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Managing human resources is one of the key elements in the co-ordination and management of any organisation. An organisations workforce represents one of its most valuable resources. However, human resources are also potentially the most difficult to manage, principally because of individual differences. Nevertheless, it is said that the extent to which the workforce is managed effectively may be a critical factor in improving and sustaining organisational effectiveness and efficiency.
There are many ways in which companies can gain competitive edge or a lasting and sustained advantage over their competitors, among them being the development of comprehensive human resource management policies. Indeed, the adoption of sophisticated human resource management policies and practices is seen as one of the major keys to competitive advantage in the modern world. This is not least because such practices can be formidable weapons in highly competitive environments because of the inability of competitors to formulate an effective response in the short term.
The historical development of the HR function
In order to properly understand the current nature of HR activity and the specialist function, it is necessary to provide a thumbnail sketch of its historical development. This overview will highlight the major transitions that personnel management has gone through and give some indications of how HRM has developed as a specialist management function. Monks (1996) notes that it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when personnel management first appeared in Ireland, but she refers to Harrington (1980) who, in his account of the development of the Irish administrative system, indicates that a personnel function had been established in the civil service after World War 1. Monks suggests that its official recognition in the private sector is probably best dated to the setting up of the Irish branch of the Institute of Labour Management in Dublin in 1937. This body was the forerunner to the current Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
Activity areas in Human Resources Management
The variety of human resources management activities that may be undertaken by an organization is extensive and, as a result, the role of the specialist HR function clearly may vary between organisations. Many are basic activities common to all types of organisation, such as recruitment. Others may be appropriate in certain organisational contexts, while others are optional in character and their use related to managerial perspectives on personnel management.
Below I will cover human resource planning, recruitment and selection as the major activity areas within managing the human resource.
Before launching into mainstream HRM activities, such as recruitment or training, an organisation must decide on a human resource strategy that fits with its present and future needs. Because people are, arguably, the single most important resource available to an organisation, it is important that sufficient numbers of the appropriate calibre of people are available to the organisation in pursuit of its objectives.
The major objectives of HR planning are:
to ensure that the organisation finds and retains the quantity and quality of human resources that it requires
to ensure that the organisation makes the best possible use of its human resources
to ensure that the organisation can manage the human resource implications of
employee surpluses or deficits.
HR planning by definition is not simply about numbers of people but also about the quality of personnel and how they are deployed throughout the organisation in an attempt to ensure optimum organisational effectiveness and efficiency. It is a process which affects every aspect of human resource management (recruitment, selection, performance appraisal, training and development, industrial relations etc.), and one which must be aligned with the corporate objectives/mission and strategic plans of the organisation.
The major stages in the process are:
developing action plans
Demand Analysis. This stage of the process is concerned with estimating the quantity and quality of human resources required to meet the objectives of the organisation. It is based upon a thorough understanding of the organisations strategy and its implications for the workforce, planned technological changes, a detailed inventory of employee characteristics (age, sex, marital status, tenure, skill level, qualifications, promotion potential and performance levels) and the attrition rate among current resources. The most common techniques employed when conducting a demand analysis are managerial estimates/judgements, statistical methods/ techniques and work study methods/techniques.
Managerial estimates are the most straightforward method and are often the most commonly used. Typically, individual managers, based upon their knowledge of the situation, draw up estimates of human resource requirements. Managerial estimates are often collected at different levels in the organisational hierarchy, with managers at lower levels in the organisation submitting estimates that are passed up through the hierarchy for discussion and consideration. Clearly, since these estimates rely entirely upon personal judgements, their major weakness is one of subjectivity.
Statistical techniques are now more commonly used for making estimates. However, techniques such as regression analysis or econometric models are often only employed by larger organisations that have particular difficulties with human resource planning.
Work study is the systematic analysis of work in terms of people, skills, materials and machines and, in particular, the man hours needed per output unit to achieve maximum productivity. Work study is a particularly useful form of analysis for tasks that lend themselves to measurement and, consequently, work study methods are often employed for estimating the demand for 'direct' employees.
Supply Analysis. Supply analysis is concerned with estimating the quantity and quality of human resources that is likely to be available to the organisation. In this instance there are two major sources to be examined, namely, the internal labour market (existing employees) and the external labour market (the potential supply of human resources that is available outside the organisation).
