Hard HRM is calculative and tough which assimilates policies of human resources with business strategy. Human Resources are viewed as passive, to be provided and deployed as numbers and skills at the right price, rather than the source of creative energy (Legge, 1995, p.66-67). Contrary to this, soft model emphasises on treating employees as valued assets who can enhance the competitive advantage of the organisation with their commitment, skills, knowledge and adaptability.
Soft HRM Approach:
Soft HRM approach sees employees as worthy competencies capable of continuous development and seeks a strong, long term commitment. Hard HRM has a parallel approach that includes low levels of commitment from the employees and involves low level of staff training and sophistication. However, in order to sustain the financial crunch organisations resort to HRM actions like redundancy which affects employee commitment. Layoffs and remuneration cuts were attributed to reduced market demand. Operational strategies were executed mainly to secure company's long term profitability and focus on its core businesses. This method of hard approach in HRM is met with severe criticism from employees and union representatives.
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In such a scenario, soft approach employs a friendly way to face the changed market situation. Employees are temporarily laid off and offered pension schemes and reassigns rather than termination. They are supported financially through reemployment measures. This characterises a soft approach that aims at continuation of business for a long time.
For instance, Tesco introduced a high commitment model which offers sophisticated training and development to its employees that led to an increase in their business and eventually expanded to new markets (Rosana, 2008)
General Motors (GM), the owner of Vauxhall offered a eight month sabbatical to its employees as GM struggled for billions of dollars of funding from the government. The company warned that it might run out of money by the end of the year. The company is considering pay cuts, shorter shifts and four day weeks to avoid job losses. The company slowed down its production and employees were given just base pay but they owe the company that time in the future when production increases. On a similar note, BMW announced a four week shutdown while Nissan closed down for two weeks. Bentley worked on three day week to minimise its costs (Lavan, 2008).
Paradoxically, there were industries that expanded in recession. Few banks and government businesses made decent profits such as Goldman Sachs and Barclays. Supermarkets and value chains such as Primark, Aldi gathered momentum as consumers traded down. They sourced supplies cheaply, bought stocks in huge bulks and low marketing strategies. They operated on 'no frill' approach that considerably reduced their costs and passed these savings onto their customers. Budget airlines such as Ryanair, Easyjet picked up profits as they maintained low cost strategy (McDougall, 2009)
Recession seriously hampers the performance of an organisation and at times even their existence. However, not all firms are affected in an adverse way. They consider it as an opportunity to expand their business into new markets, invest aggressively and establish a competitive advantage over others. They develop proactive marketing and construct new proposals to capitalize on the perceived change and achieve superior business performance. Well branded firms that have good support and services, differentiated products derive benefits from proactive marketing during recession. (Srinivasan, Rangaswamy, & Lilien, 2005)
The fundamental goal of an organisation is to recruit high quality employees and due to the advancements made in technology, prospective applicants are selected with a new marketing trend towards internet based recruitment. The web based selection has gained immense popularity especially in multinational companies that recruit a diverse workforce.
The term e recruitment refers to the use of technology to attract candidates and enhance the speed of recruitment protocol. Among the job seekers, online searches proved to be quite popular and this could be attributed to the ease and convenience that it provides. Internet job hunting streamlines the selection process of applicants and hiring organisations. E recruitment involves advertising and making job applications, back office processes that require integration between the human resources and operation managers to set up a database of the recruits. According to reports it is estimated that 90% of large companies across the globe are recruiting via web.
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Web based forms filled out by the recruits presumably incur fewer costs. The resumes can be sorted by using the internet and organisations can contact the prospective candidates. Recruitment pages can be added to the organisational sites that already exist to advertise openings and market themselves to job seekers spanning across the globe. (Lori Foster Thompson et.al, 2008)
Individual company web page play a critical role in electronic recruitment as it gives an overview of the organisation which includes the corporate values, benefits and evaluates the employers. (Thompson, Braddy, & Wuensch, Computers in Human Behaviour, 2008) Organisational homepages should be designed with potential recruits in mind since good formatting and easy functionality will enhance a website's appeal. The use of bulleted text, attractive colours and bold fonts augments the online job advertisement. It must be ensured that the website functions reliably and is easy to use. Web pages must be easy to navigate and allow access to the information which the user want to. An organization with strong reputation and global presence found their corporate website attracted more applicants (Pearce & Tuten, 2001).
