Organizations have identified hiring qualified human resources as a strategy towards successful human planning and management. It is a key to employee satisfaction and growth which translates into increased productivity. For an excellent performance, managers focus on crating structures and management systems that promote initiative and creativity among the human resources.
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They are used by firms to create a competitive advantage and create consistency in organizational growth. Although these practices are considered to be universal, there is a lot of diversity in the way different countries manage human resources (Guerrero & Didier, 2004).
Cross national divergence in employment practices is perceptible to the different methods in which policy makers in different organizational environments react to the challenges of global competition. There exists a considerable heterogeneity in labor resources practices among the nations.
They noted the development of certain employment practices comprising of a team based production, devolved decision making, active employee involvement, reward for performance, and new designs of training and skill acquisition (Lawler & Hundley, 2008). Most French firms exhibit high involvement practices which are closely linked to their positive growth (Guerrero & Didier, 2004).
On the other hand, Canada focuses on innovative human resource strategies through employee engagement in the various operational activities within the firms (Eco Canada, 2009). This paper compares and contrasts the prevailing human resource practices in Canada and France, and how they influence growth and development.
Job Design & Analysis
Job analysis and design has been put at the heart of human resource practices and has been treated as the most critical aspect in managing business. France has maintained global competitiveness by concentrating on a market driven adjustment process in which state owned enterprises have been privatized. Firms have moved from the highly standardized procedures to enable workers to include their innovative ideas.
This is slowly eliminating the authoritarian form of leadership and employees can implement change while still following the hierarchies put in place. They have the opportunity to control and understand their work, firms use this strategy to gather intelligence, ideas and motivation from the employees and match their potential with the right tasks.
This way, employees do not experience stress but are self motivated to obtain personal, career goals and the company objectives. This form of commitment has demonstrated a positive impact as observed on the turnover rate and the positive work environment (Guerrero & Didier, 2004).
As for Canada, firms are going beyond the standard approaches such as knowledge, abilities, and skills emphasize on self motivation, teamwork, adaptability and creativity to create a competency focussed approach. These are combined with the technical skills and knowledge to ensure that firms attract talent and the right candidates.
This also promotes employee retention and helps organizations in overcoming the complexities that come with growth and expansion. It minimizes the cost and time taken during training and reduces the likelihood of errors.
Rescan, for example, attracts individuals who share the same leadership values by marketing its achievements and awards to enlighten the public on its corporate culture and increase its employer brand awareness (Eco Canada, 2009).
Human Resources Planning
French firms are using human resource planning as a tool to compete globally. They have strengthened industry-institute interaction to ensure that the knowledge given to students is relevant to the roles given at the work place. To promote this interaction further, France came up with institutions to create an interface between the industries and the academia.
Firms participate by supporting student projects, sponsoring long term research or even sharing their equipment and facilities for the purposes of learning. This prepares students for work and gives them an idea of what is expected of them in their preferred industries. The country faces a demographic shift challenge in the public sector. This is due to the large departure flow of old workers.
There is no adequate time for the departing to train the incoming adequately. The pension is also costly given that they are leaving in large quantities. There should be the implementation of cost containment policies to cater for the long term financial needs (Reddy, 2005).
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Canada has also embraced institution-industry interaction. However, it has taken a special interest in the employment standards to promote a positive work environment, as well as proactive relationships. The labor program regulates the workplaces in the federal jurisdiction and has ensured that all businesses in Canada are regulated by the federal (Human Resources and Skills development in Canada, 2006).
Recruitment & Selection
Most of the firms in Canada have embraced electronic labor exchange (www.ele-spe.otg). This serves as a form of recruitment that runs on computers with the ability of correlating the employers’ job specifications to the applicants’ qualifications.
HRDC also assists the prospective job seekers to enhance their skills, with activities ranging from literacy and educational training to providing subsidies for individual training on the job, and they even provide tuition fees and offer sustenance income for those individuals who are still going to college.
Despite employee referrals and advertising being the predominant sources for applicants, the web and the internet are gradually taking over as the preferred tool for recruitment (Zanko & Ngui, 2002).
Canada also uses employee referral programs to encourage staff involvement in the process. Some organizations encourage employees to refer candidates who posses the same values as themselves. Such employees are then rewarded if the employees referred prove to be of great value to the organization (Eco Canada, 2009).
During the recession of 2001, many corporations were faced with an acute shortage of employees which made them result into unconventional strategies of recruitment such as the offering of referral bonus payments for employees who could recruit individuals in areas that they were mostly needed.