With respect to supply analysis, one of the most common factors which complicates the task of human resource planning is labour wastage. Both planned and unplanned losses must be accounted for. Planned losses might be those that relate to retirements for example. Unplanned losses are more difficult to deal with. The most typical source of unplanned loss is through voluntary wastage, that is, when employees leave of their own accord.
Finally, with respect to the supply analysis, there are external factors that need to be taken into account. Factors such as the nature of the competition for labour, population trends, education/training opportunities, Government policies, will all have an impact on the external labour market.
Estimating Deficits/Surpluses. As a result of conducting both a demand and supply analysis, it is now possible to compare the results in order to determine whether the supply of labour available matches the demand for labour. Equally, it is possible that the supply of labour exceeds or falls short of the estimates required. Depending on the result achieved at this stage of the process, an action plan will be prepared.
Preparing an action plan. This last stage is based on the information that the preceding stages have yielded. The purpose of this action plan is to ensure that the day-to-day human resource needs of the organisation are satisfied. Plans emanating from the process will cover what the organisation must do, and how it will manage recruitment, selection, training and development, promotions and so on.
Information arising from the process of human resource planning will be used to make decisions about the planned level of recruitment. Recruitment is concerned with attracting a group of potential candidates to apply for the vacancy that the organisation has available. Effective recruitment procedures are a prerequisite to the development of an effective workforce. The terms 'recruitment' and 'selection' refer to complementary, but distinct processes in employment. The quality of the new recruits depends upon an organisation's recruitment practices, while the relative effectiveness of the selection phase is inherently dependent upon the calibre of the candidates attracted.
The key choice in relation to recruitment is whether to recruit internally or externally. There are advantages and disadvantages associated with both and the choice largely depends on the position being filled. However, there are also drawbacks as it limits the potential range of candidates from the wider labour market, and may lead to employee frustration, should employees feel that they have been overlooked for promotion.
Two key stages can be identified in the recruitment process: first, what can be called the 'background' stage, and second, the actual recruitment stage.
Background stage. This involves the conducting of what is termed a 'job analysis'. Job analysis may simply be defined as 'specifying the job and defining what the job demands in terms of employee behaviour'. Typically, two important products are derived from the process of job analysis:
the job description
the person specification.
The job description is a statement of the main tasks and responsibilities of the job. It is clearly an important aspect of the background stage of recruitment, because the ideal individual is derived from the contents of the job description. If an inaccurate job description is prepared, then the desirable characteristics that the person should possess may also be inaccurate or inappropriate. Therefore, in order to achieve the best possible 'job-person fit', an accurate job description is essential. Organisations may take different approaches to the preparation of the job description. Some organisations ask current employees to keep diaries of their daily job activities and draw up a job description accordingly, while in other instances the task of compiling the details of the job description may be reserved for managers and supervisors.
The person specification sets out the skills, qualifications, knowledge and experience the individual should possess in order to best match the job. The person specification may often distinguish between those characteristics considered essential and those considered desirable.
Among the things that it might take account of are:
In this way the person specification can be useful for focusing our thoughts on the desired characteristics of potential employees that may need to be specified in the background phase. It may also be helpful in the preparation for, and conducting of, interviews in the subsequent selection phase.
Recruitment stage. Equipped with a job description and a person specification, as a result of conducting a job analysis, the task now becomes one of attracting a pool of potential candidates. In considering possible sources of labour, it is in some ways easy to assume that these are inevitably external. However, as mentioned earlier, they may be either internal or external. Internal sources may come about through transfers, promotions or, indeed, demotions. Potential external sources include schools, Institutes of Technology, universities and other educational establishments, FAS, employment agencies, unsolicited applications previously received, advertising (local/national media, professional/technical journals) and management consultants/ executive search agencies. Each of these sources should be evaluated, particularly with respect to their suitability to yield the right candidate, and the costs involved.
The data suggest a combination of recruitment methods are being used by responding organisations to fill managerial positions. Utilising the internal labour market for recruitment purposes appears to be the most common recruitment method at all managerial levels. However, some variation is evident between the different managerial levels where, for example, middle and junior managerial vacancies are more likely to be filled internally than senior management positions.