The growth of e recruitment has been driven by a combination of cost savings in the selection process, increased efficiency and ease to the hiring organisation as well as the recruit. Recent CIPD survey findings state that advertising job vacancies on the employer's own website is fourth most popular recruitment method. Most corporate companies that use web based recruitment reported 73% cost reduction. The applicant could be directed to the website that gives out vast information and an opportunity to apply immediately (Recruit Active, 2010). Interested applicants can browse the employer's website and register for speculative vacancies available now or in the future. By retaining the promising candidates for future and contacting them in future when the appropriate vacancy is advertised, generates applicants for free and involves no intermediaries. Applicants are held on a single system and can be contacted easily thus reducing the administration cost, time and efforts. The pre filtering of candidates by using job specific questions and selection techniques allows the employer to select the most appropriate candidate. This is very important in today's competitive market since a potential recruit will have wide options to choose from and would like an instant response (Netsite, 2010).
E recruitment must be in conjunction with other traditional hiring techniques such as newspaper advertisements, personal referrals, search engines and a well implemented strategy will make the recruitment process more successful as pointed out by Pearce & Tuten (2001). Cullen (2001) supported that e recruitment must be integrated into overall recruiting and selection strategy that includes intricate behavioral and skills assessment, interviewing and more means to identify and source candidates. It is estimated that about 75% of HR professionals are using internet in addition to traditional recruitment methods today.
Elswick (2000) cited in (Bussler & Davis, 2001-2002) that a good e recruitment system could bring lower cost by 90%. It creates massive savings financially to the organizations. (Cullen, 2001), Most widely adopted assumptions of e recruitment is that it saves time. (Bussler & Davis, 2001-2002). This system reduces the hiring time by two-thirds since its fast paced.
However, there are certain drawbacks associated with the use of e recruitment. The first issue being discrimination to a non internet user. This might seem easy in the beginning but is bureaucratic at a later stage. It is claimed that e recruitment has a bad impact on certain ethnic minorities. (Flynn) (Arkin & Crabb)
A formidable sample of our population today has no access to internet so they might lack the necessary skills needed for online recruitment. Arkin and Crabb (1999) stated that companies find it difficult to recruit candidates at an executive level and prefer personal contact. E recruitment tends to hire candidates at junior level and usually prefer new university graduates. Use of e recruitment can cause biased selection procedures which could lead to legal disputes (Flynn, 2000). There is a high risk of an overload of resumes as it is easier to fill in applications online which generate a high volume of unqualified candidates. (Pearce & Tuten, 2001)
E recruitment involves certain amount of risk as all personal details become transparent and exposure cannot be avoided at times which is a security threat. Misleading or incorrect information may be provided by the applicants since there is no first hand verification of the data enclosed. It is essential that the organizations develop a specialized applicant tracking software to carefully scrutinize the large number of applications (Jackson and Mathis, 219). People in the selection process must be thoroughly trained so that they evaluate the aspiring applicant accurately and aim for long term retention goals. Despite these short comings, e recruitment is a much sought after method of recruitment as the advantages supersede its drawbacks.
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In short e recruitment can be regarded as the evolving face of recruitment and often called 'talent acquisition' since it is all about resourcing right people for the right job at the right place. E recruitment requires a huge amount of initial capital to develop a website that is user friendly, interactive and fast working. While established approaches such as newspaper advertising, brochures or recruitment agencies are economical and hence are very unlikely to be replaced by e recruitment in future. Technological developments and increased web usage should improve the e recruitment considerably. (Human Resource Management, Derek Torrington et.al)