The Key Issues Of Human Resources Management Management Essay


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This report is an evaluation of the key issues involved with Human Resources Management in the context of today's changing environments. There will firstly be an outline of the five key issues: globalisation/out-sourcing, strategy, power, the learning organisation and organisational learning, and diversity. These issues are of the most important concern to a Human Resources Manager as they involve the external environment of the marketplace that the organisation operates in, as well as the internal environment of organisation structure and identification of power roles and harmonious relationships.

Section 2 involves separating all five issues into sub-sections with definitions of the issue, followed by evaluations of the benefits or potential detriments associated with such issues. These arguments are all presented in the context of the current changing working environment and global marketplace. After the evaluations, are the explanations of how each issue relates to the other issues.

Section 3 is a summary of all the recommendations for how a Human Resource Manager should overcome the detrimental potential of all the key issues identified in Section 2. These recommendations are written in the context of serving the purpose of the organisation's maximum productivity as well as optimal quality in productivity. Human Resources Management is crucial towards an organisation's productivity as the human resources or an organisation are the producers of the products or services offered by the organisation to its customers. Ref? Having a strategy or plan with the management of such resources is also crucial for success, as strategies allow guidelines for performance and thus results are relatively controlled as compared to actions without strategies. Ref??

2.0 Key Issues

The key issues which concerns Human Resources Management in the changing working context are: globalisation/out-sourcing, strategy, power, the learning organisation and organisational learning, and diversity. Ref? These issues are all inter-related and inter-connected as part of the core components of concern to a Human Resources Manager. These issues affect employees on both an individual and shared productivity level, and have the potential to either benefit or inhibit productivity. Ref? Thus it is the Human Resource Manager's responsibility to develop effective strategies to guide the employees in the direction of tailoring these issues towards benefiting the organisation.

2.1 Globalisation/Out-sourcing

Globalisation is commonly misconceived as a multinational corporation, distributing its services or products to a global consumer. An organisation with a global customer base can be a part of Globalisation, but globalisation is not defined by the global localities of any organisation's customer base only. Globalisation today is a result of the technology of new media communications and telecommunications, which enables citizens from any country with Internet access, to provide a service or product to employers or customers from anywhere else in the world with Internet access (Friedman 2006).

Most organisations now operate in an environment where there is a lot of out-sourcing of services, as well as delivering the services to a global customer base (Friedman 2006). Out-sourcing is relevant to Human Resources Management, as it is an integral part of finding and recruiting human producers for the sake of the organisation's productivity (Klaas et al 2001). Outsourcing involves the strategic management of employee suitability factors such as wage-negotiations and necessity of training (Klaas et al 2001).

There are both benefits and potential problems with outsourcing human resources. The benefit is that freelance workers are flexible and experienced with producing quality of work that the organisations may have needed to train an entry-level employee to do (Klaas et al 2001). Also, with Globalization, workers can be outsourced from a country which has the opposite timezone to the organisation. So when the head office is asleep, the outsourced workers can work on the projects and have services ready by the next morning - a significant advantage in productivity compared to organisations who do not outsource at all (Friedman 2006).

The problems with outsourcing is that although the workers are experienced in their flexibility, each new worker contracted will have to be re-introduced to the company and its goals, and recruitment needs to happen on a regular basis for varying projects. The certainty of quality of work may also be volatile (Klaas et al 2001). This issue involves organisational learning and learning organisation, which will be discussed as the fourth issue.

Globalisation and the possibilities it represents are also a part of strategy and power, as it provides more choices for both the organisation and the Human Resource Manager in the source of productivity as well as the price to pay for productivity - thus involving the entire supply-chain process of the organisation.

2.2 Strategy

Human Resources as a study - thus a practice of forming strategies to implement - originated from a variety of academic disciplines such as psychology, sociology, and economics (Boxall & Purcell 2003). The point of developing a strategy towards Human Resources Management is so that a business's performance may be optimized (Boxall & Purcell 2003).