Regardless of the method of recruitment used to source applicants, the organisation requires details on the skills, abilities, aptitudes etc. of the candidates. Typically, the choice here is between asking the applicants to submit their own curriculum vitae (CV) or to have all applicants complete a standard application form. From the point of view of getting standardised information and assessing candidates against the same parameters, application forms are preferred. An individual CV gives scope for creativity but may also include some irrelevant information, whilst excluding some essential facts. A compromise situation lies between both of these alternatives: design an application form specific to the job, but allow some blank space for supporting information.
The selection process effectively begins when application forms are received. Selection tools available to organisations range from the more traditional methods of interviews and references, through to the more sophisticated techniques such as biographical data, aptitude tests and psychological tests. The degree to which a selection technique is perceived as effective is determined by its reliability and validity. Reliability is generally synonymous with consistency, while validity refers to what is being measured, and the extent to which those measures are correct.
The interview is widely held to be the most commonly used selection technique. Often described as a 'conversation with a purpose' suggests, a contrived, interrogative conversation involving a meeting, usually between strangers, which rarely lasts for more than an hour), the interview can take a number of different forms. The three most common types are one-to-one interviews, panel interviews and group interviews/assessment. In a one-to-one situation, there will be one interviewer and one interviewee/candidate. This type of interview tends to be less formal than a panel interview and facilitates the development of rapport between interviewer and interviewee. It also makes a lower demand on management time. Perhaps its greatest weakness is the potential for subjectivity and bias. In a panel interview, there will normally be a number of interviewers (often up to seven people) and one interviewee. The key advantage of such an interview is that it is more objective than the one-to-one and reduces the opportunity for bias. However, it may prove difficult to co-ordinate from the organisation's perspective and it clearly increases the demand on management time and resources. Finally, a group interview/assessment, which is not an interview in the strict sense of the word, attempts to assess a group of candidates together. A relatively informal process, in some respects, it attempts to observe and assess the individuals' behaviour in a group situation. It is often used as a preliminary selection tool.
Regardless of the type of interview being conducted, the interviewer(s) should have three constant objectives, namely:
to obtain enough information about the candidate to determine how s/he will fit the job
to ensure that the applicant has enough information about the vacancy and the organisation
to leave the applicant with the genuine impression that s/he has been treated fairly.
It is important for interviewers to adequately prepare for an interview and to have a set plan when interviewing.
A number of selection tests are available to assist in making selection decisions. Owing to the subjective nature of the interview, such tests are sometimes used to give a more objective rating. The most common types of tests are:
Intelligence tests. These measure one's mental capacity and potential. They are particularly useful for giving an insight into a person's ability to learn. However, they are not a good indicator of subsequent job performance.
Aptitude tests. These are generally used in an attempt to predict areas of special
aptitude and to examine a candidate's suitability for particular types of work.
However, as with intelligence tests, they cannot, in absolute terms, predict
subsequent job performance.
Proficiency tests. Otherwise known as ability tests of achievement, they can be a
good measure of specific knowledge or skills.
Personality tests. These tests strive to ensure that the successful candidate has the
most appropriate type of personality for the job being filled. While these tests do
give a measure of an individual's suitability for certain jobs, their reliability and
validity is rather low.
After interviewing, reference checking is the next most popular selection technique. It helps to validate information already obtained and allows a picture of the individual's previous performance to be formed. References may be sought in different ways:
writing a standard business letter, detailing the position and asking the referee to give his/her opinion of the candidates suitability
forwarding a standard form, asking the referee to give details of the candidate's past experience and character
requesting information over the telephone about the candidate's past performance
Regardless of the method used, the object is the same: to seek independent corrobo-ration of the facts as presented by the applicant.
The application form, the interview and reference checks remained the most commonly used selection methods in Ireland.
Motivating Job Performance
Motivation is typically viewed as a set of processes that activate, direct and sustain human behaviour dedicated to goal accomplishment and can be considered to have three dimensions: physical, social and mental. It is an important concept and has much relevance to the practising manager. In exploring the area of motivation, highlights definitional aspects of motivation and outlines the key theoretical perspectives that have been adopted in relation to this concept. Hierarchy of needs theory, existence-relatedness-growth (ERG) theory, achievement motivation theory, two-factor theory, expectancy theory, equity theory and goal theory are all treated. The importance of pay and the structuring and design of work to motivation in the workplace are also considered as motivation theory locates its analysis of employee performance on how work and its rewards satisfy individual employee needs.
