Current Issues In Human Resources Management Commerce Essay

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"Human resource management as a unique approach to people and organisation management were introduced first in the United States (Beer et al., 1985) and later it gained popularity in Britain and may other countries (Hendry and Pettigrew, 1986; Storey 1987, 1992, 1995 cited in Mabey, Salaman and Storey, 1998).

Empirical and extensive research by Gerhart and Milkovich (1990); Cutcher- Gershenfeld (1991); Arthur, (1994); Huselid (1995); Huselid and Decker, (1996) has all concluded that the role of human resources is very crucial in an organisation gaining and sustaining competitive advantage (Mabey, Salaman and Storey, 1998).

Convincingly, Delery and Doty (1996) argued that although researchers have highlighted the holistic nature of HRM, much of the initial research into the concept focused on a narrow range of issues (Darwish, 2009).

Human resource practices are repeatedly linked to high performances; such assumption is supported by studies as 'The case for good people management (2001) and the Black box research in conjunction with the University of Bath (2003) conducted by CIPD which both concluded that there is a relationship between human resources practices and business performance, (Strategic Human Resources Study Manual ABE, 2008).

Irrefutably, (Boxhall 1993 writing in the Human Resource Journal cited in the Strategic Human Resources Management, ABE, 1998) explained that successful organisation did have an overall strategic approach within which there were specific human resource strategies but there is no overall single human resources strategy in any organisation.

To strengthen the point mentioned earlier, organisations differ in their approach to people management for instance; International investment banks adopt a more mechanistic approach which sees employees as a measureable commodity to be managed in a detached way as other resources. While, creative industries takes a more organic approach which sees employees as 'resourceful humans' an invaluable source of competitive advantage (Strategic Human Resources, ABE, 2008).

Significantly, with all the literature on the best human resources approach to adopt, the world and our global society is going through a paradigm shift, which has influenced the changing nature of work, there are less people doing more work and there is a growing trend requiring people to be more flexible in the type of work they are prepared and able to do (Bridges, 2000).

Analysis of Questions

Question 1


Productivity is defined as "the relative measure of the efficiency of a person, machine, factory, system, etc., in converting inputs into useful outputs." (Business dictionary, 2010)

Peter Drucker, (1954), stated "Without productivity objectives, a business has no direction and without productivity measurement, a business has no control."

Consequently productivity concerns do influence organisational policies and procedures regarding SHRM activities.

HR Planning

In order to efficiently tackle new initiatives or business changes such as re-deployment, relocation or the initiation of new systems, organisation has to ensure that prior human resources planning is undertaken, this provides successful and viable means of forecasting future staffing requirements so that organisations can more efficient. Additionally it helps retain the core employees and secure new ones to meet the increasing demands, while controlling costs and improving performance. HR planning differs from industry to industry; take these two companies for example (Cornwell, 2007)

British Gas

Managers at British conducts forecasting programmes to envisage how much the market in the UK will increase. Thus this help the company to decide how many additional engineers it will need in the future. Detailed forecasts of its demand for engineers are done one year in advance whereas more general forecasting is done up to two years in are conducted for one year in advance and makes more general estimates for a further two years into the future. (Thetimes100 -1995-2000, British gas)

Additionally, the constant need to update engineer skills and Health and safety issues in the EU are constantly changing and is critically important in the gas industry, thus these are two other factors that influence workforce planning in British Gas. (The Times100 -1995-2000, British gas)

Apart from regular training to close skills gaps to ensure engineers stay up to date with technical matters, engineers can be gain information about technical changes via field radio or text messaging. However, there is a need for suitable individuals for promotion to managerial roles. In order to plan organise and co-ordinate the teams of engineers. The company therefore needs to attract and employ a wide range of people into the organisation (The times100 -1995-2000, British gas). These HR policies and practices adopted by BP has enabled the organisation to reduce cost and improve because of the core competences and skills of their employees.


Planning is an on-going process at Tesco which is conducted yearly, beginning from the last week in February. Periodical reviews are done in May, August and November, so that staffing levels can be adjusted and recruitment can be do where necessary. This allows Tesco ample time to meet its demand for staff and its strategic objectives for example the opening of new stores. (The Times100 -1995-2000, Tesco)

Recruitment and Selection

Recruitment is a process whereby organisations identify and attract potential candidate to fill vacant positions in the organisation (Bernthal, 2002), while selection is a process to choosing the right employees (Hr-guide, 2010). However attracting and selecting the right person is very crucial to growth of an organisation. The recruitment and selection practices vary in each sector but the underlying principles remain the same, for example:

Virgin Media

Virgin Media has reputable procedures for the selection sales staff. While operating within the employment when recruiting staff, behaviour and appearance is of high significance, since employee are representative for the company sales staff the company. References and relevant convictions for criminal offences are checked thoroughly checked to ensure legitimacy. In addition to this reference must not be a relative of the applicant. Interestingly, if a sales person leaves a copy of his or her sales records are retained for at least six months, Should Virgin Media use expatriates, equivalent measures are used and recorded (Virgin, 2010). These practices enable Virgin media, to employ the best person that can give the highest possible returns.


