What is the most valuable asset that an organization has? Is it the customers, name of the organization, the goodwill it puts forth, physical resources, or the product line? Many believe it is none of these. An organizations most valuable resource or asset is their employees. An organization will only go as far as the people who are compelling it. Lynn Voss is the area director of the University of Georgia's Small Business Development Center and she wrote an article that goes into great detail of why employees are the most important asset of any company. She writes, "In short, your employees' productivity, skills and attitude can make or break your company. Hire the right employees, train them well, listen to what they have to say, and reward their productivity. Never forget that your employees are your company's greatest assets" (2008). This is what human resource management is all about, "managing human talent to achieve an organizations objectives" (Bohlander & Snell, 2010, p.4). In the past human resource management functions have been preferably positioned near the contingent center of the organization, kind of isolated as its own department. But more recently with the changes over the years in business settings, organizational structures, and management changes have forced the human resource department to adjust their perspectives on their roles and functions within organizations. An article from smartmanager.com sums up perfectly what's going on in the human resource world. "In many organisations today, company Boards and senior managers are expecting more and more from the Human Resources function. Along with senior company executives themselves, Human Resources practitioners are being called to move away from their traditional administrative functions and to play a more strategic role in strengthening organizational capabilities" (The Expanding Role of HR, 2010). Today, senior management expects HR to move further than its usual isolated approach to a more incorporated support function and make HR accountable to specific line management. This increases the probability that HR is viewed and included as an essential part of the business process, similar to marketing, finance, and other organization departments. However, HR will maintain in areas where specialized expertise is truly required, such as recruitment responsibilities which this paper will focus on. Employees are the difference from a successful or unsuccessful company so it is no surprise that recruitment for organizations is a very important task for human resource managers. With an ever increasing diverse work force, equal employment and the aging work force are changing the way recruitment will be conducted by human resource managers with the years to come. Throughout this paper we will be looking at the importance of recruiting and the challenges that come along with it.
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For some human resource managers, recruiting is the most rewarding part of their careers. At least this is the case for Jill Hendrickson a human resource manager for EDS who said "my favorite part of during my time with EDS as a human resource manager was without a doubt recruiting people for the company. I especially enjoyed going to college campuses and recruiting students right out of college." She also added for a laugh that "it made me feel young again and brought me back to my college years and early career" (personal communication, August 3, 2010). Regardless of the reasons one may like recruiting, the importance of recruiting for an organization is unquestionable.
Mike Jurnak, a CPA and business management adviser wrote a great article titled, "The Cost of Losing Good Employees," that points out how important employees are to an organization. He writes, "One of my firm's best financial auditors told me recently that she was worried about a client. Even though this firm's financials are great, she said, the company is at risk because their people are unhappy and many are actively looking for other opportunities" (2010). This brings up a difficult challenge human resource managers are now facing that they didn't necessarily face in the past. Employees and even organizations are always looking to find better opportunities. Due to the Internet, it has helped make workers better informed about opportunities and as a result, organizations can entice good employees away. Former human resources manager Jill Hendrickson said she never really recruited workers through the internet but did mention the company was beginning to invest more effort into looking for workers nationwide. Most of the recruiting she did was only state wide throughout Michigan where she worked (personal communication, August 3, 2010). Recruitment over the years is clearly changing due to the internet and also due to changes in generations. It's going to be increasingly difficult with new generations entering the workforce and the "baby-boomer" generation nearing retirement. Baby-boomers have been known for staying with the same company their entire career where as the newer generations are less likely to work in careers with only one organization. "According to a recent survey, nearly two-thirds of U.S. workers intend to look for new jobs in 2010. Thus securing your human capital, the people who make a difference at your firm and would be the most difficult to replace, makes good financial sense" (Jurnak, 2010).
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It is up to human resource managers to absorb the changes in demographics and then alter their recruiting process that will hire the best people for an organization. Clearly this is not an easy task, but nobody said it was going to be. Natalie Brecher may sum the importance of recruiting most accurately when she says, "Hiring the right employees is the ultimate return on investment for managers. By placing quality hires in appropriate positions, a company can maximize its productivity and effectiveness. It also allows new employees to immediately contribute without greatly disrupting existing staff" (Brecher, 2010). If a recruit turns out to be the opposite of a quality hire the damage is substantial. "The average cost of replacing an employee is approximately 150 percent of salary, in other words, it takes about $75,000 to refill a position that pays $50,000 a year" (Jurnak, 2010). The value of good employees is immeasurable and some organizations will do anything to recruit what they think is the best thing for their organization. Sometimes that may even mean doing what is wrong.