Motivation theory has a role to play in assisting managers in formulating strategies and approaches for achieving high levels of performance.
Content theories of motivation focus on the question: What initiates or stimulates behaviour? Content theorists implicitly assume that needs are the most important determinant of individual levels of motivation.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs
Most managers will be familiar with the hierarchical classification of human needs first proposed by Maslow (1943) which continues today to offer a basis for understanding individuals' goals or needs. Maslow, who was a clinical psychologist, suggested that human motivation was dependent on the desire to satisfy various levels of needs. Maslow's hierarchy of needs is perhaps the most publicised theory of motivation. Based on the existence of a series of needs that range from basis instinctive needs for sustenance and security to higher-order needs, such as self-esteem and the need for self-actualisation, it seeks to explain different types and levels of motivation that are important to individuals at particular times in their lives.
In all, Maslow suggests that there are five levels of needs ranked in the order shown in Figure as this is the order in which the individual will seek to satisfy them.
Physiological needs include such things as food, shelter, clothing and heat. These basic needs must be satisfied for the person to survive. In modern society it is employment the income it generates that allows an individual to satisfy these needs.
Safety needs refer to things such as security at home, tenure at work and protection against reduced living standards. Only when physiological needs have been satisfied will the individual concentrate on safety needs.
Social or love needs refer to people's desire for affection and the need to feel wanted. Our need for association, acceptance by others and friendship, companionship and fee would be included here.
Esteem needs cover the desire for self-esteem and self-confidence and also the need for recognition, authority and influence over others.
Self-actualisation refers to the need for self-fulfilment, self-realisation, personal development and fulfilment of the creative faculties.
Hierarchy of needs theory states that a need that is unsatisfied activates seeking/ searching behaviour. The individual who is hungry will search for food; s/he who is unloved will seek to be loved. Once this seeking behaviour is fulfilled or satisfied, it no longer acts as a primary motivator. Needs that are satisfied no longer motivate.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory recognises that needs motivate people in different ways. Furthermore, it identifies important categories of individual needs and encourages us to consider the variety of needs which at different times stimulate or initiate behaviour. However, Maslow's theory has been the subject of much commentary and criticism over the years and it is generally agreed that the theory has a number of deficiencies. First, Maslow's work was based on general studies of human behaviour and motivation and as such was not directly associated with matters central to the workplace. Arising from this the theory is extremely difficult to apply because of the illusive nature of the needs identified, particularly in the context of the workplace. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that needs are not organised in the hierarchical structure suggested in Maslow's framework. On a regular basis, people sacrifice lower-order needs in order to satisfy those at a higher level on the hierarchy. An implicit assumption of Maslow's hierarchy is that need deprivation is what motivates people's behaviour. The theory is based on a 'fulfilment progression' dynamic that indicates that when a need has been sufficiently satisfied, it no longer acts as a motivator. There is a connotation inherent in this assertion that suggests that in any attempts to motivate people, needs should be deprived in order to sustain motivated behaviour. Both intuitively and empirically, this implication points to a flaw in the theory. Need deprivation may motivate for a certain length of time, after which its effects may yield quite the opposite reaction. If people are continually denied an opportunity to satisfy needs that they are experiencing, this eventually leads to demotivated, apathetic and disheartened behaviour. Finally, it has also been suggested that the theory attempts to demonstrate an imputed rationality in human actions which may not necessarily exist. The conceptualisation of our needs in such a logical sequential fashion, while useful as a frame of reference to which we can all compare ourselves, has not resulted in convincing evidence among the research community.
The strongest implication emerging from the hierarchy is that unless people's basic deficiency needs are satisfied, they will not be motivated to pursue goals that relate to higher-order needs. Therefore, activities that demand the organisationally popular dimensions of teamwork, 'empowerment', creativity, innovation, or knowledge enhancement will not be relevant or important to people who don't earn enough money to survive, or who are not sufficiently protected from danger in their workplace. According to Maslow's theory people in low-paid work or who face hazardous or dangerous environments in the workplace will be less interested in developing social networks, achieving high status in their jobs or realising their potential in other ways.
