The Unique Management problems of KBR Asia Pacific

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For our report, we have chosen KBR Asia Pacific, an engineering and construction company that designs oil rigs for oil corporations like Shell, BP and Exxon. The company consists of around 300 full time staff in 5 departments; Engineering, Procurement, IT, Accounts, and HR, with the engineering department being the largest. As you will see later in the report, the specialized industry that KBR exists in presents some unique challenges that require the company to respond in kind.

We have interviewed Ms Goh Siew Eng, the IT manager of KBR Asia Pacific. She manages her own team of IT specialists whose main responsibilities are to manage the IT systems in the company and to collaborate with their counterparts in American to increase the productivity of their company.

2. FINDINGS

2.1 Human Resource Planning & Job Analysis

Human Resource Planning

In order to adapt to changes, planning must be carried out by organizations. Whenever an organization is determining its human resource needs, it is engaging in the process of human resource planning. Human resource planning is a vital element in human resource management because it determines whether an organization has the right number and kinds of people, at the right place, at the right time in order to carry out its tasks effectively and efficiently.

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Human resource planning must be linked to an organization's strategy, which determines how its goals and objectives will be attained. In order to develop a strategy, an organization has to first determine its mission statement which states the reason why the organization is in the business. After developing the mission statement, a SWOT analysis has to be carried out in order to establish the direction of the company through strategic planning.

Through human resource planning, a company determines what jobs need to be done and how many and what types of workers will be required. To determine what skills are needed, human resource management conducts a job analysis.

Assessing Current Human Resources

Assessing current human resources begins by developing a profile of an organization's current employee. This internal analysis includes the information about the workers and the skills they currently possess. This analysis serves as a guide for supporting an organization's pursuits or in altering the organization's strategic direction. The completed profile of the human resources inventory can also provide crucial information for identifying current or future threats of an organization's ability to successfully meet its goal.

KBR Asia Pacific accesses their human resources regularly in order to obtain the information about the workers and skills they currently process. This enables KBR Asia Pacific to realize the vital needs that are needed by the organization in order to accomplish every project they have signed. Besides, this also helps the organization to realize factors that may cause threats to its organizational and project development.

Determining the Demand for Labor

Once the assessment of an organization's current human resources situation has been made and the future direction of the organization has been considered, it's time to develop a projection of future human resource needs.

Organizations usually require a diverse mix of people because employees are not perfectly suitable for one another within an organization.

It is necessary to know that types of employees, in terms of skills and knowledge, and abilities. The forecasting methods must allow for the recognition of specific jobs needs as well as the total number of vacancies.

In KBR Asia Pacific, once the assessment of its current human resources situation has been made, the organization will develop a projection of human resource needs of future projects. KBR Asia Pacific is an intensive and complex engineering corporation, therefore, diverse mix of people from different fields and with different skills is required in order to carry out its projects. Hence, the forecasting methods used by KBR Asia Pacific must allow it to recognize its total employee needs as well as the total number of vacancies.

Employing Workers

Recent graduates from schools and colleges expand the supply of available human resources. This market includes the college graduates and those who received the highly specialized training from an alternative supplier of job skills training. Entrants to the workforce from sources other than schools may also include men and women seeking full or part-time job.

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KBR Asia Pacific employs fresh graduates from schools and colleges to expand its supply of available human resources. Other than having 300 core workers, the organization will also employ contingent workers such as temporary and contract workers according their fluctuating labor needs. The organization usually outsources their constructional parts of their projects to sub-contractors.

Matching Labor Demand and Supply

The objective of employment planning is to bring together the forecast of the future demand for workers and the supply for human resources, both current and future. The result of this effort is to pinpoint shortages or overstaffing of employees. Special attention must be paid to determining shortages. If an organization finds that the demand for the human resources will increase in the future, it must hire or contract with additional staff.

When dealing with overstaffing, the organization must undertake steps to decruit its employees.

