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The Role of the Human Resource Department in influencing the behavior of the employees Essay

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Updated: Feb 7th, 2019

The Human Resource Department is endowed with the task of assisting the organization it is representing in attaining its goals and meeting the needs of its workers. This department is the hub of the company acting as a liaison between all the parties concerned with the aim of improving the performance of the organization.

The efforts of the HR Department are increasingly being recognized as an essential element in organizational success; therefore, a major focus of the department’s interventions is an effort to influence the behavior of the employees. It is important to note that providing the workforce with the necessary expertise and behaviour is able make an organization to realize its objectives. Therefore, the HR Department plays a pivotal role in influencing the behaviour of the employees in an organization.

The behavior of the employees is influenced by numerous and complex factors. This makes the process of identification of these factors to be difficult to ascertain. However, as much as it is not an easy task, identification of these factors is essential for any HR Department program to bear fruits in influencing employee behavior.

External forces, those that are found outside the organization, or internal forces, those within the employees, affect the behavior of the employees. Therefore, the internal and the external forces interact to give yield to a given behavioural characteristic in an employee. This is why it is important for the HR Department to evaluate these factors when trying to influence the behaviour of the employees.

Factors in the external environment such as the state of the economy, laws by the government, activities of the competitors, or technological changes, generally affect the behaviour of the employees (Werner & DeSimone, 2009, p.37). Influences from outside can also have a negative impact on the organizations with stable internal work environments and accredited standards of employee behaviours.

In most instances, external influences usually compel companies to make drastic actions such as reducing the number of their employees by downsizing in order to reduce costs. Recent studies have indicated that the practice of downsizing leads to a lower employee satisfaction because the remaining employees generally fear that they may be the next targets. In order for companies to attain their goals, maintaining their investment in the employees is imperative. This should be done even if they are restructuring or downsizing.

Therefore, to influence the employee behaviour, the HR Department should focus on programs to train those who have not been downsized. However, because the practice of downsizing has a huge impact for human resource development, the HR Department can play a critical role on the efficiency of downsizing. This calls for the HR Department to make more efforts in challenging or redirecting possible organizational downsizing to avoid negative employee behaviour in the workplace.

Besides the external forces, there are also forces within the work environment that have an impact on the behaviour of the employees. These factors include, but not limited to, outcomes, attributes of the company, and colleagues in the work place.

Outcomes, which can either be personal or organizational in nature, take place due to a given employee behaviour. Personal outcomes, for example, salary, recognition, and emotions, have value to the person, while organizational outcomes, for example, teamwork, productivity and product quality, are valued by the organization.

These outcomes are the things a company strives to accomplish through the collective efforts of the workforce and employee behaviour result from the outcomes that they either like or dislike. Undesirable outcomes such as public humiliation, steps taken to discipline employees, loss of privileges, can influence employee behaviour.

It is important to note that employee perceptions of the outcomes are essential elements that determine their behaviour. The expectancy and the equity theories have been proposed to explain this. According to the expectancy theory, individuals are likely to perform behaviours that they perceive will bring valued outcomes; therefore, not fulfilling certain obligations to employees may make them to change their behaviour (DuBrin, 2009).

According to the equity theory, outcomes are assessed in relation to how they are received by the other employees. For example, if the workers perceive an injustice, they may change their behaviour to reduce the injustice, or offering bonuses and recognition enables the workers to know of their good performance. The illustrations above indicate the importance of outcome and outcome perception to the HR Department.

Therefore, the department should be aware of the outcomes of the performance of the employees in order to influence effectively the behaviour of the employees. Being sensitive of this would assist the department to detect the needs to attend professional seminars, encourage employees to take part in training, take part in developmental actions, and apply what they have learnt during the training in changing their behaviour at the workplace.

The characteristics of the organization can have an effect on the behaviour of the employees. This is achieved by means of its reward structure, culture, as well as job design. An organization’s reward structure is based on the types of rewards that it employs, the method of distributing the rewards, and the decisive factor for distributing the reward.

The rewards, including tangible things such as monetary benefits and intangible things such as recognition and acceptance, ought to give ideally the outcomes desired by the entire workforce (Banfield & Kay, 2008). Investigations have revealed that workers are more likely to accomplish duties for which they are rewarded.

The lack of a carefully designed reward system can lead to undesirable behaviour amongst the employees and their motivation and performance can also be lowered when the reward system is perceived to be a strong control mechanism. Thus, the HR Department must comprehend the reward system of the organization it represents in order to influence the behaviour of the employees. This entails what the reward system is meant to do, how to apply it, and how to address the workers response to it.

The culture of the organization, which is a set of values, beliefs, and norms within the organization, also has an influence on the behaviour of the employees. Employees who are aware of the culture of their organization usually behave in ways that uphold that culture in any situation.

Therefore, the HR Department can function as a means through which the culture of the organization is perpetuated or changed in ways that are able to influence the behaviour of the employees. In addition, the department can also be affected by the organization’s culture in terms of its significance and acceptance.

Job design is a practice in which an employee’s job description is modified for enhancing productivity as well as his or her quality of work life. When the components of a particular job are altered in such a way that factors that fulfill employees’ development are included, an organization would be able to attain its objectives because of the resulting increase in productivity. This implies that the HR Department can construct its jobs in such a way that the employees remain more satisfied and more productive.