There are an abundance of strategy models developed for the purpose of Human Resources Management. Amongst these strategies include: the competitive strategy - making sure the organisation has a competitive edge; the quality-enhancement strategy - making decisions based on production quality and enhancement thereof; and the innovation strategy - firms maximising resources, paying rates that might be lower but involving thorough organisational communication for employee input towards productivity as a whole (Schuler & Jackson 1999). There is also the cost-reduction strategy, which is based solely on the purpose of minimising costs of wages for the organisation (Schulre & Jackson 1999).

Strategies are important as it allows the HRM to recruit employees in alliance with the organisation's goals and business ethics (Huselid et al 1997). The factors for deciding which strategy to adopt are: available resources, environment, goals of the organisation and budgets (Huselid et al 1997). One problem with strategy, however, is that it may not always apply, as the context of human resources and organisational management is constantly changing in the new globalized economy and environment (Klaas et al 2001).

Strategic decisions are based on the identification of those in power (to be explained in the next section), as well as the influential factors of changing environments in accord with Globalization, diversity in the workplace - or lack thereof, and implenting opportunities for learning in order to remain competitive in the marketplace. Strategic development depends largely on the goals of the organisation, which need to be outlined before the Human Resource Manager is able to implement any form of a strategy - this is dicussed in further detail in 3.2.

2.3 Power

Power is often considered in relation to authority, yet authority is also often confused with accountability. Townley has applied the Foucauldian notions of power to the context of Human Resources Management (Townley 1993). 'Power is everywhere: not because it embraces everything, but because it comes from everywhere… Power is not an institution, nor a structure, nor a possession. It is the name we give to a complex strategic situation in a particular society' (Townley 1993). Page number needed for direct quote According to Foucault, year? then, in any organisation, all members are equal sources of power.

Not only must power be identified within the organisation, but also acknowledged in relation to external influences on any organisation. The environment involving governments and public opinion are all equal sources of power which influences the activities and choices made by any organisation (Townley 1993). Internal organisational politics are a major source of power-struggles (Townley 1993), oftentimes in the form of dissatisfaction from employees towards coworkers or their employer (Jackon & Schuler 1995). It is part of the HRM's responsibility to minimise the chances of such struggles, as well as devise strategies for diffusing such conflicts if they do occur.

Power is an issue which needs to be discussed between an organisation's members and identified as part of organisational learning, especially in the context of Globlization and diversity. Power could also be enforced as a part of strategy, however this depends on the organisation's goals and whether or not it is actually the most effective approach to productivity. How do you know this info?

There is the issue of the power of the masses against the power of the employer - the power of funding (Townley 2003) - yet this complicates the matter not so much from a Human Resource Management perspective but from the perspective or Organisational Management as it involves the higher-leveled person's divisions of budgets for wages, benefits, etc. The Human Resource Manager does not have the power to decide the budget, and thus would only be a part of facilitating communication between the employee or potential employee or groups of employees and the person responsible for the decisions in funding. Ref?

2.4 The Learning Organisation and Organisational Learning

Knowledge is a resource in today's organisational structures (Lam 2000). Knowledge can be experience-based, part of a person's skills developed as a result of routines (Lam 2000), or it can be organized in a way which directs collective learning of shared knowledge (Lam 2000). Thus knowledge can be categorised between individual or shared knowledge by the members of a firm (Lam 2000). Shared knowledge in organisations comes in the form of: 'rules, procedures, routines and shared norms which guide the problem-solving activities and patterns of interaction among its members' (Lam 2000).

It is part of the Human Resource Manager's responsibility to ensure that there is a strategic approach to directing all members of an organisation towards mutual agreement and understanding of all the necessary knowledge and therein procedures, routines and problem-solving methods in relation to the functions of the organisation (Laursen & Foss; 2003). Communication within members of the organisation is key to establishment of shared and understood knowledge (Beer & Eisenstat 1996).

An organization as a collective of individuals must also participated in shared learning of external environmental factors affecting their business - economic, political, social issues which may influence business success or failure (Lam 2000). Thus it part of the Human Resource Manager's responsibility to ensure that all personnel are informed and learning together the knowledge needed for optimal productivity of their organization (Beer & Eisenstat 1996). A possible issue of shared learning may be the adoption of tolerance in shared employee attitudes to such factors as racial diversity. This is further explored in the next section.

