Human resource is one of the most primary factors necessary to carry on with the production process in any organisation. Today any company has to operate in an environment much more competitive than it used to be even two decades ago before globalisation, which is why a higher efficiency is needed on part of the firm to maintain its position in the market. The most successful and smartest of firms have responded to this by shifting their base towards using capital-intensive production processes, which are capable of yielding better quality goods at a cheaper rates thus adding to the company profits and hence investment funds. But, the need for an efficient human resource cannot be denied as well because human brain is the one that works behind everything, right from the innovation of new techniques to handling them in an efficient manner. In other words, besides capital the importance of an efficient human resource cannot be denied as being one of the most important raw materials in production (Hendry Chris, 1995, pp3).
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However, an economy comprises of both the goods and the service sectors. In the latter case, since the use of machinery is only a secondary factor in production and not even an essential one in some of them, human capital could easily be considered as the one and only raw material worth mentioning which is why human resource must also be treated as a company asset. Since a company is always known by the service that it provides, it is very important for any organisation to take care of the fact in order to win customer loyalty. A good example which could be cited here is that of the airlines industry that deals with commuting people from one place to another. To understand the area of discussion more aptly, this paper will pin-point upon Singapore Airlines as a subject for case study.
Answer to Question One
Human Resource Management and Strategic Planning
Human resource management refers to the role that an inventory of efficient human capital plays in the strategic planning or management of an organisation so as to smoothen the path of attaining the company targets. However, if a company plans its goals without a complete and proper knowledge about its capacity and capability of human capital resources, then it might be at a loss on grounds of being competent enough in the market compared to its rivals, the sole responsibility of which could be cited as laxity on part of the employees. The problem gets magnified if the firm belongs to the service sector where production has quite a different meaning than that of the goods sector providing a healthy customer service which makes human capital one of the key factors in the production process,. Hence it is very essential for an organisation to plan its business strategies after a complete assessment of its human capital inventory (Armstrong Michael, 2000, pp202).
Singapore Airlines has five organisational strategies, namely - design for a rigorous service, regular innovative activities, a consciousness about profit maximisation among the employees, achievement of targets and preparing the mindset of its employees in a holistic manner. But as mentioned before, in order to attain the company targets, it is very essential for the company to be endowed with the most efficient team of employees and to build an effective strategy for human resource management. The organisational target of developing an inbuilt consciousness about maximising the company profits is a vital step towards it, and being holistic in nature, the company's approach is also an appreciable one.
Answer to Question Two
Human Resource Planning
Human Resource planning means the way that the companies plan the recruitment and management of the staff so that ultimately they are endowed with the most suitable and appropriate staff, i.e., the ones who are capable of accomplishing their jobs in an efficient manner. However in order to extract the fullest out of an employee, it is essential for the company to provide him with the best environment or ambience to work in. there are some who are not very compatible with hi-tech systems while there are some who are too modern and influenced by globalisation, so that a workplace without the provision of such devices seems of low-grade to them. In short the company has to be highly aware of the difference in preferences of its employees and the change in demographics that globalisation is bringing with it. The changing nature of employment in its rival organisations is also important for a company since that would help it to retain the loyalty of its employees. If the work environment that it provides is not competent enough with that of its counterparts, the employees would be more eager to resign from their present company and join another one involved in a similar business (Bandt Allan, Haines Stephen G., 2002, pp5).
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
Consider the case of Singapore Airlines that had been in the business for almost four decades and had been occupying one of the premier positions in terms of revenue generation. But this had been possible only because the company provided a suitable workplace for its employees who felt at home while they worked and thus gave out their best output.
Answer to Question Three
Recruitment and Selection
In order to choose the most appropriate staff a company must be very cautious while recruiting them and make it sure that the candidates or rather the interviewees go through a thorough grilling process that can actually test their capabilities and the way they are likely to behave and manage their jobs under the pressure of different circumstances - to be precise, their suitability for the particular job. This grilling process or rather a complete appraisal of a person's abilities involves a number of phases that a candidate has to pass successfully in order to get employed. Two very important parts of the recruitment process is interviewing the candidate and conducting a psychometric test upon the person. An interview is a process of knowing the personal background, creativity, personal preferences of an individual as well as to learn about his communication skills and smartness to tackle different situations. On the other hand, psychometric tests, more commonly known as aptitude tests, are meant to find out the general intelligence and ability of an individual (Carter Philip J., 2004, pp1). A critical analysis of a person on both these aspects is very important since they help the interviewer to know how far he can help the company to achieve its targets and how a person is going to treat his clients, especially when the company in question belongs to the service sector (Falcone Paul, 2008, pp89).
Singapore Airlines has one of the strictest and most stringent of processes of hiring new recruits. They conduct two broad qualifying rounds for cabin crew - one at the entry level which require them to be good academic performers as well as have a good physical built and another one consists of three rounds of extensive interviews that comprise of an attire test, a confidence level test and a psychometric test apart from the final assessment via a formal tea-party. All these processes are meant to help the customers get their money's worth in terms of service.
Answer to Question Four
Training and Development
In order to prepare the candidates in an appropriate manner so as to build their capabilities in handling their business, it is necessary to impart them some training or management development programs where they would be subjected to some potential problems that could crop up at work and taught the exact and most appropriate solution to overcome them so that they can handle them in a likely fashion when coming face-to-face with such real life problems. Various tests could also be held in order to find out the management potentials of the executives that would help the trainers know the underlying talent and skills of the employees and allocate them responsibilities that suit them the most.
