The world we live in is constantly faced with new challenges


According to Kearns (2010), "For most of the 20th century, the number of tasks and levels in large organizations grew incrementally, with new job and career opportunities to full-time employees".   The introduction of the 21st century brought about fundamental changes because of numerous factors including global developments both technological and economical, changing labor market trends and the need for flexibility (Holbeche, 2009).   As such, organizations have cut back their operations, closed facilities or outsourced non-core activities to specialist providers.   The need for cost reduction, speed and flexibility lead organizations to reduce full-time employees thus, offering temporary employment.   The global labor market trend continually undergoes extensive transformation causing difficulty recruiting and retaining qualified staff (Hunter, 2006).   Hence, private and public organizations are becoming reliant on alternative employee work patterns. The first step to be taken at JAL is to realistically analyze the current state of all HR-related matters and to develop a concept for its future development. This will revolve around the issues of market changes in coming years and the company's skills and core competences.

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The management of people in the airline company is complicated by the pro-cyclical nature of the industry and the proportion and malleability of labor costs (Boswell, Bingham & Colvin, 2006). These factors have combined to necessitate cost cutting and to insure that those cuts are often focused on the labor. Competent management of people in airline is extremely important. Pilots occupy a position of considerable bargaining power and have not been averse to exercising that power. Flight crew is also an extremely valuable commodity for airlines due to their extensive training and their scarcity (Harvey & Turnbull, 2006). It is imperative, then, management generates a committed and satisfied flight crew community.

As per Kearns (2010), "The business plan should include a description of organizational structure, including management and human resources capabilities, philosophy and needs, the number of employees intended to hire, how to manage them and the estimated personnel costs". The objective of the HR action plan at JAL should be to build JAL's institutional capacity, productivity, and efficiency by effectively managing its most important asset, its staff. At the core of the HR action plan are measures to enhance and update HR management to attract, motivate and retain high-quality staff with the technical skills, behaviors and values needed to implement Strategy. This can be achieved by recruiting and developing staff with full commitment to JAL's mission and the proactive attitudes essential for adapting to a changing environment; providing stable and clear mid- and long-term employment with more clearly defined career expectations; and offering an enabling environment in which staff can fully realize their potential to produce high-quality products and services (Ruefli, 2007).

Given this relatively long-term employment model and the dynamic region in which JAL operates, the knowledge and skills sets of JAL staff need to be relevant and up to date. Recognizing the importance of keeping staff's technical skills sets current, JAL must in turn provide more learning opportunities. This will also support one of the thrusts of Strategy; enhancing JAL's knowledge products and services. A key element in providing such an enabling environment will be for JAL to adopt best HR management practices so its staff and stakeholders recognize that HR is being managed properly and in full support of Strategy. These will include offering attractive and competitive conditions that are in line with those at comparator organizations; implementing HR actions based on performance and merit that are fair, reasonable, transparent and consistently practiced; and providing career development and learning opportunities to enable staff to develop and continually upgrade their skills in an evolving environment (Miles & Mangold, 2005). Collectively, these measures are expected to address most of the issues highlighted by staff. These included career development and progression, performance management, staff development, salary and benefits, work-life balance. More effective communication with staff to manage the change is essential for JAL to achieve the intended impact for all actions.

In order to define a framework for development, SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) and PESTLIED (political, economic, social, technological, legal, international, environmental and demographic changes) analyses are helpful for JAL (Hamill, 2006). Customer and employee surveys can provide important information about the various stakeholders' interests. Analyses of competitors indicate current market position. But how does the company want to position itself on the market in the future? A vision helps the company define its aims and objectives (Doherty, 2005). This way, JAL can decide whether it wants to focus on price, innovation or customer relations. When the company has developed visions and aims based on upcoming challenges, they can check what skills already exist. They can then compare the current situation with future requirements using such tools as a qualifications matrix or a dynamic training requirement analysis (Holbeche, 2009). FAQs at such a time for JAL are: "What should our employees do differently in the future," and "Why aren't they doing this already?" But one also asks, "what distinguishes a good employee from a bad one?'