Offers made to the new recruits also included considerable bonuses, and lead the employers to facilitate employer friendly packages such as recreational facilities, and meals at the place of work. Most of these incentives soon disappeared as fast as they appeared, due to the recession of 2001 (Zanko & Ngui, 2002).
Large companies in France have been using the internet as a tool for conducting recruitments. ANPE & APEC which are the national employment agency and the executive employment agency respectively, attract the highest attention to their websites.
Private and generalized websites developed in 1996, focus on interactivity. During 1999, American and European based websites were translated into French which contributed to their spread in France. By the year 2000, specialized websites designed by various companies dramatically increased.
The most dominant screening tool is still the traditional employment interview. On average, the entire recruitment exercise needs about three interviews, and the final decision to employ an individual is taken by the manager who is usually liable for the recruit’s performance (Budhwar & Sparrow, 2002).
Most companies in France have experienced behavioral controls, which create distance between employees. This caused less attention to customers, and more emphasizes to the supervisors resulting in negative growth. Today, firms in France have adopted orientation strategies that promote teamwork and encourage new employees to work closely with their supervisors.
Social exchange mechanisms have been promoted to create a free environment in which employees can freely interact to promote teamwork. The French tend to be very formal in their interaction with new people, and this affects the orientation process. However, once employees become familiar with one another, the formality is dropped, and colleagues easily address one another by the first name.
Most firms encourage this friendly approach in which old and new employees interacting to compliment each other to achieve the organizational goals. Employees have equal rights and individuals are accountable for their actions.
Thus, firms have solved the problem of dimensions in power. Social justice promotes peaceful relations at the workplace. Most of the firms also offer equal employment opportunities based on employee qualifications (Liao, Martocchio & Joshi, 2010).
Canadian firms recognize the importance of a well structured orientation process which increases the employees’ ability to integrate into the system. New employees learn about their areas of operation and the general information regarding the company.
For instance, Terrapex international has created a detailed checklist that is used to guide employees on the basic work operations and include old staff members in the process. This checklist is designed to ensure that information is not only learnt from the supervisor but also co-workers (Eco Canada, 2009). On the other hand, France recognizes succession as a great form of orientation especially for top management.
It ensures that new employees can successfully introduce their innovative ideas by experiencing the current strategies and identify areas that need change. Through this procedure, the company can maintain its current target market while seeking to expand.
Instantaneous changes in an organization can discourage existing customers and succession eliminates such occurrences by encouraging new employees to learn the existing culture before introducing change (Haddadji, 2006).
Training and Development
In Canada, firms have ensured continuous training to their employees by introducing e-training and development. Employees can learn and interact with each other through e-programs. This way, accessing information is easy and fast thus they can respond to customer needs adequately (Barrow, 2003).
In addition to pre-career education, the Canadian Centre for Management and development is working with Campuses to promote mid career development. Senior executives who have limited time have the option of attending quick fix seminars offered by private organizations (Goldfinch & Wallis, 2009). Labor regulations in France have a huge impact on training programs.
All French organizations with workforce of at least ten employees on the payroll are subject to mandatory contributions of about 1.5% of the salary bill. These are for the purposes of facilitating training or are liable to financial penalties. Organizations with fewer employees are required to contribute about 0.15% of the total wage bill towards training programs.
On average, most organizations spend more than the required legal minimum on training which amounts to about 3% of the total wage bill. The rate of accessibility to training programs for employees is estimated at about 38%, and for organizations it is as high as 60%. This rate also fluctuates with qualification standards, ranging from 10% of casual workers to 60% for executives and technicians (Budhwar & Sparrow, 2002).
Performance appraisals have existed in most Canadian firms and have changed from mere check lists into result oriented approaches. Initially, these appraisals checked on the job behavior and personality traits. However, today most firms focus on performance standards, objectives and goals. Employees get to know what is expected of them and their progress in their current positions.
This has been achieved by changing the process from one year event to become frequent and engaging to both employees and their supervisors. Similarly, French companies are also seeking to identify the relationship between individual career goals and the company’s goals and objectives.
However, there is a weakness in that French labor law gives firms large flexibility in assessing and evaluating employee performance. Appraisals are influenced by employee education and social backgrounds and personal judgement. It has resulted in reduced morale and high power distance, and some firms experienced a low degree of openness and transparency in the evaluation process (Varma, Budhwar & DeNisi, 2008).
In general, in France, the individual employees are personally responsible for their own career development. However, the human resource role shares a collective responsibility with line supervisors and the top management in facilitating employee development in an attempt to maintain their loyalty.