Employment planning acts as a vital role in KBR Asia Pacific. For ever project signs, the organization must make sure that they have sufficient labor in order to finish the project on time. On the other hand, the organization has to pay attention whether is there any overstaffing. If overstaffing is pinpointed, the company will decruit its employees in order to right size their workforce.

Job Analysis

Job analysis is a systematic exploration which provides information about jobs currently being done and the knowledge, skills, and abilities that individuals need to perform the jobs adequately.

Job Analysis Steps and Methods

To carry out a job analysis, first, an organization has to understand the purpose of the job analysis and the roles of jobs. After benchmarking positions, the organization has to determine whether which methods to use for the job analysis. After the job analysis has been carried out, clarification must be made. At last, a draft is developed and reviewed to supervisors.

Observation Method - a job analysis technique in which data are gathered by watching employees work.

Individual Interview Method - Meeting with a number of employees to collectively determine what their jobs entail.

Structured Questionnaire Method - A specially designed questionnaire on which employees' rate tasks they perform in their jobs.

Technical Conference Method - A job analysis technique that involves extensive input from the employee's supervisor.

Diary Method - A job analysis method requiring job incumbents to record their daily activities.

Outcomes of Job Analysis

When a job analysis had been carried out, three outcomes will be collected:

Job Descriptions - A job description is a written statement of what the jobholder does, how it is done, under what conditions and why.

Job Specifications - The job specification states the minimum acceptable qualifications that the incumbent must possess to perform the job successfully.

Job Evaluations - Job evaluations contribute by specifying the relative value of each job in the organization which makes it an important part of compensation administration.

2.2 Staff Recruitment

2.2.1 Definition

The definition of recruitment process is a business activity bringing together those seeking jobs with the desired jobs. The objective of recruiting process is to find the best employees who will fulfill the jobs. Therefore, companies should attract significant candidates to apply and discourage those candidates who are unqualified. Likewise, KBR Asia Pacific, hire a diverse workforce of highly qualified employees and keep encouraging the candidates to further their careers.

2.2.2 Constraints of recruiting

Generally companies face several constraints on recruiting efforts:

Organization image

As for KBR Asia Pacific, they have great reputation in term of organization image. For them, organization image is not their constraint, yet it is their strength to attract talented candidates to apply.

Job attractiveness

KBR as multinational company offer thousands of projects spread out all over the world. Therefore, candidates and employees will find valuable opportunities and experiences. In order to generate job attractiveness, KBR provide enjoyable training overseas.

Internal organizational policies

In order to recruit talented candidates, KBR promote the jobs based on existing employees and outsourcing to public and society.

Government influence (discrimination laws)

This kind of discrimination will not appear in organization like KBR. Because KBR's policies prohibit unlawful against employees, shareholders, directors, officers, customers or suppliers associated with race, colour, sex, and religion or nation origin. KBR treat all parties involved fairly, full of respect and shall not be unreasonably interfered within the conduct of their duties or responsibilities.

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Recruiting cost

In terms of expenditure for recruitment, KBR does not determine a fixed amount of money they want to spend on. They determine the budget according to how much the project they carry on. For instance, if their current project is worth $100 million, then they will decide to take 10% for the recruitment.

2.2.3 Recruiting process involve a global perspective.

There are two types of labor market:

Home-country nationals

Home-country nationals is implemented when companies is searching for candidates with extensive company experience to launch its branches in a country where it has never been sold before.

Host-country nationals

Host-country nationals will be chosen when companies want each foreign subsidiary to have its own distinct national identity. Basically, the company will hire some expatriates to run its foreign subsidiaries. By using Host-country nationals, potential problems associated with language, economical growth, culture and political environment can be minimized.

In KBR, they are using combination of both above. It all depends on the projects that they are handling at that time. If the project requires foreigners to work in, they will employ some expatriates. However, KBR as a socially responsible corporate, still prefer local employees to work with them. It does that purposely in order to reduce unemployment rate in that particular country or region.