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At JAL, the human resource functions need to be called as the 'People Department'. Recognizing that the people are the competitive advantage, there is a need to deliver the resources and services to prepare the people to be winners, to support the growth and profitability of the company, while preserving the values and special culture of JAL. The importance of HR should be reflected in every human resource function. Recruitment, selection, training, performance management, compensation, benefits and labor relations all should be supportive to JAL's business strategy (Heracleous & Wirtz, 2009).

As a manager of a human resources department, leadership development, team building, and diversity initiatives would be very important parts of the strategy (Pate & Beaumont, 2006).   There are several reasons for this.  Its goal is to keep the best and brightest folks with the company.   Developing leadership can work to align personal goals with corporate goals and can promote allegiance to the organization.   It also shows a sincere effort to improve the individual. Team building helps promote a sense of belonging and solidifies loyalty to the company.   People who know each and share a common bond work better together (Miles & Mangold, 2005).   This will create an environment in JAL where it is pleasant to work and where employees are more inclined to help each other, especially during a crisis.

A safe and happy workplace makes the employees feel good about being there. Each one is given importance and provided the security that gives them the motivation and incentive to stay. This is usually achieved through internal surveys to find out whether they are satisfied and if not what they think needs to be changed (Hamill, 2006). Open Management Employees don't like the feeling of being kept in the dark about what is happening in the company. They feel motivated and develop enthusiasm only when the management opens up to them and discusses the company policies, sales, clients, contracts, goals and objectives (Ruefli, 2007). This encourages participative management. Asking them for ideas on how to improve will get their creative juices flowing. Being open about everything related to the company, it will help in building trust and motivating the employees in JAL. This open management policy can be practiced using several tools.

Every good performance is appreciated in the form of a pat on the back, bonuses or giving some other compensation for a job well done. Organizations that struggle to keep up with the attrition rate are mostly those that think employees are "just" doing their job (Ruefli, 2007). Even if it is the employee's job, completion in an appreciable manner calls for an incentive, and this goes a long way in boosting the staff morale (Hunter, 2006). These incentives can be implemented at JAL at the individual as well as the team level and it has been seen that this works wonders in getting the best out of the employees. But it is important to keep in mind that these bonuses should not be given without a reason, unless it is a commitment for annual bonuses or some such thing. Doing so will only reduce the perceived value of the bonuses (Kearns, 2010).

It is a well known pet peeve of HR managers that hiring managers try to begin the hiring process for a candidate with only a vague idea of what exactly they are looking for (Boswell, Bingham & Colvin, 2006). Even when job descriptions are available for them to refer to, they must be reminded to use the job description as a reference tool. Otherwise they are wasting everybody's time - HR, the candidates' and their own. Hiring managers must review what it is that they're looking for. Each year, requirements and criteria change. It is required to post all jobs on company web site so that everyone knows about it and can apply or refer the vacancy to somebody else that might be qualified (Harvey & Turnbull, 2006). One needs to conduct behavioral and technical tests first, then do a telephone screening, then bring them in for a face-to-face interview. The advantage of testing people first is that there are no surprises later around their technical competence. It makes the recruiting process tighter and more quantifiable and having a consistent process makes recruiting consistent across all departments (Doherty, 2005).

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JAL should publicly explain almost every detail of the practices to be used to select employees. In theory, any company could attempt to copy the process and claim it as their own, but it would probably fall for a number of reasons. At JAL, much more energy and time should be expanded on the process. To find the right people, they should spend the money up front on the selection process, in the belief that it will become worthwhile over time (Ruefli, 2007).

What should managers at JAL look for in the selection process? The approach should place great emphasis on hiring based on attitude. The search should be for something that considers to be elusive and important: a blend of energy, humor, team spirit, and self-confidence. These key predictors should be used at JAL to indicate how well applicants will perform.

There should be centralized process that will help the organization as the applicants will have to go to one place and specialists trained in selection techniques can assist in the process of deciding which candidates should be hired and where they ought to be placed. JAL should keep the line managers and other employees involved in the process, and doing so will benefit the company for a number of reasons. Employees who will get the opportunity to contribute in the selection of their team members will become more committed to helping them succeed, and the process will also give them a sense of urgency (Pate & Beaumont, 2006). The involvement of all levels of management and employees along with the HR department in the selection and placement process will help in building a strong network of employees. Thus, it will help JAL in providing the right attitude and service to its customers.

