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Effective decision making is founded on sound planning. In order to be successful, organizations must develop both long-range (strategic) and short-range (tactical) plans. In addition, resources must be organized and allocated to carry out organizational goals in an effective and efficient way.
Human Resources professionals need to utilize those same approaches to strategic planning and business development that are present in the marketing, financial, technology, and operational departments. Every company has a marketing plan to guide their product and/or service strategy. Hence, every organization should have a human resources plan that outlines their people strategy.
The Business Case for HR Plans
An organization's human resource plan should be directly tied to the overall strategic plan of the company. It provides the future needs and availability of human capital for the organization.
Strategic decisions require long-term commitments. A strategic error can result in workforce skills deficiencies which can impact customer service and profitability. On the other hand, a good plan can help support corporate goals and protect a company's resources.
Components of a HR Plan
The same components that are used in overall strategic planning can be used to develop a human resource plan. The first step is to conduct a thorough analysis of the current environment. The result of this environmental analysis will bring relevant data to the department in the form of information, communications, surveys and assessment systems. This process will surface factors that affect the department both now and in the future. HR professionals will want to monitor these trends and consider how they will affect the workplace.
The environmental analysis should consider several factors including government influence, economic conditions, business competition, and workforce demographics.
Once the analysis is complete, then planning can begin. HR planning consists of four phases that are outlined below:
It is important that the HR Culture is in alignment with the rest of the organization. The vision statement should represent the overall, guiding image of the department. It is the ultimate expression of success for the human resources department. The mission statement will specify what activities the human resources department intends to pursue in order to achieve their vision. A well defined mission and vision will keep the human resources team focused and convey an organizational purpose that will motivate the team.
The last component is defining department values. Values are the "heartbeat" of the organization. They outline what is important and often dictate employee behavior. Department values should correspond with the values of the organization.
Once the vision, mission, and values of the department are established, it is important to determine how and when to communicate this information both internally and externally.
It is important to understand the status quo before a roadmap for the future can determined. A simple and effective way to gain a clear picture of the current state of the department is to conduct a SWOT Analysis. The process answers four basic questions:
What are your department's internal strengths?
What are your department's internal weaknesses?
What external opportunities would move the department forward?
What external threats might hold the department back?
Some of the topics that are included in the SWOT Analysis include staff capabilities, benefit programs, employee services, information systems, office facilities, and the reputation of human resources within the organization, just to name a few. It is important to remember that the SWOT Analysis is not just about exploiting strengths; it is about addressing the weaknesses as well.
At this point, long-term strategies are created. These are specific results that an organization seeks to achieve their basic mission. The time frame for long-term strategies is three to five years.
The values of an organization should be taken into account when developing strategies. For example, companies with traditional practices might want to think twice about implementing 'trendy' programsâ€¦unless of course, it is their strategy to move the culture in that direction.
In order to complete long-term strategies, short-term objectives should be established. Short-term objectives are milestones that can be accomplished within six months to one year. These objectives allow for continuous commitment and frequent evaluation of the long-term strategy. Each short-term objective will need an action plan and resource allocation budget (i.e. finances, human capital, equipment, technology, etc.)
One of the most critical components during this phase is to motivate employees or explain "What's in it for them?" Connecting the short-term project/objective to the long-term strategy of the organization creates employee commitment and positive productivity.
Regular reviews of the department strategy are vital to the success of the plan. Unforeseen issues can be quickly brought to resolution with regular monitoring.
In addition, it is important to track results data regarding the project. Be aware that data collected during a short-term project might not accurately reflect trends and performance. Information gathered over the course of time will allow for evaluation and assessment of how well the department has performed in relation to their plan goals and objectives.
A human resource plan should reflect results in measurable terms. Being able to articulate return on investment metrics is critical to future resource allocations and the ability for the initiative to have a positive impact. Two of the most common measurements are time and budget.
Strategy evaluation will lead to decisions focused on either (1) altering strategies or (2) waiting for desired results. Change is an inevitable part of the process and taking corrective action is necessary to keep the department on track in achieving its vision.
Strategic planning is a multi-step process. Effective planning is a continuous process requiring creativity and support from top management. Using HR Planning processes to analyze and identify the need for human capital will allow the organization to achieve its goals and objectives.
A comprehensive Human Resource Strategy plays a vital role in the achievement of an organization's overall strategic objectives and visibly illustrates that the human resources function fully understands and supports the direction in which the organization is moving. A comprehensive HR Strategy will also support other specific strategic objectives undertaken by the marketing, financial, operational and technology departments.
In essence, an HR strategy should aim to capture "the people element" of what an organization is hoping to achieve in the medium to long term, ensuring that:-
it has the right people in place
it has the right mix of skills
employees display the right attitudes and behaviors, and
Employees are developed in the right way.