Existence-relatedness-growth (ERG) theory developed by Alderfer (1969) reduces Maslow's hierarchy of needs into a three-fold taxonomy see Figure
Building upon Maslow's work, ERG theory avoids some of the issues that have caused criticism of Maslow's work. Here there is no emphasis on a hierarchical structuring of needs. Instead, needs are arranged along a continuum, giving them all equal status in terms of their ability to serve as a goad to action at a particular point in time. Alderfer suggests that motivated behaviour can be activated either via 'need fulfilment progression' or by another dynamic referred to as 'need frustration regression'. Fulfilment progression refers to a situation where once a need is satisfied in someone, s/he ceases to be motivated by that need category and moves on to another category of need, while frustration regression refers to the situation where, if a need is consistently frustrated, an individual 'regresses' to being motivated by lower-order needs that are already being fulfilled to a sufficient degree. Therefore, another important difference from Maslow's theory is the proposition that an already satisfied need may be reactivated as a motivator when a higher-order need cannot be satisfied. Furthermore, more than one needs category may be important and influential at any one time and thus the notion of pre-potency is rejected here.
McClelland's achievement theory
McClelland (1960) concentrated on developing and identifying motivational differences between individuals as a means of establishing which patterns of motivation lead to effective performance and success at work. The needs identified by McClelland can be useful in helping managers to recognise the diversity of behaviours that people display at work. According to this theory, needs that people experience can be directly related to people's work preferences. McClelland's theory of achievement motivation argues that the main factor in willingness to perform is the intensity of an individual's actual need for achievement. He proposes that the organisation offers an opportunity to satisfy three sets of needs:
The need for achievement which is a desire for challenging tasks and a good deal of responsibility
The need for affiliation which refers to the need for developed social and personal relations
The need for power which refers to the need for dominance.
These are need categories that are learned through life experiences, and a person will tend to be driven more or less by any one of the three needs identified. McClelland's research has shown that people who are mainly driven by a need for achievement will have distinctly different work preferences than those driven by a need for power or by a need for affiliation. Individuals with a high need for achievement tend to view organisational membership as a means of solving problems and providing a platform from which they can excel. Individuals with a high need for achievement tend to take personal responsibility for providing solutions to problems and desire feedback on their performance. Persons who have a high need for affiliation desire to participate in tasks that allow them to frequently interact with others. Those who demonstrate a high need for affiliation view the organisation as a means of providing them with status through the position they occupy. McClelland suggests that these needs are acquired throughout one's life and thus may be triggered and developed through the appropriate environmental conditions.
The motivation of those with a high need achievement is then a product of the task responsibilities, how attainable the task goals are and the nature and regularity of the feedback that they receive. Maintain that people are often motivated by tasks that give them a feeling of competence. This, they find, is especially true of people who have a high need for achievement. Such individuals tend to work at tasks that lead to difficult but achievable goals. Achieving difficult goals causes them to feel competent, while goals that are too easy to achieve or that are unattainable do not. Finally McClelland maintains that individuals can actually learn to increase their need for achievement. This may be achieved through exposing them to human resource development programmes that place an emphasis on achievement and that are didactic with respect to the methods that can be put in place for achieving.
The concept of a fair day's work for a fair day's pay is often utilised to express how the parties to the labour process wish to perceive the employment relationship. Equity theory, sometimes referred to as justice theory, resembles expectancy theory in that it sets down the individual's cognitive process that determines whether or not s/he will engage in the effort-reward bargain within the framework of the social exchange process.
Developed by Adams (1965), equity theory of motivation is based on the comparison between two variables: inputs and outcomes. Inputs refer to that which the individual brings to his/her employment and include things such as effort, experience and skills. Outcomes describe the range of factors the employee receives in return for his/her inputs-pay, recognition, fringe benefits, status symbols. Adams suggests that individual expectations about equity correlations between inputs and outcomes are learned during the process of socialisation in the home or at work and rough comparison with the inputs and outcomes of others. Adams (1965) suggests that individuals can:
change inputs-reduce effort if underpaid
try to change their outcomes-ask for a pay rise or promotion
psychologically distort their own ratios by rationalising differences in inputs and outcomes
change the reference group to which they compare themselves in order to restore equity.