There should be sound procedures in place for any level of selection, be it in the form of personality tests, interviews, or other assessments (Ruefli, 2007). The selection and placement decisions, however, should be ultimately made by a combined panel of line managers and specialized representatives from the 'People Department'. These decisions will seem to be made with the full participation of present employees in the spirit of true partnership.

There should be great emphasis on specialization and training. The training of new hires should be focused on building relational competence as well as functional expertise. Each new hire should receive classroom training and on-the-job training (Boswell, Bingham & Colvin, 2006). Orientation should include ample exposure to JAL's culture. Training should be broadly focused so that the new employees understand the jobs of other JAL staffers they may have to interact with. This will help employees to understand how their job fits and they can support others, consistent with the team aspect of the culture.

At JAL, there should be sharing of information such as contract and financial information with employees so that they understand the decisions that are made and the ramifications of those decisions (Doherty, 2005). Through this process, employees also learn about the business, which is more than just the creative endeavor. It involves making strategic decisions to bid or pass on contracts that are aligned with business and strategic business models (Hamill, 2006). People understand where the money comes from and goes to; they understand what happens at bonus time and why it does or does not get paid out. People become better informed about the business and feel more inclusive and entrepreneurial about their contribution and impact (Ruefli, 2007). Employees move their focus from just their job to looking at the company as a whole. The importance of labor relations cannot be underestimated in any company (Harvey & Turnbull, 2006). As the JAL crew were union members and IASCO crew were not which gave the union less bargaining power. The pay and benefits of all the employees should be specified through the collective bargaining.

JAL began to hire non-Japanese employees and pay labor wages. All employees should be paid equally at or above-market pay. It should introduce the profit sharing plan. Stock purchase plan should be introduced which will allow employees to purchase stock shares from payroll deductions at a discount (Miles & Mangold, 2005). JAL should provide attractive benefits packages. Employees should receive medical insurance, dental insurance, vision coverage, life insurance, long-term disability insurance, dependent care, adoption assistance and mental health assistance (Doherty, 2005). This will let employees to know how much they are valued by helping them in times of need, be it with financial assistance or something else. Moreover, there should be job security. JAL should not have a layoff and it will help the employees to realize that job security is an important benefit provided by JAL.

Paying bonuses or having any kind of variable compensation plan can be either an incentive or a distraction, depending on how it is administered and communicated (Pate & Beaumont, 2006). Bonuses must be designed in such a way that people understand that there is no payout unless the company hits a certain level of profitability. Then, additional criteria can be the team's success and the individual's success. It is based on performance (versus profit sharing), criteria is consistent for everyone, it anchors employees to the success (or lack of success) of the company, brings the necessity of profit into their reality, makes people more team focused (Harvey & Turnbull, 2006). JAL should incorporate profit sharing, stock options, other non financial-based incentives, and a great communication plan for when a bonus plan is there.

JAL's employees' evaluations should be based on demonstrating the spirit of outrageous customer service. Managers who will give an employee superior performance ratings must include documentation of actual examples of exemplary customer service that warranty the rating. Performance measures to be used should be cross functional (Kearns, 2010). This will motivate cooperation rather than competition. At most of the airlines, delays are attributed to specific units such as fueling, cleaning or baggage handling. At JAL, delays should be tied to the entire team or process, reducing blame shifting, and encouraging employees to assist other functions when needed (Miles & Mangold, 2005). Performance measurement should be used as a performance management tool to foster cooperation, learning, and improvement.

This essay is attempting to solve the problems faced by JAL. Eventually, employees form the greatest asset and must be continuously nurtured and developed as company strives to maintain reputation for excellence in the highly competitive global air travel industry. JAL should adopt a multi-faceted approach which incorporates all aspects of HR, which serves its employees from Recruitment to Retirement. There is a need to continuously improve processes and strategies. The "people factor" should be given top priority across the whole organization. Feedback and inputs from management, other divisions and diverse employee groups should be welcomed, and this will immensely contribute towards improving the standards and quality of output. JAL should have such an environment where people can perform at their best, and also an environment that they enjoy working in where employees can grow, and go as far as their talent and ability can take them.