2.2.4 Recruiting source

There are some sources that companies can rely on:

Internal searches

Organizations will promote their current employees to occupy the available jobs. There are some advantages of promoting their current employees - good public relationship, morale building, cost savings, internal candidates' knowledge of the organization, increase the opportunity to develop mid and top level managers. Yet, there are some disadvantages that companies must be aware of - possible inferiority of internal candidates, lack of fresh idea/knowledge/enthusiasm, etc.

KBR sometimes implements this strategy when recruiting employees. The reason for choosing internal searches is employees are more familiar with their tasks. They also have more experience in that particular field rather than the new comers. KBR also want to promote their current staff in order to boost their careers and performance within organization.

Employee recommendations

The current employees in an organization can be asked to recommend recruits (recommendation among colleagues). The advantages are employees will be motivated to get good recommendation and also availability of accurate job information for the recruit. While the disadvantages are possibility of friendship being confused with job performance, increased potential for adverse impact and potential for nepotism.

External search

External search efforts include several institutions. There are advertisement agencies; employment agencies (either private or public agencies), recruiting from schools, colleges and universities; outsourcing from professional organizations, unsolicited applicants and cyberspace recruiting.

When recruiting employees, KBR also plays role in this strategy. They put advertisements in newspaper and websites to find suitable candidates. They even advertise in foreign newspaper if they need to hire some expatriates to work with them. Nowadays companies often put their job vacancies online to downsize recruiting cost.

Alternatives of recruiting employees.

There are some alternatives beside the above strategies - temporary help services, employee leasing and independent contractors.

Based on our interview, KBR also seek for employees from these alternatives. They hire additional temporary workers from manpower supply companies for short-time projects. As for building construction projects, they tend to hire additional workers from sub-contractors outside.

2.3 Staff Selection

The Selection Process generally consists of these eight steps:

2.3.1 Initial Screening Interview

This process involves screening of inquiries and screening interviews. The HR manager makes sure that the applicants meet minimum job requirement, such as an adequate job experience and education. Similarly, in KBR Pacific, the minimum requirement is 1 year job experience, or the best and brightest graduates in engineering, science, management and marketing, as well as other key discipline. The entire job requirement depends on which department of KBR Pacific is intending to hire.

2.3.2 Completion of The Application Form

It is to enable a job candidate to supply information about his or her qualifications, skills, and experience. KBR may ask a candidate to complete an application form instead of, or as well as, providing a resume. KBR HR Manager reviews the company's application form regularly to ensure that questions asked take account of current legislation, accepted good practice, and internal organizational developments. These questions are job-related and avoid unjustifiable intrusion into a candidate's personal life.

2.3.3 Employment Test

About 60% of all organizations will use a few types of employment tests:

First, Integrity tests measure factors such as dependability, carefulness, responsibility, and honesty. These tests are used to learn about the attitudes of applicants toward a variety of job-related subjects. Since the passage of the Employee Polygraph Protection Act in 1988, polygraph (lie detector) tests have been effectively banned in employment situations. In their place, attitude tests are being used to assess attitudes about honesty and, presumably, on-the-job behaviors.

Second, Personality tests measure personality or temperament. These tests are among the least reliable. Personality tests are problematic and not very valid, because little or no relationship exists between personality and performance.

Third, Knowledge tests are more reliable than personality tests because they measure an applicant's comprehension or knowledge of a subject. A math test for an accountant and a weather test for a pilot are examples. Human relations specialists must be able to demonstrate that the test reflects the knowledge needed to perform the job. For example, a teacher hired to teach math should not be given a keyboarding test.

Fourth, Performance simulation tests are increasing in popularity. Based on job analysis data, they more easily meet the requirement of job relatedness than written tests. Performance simulation tests are made up of actual job behaviors. The best-known performance simulation test is known as work sampling, and other credible simulation processes are performed at assessment centers.

Last, an assessment is a selection technique that examines candidates' handling of simulated job situations and evaluates a candidate's potential by observing his or her performance in experiential activities designed to simulate daily work.