Selection is sometimes made internally in an effort to motivate staff. Tesco performs what it calls 'talent planning'. This encourages people to work their way through and up the organisation. The company conduct a yearly appraisal scheme where employees have an opportunity to apply for higher jobs. Applications are made online for managerial positions; the shortlisted applicants are then subject to an interview followed by attendance at an assessment centre for the final stage of the selection process. Conversely regular in store-based jobs takes a simpler format, applicant drop in their CV or register at the local job centre office. However more specialist jobs, such as pharmacists are advertise in journals (The Times100 -1995-2000, Tesco).

Job descriptions and person specifications are combined, which enable mangers to assess how a employee fits into the Tesco business hence this enables them to recruit the correct people. In addition a benchmark is provide for each job in terms of tasks and proficiency, hence this enables to assess whether staff are meeting the performance level set out by the company. As a result the policies and practices used by Tesco, reduce inconsistencies in the service b because workers are more motivated, hence, the overall productivity of the firm increases overall success of the business.

Training and learning/development

Training in an organisation is done to ensure that employees could undertake the given tasks. Traditionally training was viewed as an expense now it is referred to as an investment in employee development. The dynamism in the environment to which business operates requires culture that supports learning. The concept of learning organisation was learning. Learning is an essential ingredient if an organisation is to survive (Gavin, 1993) and management is responsible for creating an environment where learning is continuously encouraged. The case below provides some insight into ways that some organisations

Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook overseas resorts have approximately 1666 staff, working in a variety of jobs front line representatives to managers in the resorts. The itinerant nature of the work means that various employee works in one destination for the summer season, then move to another destination in the winter, or in another area of the business, due to these factors, training and development is important right from the induction stage (People1st, 2008).

As a new employee working in the overseas resort are given eight days induction. This is intended to provide all the necessary skills and behaviours needed to be a representative. They then join their resort where they receive additional on the job- training where they relate that knowledge in their local environment. As representative overseas, gain experience they are offered a range of training opportunities to develop their careers. One such opportunity is STARS - Senior Training and Recognition Scheme - which has three levels and provides staff with training opportunities which are clearly linked motivation and increased productivity (People1st, 2008). These training and development polices has enabled Thomas Cook to benefit through efficiency and higher standards for customers, making it the number travel agent.

STARS Level Career progression

HP Compaq - Learning and Development Programs

At HP employee are motivate to explore new territory in technology and career development. The learning and development programs encourage employees to become innovative creative thinkers.

In addition, employees are given ongoing support to develop their full potential. The company adopts a process call Grow@HP which guides employees, using this systems helps employees excel in their present position and gain the skills they need to keep growing and contributing.

When developing the talents of employee of our people, the 70/20/10 learning Model is adopted this system helps employees get the most from the learning process.  Additionally, advanced technologies are used to provide training, these technologies enhances knowledge and retention with live virtual training and remote laboratory capability, as a result employees are more efficient and cost is reduced (8. HP, 2010).

Work life balance

The world of work has gone through a paradigm shift, customers are now demanding service 24 hours, 7 day a week and employee has a growing need for more work life balance

"Clutterbuck, (2004) defines work-life balance as: "being aware of different demands on time and energy having the ability to make choices in the allocation of time and energy knowing what values to apply to choices making choices." (CIPD, 2010)

According to the CIPD, 2010) reports, by introducing the policies to support work-life can increase productivity and competitiveness, increased flexibility and customer service, raised staff morale, motivation, commitment and engagement thereby reducing absenteeism and improve recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce However, Employers may acquire extra costs associated with increased managerial workloads, but essentially the benefit far overshadow the cost. Some organisations are adopting strategies such as flexible working, part-time working and job shifts etc, take these case for example;

BT (British Telecom) Flexible working

"Not investing in the welfare of staff can eat away into the success of a business." A case study of BT by the Health and Safety Executive, (2010) revealed mental health issues is a growing risks at BT and significant stress has caused increase absenteeism, raising productivity concerns for the organisation..

However, BT sought to address this issue affecting their workforce by getting the workforce engaged. BT, collectively with the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and Connect made an agreement which enables health and safety issues to be addressed in a non-political and non-confrontational manner (HSE, 2010).