If, as is sometimes the case, organization strategies and plans have been developed without any human resource input, the justification for the HR strategy may be more about teasing out the implicit people factors which are inherent in the plans, rather than simply summarizing their explicit "people" content.
An HR strategy will add value to the organization if it:
articulates more clearly some of the common themes which lie behind the achievement of other plans and strategies, which have not been fully identified before; and
Identifies fundamental underlying issues which must be addressed by any organization or business if its people are to be motivated, committed and operate effectively.
The first of these areas will entail a careful consideration of existing or developing plans and strategies to identify and draw attention to common themes and implications, which have not been made explicit previously.
The second area should be about identifying which of these plans and strategies are so fundamental that there must be clear plans to address them before the organization can achieve on any of its goals. These are likely to include:
workforce planning issues
workforce skills plans
employment equity plans
black economic empowerment initiatives
motivation and fair treatment issues
pay levels designed to recruit, retain and motivate people
the co-ordination of approaches to pay and grading across the organization to create alignment and potential unequal pay claims
a grading and remuneration system which is seen as fair and giving proper reward for contributions made
wider employment issues which impact on staff recruitment, retention, motivation etc.
a consistent performance management framework which is designed to meet the needs of all sectors of the organization including its people
career development frameworks which look at development within the organization at equipping employees with "employability" so that they can cope with increasingly frequent changes in employer and employment patterns
policies and frameworks to ensure that people development issues are addressed systematically: competence frameworks, self-managed learning etc.
The HR strategy will need to show that careful planning of the people issues will make it substantially easier for the organization to achieve its wider strategic and operational goals.
In addition, the HR strategy can add value is by ensuring that, in all its other plans, the organization takes account of and plans for changes in the wider environment, which are likely to have a major impact on the organization, such as:
changes in the overall employment market - demographic or remuneration levels
cultural changes which will impact on future employment patterns
changes in the employee relations climate
changes in the legal framework surrounding employment
HR and employment practice being developed in other organizations, such as new flexible work practices.
Finding the right opportunity to present a case for developing an HR Strategy is critical to ensuring that there will be support for the initiative, and that its initial value will be recognized by the organization.
Giving a strong practical slant to the proposed strategy may help gain acceptance for the idea, such as focusing on good management practice. It is also important to build "early or quick wins" into any new strategy.
Other opportunities may present the ideal moment to encourage the development of an HR Strategy:-
a major new internal initiative could present the right opportunity to push for an accompanying HR strategy, such as a restructuring exercise, a corporate acquisition, joint venture or merger exercise.
a new externally generated initiative could similarly generate the right climate for a new HR strategy - e.g. Black economic empowerment initiatives.
In some instances, even negative news may provide the "right moment", for example, recent industrial action or employee dissatisfaction expressed through a climate survey.
2. Making the HR Strategy integral to the organization
The human resources practitioner should ensure that the HR Strategy is integrated with broader organizational objectives. Above all, it should ensure that the rest of the organization accepts the Strategy. To achieve this objective, practitioners should:-
consult all stakeholders on the nature of the strategy;
cultivate and develop allies and supporters of the strategy through the consultation process;
focus on the benefits which are being derived from the strategy through talking to and persuading others, and by marketing the benefits of the strategy with concrete examples of how it has helped;
check that there is real commitment to the strategy at all levels of the organization;
give regular feedback on the implementation of the plan through employee newsletters, exhibitions etc;
where possible, build into the strategy quantifiable outcomes which can be easily monitored and evaluated, so that it is possible to show the effect;
make the strategy part of the induction process - especially for senior managers.
3. A strategic human resource planning model
There is no single approach to developing a Human Resources Strategy. The specific approach will vary from one organization to another. Even so, an excellent approach towards an HR Strategic Management System is evident in the model presented below. This approach identifies six specific steps in developing an HR Strategy:-
Setting the strategic direction
Designing the Human Resource Management System
Planning the total workforce
Generating the required human resources
Investing in human resource development and performance
Assessing and sustaining organizational competence and performance
The six broad interconnected components of this system consist of three planning steps and three execution steps.
The top three components represent the need for planning. Organizations must determine their strategic direction and the outcomes they seek. This is usually accomplished with some form of strategic planning. Classic strategic planning is a formal, top-down, staff-driven process. When done well, it is workable at a time when external change occurs at a more measured pace.
However as the pace and magnitude of change increases, the approach to strategic planning changes substantially:
First, the planning process is more agile; changes in plans are much more frequent and are often driven by events rather than made on a predetermined time schedule.
Second, the planning process is more proactive. Successful organizations no longer simply respond to changes in their environment, they proactively shape their environment to maximize their own effectiveness.
Third, the planning process is no longer exclusively top-down; input into the process comes from many different organizational levels and segments. This creates more employee ownership of the plan and capitalizes on the fact that often the most valuable business intelligence can come from employees who are at the bottom of the organizational hierarchy.