- Assessment centers, where work sampling is often completed, utilize line

executives, supervisors, or trained psychologists to evaluate candidates as they go through exercises that simulate real problems that these candidates would confront in their jobs. Activities may include interviews, problem-solving exercises, group discussions, and business-decision games. Assessment centers have consistently demonstrated results that accurately predict later job performance in managerial positions.

- Work sampling is an effort to create a miniature replica of a job, giving applicants the chance to demonstrate that they possess the necessary talents by actually doing the tasks.

However in KBR Company, there is no such employment test to gauge the candidates' skills as the sector that KBR involves is a very specialized industry. Thus according to the HR manager, by just asking some questions about the engineering, construction parts etc, the candidates' answers will indicate whether they have a skill that is required by the company or not.

2.3.4 Comprehensive Interviews:

KBR Company mostly uses Comprehensive Structured Interviews. The interview takes around 1 hour. Candidates are asked questions pertaining to how they would handle job-related situations, job knowledge, worker requirements, and how the candidate would perform various job simulations. Interviews tapping job knowledge offer a way to assess a candidate's current level of knowledge related to relevant implicit dimensions of job performance (i.e., "tacit knowledge" or "practical intelligence" related to a specific job position). Some benefits of the interview are its usefulness for determining if the applicant has requisite communicative or social skills which may be necessary for the job and also interviewer can obtain supplementary information. Besides that, it can be used to appraise candidates' verbal fluency, for selection among equally qualified applicants and can assess the applicant's job knowledge. The interview is also a good time to gauge their communication skills and how interactive they are. Lastly, it allows the applicant to ask questions that may reveal additional information useful for making a selection decision

2.3.5 Background Investigation Methods

KBR will verify the information from the application form using a background investigation because according to a survey taken by Singapore Ministry of Manpower, one-third of all applicants exaggerate their backgrounds or experiences. KBR uses an Internal Investigation Method (checks former employers, personal references and possibly credit sources). The External Investigation Method (uses a reference-checking firm which may obtain more information while complying with privacy rights) will be applied for special cases.

2.3.6 Conditional Job Offers

An employer may ask disability-related questions and require medical examinations of an applicant only after the applicant has been given a conditional job offer. Following the law, offers of employment made contingent upon successful completion of background check, physical/medical exam, etc by KBR Company.

2.3.7 Medical/Physical Examination

A physical examination is an evaluation of the body and its functions using inspection, palpation (feeling with the hands), percussion (tapping with the fingers), and auscultation (listening). A complete health assessment also includes gathering information about a person's medical history and lifestyle, doing laboratory tests, and screening for disease. Similarly, KBR will also ask the applicant to do medical check-up. However under Americans with Disabilities Act Law, KBR will not ask disability-related questions and may not conduct medical examinations until after it makes a conditional job offer to the applicant

2.3.8 Permanent Job Offers

The last part of the selection staff process is now depending on the applicant's decision, whether he/she wants to accept the job offer or not. For the applicants who are not hired, KBR manager ensures that he/she leaves the company with a good impression about the company. Besides that, KBR will save the remaining CV (resumes) in case there is an available vacancy in the future.

2.4 Socializing, Orienting, & Developing Employees

Socialization, orienting, training and development are used to help new employees adapt to their new working places and maximize their productivity. Ideally, employees will understand and accept the behaviors desired by the organization, and will be able to attain their own goals by exhibiting these behaviors.

2.4.1 Socialization

Socialization is a process of adapting to a new work role like new environment, new cultures, new colleagues, new behaviors or new expectations. Socialization must be adjusted whenever individuals change jobs. The most profound adjustment occurs when an individual first enters an organization. There are a lot of assumptions of employee socialization. One of the example is it will strongly influence employee performance and organizational stability. Besides this, it provides the information on how to do the job and ensures organizational fit. The new members also would suffer from anxiety, which motivates them to learn the values and norms of the organization. Socialization is influenced by subtle and less subtle statements and behaviors exhibited by colleagues, management, employees, clients and others. Individuals adjust to new situations in remarkably similar ways. All new employees also would go through a settling-in period.

Socialization process can be divided into 3 stages: pre-arrival stage, encounter stage and metamorphosis stage.