Introduced into BT's HR strategy is the undertaking of job re-design which includes flexible working, promoting good health by identify those at risk and providing early intervention; hence absence rate due to mental health problems has fallen by 30% despite pressured market conditions (HSE, 2010). Interestingly, BT's research shows that the average productivity of an individual working from home is 20% higher than when they are in the office. (Sexton, 2008).

Similarly, the Merton Council introduced 7am-7pm flextime & home-working as a result absence due to sickness and medical appointment decreased by 50% and 75% respectively. Another company called Northumbria Water offers flexible working in order to have access to a wider pool of applicants to in order recruit the best person for the job. (, 2004)

High performance working

Question 2


A job is defined as employment, where a person is in a long-term relationship performing a service for an employer (Business dictionary, 2010), in an exchange for payment. A job consists of duties, responsibilities, and tasks that are defined and specific, and can be accomplished, quantified, measured, and rated (reference, 2010). In order for employers to assess what is needed to fulfil a vacant position, they must conduct a job analysis

Job analysis is a systematic approach to defining the job role, description, requirements, responsibilities, evaluation, etc. Job Analysis is the procedure through which we determine the task, duties and responsibilities of these positions and the characteristics of the people to hire for the positions. Job analysis produces information used for writing, job description (Human resources, 2010).

Job descriptions are written statements that describe the duties, responsibilities, most important contributions and outcomes needed from a position, required qualifications of candidates, and reporting relationship and co-workers of a particular job (Heathfield, 2010)

Job descriptions increase organisational efficiency and performance by specifying accountabilities thus reducing re-work and overlap. Furthermore, clarity around roles is motivating as people know what they need to do in their job and how their role contributes to the 'bigger picture' (Ihraustralia, 2010). Drawing upon the information obtained from the job description, a job design is then undertaken

Job design is processes by which various element are put together to form a job. Job design can either be mechanistic, humanistic, perceptual or motivational. (Mbaknol, 2010). In addition there are four approaches to job design;

Job rotation is the systematic movement of employees through a series function of in order to increase awareness and motivation (tutor2u, 2010). Royerson University library in Toronto Canada and the Indiana University in Bloomington has both utilised job rotation to improve multi-skilling and reduce boredom (The free library, 2010). Employees not only undertake job rotation but also job enlargement

Job enlargement, in a sense, is similar to job rotation, but they differ in that this approach amplifies the activities of employees by swapping a series of work. Companies such as Volvo factory in Kalmar, (1970s) and IBM (1943) used this approach in order to motivate employees, In this case example in particular IBM introduced extensive modification in both the production system and the role of line managers (, 2005). Due to the development of service driven economies, the job enrichment approach was adopted ( Libcom, 2010)

Job enrichment seeks to create better prospects for individual achievement and recognition by expanding the task to add not only diversity but also responsibility (answers, 2010); this is done in most Japanese companies for example Honda and Ford, through practice of Lean production, and Total Quality Management (Strategic Human Resources Management, ABE, 2008)

However the impact of technology and the rapid modification taking place in the environment, has contributed to organisations undertaking a shift in the nature of jobs, and undertaking a new approach called de -jobbing, in order to be responsive and flexible, in the global market place. (Hub pages, 2010).

De-jobbing is defined as "increasing the role of workers and encouraging them to work beyond their job description (Hub pages, 2010).

However, 'organisation should undertake de-jobbing' and there are many arguments to support this view.

Flatter and leaner structure

Firstly, de-jobbing enables organisation to move away organisation hierarchical structures (Bridges, 2000), influenced by Taylorism (Ash, 1988; Sanchez, 1994 cited in Singh, 2008 ) to a leaner and flatter organisational structure where there is decentralisation of decision making, speedier communication and the development of a customer focused culture in which team working and high involvement working practices will thrive (kettle, 2005). A company such as IKEA Group has lucratively used flat structures to build an employee mentality of job involvement. Similarly the technology company 3M has adopted flat structure where there is decentralisation. With 100 profit centers at 3M., each division manager acts autonomously web-books, (2010)

Klenke, (2007) argue that in flat companies the 'group think mentality' can exist.' Also roles are not clearly defined which results in role ambuity a common cause of stress in organisations.

Importantly, striking the right balance between decentralisation and centralisation is a challenge for many organisations. At one end The Home Depot Inc. had to centralise most of its operations resulting in a reduction in expenses and an improvement in the firm's profitability and on the other end caterpillar suffered losses in the (1980s) as a result of centralised decision making which resulted in delayed and inaccurate information of other target markets (Flat world knowledge, 2010).

