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Human resource policies

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Management
Wordcount: 5343 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Part A: Formal Human Resource Policies


Human Resource (HR) policies can be defined as “continuing guidelines on the approach the organization intends to adopt in managing its people” (Armstrong, 2007). They are formal rules adopted by a business that define how to employ, train, assess, and reward the personnel, forming the philosophies of the organization, which lead to the principles which managers are supposed to practise when coping with HR matters. Consequently, HR policies help in the decision-making process concerning staff when HR practices are unfold.

Part A of the assignment looks at a HR policies concept that promises to help organizations to manage various situations in working environment. The central statement that this part attempted to discuss and debate is:

Literature Review

According to Salinas O. in his Article “Other concepts and tools in Human Resources”Policies of recruitment, implementation, maintenance, development and control of Human Resource are vital for the proper performance of work force in the company.

“In our opinion, the policies set by the company will never be unnecessary, just poorly developed or they have not been designed”.

Advantages and Disadvantages of HR Policies

The main claim made for HR policies is that when they are well-organized it can eliminate potential misinterpretations between employees and employers defining their rights and obligations within the firm.

Ramey & Sniffen (1991) claim that “sound human resource policy is a necessity in the growth of any business or company”. Authors believe that recognition of this necessity usually appears after the increase in time and money wasted on resolving human resource issues. These resources could be well spent on production, marketing, and planning for growth. Effective, consistent, and fair human resource decisions are often made more time consuming by a lack of written, standardized policies and procedures.

The advantages of written HR policies may sound obvious, but there are also disadvantages. According to Armstrong (2007), formal policies can be inflexible, constrictive, and platitudinous. Moreover, policies are often expressed in abstract terms that may lead managers to get confused over abstractions.

It appeared that even though HR experts tend to believe that written policies are a necessity, employees usually against it as written records may become dangerous and can be used against them in a lawsuit and vice versa, the organisation can become a subject to similar attacks.

Organisational Analysis

We can notice examples that show us the relationship between cause and effect of the poorly developed policies which further lead to organisational problems and low productivity. This can be reflected in following organisational examples analyzed below, however, some of the organisations mentioned have adopted some HR policies which brought a positive impact on the organisation.


– Employees without self- assessment


– The company’s evaluation is not known by the areas

– Managers don’t discuss the company’s evaluation with employees


– The company lacks of communication flow


– Lack training for development of communicative skills

– Lack of spaces and technology in order to improve the communication’s transmission


– Lack of studies according to necessities of training


– Resistance by employees to have training

– Few options to training


– Low motivation


– Absolute ignorance of results achieved by the employees

– Low participation by the employees making decisions


– Poor pre-contract investigation


– Deficiencies in the scheme of recruitment

– Gap in the call phase



– Insufficient Stimulation in items such as : salary, promotion, training and bonus

Organisational Examples

Wright et al. (2003) argues that companies start treating people as a human capital of competitive advantage which can be taken through the HR policies that best leverage of HR practices and its performance. Hilton International’s UK hotels perceive this idea as being fundamenktally concerned with deployment of a service culture throughout the organization by paying special attention to line manager involvement in human resource practice (Maxwell & Watson, 2006).

HR policy also designed to address gender issues with emphasis on equal opportunities and efficiency concerns. Not taking these issues seriously usually lead to sexual discriminations particular among woman workforce sector. A study conducted by Standing (2000) describes the lack of reference to gender issues mostly in developing countries. It is exemplified that in Zimbabwe women’s formal sector employment is mainly in the service sector and women stand at the lower end of the hierarchy and salary grades. It is also noted that in Uganda, only 3.7% women are employed in professional, technical, clerical and managerial occupations.