Lastly, the strategic planning process less reactive and more driven by line leadership.
Once strategic planning is under way, a process must be undertaken by the organization to design and align its HRM policies and practices to provide for organizational success. The remaining step in planning is to determine the quality and quantity of human resources the organization needs for its total force.
The rest of the HR strategic system exists for and is guided by these plans, policies, and practices. These execution components contain mechanisms that generate the correct skill sets, invest in staff development and performance, and productively employ them in the organization. The last component provides a means to assess and sustain the competence and performance of the organization and the people in it with regard to outcomes that the organization seeks.
Learning out come 2
The main objective of the HRM FRAM is to create an organisation containing the 'right people, in the right posts, at the right time'. All the processes and sub-processes in the model aim to achieve this objective. The FRAM considers ways of recruiting, retaining and discharging personnel.
The issues involved in Human Resources Management can be split as operational and strategic HRM. As an example, operational deals with individuals, such as career planning, whilst strategic focuses on the system as a whole.
Strategic HRM is a general approach to the management of human resources in accordance with the intentions of the organisation on the future direction it wants to take. It is concerned with longer-term people issues and macro-concerns about structure, quality, culture, values, commitment and matching resources to future need. Strategic HRM is the overall framework which determines the shape and delivery of the individual strategies.
Operational HRM activities are tactical in nature. Examples of activities are employment applications are processed, current openings are filled, supervisors are trained, safety problems are resolved and wages and salaries are administered. The operational HRM activities should be aligned with the overall HR strategies.
The HRM FRAM considers six high-level processes. The Manage Personnel Life-cycle and Administer Personnel processes are operational, and the Review and Plan HR Requirements and Develop and Maintain HR Strategies processes are strategic. Although Managing HRM Processes and Develop and Maintain HR Policies are both operational and strategic level processes, they are considered to be as operational, since most of their sub processes are more operational, than strategic.
The Internet allows organizations to reach large numbers of candidates easily and efficiently. Thousands of candidates can visit a company web site and submit an application.
Roles and Responsibilities
Conflict of interest
The selection criteria should be based on the job description and should focus on
the qualifications, experience and skills needed to undertake the position.
The selection criteria should be split into essential and desirable. Essential criteria
are those without which it is impossible to perform the job. Desirable criteria are
those which enable the job to be performed more effectively.
Essential criteria for all positions should include:
Â• provision for recognition of prior learning (e.g. on-the-job experience,
overseas qualifications, and life experience)
Â• the ability to work positively with people from diverse cultural, linguistic
and educational backgrounds
Essential and desirable criteria should not include requirements which
disadvantage particular groups. For example, requiring a knowledge of the local
geographic area will exclude recent arrivals. Requiring tertiary qualifications
which are not essential for the position will often exclude applicants from more
The selection criteria should be specific enough to permit the Selection panel to
choose between applicants, but broad enough not to rule out good applicants.
7.1 Short listing process
Applications should be short listed against the selection criteria, looking first at
the essential criteria and then the desirable criteria. Applicants should be
excluded in the following order:
Â• those who do not meet all the essential criteria
Â• those who do not meet any of the desirable criteria
Â• those who do not meet all the desirable criteria
Â• those who do not meet the essential and desirable criteria as well as other applicants
Effective recruitment steps
Three steps to develop an effective recruitment process are:
Step 1: Ensure an up-to-date job description which contains information related to:
â€¢ Specifi c tasks and activities required for a job
â€¢ The knowledge, skills and abilities required for effective performance by the job incumbent.
Step 2: Develop an effective recruitment strategy which considers:
â€¢ Appropriate sources of recruitment (i.e., advertisements, personal referrals, employment
agencies, direct applications)
â€¢ Appropriate recruiters (e.g., supervisor or co-worker).
Step 3: Evaluate the recruitment strategy to determine its effi cacy. For example:
â€¢ Conduct a cost-benefi t analysis in terms of the number of applicants referred, interviewed,
selected, and hired
â€¢ Compare the effectiveness of applicants hired from various sources.
Evidence-based best practice for three of the most commonly used selection techniques is
Induction and orientation of new workers
An effective induction helps new workers understand their role and where they "fi t" within the
organisation. It also equips them with the tools they need to perform their work role. Two useful
induction tools are:
1. Induction manual / kits which may contain:
â€¢ An induction checklist
â€¢ Organisational philosophy / ethics / history
â€¢ Strategic values of the organisation
â€¢ An organisational chart / structure
â€¢ An employment manual on policies and procedures
â€¢ An orientation to the workplace (including parking and safety issues)
â€¢ Information about episodes of care, the duty system, supervision, staff meetings, etc.
Boyett, Joseph; Boyett, Jimmie. The Guru Guide: The Best Ideas of the Top Management
Thinkers. John Wiley & Sons Inc., 1998.