Flexible working patterns

Unquestionably, de-jobbing has enabled organisations to change the traditional view of employment where people were employed on a full-time permanent basis to more flexible working arrangements (Reilly, 2001). Evidence from companies such as British Airport Authority supports the view that flexibility through multi-skilling reduces cost because fewer people need to be employed, (Pollock, 2000 cited in Reilly, 2001). Hewlett-Packard (1973) became the first U.S. Company to introduce flex- time (Schaefer, 1999-2000). In addition UK companies such as DSGI, Lloyds TSB and First Direct, all have flexible working arrangements for front-line staff and management levels but they are mangled in a different way. The firms provide variety of different flexible working options, including part-time working, evening or night working, condensed hours, home working and rolling shifts (Swinton, 2008).

William Waldgrave in 1996 in a speech to The American Chamber of Commerce claimed that flexible labour market was responsible reducing long-term and structural unemployment and for evening out regional labour differences (Thomas, 1996 cited in Reilly, 2001).

Although flexibility is noted above to impact positively on the organisation, (Capelli, 2002) pointed out that the changing employment relationship in many firms has militated against the development of lasting commitment among employees. Additionally there are others who regard it as a threat to job security and decent working conditions for those in employment.

Total Quality Management processes

De-jobbing triggers a systematic approach to problem solving such as the use of Just-in-time (JIT), Kaizen and benchmarking techniques, enabling organisations to develop tasks around teams and processes rather than around specialised functions. The establishment of standards for products according to customer needs, setting up procedures to ensure that these standards are met, monitoring actual quality and take action when it falls below results in zero defects which then reduce the cost of wastage, increase quality standards and subsequently boost sales. Japanese companies such as Toyota and Sony set the playing field on which this is based (Holmes, 1995 cited in the Strategic Human Resources Management, ABE, 2008). Additionally, Penril DataComm a designer in Maryland was able to use TQM to improve efficiency in the organisation (Accounting for management, 2009).

According to (Brown and Jacob and Harari 1993) total quality management is noted has a few drawbacks, the implementation may disrupt productivity, and training is sometimes difficult, yet the advantages far out-weight the disadvantages (Accounting for management, 2009)

Business Process re-engineering

Amidst aggressive competition, constant technological developments, shorter product life cycles, developing new knowledge have been emphasised by (Peter Drucker, 1988) as the prime movers of the wealth-creation process (Strategic Human Resources Management, study manual, 2008). Thus, in order for organisations to compete effectively, to tell the truth in order to ensure survival, the organisation has creative ways to improve products, change paradigm or processes ( Tid and Bessant, 2009 ) hence the key approach in which this is done is through Business Process Reengineering see Appendix a .

This term was first coined by Hammer and Champy (1990s), Business process reengineering transforms an organisation in ways that directly affect performance. Improving business processes is paramount for businesses to stay competitive in today's marketplace, because we, as customers, are demanding better quality products and services. If this need is not satisfied them they can turn to other competitors, thus undertaking this model, we will benefit from cost service, quality and speed.

However, constant change can also be threatening and de-motivating for individuals, and disruptive and unproductive for organisations (Mabey, Salaman and Storey). Productivity will not happen anywhere through "jobs" organisations have to move away from the concept of established jobs to "de-jobbing" (Bridges, 1994) because it is said that "security breeds complacency" (Strategic Human Resources, ABE, 2008).


In conclusion the game is getting harder and if organisations are to succeed there need to be superior skills, knowledge and aptitude, whilst ensuring that products and services meet the needs of customers.

Although, we were warned by Alvin Toffler (1970s), that organisational structures are constantly changing, we were told by Peter Drucker in (1988) that "we live in the age of social transformation", and further advised by Torrington and Hall, (1998) to change because organisational structure will become redundant, some firms today still continue to use job descriptions and depend on traditionally defined jobs. Market leaders have heeded the message and are moving toward new organisational configurations built around jobs that are broad and that may change every day in order to react with speed, flexibility and creativity.



Even with the changing nature of jobs, organisation still needs to retain the best skilled employees;

In doing so, these strategies could be adopted:

Develop a high performance working organisation where there are rewards for performances, and encourage knowledge and information sharing which creates a learning culture.

Encourage career development through internal promotions by introducing more systematic ways for identifying potentials such as development centres.

Practice one- stop -praise, once someone has done a good job tell them, well done! straight away, because it is said that promptness equals effectiveness.

In order for organisation to be successful:

They should develop a culture of innovation where employees are encouraged to think outside the box. It is evident that strategic innovation breeds supremacy products like Apple's IPAD is a classical example.

Collectively, the balance scorecard methodology from Norton and Kaplan (1996) should be used be measure organisational effectiveness and if there are any gaps then competitive benchmarking should be used to identify the best practices.

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