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LG Electronics India had come up with new and improved HR Policy by introducing the Joyful Working 5 (JW5) programme. To accelerate and strengthen the Culture at LGEIL as the survey was conducted within the company, which mainly focused on the monotony employees are facing at work and the boredom they are undergoing. Such policy created the platform for both the employees and employers in better understanding and pleasant work environment which not only helped the company creating the compelling future, but also build the culture of striving for number one position in the industry. (LG, 2009)

NHS Direct were planning to redundant some of their employees in the next few months. With the formal company policies in place, the UNISON union committee had fought back with the statement that NHS Direct has breached policy for reasons which include failing to consult with UNISON’s collective committee that there were plans to issue advance notice of redundancies. As a result, NHS Direct’s director of human resources said, “If the proposal is accepted, we would, wherever possible, offer staff alternative employment at nearby NHS Direct sites and redundancies would only take effect as a last resort.” (TheComet24, 2009)

This is a case about Blue Cross Company; according to Larson (2007) Susan Baldwin working for Blue Cross Company claimed she was subjected to various profanities and sexual innuendo from her boss. Blue Cross immediately interviewed Scott Head, the alleged harasser, and three other employees, but no one substantiated Baldwin’s claims. Rather than terminating or disciplining the supervisor, Blue Cross gave him a warning and offered to hire an industrial psychologist to counsel both him and Baldwin. She refused. When Baldwin refused Blue Cross’s subsequent offer to transfer her to another location, she was terminated. Her lawsuit followed quickly. The court found that Blue Cross was not liable for discrimination for terminating Baldwin because, “Firing an employee because she will not cooperate with the employer’s reasonable efforts to resolve her complaints is not discrimination based on sex, even if the complaints are about sexual harassment.” The court also found that Blue Cross was not liable for the alleged acts of its supervisor because it exercised reasonable care to promptly correct harassing behaviour as soon as it was reported, and Baldwin unreasonably failed to take advantage of the remedial actions Blue Cross offered. (Larson, 2007)

A case about Sharon Coleman a former legal secretary in July 2008, won a legal battle in the European Court of Justice against her employers Attridge Law (now called EBR Attridge LLP), whom she accused of discriminating against her at the workplace and of having forced her into accepting voluntary redundancy. As Coleman had a 4-year-old son who was disabled, born with a medical condition that led to his having difficulties in breathing and hearing. According to Coleman, she was treated differently at work from other employees, who had normal children. By the law of Flexibility in the Workplace & Discrimination by Association, Coleman sued the company and won her legal battle.(ICMR, 2008a)

Eli Lilly & Company (Lilly) world’s leading Pharmaceuticals Company, which claims to have a very good diversity program running at the company and was also widely regarded as a very good employer, faced a federal lawsuit regarding the company’s human rights policies and practices. On April 20, 2006, a class action lawsuit was filed with the US District Court, Southern District of Indiana, by four black employees who had worked at Lilly. The lawsuit charged the company with being hostile and biased against them because of their race. Lilly was accused of discriminating against the black employees on the basis of race and denying them fair wages, promotions, performance evaluations and discipline.

In terms of renovation, reinvention, transformation or redesign, General Electric, has done emphasis in having a good working relationship and keep the best atmosphere for their employees. According to Immelt J, people are the most important value in General Electric. Therefore, the ability to recruit the best people in the world is a competitive advantage without comparison. A strategic point into the management of RH is the communication chain, at the same time; the leaders must be able to represent employers and employees. Clear HR policies are essential so employees could understand their company and gain a sense of belonging.

Harley Davison which has a human resources system based on formal training and learning management. The result of this is that their employees share a positive attitude that is associated with the development and competitiveness of this Company. Harley Davison institutionalises its commitment to learning and created the University of Harley with the aim if developing leaders, translating values into action with an emotional performance in which the value attached to learning applies and, the evaluation of individual performance shapes a new organization in which the learning is shared and it is the ingredient that binds employees.

For the Swede Ingvar Kamprad founder of IKEA company, who started his idea in 1943, thinking in the basic necessities of the common people and nowadays his company has branch on 36 countries of Europe, Asia, North America and Oceania with more than 200 stores, the protection and careful of his employees, is and will be one of the most important policy, doing of them, a company with high social responsibility. Currently IKEA has more than 105.000 employees, for this reason their greatest concern for them is give to their employees a good balance between work and personal life, therefore, they have kept flexibility in their task and activities, suitable schedules, plans of professional development, support in different studies as college or universities and medical coverage; consequently of their policies in RH and programs for employees, IKEA has received several awards.