Further examples of shared learning may be the need to learn a new law or legislation that relates to the conducts and protocols of the organisation. Other examples of learning may involve the need for only one individual amongst many employees who is unable to remember the knowledge that is supposed to be shared - this requires careful consideration by the Human Resources Manager to develop a strategy of evaluation - is it impossible to change this employee's behaviour or could there be a way to ensure learning (Lauren & Foss 2003).

2.5 Diversity

Diversity in an organisation may refer to such factors as cultural diversity, racial diversity, gender diversity and skills diversity (Poole 2002). Thus diversity means variety of the same thing. With the issue of diversity comes the issue of tolerance and even empowerment through diversity (Poole 2002).

As previously mentioned, we are now operating in an environment of Globalization, where employees can be outsourced from a variety of countries and cultures, and even same-locality employees could have grown up from different countries and be members of various cultures (Poole 2002; Friedman 2006).

The benefits of having diversity in the workplace is that there is an abundance of inspiration sources from these individuals and more than one way of solving problem. A potential issue with diversity is derived from the same benefit of diversity - there may be too many opinions, and the added potential negative with diversity is the issue of prejudices (Poole 2002). Human Resource Managers must work to develop organizational tolerance - which also involves shared learning - of the acceptance of diversity. Ref?

Diversity is related to Globalization in a very close level, and requires the strategic implementation of shared learning by all members of the organisation in order to develop tolerance of diversity. Power in diversity may result as the organisation functions with a variety of innovations and creativity as a result of empowerment through acknowledged diversity. Ref?

3.0 Recommendations

Below are the evaluated recommendations for the issues of globalization, strategy, power, learning and diversity. As was previously noted, all these issues are inter-related and thus the recommendations involve strategising with focus not only on the particular issue of concern but also in the context of the other factors as part of the Human Resources Management process. In identifying the key issues involved, it became clear that the tool for implementation is effective communication. Effective communication in the context of strategic management is what is needed for successful Human Resources Management. Ref?

Timing is also an important factor in resolving many issues, as well as the identification of organisational goals and budgets. With all these realities, the theory may seem difficult to implement for each varying situation faced by a Human Resources Manager in the changing working contexts. Thus these recommendations are also a guide, only, and are effective to the extent of providing an agenda to be identified in the implementation process. Ref?

3.1 Recommendations for Globlisation

If the organisation's goal is to minimise costs in terms of not needing to provide benefits or even salary bonuses for full-time employees, then the process of outsourcing is a logical part of the recruitment process. Ref?

The key factors which will help the Human Resource Manager maintain steady workflows for the organisation by effective recruitment is to have clear job description temples ready to publish which only need minor adjustments according to each project (Jackson & Schuler 1995). Checklists for all materials should also be maintained, as each new outsourced personnel may or may not be organized - thus it is the Human Resource Manager's responsibility to guide them in being organised enough for scheduled productivity (Jackson & Schuler 1995).

3.2 Recommendations for Strategy

Timely evaluations should be conducted by the Human Resource Manager in order to keep up with the changing environments - internal and external (Boxall & Purcell 2003). The Human Resource Manager should not identify theories and strategies before examining the reality of the organisation's situation - what resources are actually available, what budgets must actually be considered, and whether or not the organisation's goals are in accord with any existing strategies. If the organisation is completely revolutionary in its innovations and introduction into the marketplace, then it would not be appropriate to adopt traditional strategies of recruitment or internal communications. The Human Resource Manager must be prepared to remain flexible in their implementation of approaches to human resource monitoring, and thus constantly research and re-think of possibilities for better implementation of human resources management.

3.3 Recommendations for Power

As mentioned in the explanation of the issue of power, accountability is often confused with authority - the result is that sometimes employees of no accountability to a project are misconstrued in their belief that they are authorised to impose their opinions onto coworkers or even their employer. Human Resources Managers must find ways to establish their authority in influencing personnel to work in compliance with each other and the Human Resource Manager, as well as working towards the goals of the organisation. Effective communication is key to maintaining balances of power (Townley 1993), and it may be helpful to regularly review the roles of power in each organisation to maintain a sense of shared powers - as responsibilities - for each individual employee as part of the 'team' of productivity.

