel performance, selective recruitment process, regular personnel training, communication facilitation in organization and reduction employee differentials (cited in McCourt and Edridge, 2004).
A good motivation system should be integrated in any effective personnel management plan (Michie, and Sheehan-Quinn, 2001). Its benefits to employees include suitable job environment, health and job satisfaction all of which contributes to the success of an organization and advertently the reason why an organization should strive to ensure employees are always motivated at work place (Michie, and Sheehan-Quinn, 2001).
An effective employee management system must address all this areas and every other area that personnel are assessed against; it should therefore have components of ethics, job procedures, targets, teamwork, motivation, disciplinary procedures and performance evaluation (Andries and Inge, 2005).
Ethics will define the working relationship between employees themselves including senior management, behavior at work place and elsewhere. Job procedures will include defined process of work, problem solving skills, work innovation among others that enables the organization to increase production.
Employees will be expected therefore to abide to work guidelines and continuously acquire new skills that will improve and make their work more efficient. In problem solving an employee can learn a lot from team work activities and senior management personnel through mentoring which enable them learn to use acquired skill to solve work related problems (Andries and Inge, 2005).
Employees should be expected to continuously meet certain levels of job targets that will ensure both the company and employee remain productive. This is because additional skills and team work in job environment usually increases job efficiency which translates to high job targets (Andries and Inge, 2005).
Teamwork therefore should be emphasized as an integral part of employee work process that should be viewed as an opportunity to learn from others and improve interpersonal skills. Motivation is another area that the company should commit resources in order to help employees achieve them.
For example in forms of salary raise, bonus, improved working condition and motivation talks. This will motivate employees to achieve high targets which are central component in the performance evaluation process that determines if an employee is ready to be promoted to the next career level.
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