WALMART, company which is into top 5 of the greatest companies in the world. It success is based mainly in “customers and employees”, In fact the policies created around the employees was essential in his goals, Sam Walson founder, offered their employees, benefits and gaining, in order to, they were part of the excellent results. In other words, Sam Walson wanted his employees were members, encouraging from cashiers to managers to think how owners, idea very successful, likewise, for him, was fundamental to have employees with new ideas, clear thoughts and positive mind without bad habits from their previous jobs.

Nestlé was a result of the merger in 1905 of the Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk, founded in 1866, with (Farine Lactea) Nestlé SA., Founded in 1867 by Henri Nestlé, who invented a product that continues to save the lives of children and newborn – infant formula for babies whose mothers cannot breastfeed. its success is the sum of a long and distinguished history, part of its success is based on the thought that their partners should achieve a good balance between their careers and their privacy. Not only because it reinforces the loyalty, satisfaction and it improves productivity, also it has a positive impact on the reputation of the Company and to attract and motivate employees.

According to the list of Best Workplaces 2007, Microsoft has been designated as the company with better working environment, the study include: credibility, respect, fairness, pride and camaraderie. According to it, the Microsoft executives are fulfilling their promises in creating career and training opportunities and properly assigning functions (promotions to worthy people), the company involves employees in decision-making takes into account their suggestions, recognizes his work and allows flexibility.

Employee networks are a key element of American Express’ success in supporting diversity in the workplace. Currently, American Express has 10 networks open to all employees organized around topics of interest to African-American, Asian, Christian, Gay & Lesbian, Hispanic, Jewish, and Native American employees, as well as for People over 40, People with Disabilities and Women. These networks provide support to American Express’ business objectives, including enhancing marketing efforts in targeted communities, supporting employee recruitment and retention initiatives, and participating in outreach and volunteer programs. These networks have also been instrumental in helping to introduce new policies and benefits to employees. For example, GLOBE, the company’s gay and lesbian network, was instrumental in having domestic partner benefits introduced back in 1997. And WIN, the women’s network, worked with management to introduce a customized companywide alternative work arrangements policy as well as a free backup childcare centers in several locations throughout the United States.

A mishandling on the resources human policies, can lead to failure. Such as is the case of ENRON one of the seven biggest companies in United States, the problem was focused in a poor policy of recruitment and selection, due to, they chosen people with high qualification, but they were not suitable for the position, besides people hired by just friendship, taking wrong decisions in critical situations. Is the case of Cindy Olson who was HR Vice-President of ENRON. She did not have enough knowledge about United States laws regarding to employee benefits, giving wrong advices of investment over stock-options. The previous point represents a serious violation to the financial legislation in the United State of America.


Looking at the evidence provided, it seems that production and maintenance of formal HR policies record are applied in ways that assures that personnel management policies are in use.

Companies typically have to make revisions to established HR policies on a regular basis otherwise there is a danger of those policies to become outdated as the company grows and as the regulatory and business environments in which it operates evolve.

On the other side, Policies can be made today and changed tomorrow who can stop the management from doing that? Most research on human resource (HR) policies in the workplace suggests that formal policies can contribute to variation in discrimination by altering employers’ behaviours. We consider an alternative manner by which HR policies influence formal discrimination complaints. HR policies, especially those targeting employees, can raise employees’ rights awareness and encourage them to seek remedies for discrimination at work.

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Chapter 1.


Industrial actions typically take place when a disagreement between the trade union and the management team of a business is not resolved through negotiation. The main forms of industrial action are: Strikes (workers refuse to work for the employer) and Lockouts (a work stoppage where the employer stops workers from working).

These sorts of actions should be avoided because they are expensive for businesses and countries; actions must be taken by HR management and trade unions in order to solve the disputes at work, they have mechanisms such as:

  • Mediation (A mediator, an impartial expert talks to both parties and gets a solution both can accept);
  • Conciliation (Though similar to mediation but used to resolve legal dispute instead of general problems inside the company);
  • Arbitration (An impartial person known as an ‘arbitrator’, decides between two claims).The last resource affirms by NI Direct, UK to solve a work problem is going to an Industrial Tribunal or a court

Literature Review

Not until the 1960s, Leopold, Harris, Watson (2005) claimed, “There was little in the way of legal intervention in the relationship between employer and employee. A growing concern about the impact of the country’s high level of industrial stoppages on the UK’s economic performance led to the setting up of the Donovan Commission to investigate the country’s industrial relations problems. While the Commission’s report (Donovan, 1968) supported the continuance of the voluntary system of bargaining it recommended reform based on ‘properly conducted, collective bargaining’ with a greater formalization of the process at company level which was to include the professionalization of personnel specialists.

