The Context Of Human Resource Management.
Module 1: The Context Of Human Resource Management
1.1 What is Human resource management?
Human resources management is the term increasingly used to refer to the philosophy, policies, procedures, and practices related to the management of people within an organisation. The term personnel management means the same thing.
The sources of personnel management are found in the Industrial Revolution, in the scientific management, industrial welfare and human relations movements, in the development of trade unions and collective bargaining, and the growth of employment – related legislation.
Distinctive Management Discipline
HRM has 4 goals:
- Employee commitment
- Flexibility & Adaptability
- Write your own definition of work:
Assumptions about work & workers:
Throughout history, attitudes to work have been influenced by the contemporary social and economic contexts. Edgar Schein (1970) divided assumptions about people and their attitudes to work into 4 categories:
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Schein’s categories can be used to arrange people’s orientations to work in three main groups:
- Instrumental or economic orientation
Concerned with money, material goods and security
- Relational or social orientation
Concerned with relationships, friendships and other people
- Personal or psychological orientation
Concerned with job interest, job satisfaction and personal growth
People’s attitudes to work are both complex and evolving. Traditional beliefs about work being central to economic life and social existence are changing. More recent evidence points to a belief by New Zealanders that individual growth and development are more important than work outputs (Toulson and Smith 1989). Increasingly, unpaid work such as voluntary work or training, is being recognised as an important source of fulfillment. This coincides with other changes in the nature of work, which are rapidly increasing. Indeed, the only constant in the future of work may be change.
Workforce and labour market changes
The changing workforce brings significant challenges for HR specialists – both in recruiting and selecting the staff which the organisation needs, and in deciding how best to treat those people once they are part of the organisations human resources. These challenges stem from:
- Demographic trends
- Workforce trends
- Economic trends
- Work/life trends
The new worker
Rudman observes that workers in the future, whilst needing to have higher levels of education, will bring greater expectations about their work with those qualifications.
It is now well recognised that a work/family balance is sought by many people in the workforce, including working mothers.
We hear much about the need to operate in a ‘knowledge economy’. Knowledge workers are also characterised by a determination to keep learning, and they value employers who provide that opportunity. Thus, the knowledge worker presents challenges to employers in terms of the management and training of such employees.
Enormous changes in the workforce demographic, combined with changes in registration, now provide a need for managers to value diversity and eliminate discrimination in their workplaces.
Traditionally, groups discriminated against have included women, disabled people, ethnic minorities and older workers.
Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO)
Steps in Planning an EEO Agreement:
- Know your organisation
- Establish commitment to EEO
- Assess your EEO needs
- Establish priorities and options for action
- Write it down
- Prepare the organisation
The future of work
The only constant in the future of work may be change.
Changes in people’s attitude to work, developments in information technology, and more flexible working arrangements give rise to predictions like a four-day working week being introduced into organisations in the future.
The HR Function
In recent times there has been a growing realisation that people are a unique source of competitive advantage in organisations and that responsibility for effective HR management practice rests with all levels of management therefore, knowledge of HR processes are an essential element of successful management and organisational effectiveness.
Defining the HR role
A variety of models can be used when referring to the HR function.
These include a management support and alignment function, a mediation model, bridging gaps and problems between management and staff, and a staff advocacy role to management. Most HR professionals would use a combination of these models at different times. As can immediately be seen, this can sometimes create a tension within the HR role itself.
Relationships with other functions
There is ongoing debate and sometimes difficulty between line management (traditionally having the right to command staff they manage) and staff authority, often with specialist knowledge and skills, but operating in an advisory capacity only to line management. There are some areas, for example, recruitment and disciplinary matters where it may be desirable for HR staff to take direct control of the process, to best serve the needs of the organisation and provide the best support for line managers.
Assessing the human resource function
Both quantitative and qualitative measures are used to measure the HR function. A number of organisations seek out best practice and use benchmarking as a measurement of both improvement and effectiveness.
A popular technique is also the HR audit. This can take a variety of forms. In depth interviews, satisfaction surveys, standard form questionnaires, or a combination of these. Audit tools are sometimes used. They are sometimes criticised as subjective, both in results and interpretation of those results.