First: In pre-arrival stage, individuals arrive with a set of values, attitudes and expectations which they have developed from previous experience and the selection process.

Second: In encounter stage, the individuals discover how well their expectations match realities within the organizations. Where differences exist, socialization occurs to imbue the employee with the organization's standards.

Third: In metamorphosis stage, individuals have adapted to the organization, feel accepted and know what is expected of them. After those three stages, there are 3 possible outcomes which are increased productivity, increased commitment and decreased turnover.

However in KBR, the more experienced employees who are new to the company will work directly with their superiors.

2.4.2 Orientation

Mostly, orientation may be done by the supervisor, the HRM staff or some combination. Orientation can be formal or informal, depending on the size of the organization. It covers a lot of things such as organization's objectives, history, rules and so on. The purpose of new-employee orientation is to let them learn about the organization's culture. Culture includes long-standing, often unwritten rules about the appropriate behavior. Socialized employees know how things are done, what matters, and which behaviors and perspectives are acceptable.

Mostly, senior managements are often visible during the new employee orientation process. In orientation, the CEOs can:

welcome employees

provide vision for the company

introduce company culture

convey that the company cares about the employees

allay some new employee anxieties

help them feel good about their job choice

Human Resources Management's role in orientation is coordinating role and participant role. Coordinating role of HRM instructs new employees when and where to report and provides information about the benefit choices. However, participant role will offer its assistance for future employees needs such as career guidance and training.

2.4.3 Training

Employee training is a learning experience designed to achieve a relatively permanent change in an individual that will improve the ability to perform on the job. There are two methods to determine the training needs to the employees. The specific training goals should be based on the organization's needs, type of works to be done and skills necessary to complete the work. The indicators of need for more training are drops in productivity, increased rejects, inadequate job performance or rise in the number of accidents. While determining the training needs, the value added by the training must be considered versus the cost and the training goals should be established that are tangible, verifiable, timely and measurable. Training methods can be divided into two types which are:

On-the-job training methods - job rotation and understudy assignments

Off-the-job training methods - classroom lectures, films and videos, simulation exercises and vestibule training

In KBR, every employee has to go through 40 hours of training every year. This can be in the form of in-house training, outside training or seminars. That's 1 week of working time each year. And they are constantly acquiring new knowledge in the line of their work. So, actually KBR is using on-the-job training methods for their new employees. They are assigned to a mentor who will guide them along. These mentors are usually their seniors, not their superiors, so they will feel at ease talking to the mentors.

2.4.4 Development

Employee Development is future-oriented training, focusing more on the personal growth of the employees. This future-oriented set of activities is predominantly an educational process. All employees, regardless of level, can benefit from the methods previously used to develop managerial personnel. There are 6 types of employee development methods:

Job rotation - involves moving employees to various positions in the organization to expand their skills, knowledge and abilities.

Assistant-to positions - allow employees with potential to work under and be coached by successful managers.

Committee assignments - provide opportunities for decision making, learning by watching others and becoming more familiar with organizational members and problems.

Lecture courses and seminars - benefit from today's technology and are often offered in a distance learning format. For example, acquire knowledge, conceptual and analytical ability.

Simulations - include case studies, decision games and role plays and are intended to improve decision making.

Outdoor training - typically involves challenges which teach trainees the importance of teamwork.

Organizational methods facilitate long-term organization-wide changes. Organizational techniques include survey feedback, process consultation, team building and intergroup development.

In KBR, cross training is a must for all the employees because if no one can do the work, it would create problems for the department; for example when someone needs to go on leave. At least 1 other person must know the fundamentals of his/her job, but not at the expense of expertise. And that person must know how the job is done if there are no special problems that occur, but for the more complicated parts of the job, only they would have knowledge of it, because that's their expertise. KBR doesn't really want unnecessary duplication of skills either. However, KBR seldom have training across departments. Maybe in other industries they do, but KBR is simply too specialized for them to be able to do that.