Certain individuals/organisations operate with a view of management and work organisations which academics often characterize as processual – an approach which they contrast with a systems one (Watson, 2002). They see management as a process in which managers are ‘all the time negotiating and renegotiating compromises and achieving work agreements’, rather than a ‘matter of resigning systems which sort everything out’. They operate within a pluralist perspective: This always taking into account the fact that there is a plurality of interests, goals, wants and priorities among the variety of people involved in any given organisation.

Other organisations see management and employment relations from Unitary Perspective: This assumes the predominance of common interests and shared priorities across the organisation”. Pages 412-414


Burnett (1891) defined boycott as “a means of moral offence used by individuals against each other, or by sections of a community against other sections or individuals differing from them on some matter of action or opinion.

The industrial boycott almost invariably but not always or necessarily, is a phase of strike or lock-out, but it sometimes exists apart from either. It is generally used against an employer who refuses to concede the demands of his workpeople or of trade union, but it sometimes applied by one organisation of workmen against another.

It may accompany or supplement and follow, an unsuccessful strike, or it may be wielded against an employer having no dispute with his employee, simply because they do not belong to a trade union”. Pages 163-173


According to DEWR, Australian Government, “Lockout is a weapon of an employer to thwart or enforce such change by preventing employees from working. Another measure is work to rule, when production is virtually brought to a halt by the strict following of union rules. This will depend on whether the lockout is “protected” (ie. lawful) or “unprotected” (ie. unlawful).

Lockouts are protected if:

  • They occur during a properly notified bargaining period
  • There is a genuine attempt to reach agreement before the industrial action is taken;
  • Employer gives at least three working days’ written notice to each party with whom they are negotiating (unless the lockout is a response to protected industrial action by employees).

Guest’s (1995) fourfold classification of options for managing the employment relationship







New Realism

High emphasis on HRM & ER

Traditional Collectivism

Priority to IR without HRM



Individualised HRM

High priority to HRM


The Black Hole



Guest identifies that there are a number of policy options that need to be considered when developing an employment relations strategy. He describes four options:

  • The new realism – a high emphasis on human resource management and industrial relations.
  • The aim is to integrate human resource management and industrial relations. This is the policy of such organisation as Nissan and Toshiba. New collaborative arrangements in the shape of single-table bargaining are usually the result of employer initiatives, but both employers and unions are often satisfied with them. They have facilitated greater flexibility, more multiskilling, the removal of demarcations and improvements in quality. They can also extend consultation processes and accelerate moves towards single status.

  • Traditional collectivism – priority to industrial relations without human resource management.
  • This involves retaining the traditional pluralist industrial relations arrangements within an eventually unchanged industrial relations system. Management may take the view in these circumstances that it is easier to continue to operate within a union, since it provides a useful, well-established channel for communication and for the handling of grievance, discipline and safety issues.

  • Individualised human resource management – high priority to human resource management with no industrial relations.
  • According to Guest, this approach is not very common, except in North American owned firms. It is, he believes, ‘essentially piecemeal and opportunist’.

  • The black hole – no industrial relations.
  • This option is becoming more prevalent in organisations in which human resource management is not a policy priority for management and where they do not see that there is a compelling reason to operate within a traditional industrial relations system. When such organisations are facing a decision on whether or not to recognise a union, they are increasingly deciding not to do so.


In general terms, various organisations/management employ different ways in resolving or managing conflicts with employees or trade unions. Leopold, Harris and Watson (2005) outlined the TraditionalStrategic Human Resourcing theory in managing Union Relations.

