Discuss the increasing importance of HRM in today's businesses.
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ABSTRACT With the emergence of a highly dynamic global economic system, and with new competitors constantly arriving on the scene, businesses are constantly finding ways to increase efficiency and effectiveness to stay viable to meet present and future work demands. The Human Resource Management ("HRM") function exercised effectively in many businesses has overtime proven to have significant impacts on business results, thus becoming increasingly influential in the formulation of business strategies. This paper seeks to discuss the increasing importance of HRM in today's businesses, with a focus on the four key roles identified by Dave Ulrich (1993) that Human Resource ("HR") managers of today should play to rise up to impending challenges, in response to the purpose of this assignment. This paper will also attempt to define and interpret existing HRM concepts and theories and to highlight their differences and respective roles in the shaping of today's businesses. It will also draw some examples of good strategic HRM practices in some of today's most successful global companies. In today's businesses all around the world, the fundamental attributions for a business to thrive in an ever-changing and demanding society have drastically undergone an overhaul in recent years to suit and adapt to change. With vast advancements in technology and better infrastructure in place, businesses are able to operate more efficiently in today's society than before. However, the most essential ingredient in all successful businesses is its people, or what is termed today as 'human asset'. Good staff are the heart and blood of businesses, driving them to achieve strategic objectives and goals. With such realisation, the HRM function in a business has been identified as a key role in the sustenance of business success and how it can be better positioned to gain a competitive stance through the effective management of its people. To attempt to precisely define HRM will result in more confusion and contradiction, particularly due to the case of its constant comparison with Personnel Management ("PM"). Worthy to note, Noon (1994:23)
identified a four-pronged approach that managers can undertake to make the transition successfully. They are to play the roles of: * Administrative expert Ulrich asserts that HR needs to add value by acting as a partner with line management. He notes "HR professionals add value to a business when they use their expertise to link internal organization and management practices to external business requirements." He reckons that HR managers must be effective through their management so as to create value within the organization. * Employee champion Ulrich reckons that a good HR manager is one who is able to relate and meet the needs of employees, at the same time be their voice in the organization so as to provide assurance and seeking of new resources for their betterment. Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric (2001) formulated the "Boundaryless" concept in the company where he took ideas to the bottom line of his thriving organization. He successfully removed barriers within the organization functions, encouraged employees to voice out any new ideas they had and assigned managers who were committed to the sharing of these ideas with the board and realizing them. As a result, employees were not only rewarded and recognized, but gained much credit for contributing to the company, thus boosting levels of employee confidence and commitment. * Change Agent Ulrich points out that HR managers must be able to manage change, simultaneously acting as a catalyst for change. In the ever-changing global economy, change is inevitable in organizations where staying cost-effective to gain competitive advantage is of priority. Change is seen as a means of psyching the business up to possible uncertainties in the present and future environment. HR managers thus must be able to lead functional change and exert influence over the organization by being observant and responsive towards change to ensure that the business stays viable. They need to constantly monitor the organization to determine the need for change and implementing it successfully alongside organization objectives and values.
* The Warwick Model An extension of the Harvard Model by Hendry and Pettigrew (1990), it emphasizes the importance of external and internal environmental impacts on HRM and is more oriented to the process of change. * Guest's Model Guest (1989) adapted the Harvard Model by basing his analysis on the four HR outcomes, and developing these into four policy goals: commitment, flexibility strategic integration and quality. This prescriptive model seeks to see these goals as a coherent package that needs to be achieved for desired organization outcomes. * The Storey Model John Storey (1993) stated that "the ability to take, and implement a strategic view of the whole range of the personnel practices in relation to business activity as a whole" is the basic distinction between traditional personnel management and HRM. Storey's theoretical model is based on conceptions on how organizations have been transformed from predominantly personnel/IR practices to HRM practices. These influential HRM Models serve as a means of developing strategies and formulation of policies to support current business infrastructure and provides a framework of current concept, assumptions and theories of HRM practices in the real world today. Ulrich (1993) asserts that HR needs to add value by acting as a partner with line management. He notes "HR professionals add value to a business when they use their expertise to link internal organization and management practices to external business requirements." To assess HRM outcomes and to define its processes in this new day and age is subjected to numerous debates as to the use of the ideal method in the effective management of people. HRM is evolving in tune to the gradual yet subtle phasing out of traditional PM in most modern organizations today. It can thus be concluded aptly that a successful organization is nothing without good staff, emphasizing once again, the importance of good HRM practices in today's businesses and the integral role it plays in the with regards to the management of an organization's core asset - Its people.
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