Consequently, human resource managers have to grapple with a new phenomenon of psychological contracts in which most organizations no longer provide long term contracts to their employees. Instead employees are forced to accept the burden of developing their own credibility to be employed, both externally and internally, but they need the assistance of the organization to attain their career objectives.
Legal requirements like the competences balance sheet provide some leeway to individuals. Assessment Centre is utilized quite frequently. This is especially in assessing an individual’s potential. Nevertheless, individuals view the traditional assessment interview as a principle career management strategy used by organizations (Lawler & Hundley, 2008).
Canada also emphasizes on individual growth for in which firms encourage employees to work towards their aspiration by supporting creativity and innovation. While some employees will desire for higher positions in the future, others achieve their goals through intrinsic rewards such as job satisfaction, or accomplishing projects that improve the society’s quality of life (Goldfinch & Wallis, 2009).
Compensation, Employee Benefits and Services
All the employment sectors in Canada have worker’s compensation regulations. Therefore, individuals who suffer from work related injuries or sickness are obligated to forego individual rights to legal prosecutions in order to get special benefits.
In various jurisdictions, there are other privileges that include the right of being re-employed in case an employee is deemed capable of returning to his normal duties by a medical practitioner (Zanko & Ngui, 2002). The cost of employee benefits has increased, and Canadian firms have adopted mechanisms to contain these costs.
These firms require employees to pay a lot for health care in an effort to limit their expenditure on employee benefits. They have also increased their investment in accommodation and enhancement benefits, as well as the elimination of retiree health insurance. These strategies allow firms to contain costs and offer the employees adequate benefits ad proper working conditions (Werner, 2012).
Private French firms have different terms from civil servants, farmers and the self employed. The private firms tend to have more generous benefits, and this has attracted more people into the private sector (Blanke, Blanpain & Rose, 2005).
Occupational Health & Safety
In Canada, the laws and regulations relating to compensation do not offer the many required incentives to the corporations to invest in health and safety measure as compared to the regulations in France which encourage investment in health and safety.
However, in both countries, firms have opted for the consumer driven health care objectives which help companies to control their costs while still offering employees a greater choice in health care.
Some of the popular approaches include the Flexible spending accounts, which enable employees to pay for their medical expenses that are not covered with deductible insurance schemes. Health reimbursement accounts are also used as they help in cutting down health costs for the employers (Werner, 2012).
Effective Labor/ Union Relations
Labor unions are used to represent employees in passing laws that favor employee interests in both countries. It includes both national and international unions to ensure that workers in other regions like the United States are also considered.
France, for instance, is characterized by a strong state intervention in which relations between firm managers and labor have always been conceived with the assistance of a third party actor which is the state. French Law uses collective bargaining as the only source basis for wage regulation (Blanke, Blanpain & Rose, 2005). Canada has public and private sector unions which have experienced a lot of rifts as a result of political action.
This has also led to the divisions between the national and international unions. Centralized bargaining should be encouraged to ensure that unions have a greater leverage on employers to improve workers wages and working conditions (Phelan, 2007).
French firms have been lagging behind in terms of diversity and equality in the workplace. This has prompted the government to create a national diversity plan to deal with diversity issues. France has been ranked near bottom among the European countries. Therefore, firms have been urged to include immigrants from former French colonies in their recruitment process.
The country has also experienced challenges since it does not allow any religious practices like wearing veils in public. This discriminates individuals who feel that they are entitled to practice their religious values even at the workplace (Borrego & Greggory, 2011).
The Canadian work force has become very diverse in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, physical abilities and national origins. This is attributed to the need for employees deal with customers with diverse origins and the need to work as teams.
Western Union is one of the companies that have embraced diversity with employees from China, Colombia, India, Poland, and Philippines among others. Such organizations have been driven by the need to gain a competitive edge in expanding to international markets and to meet the diverse population needs (Guffey & Almonte, 2009).
In both countries, human resource development has been used by firms to gain a competitive advantage in the local and international markets. This lays the foundation of generating a well educated and skilled labor force. In both countries, the use of employee referrals was used during when the economies experienced shortages of technically skilled labor, with the employees who gave referrals benefiting from bonuses from their employers.
Globalization has promoted diversity in the workplace. This has led to international processes and procedures in human resource. Although the countries exhibit differences in their human resource practices, both countries are converging towards a central point.
They are quite similar in many aspects but differ only in relation to the cultural norms valued by the citizens of the respective countries. For organizations to retain a stable workforce, they should be able to attract and retain their employees.
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