Traditional Strategic Human Resourcing Options in Management-Union Relations

One of the major ways in which employing organisations can manage conflicts and handle many of the potential differences that can arise between employer and employee has been through institutionalised arrangements of collective bargaining and Consultation with the Trade Unions. A key human resourcing strategic decision for the managers of any organisation is whether or not they are going to recognize, pr continue to recognize trade union(s) as a legitimate vehicle for the expression of employee interests

Unions win the vast majority of pre-strike ballots, but in most cases, strikes do not occur because further negotiations to reach a final settlement occur (Labour Research Department, 1993). Thus Blyton and Turnbull (1998:301) conclude that strikes may be viewed as a sign of union weakness, not of strength, because a strong union is able to achieve a negotiated settlement through the threat of strike action backed by membership support in a ballot rather than actually conducting a strike.

Union Recognition

Although employers may be faced with demands for union recognition, the process of reaching agreement with the union (s) is likely to lead to a classification and codification of a number of key issues. Negotiations over recognition are also likely to confront a key issue. In the 1990s, there was a move towards the establishment of single-table bargaining where all the recognized unions in an organisation negotiated common pay and conditions agreements together rather than a series of separate agreements (Gall, 1994)

The final area of decision-making in a recognition agreement is over which issues are to be part of the substantive agreements, that is, which areas of decision-making are to be subject to joint decision-making. These are likely to include basic pay and conditions of employment such as hours of work and pensions. Finally, a recognition agreement would also contain provisions for the resolution of disputes though conciliation or arbitration. Clauses would probably exclude the use of strikes or lockouts until these procedures had been exhausted, thus providing one of the key benefits to management of formal recognition – The avoidance of informal or wild cat strikes while disputes are considered through the formal procedures.

Substitution Strategic option

Beaumont (1987) distinguishes between union substitution and union avoidance as approaches to staying or becoming non-union. In considering union substitution approaches, it might be useful to consider what unions have to offer employees and relate this to the chain of thought that employees might go through in deciding to join or not. The implication is that if management can intervene to influence any of these decisions then the outcome maybe that employees do not perceive any need to join a union as they do not believe that it would be able to improve the terms and conditions of employment or the nature of the employment relationship.

Employers could seek to provide alternative channels ‘employee voice’ through such devices as open-door policies, employee-based works councils and individual-based employee participation mechanisms so that again employees do not feel that union channels of representation would significantly improve their situation at work.

Many alternative providers of membership services exist through other membership and commercial organisations so that this is not likely to be the prime route into union membership for non-members (Whitston and Waddington, 1994; Waddington 2003). The essence of Beaumont’s argument is therefore that employers can seek to introduce policies and practices that substitute for those which might follow from union membership and recognition.

The Human Resource Management Approach to Employment Relations

The human resource management approach to employment relations involves coordinating (or bundling) strategies to promote the psychological contract, improve involvement and communication.

Armstrong (1999) suggests the following model for employment relations:

  • a drive for commitment – winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of employees to get them to identify with the organisation, to exert themselves more on its behalf and to remain with the organisation, thus ensuring a return on their training and development;
  • an emphasis on mutuality – getting the message across that ‘we are all in this together’ and that the interests of management and employees coincide (i.e. a unitarist approach);
  • the organisation of complementary forms of communication, such as team briefing, alongside traditional collective bargaining – i.e. approaching employees directly as individuals or in groups rather than through their representatives;
  • a shift from collective bargaining to individual contracts;
  • the use of employee involvement techniques such as quality circles or improvement groups;
  • continuous pressure on quality – total quality management;
  • increased flexibility in working arrangements, including multi-skilling, to provide for the more effective use of human resources, sometimes accompanied by an agreement to provide secure employment for the ‘core workers
  • harmonisation of terms and conditions for all employees; and
  • emphasis on teamwork.

Organisational Examples

Article written by Cary (2007) explains that Sears Holdings Corporation Canada and U.S October 1,2007 locked out 70 appliance repair technicians in Metro Vancouver, Canada. Sears said ‘the technicians could return to work under imposed terms that do not include any scheduled wage increases for four years’. Sears scheduled work weeks without two consecutive days off, eliminated certain overtime premiums, and remove a pre-existing paid holiday. Sears also said ‘technicians returning to work would not pay union dues’, almost four months the lockout continues. The lockout technicians are asking North American workers to boycott sears stores in order to get sears back to bargaining.

Joe (2009) reports that, there is a chronic shortage of primary and secondary school places in Lewisham. The council of Lewisham proposes to demolish the school, currently for ages 3-


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