Colleagues and teams at the place of work are able to affect the behaviour of the employees in a number of ways. To begin with, colleagues usually control some of the outcomes valued by an employee. Therefore, they can use those outcomes to influence the behaviour of the employee depending on whether they deem them to be positive or negative.

For instance, if an employee behaves positively, the coworkers may reinforce that behaviour by offering friendship and recognition; however, if he or she behaves negatively, they can punish the employee through insults, or threats. Norms or informal rules found in team situations provide a guideline on the type of behaviour accepted; therefore, employees are likely to behave according to these set principles.

Since most development programs are usually carried out within work groups, the HR Department should comprehend the influence of group dynamics on employee behaviour. The HR professionals should monitor potentially destructive dynamics and act accordingly in order to avoid negative employee behaviour. Moreover, they should pay increased attention to manipulative behaviours fostered by employees.

Motivation, as an essential ingredient for influencing employee behaviour, serves the purpose of generating and channeling voluntary actions that are goal directed. Since the motivation to work controls almost every behaviour found in the workplace, employees’ behaviour is an indication of the perceived results of their actions even in instances where they are forced to accomplish a task.

It is important to note that motivation centers on numerous processes that influence behaviour such as applying effort to one behaviour over another or making a decision to either continue or stop performing a given behaviour. Because of the unique differences from individuals, motivation at the workplace is often viewed from individual basis (Bruce & Pepitone, 1999, p.3).

Therefore, understanding the concept of motivation is essential for the success of the HR Department in influencing the behaviour of the employees. The impact of most HR Department programs is based on whether the person is encouraged to utilize what he or she has learnt for enhancing performance at the workplace.

For example, an individual may attend a training exercise but does not apply the techniques learnt because he or she was not motivated. This implies that the HR Department should develop relevant programs that are aimed at motivating the employees. To address these issues conclusively, theories of work motivation can be used to remedy the performance hitches.

Generally, theories to explain on work motivation are categorized into three main groups. These are need-based, cognitive, and non-cognitive theories. These theories give a vital insight into the design and implementation of HR Department motivational programs in an organization.

The concept of needs, as either physiological or psychological deficiencies, forms the root of most approaches to work motivation. Even though needs are internal states, they can be affected by forces in the outside environment, for example, changes in the global economy and the potential for layoffs in a company may increase a worker’s need for security, thus lowering the motivation to accomplish duties.

Needs are the determinants of behaviours (Furnham, 2005). This is achieved through the combination of need activation and need satisfaction concepts.

Need activation takes place when an individual feels deficient in something important in maintaining psychological or psychological well being. The person feels the activated need as tension, which may be experienced as a recognizable emotion. Since tension is undesirable, the individual will attempt to lower the tension. He or she will achieve this by eliminating the particular deficiency that is causing it.

The individual will undertake various behaviours up to the point when he or she has efficiently eliminated the tension. The reduction of the tension signifies satisfaction of the need. Therefore, based on need-based theories, the HR Department can tailor programs, such as job enrichment and achievement motivation training, as possible motivational forces to drive behaviour in an organization.

It is true that the conscious thoughts of a person determine how he or she behaves. The second category of motivation theories, referred to as cognitive process theories, acknowledges this fact. The theory postulates that the source of motivation is centred on the thoughts and beliefs of an individual. These theories are directly related to the HR Department programs to influence the behaviour of the employees.

This is because these learning programs, which are usually seen as cognitive processes, aim to change the behaviour of the employees through influencing their thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes. Some of these theories are goal-setting theory and social learning theory. Goal-setting theory postulates that goals can improve the performance of the employees since they influence a person’s intentions. Social learning theory holds the belief that outcomes and self-efficacy expectations influence the performance of a person.

Lastly, the reinforcement theory, which is a non-cognitive theory, is another approach to motivation. This theory is based on the concept of behaviourism. It proposes that behaviour is a function of its consequences and it does not refer to unobservable internal forces such as needs or thoughts.

Based on this argument, the HR Department often engages in programs that are meant to control the behaviour of the employees in a number of ways. These include increasing the frequency of behaviour through following the behaviour with a pleasurable consequence, increasing the frequency of behaviour by removing something displeasureable after the behaviour is performed, or seeking to lower the frequency of behaviour through the introduction of an adverse consequence immediately after the behaviour.

In influencing employee behaviour, the HR Department is obliged to understand the complex interplay of factors that affect employee behaviour at the work place. Two sets of factors, internal and external, interact to influence the behaviour of the employees in an organization. Some of the external factors include global economy, outcomes, organizational culture, and colleagues.

Some of the internal factors include motivation, ability, and attitudes. Outcomes, personal or organizational, can be employed in diagnosing and motivating employees to increase their performance. The culture of the organization should be structured in such a way that it promotes positive development among the employees.

Since co-workers provide influence to employees, the HR Department should understand the influence of group dynamics on employee behaviour. Lastly, HR Department can tailor programs that are meant to motivate employees since it is one of the important internal factors affecting their behaviour.

References

Banfield, P. & Kay, R., 2008. Introduction to human resource management. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

Bruce, A. & Pepitone, J., 1999. Motivating employees. New York: McGraw-Hill.

DuBrin, A. J., 2009. Essentials of management. Mason (OH ): Thomson Business & Economics.

Furnham, A., 2005. The psychology of behaviour at work: the individual in the organization. New York: Routledge Press Inc.

Werner, J. M. & DeSimone, R. L., 2009. Human resource development. Mason (OH): South-Western Cengage Learning.

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