Comparing the differences between human resource strategies


When dealing with a call centre for a high street bank, can we use the same Human Resource Management (HRM) strategy for operate a capital intensive hi-tech manufacturing plant? As it has been argued and provided, there are no best HR practices would fit for all the companies. Thus the aim of this essay is to compare the differences between HR strategies in these two types of firms based on some analysis about their own characteristic on HR level.

The workers in a hi-tech plant, since their job are not to perform in transaction processing, routine tasks or simple prioritization of work, are often regarded as technicians or knowledge worker (Peter Drucker ca. 1959). They usually have high education background which is relevant to their job in the plant, and are different from traditional workers in a labour-intensive factory. Since the firm will pay them a large sum of money, their needs are often higher than traditional workers according to Maslow's hierarchy of needs (1943, Abraham Maslow). In other words their aim of work is not only earn money to survive but also chase job satisfaction. Thus the company should no longer regard their knowledge worker as a kind of cost, but as the plant's capital, and use many rules and principles cannot be the proper approach of HR management. Because the means of production of the knowledge workers' are their knowledge, which is a large sum of assets while has fluidity, knowledge workers are less rely on the company. As excellent knowledge workers loss is a large loss for the company, the HR approach to this kind of plant should aim at make the staff condition stable.

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Mahen Tampoe (2000) has mentioned four major factors of motivation best fit for knowledge workers, they are "personal growth", "job freedom"," work achievement" and "money and fortune". In the follow part, we will try to give several proper approaches of HRM to match these four factors.

First of all, from the recruitment, the plant should try to employ the person not only have good knowledge about the work, but also have honesty and motivation. Thus the interview should be well prepared and the recruitment examination should be well designed as well. Although we cannot acquaintance someone by just one or two interviews, but the HR staff can have a general image of whether the person's feature is tally with the plant's needs though meticulously prepared questions and topics. What is more, the skill of solve practical problems and the potential of innovation can be tested when recruitment. Obviously hire excellent knowledge workers can both lower the cost of enterprise management and the difficult of management, and the HR section should pay attention on that.

Secondly, we must help the knowledge workers achieve their occupational dreams according to their own interesting and pursue. Other than money, the knowledge workers concern about to develop personal growth and skill update. Knowledge workers are often the people who have received many praise when they grow up, which makes them have high expectation for themselves. However, in a new work environment where there are many other good people around them, the knowledge workers may feel they are not valued as they used to be. Thus we need to help them to set up communication with each other, and let them realize that they can learn a lot from excellent people to make then even better. Then the knowledge workers can stop self-pity and work harder and harder to chase dreams and exploit potential. Besides, the plant should try to provide a limitless space of promotion for staff who have a clear career development track. For other workers who want to develop new occupations, we have to make sure that they can achieve "role transaction" after they meet the essential requirements.

Thirdly, we need to set the step of advance for workers. There are some people who have just graduate from college or have not much experience, so we must organize the workers with many practice experience and knowledge to lead the green hand on the work. Group study will be encouraged and technique training will offered weekly. In this way, the recruit can be familiar with their job and contribute to the plant quicker. Then in the next periods, the once-trainee can be a tutor of other people. In a work, with the set up of these steps, knowledge workers can find their space to development.

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Fourthly, a unique corporate culture is necessary for our plant. Some of the staff may from other cities or even other countries. So we are facing a grave problem about how to make different workers who have different background work effectively. As a result, we can turn the plant into a learning organization which "facilitates the learning of its members and continuously transforms itself" (PEDLER, M., BURGOYNE, J. AND BOYDELL, T. 1997.). And there are five aspects we shall take care: A Learning Organization has five main features; systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, shared vision and team learning (SENGE, P.M. 1990. The Fifth Discipline). The benefits of a learning organization can be various. We can preserve levels of innovation and remain competitive and being better placed to respond to external pressures (MCHUGH, D., GROVES, D. AND ALKER, A. 1998. Managing Learning: what do we learn from a Learning Organization?). And the plant can Have the knowledge to better link resources to customer needs improve quality of outputs at all levels, Improve corporate image by becoming more people oriented and increasing the pace of change within the organization (PEDLER, M., BURGOYNE, J. AND BOYDELL, T. 1997.)

Finally, when a worker chooses to leave our company and chase a much great achievement, what we can do is to understand, accept and bless. After all, they have once created value for us.

In conclusion, workers in a hi-tech, capital intensive plant are belong to the high-involvement work system which strengthen the responsibilities of workers and increase their decision-making powers, forcing a greater investment in employee development and performance incentives. So we need to give them enough power, information, reward and knowledge to make them achieve job satisfaction.

On the other hand, to set up a call centre for a high street bank is not the same as we did above. For the plant, the workers' innovation and knowledge are most important, because they have to create value for the plant. For the call centre, however, the staff's aim is to keep the quality of their service, try to make fewer mistakes and uphold the goodwill of the bank. In other words, the telephonists' excellent work has nearly nothing to do with the development of the business, but their mistakes can be fatal for the bank. So the work system of the call centre is a kind of work system between Tightly constrained and Unrationalized labour intensive

As a result, the most important different from the HR approach of the hi-tech plant is training and performance review.

Since the service offered by the telephone assistant is standard, education requirement is not as high as plant and the Preservice training must be strict. Staffs have to learn all the principles by heart, and this can be checked in regular exams during and after training.

The performance review is the most effective approach in work process. One kind of performance review aim at making periodic judgments. The second kind is the continuous review that goes on during the day-to-day, week-by-week performance of the job. The first kind is what is often referred to as the "annual review," and it comes at the end of a year. If that is the only time an employee can find out how well he or she is doing at work, the effects must be inadequate. We normally do not do annual reviews with people who serve us for a consideration--our barber, our hairdresser, or the kid who mows our lawn, the same thing happens to the telephonists too. Custom give them immediate feedback on a short-term basis, with corrections done while the work is going on in many cases.

Behaviourally, the most effective performance reviews include both immediate and periodic reviews. We can let people know how well they are doing in their work while they are doing it by defining some goals up front--major areas of responsibility--plus some standards of performance. These are statements of conditions that will exist if the job is being done well or poorly. Under such a plan, people should be able to measure their own performance while they are working. That way they can become self-rewarders or self-punishers, and perform under self-control at the same time they are working under managerial control. The managerial controls enter when the responsibilities and standards are being agreed on. If employees can see that they are missing their targets, they can make corrective adjustments as they work without the need for close managerial supervision.

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All in all, HR management in a capital intensive hi-tech plant has several differences from the call centre for a high street bank based on different kind of staff and work goal or we can say they belong to different work system. We need to use different approaches to satisfactory the worker while make profit for the company.


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