2.4.5 Evaluating Training and Development Effectiveness

In evaluating training programs, employee and manager opinions are used. These opinions are not necessarily valid measures. The opinions are influenced by things like difficulty, entertainment value or personality of the instructor. Performance-based measures are better indicators of training's cost effectiveness. There are three types of performance-based evaluation measures:

Post-training performance method - employees' on-the-job performance is assessed after training.

Pre-post-training performance method - employee's job performance is assessed both before and after training, to determine whether a change has taken place.

Pre-post-training performance with control group method - compares the pre-post-training results of the trained group with the concurrent job performance of a control group, which does not undergo instruction; used to control for factors other than training which may affect job performance

In KBR, there is no post-training performance method that takes place.

Conclusions

Employment planning is a very important aspect of an organization. Company must have a mission statement and must also do SWOT analysis. HRM must conduct job analysis of their employees. It accesses its HR regularly in order to obtain the information about its workers. It also helps to realize the factors that may cause threats to the organizational and projects development. In KBR, once the assessment of its current human resources is done, the organization will develop a projection of human resource needs of future projects. It is a diversified company and contains different kinds of people with different skills. The company employs fresh graduates from schools and colleges to expand its supply of available human resources. It may also include men and women seeking full or part-time job. They outsource their contingent workers from sub-contractors. The organization must not overstaff.

KBR Pacific hires a diverse workforce of highly qualified employees and keeps encouraging them to further their careers. KBR has a good organization image so it's a strength of this company to attract talented applicants to apply. It also provides overseas training which makes it more interesting for the employees. They promote jobs based on existing employees and outsourcing to public and society. KBR is serious about government laws and treats all parties fairly and with respect. KBR also does its budgeting on a project basis. It employs both locals and expatriates and actually the company tries to promote internal employees to boost performance within organization. The company advertises in both local and foreign newspapers to recruit potential employees. It also utilizes websites for the advertising job vacancies available. KBR may sometimes even hire additional temporary workers from manpower supply companies for short-time projects. As for building construction projects, the company hires additional workers from sub-contractors outside.

Socialization, orienting, training and development are used to help new employees adapt to their new working places and maximize their productivity. In KBR, the more experienced employees who are new to the company will work directly with their superiors. Mostly, orientation can be done by the supervisor, the HRM staff or a combination. It covers many things like organization's culture, history, rules, etc. HRM's role is coordinating and participant. In KBR, every employee has to go through 40 hours of training per year. This can be in the form of in-house training, outside training, or seminars. KBR uses the on-the-job training method. The HR department makes sure that all employees are cross trained, though they seldom have training across departments. There is no post-training-method taking place.

The applicants go through various tests which can prove their abilities to the organization. First, there is initial screening of the all the applicants' resumes to shortlist all the job applicants who applied. Then, the applicants who are shortlisted go on to fill the application form followed by the employment tests and interviews. The company may also do background investigation after which they will give a conditional job offer which offers the chosen candidates a job with a condition that they will be accepted only after their medical examination is successful and health results are satisfying. The end depends on the applicant, if whether he/she wants to accept the job offer or not.

So, to conclude, KBR Pacific is a professional engineering company which employs a large number of workers to work on their projects. So, having all this in mind, it does so without violating any rules made by the government. It respects the diversified workforce and employs based on qualifications and experience. This is an important quality every HR department should have to make a company grow successfully.

References

DeCenzo & Robbins, Fundamentals of Human Resource Management, 9th edition, 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

BUS011 course notes, SIM university, adapted from DeCenzo & Robbins, Fundamentals of Human Resource Management, 9th edition, 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Jumpnox (June 19, 2005), Human Resource Management: Selecting and Appraising Your Future Staff, http://www.echeat.com/essay.php?t=26965, January 26, 2010.

Alfred Sarkissian, Steps in the Human Resource Planning process, http://www.ehow.com/how-does_5135285_steps-human-resource-planning-process.html, January 26, 2010.

Middlebury, Staff recruitment process, http://www.middlebury.edu/administration/hr/process/recruitment.htm, January 25, 2010.