Huseman (1987) enumerate the core propositions of equity theory as follows:
Individuals evaluate their relationships with others by assessing the ratio of their outcomes from, and inputs to the relationship against the outcome-input ratio of another comparable individual.
The outcome-input ratios of the individual and the comparable other are deemed be unequal, then inequity exists.
The greater the inequity the individual perceives (in the form of either over-reward under-reward), the more distress the individual experiences. In this respect, are two types of perceived inequity that people can experience:
negative inequity-when people feel that the unfair treatment affects them in negative ways such as less pay, or fewer positive work outcomes than other people in the same or similar work situations
positive inequity-when individuals feel that the unfair treatment affects them in positive ways such as when they receive more positive work outcomes than their colleagues, including pay.
The greater the distress an individual experiences, the harder s/he will work to restore equity. Among the possible equity restoration techniques the individual might use are: distorting inputs or outcomes; disregarding the comparable other and referring to a new one; or terminating the relationship.
Thus, employees will formulate a ratio between their inputs and outcomes and compare it with the perceived ratios of inputs and outcomes of other people in the same or a similar situation. If these two ratios are not equal then the individual will take actions in an attempt to restore a sense of equity.
An amount of research interest has been generated in testing the relationships advanced by Adams, particularly those relationships which focus on employee reactions to pay. Overall, the research highlights support for Adams's theory about employee reactions to wage inequities. Mowday concludes that the research support for the theory appears to be strongest for predictions about under payment inequity. Furthermore, equity theory appears to offer a useful approach for understanding a wide variety of social relationships in the workplace.
How Waterside Kennels implements HR
Daily tasks of a pet sitter are: Dog walking, pet feeding, supplying fresh water, changing kitty litter, cleaning up after pets, cleaning out kennels, mail collection, tending rubbish bins, plant watering and providing a pet taxi service. In addition to all of the above, providing outstanding customer service is a daily requirement if you are to grow your customer base.
The main criteria for working in this industry are personal qualities such animal technician and animal care specialist, as well as pet lovers of animals.
Applying for a Job with Waterside Kennels
You will usually be competing with plenty of other animal lovers when applying for a job with animals. Give yourself the best possible chance.
Provide a well written cover letter. Employers will in particular be looking for applicants who have a history of caring for animals in the past. If you have no experience working with animals, mention any pets you have owned or lived with and write about why you are interested in the position. Try not to look too desperate, but let the employer understand why you are excited a the possibility of winning the role.
Keep your Resume relevant. Think about what the role actually involves and only provide relevant details. If there are any gaps in your resume, include the reason
Always ask a third party to check your Resume and cover letter for you. Preferably someone who is not afraid of offending you by recommending changes. It is always easier to spot someone else's mistakes.
First impressions are always important, so make sure you are on time and well presented when you meet your prospective employer for the first time.
A little bit of effort in your application can make a big difference.
However any prior animal related experience is a bonus. Prior work in a kennel or cattery, completing an Animal Technology course, Pet shop, RSPCA/pet shelter volunteer work and possibly work experience in a Zoo are all looked upon favourably as relevant prior experience.
There is no stereotypical person that becomes a pet sitter. They come from all walks of life, but the main criteria for working in this industry are personal qualities such as a love of all animals, reliability and honesty.
As a solo trader Waterside Kennels using very often Planning, Recruitment and Selection
process. In a busy time the owner use the above described process.
For the purpose of this report, it was found that the questionnaire and interview questions
were sufficient to obtain the information required to analyse the process of recruitment and
selection within the organisation. It has been found that the organisation has a sound
understanding of what processes need to be used in order to achieve effective recruitment and
selection. In addition to this, several issues have been identified within the recruitment and
selection process that need to be addressed by the organisation.
If handed correctly human resources can provide businesses with a competitive advantage. The key to successful human resource management is the development of programs to attract, maintain and support a high performance work force.
Businesses today must accommodate working parents with day care needs or the middle age worker who has to care for elderly parents or people from multi-culturally diverse backgrounds.