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HR: Key Issues

Get to know the main issues that surround Human Resources by reading our guide and hand picked essays

Recruitment

Recruitment is the process of attracting the right person to perform a job. The right person will have the right knowledge, skills and attitude, or the aptitude to be trained to do the job. A business may need to decide the amount of training they can offer at the recruitment stage. They must also decide if they want to recruit internally (i.e. an existing member of staff who may need training for the specific role but knows the organisation), or externally (an outsider to the organisation who may know the role but not the organisation). There are pros and cons to both approaches and a business will consider factors such as the effect on motivation if there is no internal promotion, and the lack of new ideas coming in if there is no external recruitment. It is likely that a manager will be heavily involved in recruiting their own staff but they are likely to use the expertise of the HR department as well.

The organisation chart

This shows the hierarchy in a business. There are a number of issues related to it beyond whether the business should be organised along function, product or geographical lines. A business can have a taller or flatter hierarchy. A tall hierarchy will have lots of layers of managers, with each manager having a small span of control (the number of people actually reporting to a manager). This is likely to be the case in more traditional businesses where decisions tend to be taken high up in the hierarchy. A flat hierarchy will have fewer levels of managers, and each manager will have a wider span of control- i.e. more people reporting to them. In this case, it is likely that individual members of staff will have more authority to make their own decisions. There are arguments for both approaches, and much depends on how much close supervision of work is required. There are implications for motivation as giving people a large element of control over their own work is likely to motivate them more than close supervision.

Delayering and centralisation

In recent years there has been a trend towards removing some of the layers of managers- delayering. This should mean that individual members of staff have more responsibility, which should motivate them. As they are nearer to the customer, they may make better decisions. Also, communication should flow more easily as there are fewer levels of hierarchy for it to pass through. A further argument is that managers are expensive and it should reduce costs for a business. Centralisation is about the extent to which decision making is kept at the top of the organisation or delegated further down (decentralised). A decentralised business is making decisions closer to the customer but the business may suffer as it lacks a consistent approach. Although staff may be more motivated in a decentralised organisation, they may make costly decisions. There are arguments for both viewpoints- supermarkets and chain stores vary on this. Decisions on what products to stock, promotions to run and staff numbers may be made centrally or locally within each store.

Empowerment

Empowerment is about giving employees the skills, authority and responsibility to make important work related decisions themselves. It links in with delayered organisations as it is necessary for the workforce to be empowered as there are fewer managers to make decisions. It should mean that decisions are taken nearer to the customer as the employees are likely to be working closer with them. This means that decision taking should be faster as staff do not have to refer decisions upwards. One of the main benefits is that employees should feel more motivated as a result of the trust put in them and the responsibility given to them. The manager should also have more time freed up for the strategic part of their role. The ability of a business to empower their workforce depends on the quality of staff and their willingness to accept responsibility. The willingness of managers to fully trust their employees can also be an issue. The role of the manager changes from decision making and control to supporting and coaching their team.

Empowerment is about giving employees the skills, authority and responsibility to make important work related decisions themselves. It links in with delayered organisations as it is necessary for the workforce to be empowered as there are fewer managers to make decisions. It should mean that decisions are taken nearer to the customer as the employees are likely to be working closer with them. This means that decision taking should be faster as staff do not have to refer decisions upwards. One of the main benefits is that employees should feel more motivated as a result of the trust put in them and the responsibility given to them. The manager should also have more time freed up for the strategic part of their role. The ability of a business to empower their workforce depends on the quality of staff and their willingness to accept responsibility. The willingness of managers to fully trust their employees can also be an issue. The role of the manager changes from decision making and control to supporting and coaching their team.