Equal employment opportunity, or the employment of individuals in a fair and nonbiased manner, is one of the most widely publicized issues within human resources. More specifically affirmative action receives much attention within the equal employment opportunity discussions. Kent L. Koppelman, author of, "Understanding Human Differences," writes "America has became the most diverse society in the world, and most demographic projections about the United States predict even greater diversity in the future" (Koppelman, 2008, p. 163). It is apparent that equal employment opportunity will continue to be an imperative issue for human resource managers forever. It makes headlines most often for legal issues but it is not important just for legal reasons, but also because it is an emotional issue. "It concerns all individuals, regardless of their sex, race, religion, age national origin, color, physical condition, or position in an organization. Supervisors should be aware of their personal biases and how these attitudes can influence their dealings with subordinates" (Bohland & Snell, 2010, p.100).
Momentous laws have been passed to stop employment discrimination where these laws influence all of the human resource management functions, including recruitment, selection, performance appraisal, training opportunities, promotion, transfers, and compensation (Bohlander & Snell, 2010). Katrina Arabe wrote an interesting article titled, "15 Trends that Will Transform the Workforce." On that list was workplace disconnect where Arabe writes that "only one-fourth of employees say they have bonded with employers and 40% feel stuck in their job and that employee loyalty stagnated even before the economy did so this trend will likely persist" (2003).
I suspect that the issues of equal employment opportunities may be a part of the increasing workplace disconnect as well. Arabe concluded by saying, "Companies that are able to counteract worker discontent by making staffers feel appreciated will acquire a key competitive advantage" (2003) Similar to Arabe's statement about gaining a key advantage for counteracting worker disconnect could be said if human resource managers or supervisors comply with all equal employment opportunity laws. When all functions act in accordance with with the law, organizations become a fairer and more effective place to work (Bohlander & Snell, 2010).
Jill Hendrickson said she would agree when I asked her if she thought equal employment opportunity would continue to be a HR topic that will receive lots of attention. She went as far to say that "it will probably be just as important as ROI for companies in the years to come if not already." She made it sound almost as if it was a make or break. She went on to tell me about a lawsuit she had been involved in while working for EDS which they ended up losing an employee discrimination case. I asked how much the case had cost the company and she said she never found out but mentioned she "wouldn't be surprised if it were seven digits." She went on to say "the worst part about discrimination lawsuits is the awkwardness when they come back to work." It is obvious that a broad knowledge and application of equal opportunity laws and fair equal employee practices is essential as a human resource manager. And I believe more specifically age discrimination is going to be a growing concern.
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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that labor force growth will be affected by the aging of the baby-boom generation, persons born between 1946 and 1964. "The labor force will continue to age, with the annual growth rate of the 55-and-older group projected to be 4.1 percent, nearly 4 times the rate of growth of the overall labor force" (Toossi, 2004). This is an extreme demographic change in American History. The baby-boom generation has always had extreme affect on everything throughout American history and the generation will surely change human resources as well. The ageing workforce will have affect on everything. Themselves and new workers entering the workforce especially. 65% of American employees expect to delay their retirement by at least a year and 27% of US workers believe that they will have to work at least an extra 5 years past the traditional retirement age of 67 because of the economic climate" (65 Percent of US Workers Expect Delayed Retirement, 2009). The same article also explains a survey that that examined the actual work experiences of 2719 employees aged 55-70. The survey reported that currently within that age group of fifty-five to seventy year-olds around fifteen percent of employees have accepted retirement benefits from previous employers, but have chosen to return to work or are looking for work. And of those that are searching for work, "older workers frequently cited "age bias" as a reason for unsuccessful job searches" (2009.) This essentially could result in a huge increase in the amount of age discrimination cases for human resource managers and I wouldn't be surprised if the retirement age is to be increase as well. Anotehr challenge human resource managerms will have to prepare for is the pressure to recruite young talent. But until a worker retires, a job vacancy doesn't become available for the school leaver or graduates.
Future human resource managers are going to have to take the challenge for developing polices to resolve the rising issue of the ageing work force.