3.4 Recommendations for Learning

Shared learning is a result of shared communication and comprehension. Regular meetings, internal newsletters and interviews conducted between the Human Resources Manager and the personnel of an organisation can ensure regular appraisals of mutual understanding or misunderstandings before full-blown disagreements occur (Lam 2000). The Human Resources Manager needs to identify the components of learning which can be accepted as individual learning - thus leaving up to the responsibility of each individual employee - and which must be communicated and understood as shared learning for the sake of the organisation's productivity. Guidelines may be printed out or made available in a shared database or source of information retrieval.

3.5 Recommendations for Diversity

Diversity must be addressed in relation to shared learning by all the employees of the organisation. Human Resource Managers should ensure the shared learning by encouraging the idea that having different approaches or opinions to problem solving - other than guidelines outlined as part of the organisation's own stated guidelines - should be embraced as a benefit for the organisation rather than a detriment. Diversity can be celebrated as part of the competitive edge for the organisation - able to then reach global customers with the strengths of the diversified characteristics in the organisation's employees. This should result in further empowerment and shared acknowledgement of the globalized marketplace and how diversification can be strategically implemented as a strength, not a weakness. Ref?

4.0 Conclusion

The changing environment of the global economy and global markets requires Human Resource Managers to identify and strategise towards sourcing all available resources and managing those resource in an effective way for the achievement of the goals of the organisation. Globalisation and the advent of new telecommunications technologies has resulted in the possibilities of global out-sourcing, as well as flexibility in hours of productivity for an organisation. Human Resource Managers must keep in mind the maintenance of shared or individual learning as part of the strategic implementation of ensuring quality across all fronts of production.

Strategies are a part of the theory involved with the role of management in Human Resources, yet strategies must be appropriate for the realistic context of each organisation's financial situation - as well as aspirational and environmental contexts. The Human Resource Manager must ensure effective communication in all areas and between all employees or potential employees. Having to implement learning and shared learning means regular meetings or interviews conducted, to generate communication flow and ensuring comprehension in knowledges introduced.

Diversity in an organisation is not to be seen as disempowering but to be fully celebrated as part of the empowering edge an organisation may have against competitors. Tolerance of diversity must be existant by all employees in order for productivity to be optimal. Diversity of opinions need to be identified between whether these opinions are relevant to the organisation or only exclusively befitting of the individual's responsibility over their own productivity.

5.0 References this should not be numbered

Beer, M & Eisenstat, R 1996, 'Developing an Organization Capable of Implementing Strategy and Learning', Human Relations, vol. 49, no. 5, pp. 597-619.

Boxall, P & Purcell, J 2003, 'Strategy and Human Resource Management', Industrial & Labor Relations Review, vol. 57, no. 1, pp. 145-146.

Friedman, T 2006, The World is Flat: The Globalized World in the Twenty-First Century. Penguin, USA.

Huselid, M, Jackson, S, Schuler, R 1997, 'Technical and Strategic Human Resource Management Effectiveness as Determinants of Firm Performance', The Academy of Management Journal, vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 171-188. which databases are these from?

Jackson, S & Schuler, R 1995, 'Understanding Human Resource Management in the Context of Organizations and their Environments', Annual Review of Psychology, vol. 46, no. 1, pp. 237-264.

Klaas, B, McClendon, J, Gainey, T 2001, 'Outsourcing HR: The Impact of Organizational Characteristics', Human Resource Management, vol. 40, no. 2, pp. 125-138.

Lam, A 2000, 'Tacit Knowledge, Organizational Learning and Societal Institutions: An Integrated Framework', Organization Studies, vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 487-513.

Larsen, K& Foss, N 2003, 'New Human Resource Management Practices, Complementarities and the Impact on Innovation Performance', Cambridge Journal of Economics, vol. 27, no. 1,pp. 243-263.

Poole, M 2002, Human Resource Management: Critical Perspectives on Business and Management, Routledge, USA.

Townley, B 1993, 'Foucault, Power/Knowledge, and Its Relevance for Human Resource Management', The Academy of Management Review, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 518-545.

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