Singapore Airlines pay high attention to the training session that its employees should go through. This is quite evident from the fact that the airlines have four separate assessment centres for four broad categories of employees, namely - Cabin Crew, Flight Operations, Commercial and Management Development. Normally the training period comprises of two whole months where the potential members are imparted training on personality development. However, the famous 'Singapore Girl' undergoes training for almost 15 months, where they are groomed from various angles - right from personality development, soft skills, interaction to handling their own emotional outbursts and sudden pings of passion. Since hospitality is all about treating the customers, the airlines industry must be very particular about it and Singapore Airlines no doubt does its job in an efficient way. Apart from the usual way that all airlines companies impart training to their staff at the beginning of their career, Singapore airlines also arranges for regular training sessions in the mid-way, no matter what the economic situation may be. They believe in the fact that the principles to attain success do not change and this is the very fact that leaves them far ahead of their counterparts in the business (Kaufman Ron, n.d.).
Answer to Question Five
Management of Performance
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There must also be a regular assessment of the performance of the employees to keep a track of any anomaly in their jobs and hence find out ways of treating or correcting them in a likely fashion. In case there an employee is found to be a good performer, the person could be rewarded and his contribution could be acknowledged as well so that his colleagues are influenced by the person and try their best to attain a similar position. This step is very essential in view of enhancing the company performance and thus forms a very vital part of human resource management.
Singapore Airlines considers its role of correcting any deficiencies on part of its employees very seriously and often arranges for some counselling and refresher courses which last for just a couple of days and aim at reminding the candidates about the hospitality that they are expected to show towards their customers, so that the employees do not deviate from their duties. As mentioned in the previous section, Singapore Airlines arranges for some on-the-way training and regular counselling sessions that are meant solely to upgrade their services.
Answer to Final Questions
Loopholes in the management of the organisation
Singapore Airlines occupies one of the premier positions in the airlines industry. However, the company too like many others is not free from problems arising due to employee tantrums. The recent rise in the fuel cost of the airlines industry has resulted to a huge loss for airlines businesses, but the employees still have not stopped demanding for a higher pay from the authorities. Strikes are a regular issue that an airlines company has to face nowadays before it surrenders to address the employee demands, however irrelevant and vague they seem to be. Even after regular training is imparted to the employees where they are taught to adhere with the company policies and never think themselves apart from the company, some fail to stick back to such principles. Thus, a separatist mentality stays on within the minds of the employees that might have a negative impact on the company (Nicholson Joseph L., 1951, pp144). The management of any firm could largely be held responsible for such disturbances. A person cannot be that irrational so as to keep on demanding without giving proper output to their employer. Hence, a certain amount of anomaly on part of the employer cannot be ruled out as well.
The recent global meltdown has also brought forth the situation of the stability condition in the airlines business. It could rather be said that the company was highly affected by the world-wide economic crisis that led the airline to reduce its flight frequencies by 214 which was decided upon by the authority in order to save their cost of functioning. This step cut down their profit margin of the company by almost 90 percent during the first quarter of 2009 and thus led to the retrenchment of a number of efficient employees. It could be considered as a loophole of the company since being a premier in the field, it could at least have made provisions to keep its employees unaffected amidst any financial crisis, if not predicted the crisis beforehand. This again could be cited as a loophole on part of the company management (The Newspaper of the Travel Industry, March 2009, pp10).
A good and an effective human resource management is one of the most vital requirements for any company to run its business smoothly. The first process begins from recruitment and the training session comes next. Both these stages are very important in the assessment of the inherent quality in an individual and to know the exact responsibilities that would suit him the most. The next stage is that of a proper evaluation of the performance of the management in order to keep a track about whatever is going on in the business - whether there are any differences in actual practice and potentials of an employee or not. In fact an ideal and a good company like the one being discussed, also arranges for the counselling of their employees so that all their personal troubles could be dealt with and they feel more energised at work however, in spite of all the optimistic points, one loophole that was discussed previously and is rather a serious problem causing world-wide panic among airlines organisations is that of a rise in fuel expenses. However, Singapore Airlines is more than four decades old and thus has gained enough confidence among its customers that has helped it to stick back to its position today. In fact, an optimistic point is that the airlines company, even in the market of recession, it still continues to be the best one of all.
Armstrong Michael. 2000. "Strategic Human Resource Management: A Guide to Action". Kogan Page Limited: United Kingdom.
Bandt Allan, Haines Stephen G. 2002. "Successful Strategic Human Resource Planning". Systems Thinking Press: USA.
Carter Philip J. 2004. "IQ and Psychometric Tests: Assess your Personality, Aptitude and Intelligence". Kogan Page Limited: London. United Kingdom.
Falcone Paul. 2008. "96 Great Interview Questions: to ask before you hire (2nd Edition)". AMACOM Division American Management Publishers: New York. USA.
Hendry Chris. 1995. "Human Resource Management: a strategic approach to employment". Butterworth-Heinemann Publishers: Oxford. United Kingdom.
Kaufman Ron. n.d. "How does Singapore Airlines fly so high?" [Online]. Available at http://www.trainersdirect.com/resources/articles/BusinessManagement/HowDoesSingaporeAirlinesFlySoHigh.htm [Accessed on September 29, 2009].
Nicholson Joseph L. 1951. "Air Transportation Management: its practices and policies". Wiley publishers.
The Newspaper of the Travel Industry. March 2009. "Singapore Airlines to reduce
214 frequencies worldwide." [pdf]. Available at http://www.travtalkmiddleeast.com/pdfs/march09.pdf [Accessed on September 29, 2009].