HR as a profession

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Human Resource Management

To what extent is HR a profession?


This assignment is going to examine the different characteristics of HR (Human Resource) and why it is considered to be a profession. HR has many different aspects as a profession that can be examined and analysed. This report is going analyse why managers consider HR a profession and what are the main aspects that HR focuses from an employer's perspective.

Human Resource Management

A distinctive approach to employment management which seeks to achieve competitive advantage through the strategic deployment of a highly committed and capable workforce, using an array of cultural, structural and personnel techniques (Storey 1995:5).

In wide terms the profession of an HR is to watch people's performance and behaviour in an organization and the relationships between staff and how that could affect the performance in work.

HRM professional has to do with many things in an organization from training staff, to designing jobs that are needed in an organization to recruitment and rewarding staff.

HR as a profession contains to prepare an HRP (Human Resource Planning)

A HRP is the process for identifying an organization's current and future human resource requirements, developing and implementing plans to meet these requirements and monitoring their overall effectiveness (Beardwell et al, 2004)

HRM (Human Resource Management) is a profession in a high extent as a Human Resource Manager is responsible for recruitment and selection of employees and as well analyzing a job in an organization. For example in an organization which produces shoes. For example in marks& Spencer's they have a general recruitment team who manage all store and head office recruitment. There is a breakdown in small groups that each one of them is responsible of and the roles they roles available within them. The recruitment teams are in different sections of the organization:



HR administration



The HRM as a profession consists of these different stages.hrm1 18/10/09

Job analysis for HR

Job analysis is a step by step process of gathering information about a job and by identifying the skills, the duties that are required in an organization. This is for various uses from seeing if a job is still required until training and development of staff. The method that a job analysis is conducted are from observation to interviews and questionnaires.

The main reasons that a job analysis is being conducted in HRM are because lots of information are gathered and can have a great impact in lots of functions of HRM.

Reasons for conducting job analysis for HRM:

Staffing: This process is about finding and collecting and at the end keeping employees at work. All the staffing areas would be insecure if the recruiter did not know what qualifications are needed to perform different jobs in an organization. Job descriptions and specifications need to be up to date and detailed as it is very important for the organization to have a clear set of guidelines when recruiting and selecting people for jobs.

Training and development: information about a job is often useful in identifying a need for training and development. If the job analysis suggests that the job requires a skill that the person filling the position does not have, then there is a need of training and development for the employee to perform at their job.

Compensation and benefits: it is important to know the value of the job. Jobs differ in the value they hold for the organization. The managing director of an organization is of great value to the company as a job opening in this position will cost the organization a lot of effort and money to fill. The person filling the position will need to have the knowledge and the skill to perform the job. Jobs and positions that require more knowledge and skills are important to an organization are worth more and that's why the value of them is so important for the organization itself.

Safety and health: information gathered from the job analysis is important to see for identifying any safety and health considerations. In dangerous jobs workers may need to me informed about the dangers their work may have so they can take precautions.

Employee and labour relations: the job analysis helps the organization to be more objective in a performance appraisal when employees are considered for promotion or transfer. This gives an advantage for workers to be built positive relations.

Legal considerations: a job analysis is very important in legal considerations because it can help an employer prove that any actions or terms and conditions are legal towards his employees. In some cases decisions about promotions, transfers and demotions are made in connection with the employee. In any case that these decisions are questioned a job analysis data can be helpful to show why these decisions were made.

Advantages of the HR

HR as a profession has roles over the years. In terms of profession there are more needs for this profession as the years go by. Leaders are responsible for reading the HR function in order to improve its credibility. The most important and difficult think in HR is the HRM ( Human Resource Planning)

There are particularly important differences in terms of process and purpose. In human resource planning the manager is concerned with motivating people - a process in which costs, numbers, control and systems interact to play a part. In manpower planning the manager I concerned with the numerical elements of forecasting, supply-demand matching and control, in which people are a part. There are therefore important areas of overlap and inter-connection but there is a fundamental difference in underlying approach. (Bramham, 1989:147)

Evolution of the HR Roles.

Mid -1990s


Evolution thinking

Employee champion

Employee advocate

Human capital developer

Focuses on the needs of today's employee.

Focuses on preparing employees to be successful in the future.

Administrative expert

Functional expert

HR practices are central to HR value. Some HR practices are delivered though administrative efficiency and others through policies and interventions.

Change agent

Strategic partner

Being a strategic partner has multiple dimensions: business expert, change agent, strategic HR planner, knowledge manager and consultant.

Strategic partner

Strategic partner

Being a strategic partner has multiple dimensions: business expert, change agent, strategic HR planner, knowledge manager and consultant.


Being an HR leader requires functioning in each of these four roles. However being an HR leader also has implications for leading the HR function, collaborating with other functions, setting and enhancing the standards for strategic thinking and ensuring corporate governance.

Table 1.4- Source: Ulrich and Brock bank, W (2005) ‘Role call', People Management, 11, 12: 24 - 28

As it is seen at the table above that the HR roles have changed over the mid 2000s and a new role and functions have been introduced in organizations.

Reading a blog of Susan M. Heathfield The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has need conducting research, Leading Now, Leading the Future: What Senior HR Leaders Need to Know that identifies eight leadership skills which are essential for senior Human Resources leaders.

Essential Leadership Skills

* Knowledge of business, HR and organizational operations.

* Strategic thinking and critical/analytical thinking.

* Leading change.

* Effective communication.

* Credibility.

* Results orientation and drive for performance.

* Ethical behaviour.

* Persuasiveness and the ability to influence others.

For senior HR professionals employed in global organizations, SHRM found that they require possessing both a global state of mind and the ability to be flexible in order to adapt to changing global business needs.

Ethical behaviour was also identified as key for HR leaders. Important skills that HR leaders will need to develop are global intelligence and technological knowledge as this will help managers to have a wide knowledge of what is happening in other competitive organizations.

The effectiveness of HRM

By reading a journal on senior management perception of the practice of human resource management and critically evaluating if a profession meets the needs of the HR.

Crucially, it has been levelled that there is often a difference between the expression of organisational contribution and reality of organisational treatment of HRM (Kane and Palmer, 1995), together with differences in applications of HRM (Boxall and Purcell, 2000).

Caldwell (2004), p. 196) reports that, regardless of espousals of the value of HRM, “evidence of its widespread uptake by UK companies has invariably been disappointing”. Lately there has been a move away from HRM as a specialist function to understanding HRM from the perspectives of line managers (Watson et al., 2007) and in terms of business performance (Bowen and Ostroff, 2004; Harris, 2005).

Arguably it must be said the very nature of HRM has higher. The organisational status of the human resource function although falling short of enabling HR specialists to become “human resource champions” as Guest and King (2004, p. 401) conclude from their interviews with senior executives.

It must be said that similar assertions on HRM supporting competitive advantage, particularly on a global level, improve the organisational status of HRM. McWilliams et al. (2001), Rodriguez and Ordonez de Pablos (2002) and Boxall (2003), for example, conceptualise the contribution of HRM to competitive advantage.

On the other hand Patra et al. (2002) argue that organisational effectiveness should be the focus of HRM. In the USA Bowen and Ostroff's (2004, p. 203) theory building on HRM and business performance argues that “the strength of the HRM system can affect organisational effectiveness.” In theory, it is established that HRM has a central role in business performance (Richard and Brown Johnson, 2001)

HRM as a profession can become very complicated has it is important in many functions and departments of an organisation. Seeing (HRM) from a senior manager's perspective. There are many statements made for example:

Executive, of Standard Life and /Customer Services Director, HSA. In agreement with the work of Rodriguez and Ordonez de Pablos (2002) and Boxall (2003), one respondent believes that HRM is

very critical to competitive advantage. It is not essentially critical to surviving, but it is critical to being a leader and achieving the maximisation of business results, whether that is maximising profit or whether it's reducing cost (General Manager, People, and West Bromwich Building Society).

However there are and other opinions such as the Customer Service Director from Standard Life offers a contrasting view, suggesting that:

HRM is central but passive because it's very much ingrained in the way that people view the world they don't make a big thing about a latest HR project. It [HRM] makes a big contribution to organisational effectiveness, but in a passive way, it more as a guiding and advisory faculty rather than something that dictates how things work (Customer Services Director, Standard Life).

These are some characteristics that a HRM manager should have to be an “ideal boss”:

* To provide and organize training applicable to an employee's job.

* Will not discriminate against an employee's beliefs or preferences.

* Will communicate with employees at all times.

An employer should be approachable to the employees as well as being fair and understanding the employees. Moreover it is very important to take into consideration training and educational levels for the employee's personal needs. For example Marks &Spencer's provides to all their employees training programmes and are really “open” in helping and aiming for the best for their employee that is their concept, managers should be approachable and helpful to their staff.

Ability and motivation

Motivation is very important for an employer. Without having guidance and motivation staff will do as they please in their job. It must be said that the overall performance of a company depends on the staffs ability and motivation. Their ability come from the employee's education and training, which can be time consuming. On the other hand motivation can be improved quickly in four steps:

* Positive reinforcement

* Effective discipline/punishment

* Treating people fairly

* Rewards based on job performance

The HRM taken into new ground

The change in language from ‘personnel management' to ‘HRM' in the 1980s in the US and more noticeably in the UK must be seen against a background of changes, experienced in both countries. In product and labour markets, are mediated in new technologies and a swing to right-wing political ideologies have come forward. A collection of symbiotic buzz-words signify these changes and form part of the baggage of HR: intensification of international competition, globalization, the Japanese Janus, cultures of excellence, information technology, knowledge working, and high value added of TQM, customer care, and the enterprise culture. The expression that encloses the essence of this language is the “search for competitive advantage”.

To what extent does the development of such language signify practices and behaviours completely different from traditional personnel management?

It must be said that there have been some changes, in some sectors of the industry, that have taken place in the management of the labour process and in employment relationships, it must be because that this largely reflects a realistic response to opportunities and constraints in the present socio-political and economic environment.

The advantage of the HRM as a new approach does not square with the lack of the distinctiveness of the ‘soft model' from the traditional normative models of personnel management.


To sum up there are many characteristics that a HR has, as a profession and there are many aspects of the profession itself. As a profession itself HR can become difficult to meet the needs of HR in an organisation as it depends on the professionals (managers) how much they are motivated and inspired to help their employers and the organization. Many organizations have different use of models of the HR. As a whole though organizations are making big effort to meet these characteristics of HR as well as in a profession to help it work in the organization as well. Is a broad term nowadays Human Resource is getting more effective in workplaces and has a big effect on staff and businesses.


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