The Human Resource Function
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HR departments perform different tasks. They might take full responsibilities for human resource activities in some companies whereas in others they will share the role with managers. Some of the responsibilities of HR departments are: employment and recruiting, training and development, compensation, benefits, employee services, employee and community relations, personnel records, strategy planning, health and safety. The role of HR has changes and enveloped over time. It began as a purely administrative function but now it is seen as a more strategic major role.
Equal Employment Opportunity refers to the averment’s attempt to ensure that all individuals have an equal chance of employment, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or natural origin. That is why federal government established constitutional amendments, legislation, and executive orders, as well as the court decisions that interpret these laws. Unfortunately equal employment laws are not the same in all countries. For example in some countries in order to get a job you need to be related to that person or bribe somebody. From that I can assume that Equal Employment Opportunity does not exist in some countries. I suppose it will take a lot of years of hard work to reach level that goal.
Job analysis is a process where we get detailed information about job. It is such an important activity to HR managers that it has been cold “the building block of everything that personnel does.” (Textbook 145) I believe that an important concept of job analysis is that the analysis is conducted of the job, not the person. Job analysis is also important to HR department and line manager. It is critical for manager to know detail information about all the jobs in the work group for better understanding of workflow process.
He also needs to understand the job requirements to make smart hiring decisions. Managers are the ones to interview applicants and recommend right people for right place. That task would be impassible without good understanding of what skills are necessary to perform right job. One of manager’s responsibilities is to provide feedback to those whose performance needs improvement. In order to do that he needs to be able to evaluate how well each person is doing its job. Again, this requires that the manager clearly understands the task required in every job.
The human resources department within a company is going through many changes and faces increasing challenges. In order to stay competitive in today’s marketplace, companies will need to keep pace with the times and promote change in order to maintain a competitive edge. This paper reports on the new roles and responsibilities of human resources (HR) and how the profession is changing within an organization. First among these is maintaining a safe work environment and ensuring that safe work practices are taught, maintained and abided by. HR ensures that all requirements set by OSHA and any local and state guidelines are met within the organization. Next, the HR department or company is increasingly changing from an annual performance appraisal system to evaluate employee performance to a continual appraisal system.
This continual performance management system takes the place of an annual evaluation method that has been shown to be ineffective at accurately measuring employees’ performance. Another improving area of the HR is the recruiting and hiring practices of an organization. Employee turnover can severely hamper a company and result in loss of income due to the resulting losses in production and services. These losses occur due to training costs and lower production of an employee who does not yet have the proper skills and talent needed to be fully productive. Finally, this paper will discuss the future trends and challenges of HR. More companies are outsourcing this function and turning it over to businesses that specialize in this increasingly demanding role. This means that HR professionals will need to be more productive and will have to have the skills and experience to meet the challenges of a global market.
To work efficiently, the Workplace Health and Safety Act requires cooperation from both employers and employees to ensure that the workplace is a healthy and safe environment. Both the employees and employers are required to abide by the rules and regulations from the act, which are set for them. The Act states requirements for employers and are quite clear; they are to effectively ensure the workplace health and safety of each of the employer’s workers (employees) in the conduct of the employer’s business or undertaking. The employer also has an obligation to ensure the employer’s own workplace health and safety in the conduct of the employer’s business or undertaking.
The employer has an obligation to ensure other persons are not exposed to risks to their health and safety arising out of the conduct of the employer’s business or undertaking. Essentially, Employers are required to:- Provide a safe and healthy workplace- Provide and maintain a safe system of work- Provide the safe use of handling, storage and transport with necessary resources (safetyclothing & equipment)- Provide a procedure to identify, assess and eradicate unsafe risks and hazards- Provide information and training for employees to work in a safe and healthyenvironment- Ensure that employees carry out workplace rules.
As for employees, it is their responsibility to learn and understand Workplace Health and Safety and to abide and co-operate with employers in helping maintain health and safety at work.
It is important to be aware that hazards exist in any workplace and one should be trained effectively to identify them. Additional examples of hazards in the workplace include exposed wires, power leads on ground, equipment left in walkways, temperature often unacceptably hot or cold, and glare from windows, computer screens and lights. Making sure that the safety committee is kept up-to-date of these problems, and they can provide solutions in order to eradicate the hazards can minimize hazards like these. In many cases simple features like anti-glare screens which helps prevent the glare on the computer screens, can solve the problems, also relocating employees desk stations away from the air-conditioning duct can help with the temperature problems. Cooperation from both employers and their employees is needed to maintain a healthy and safe environment.
Performance Management SystemsAny business is only as good as its people. Whether the business is sales, manufacturing or service related the people who perform the day-to-day activities are crucial to success. Developing a system by which an employees’ performance can be measured relative to the businesses goals and objectives on a continuous basis is called a performance management system. There are many ways to measure and rate performance. This discussion will focus on how a complete performance management system differs from the use of annual performance appraisals.
Annual performance appraisals are largely becoming a thing of the past. “This is understandable given that the process of performance appraisal, as traditionally practiced, is fundamentally flawed. It is incongruent with the values-based, vision-driven, mission-oriented, participative work environments favored by forward thinking organizations today. It smacks of an old fashioned, paternalistic, top down, autocratic mode of management which treats employees as possessions of the company” (Heathfield, 2006). This change has come about because of the need for businesses to be as efficient and competitive as possible. The only way to accomplish this goal is to drive the employees to higher levels of knowledge and performance. This requires a system where managers are continuously evaluating employees and providing them with feedback.
In an annual appraisal system the manager does not have the tools necessary to properly evaluate someone. The appraisal generally consists of the manager’s recollections of the successes and failures during the past year. These are jotted down and reviewed with the employee. There is an inherent fault with this method in that failures are often what a manager remembers most over the course of a year. Overlooking successes can occur and there is a higher likelihood that personal biases of the manager play a larger role. This does not benefit either the employee or the company. Only a fair and comprehensive evaluation will ensure that every employee is rated according to his actual performance against previously set company goals and objectives. Managers will appreciate this method just as highly as the employee as it separates the emotional aspect from the equation.
In a performance management system the process of evaluating consists of “defining performance, measuring performance and feeding back performance information” (Noe et al., 2004). The manager must first decide what constitutes adequate performance. It could be a combination of several characteristics such as gross sales or number of deviations. Whatever the measures they must be attainable and the employees must believe that they can achieve them. Measuring performance can be done by comparing employees to others with the same job duties and by rating employees based on attributes or behaviors. Ensuring that these measures are collected regularly and come from multiple sources will help to prevent inaccuracies and provide consistency.
Finally, providing feedback to the employee so that they know what they are doing well and what he will need to work on is the last step in the process. This task should be done on a regular basis so that everyone expects it. The manager should be well prepared for the feedback session and have it in a location that is comfortable and private. During the session the focus should be on problem solving and not in berating the employee. Agree to specific goals and provide a time frame in which to meet these new goals and re-evaluate.
Managing TurnoverManaging employee turnover in organizations is important. There are advantages of managing turnover in an organization. Good people practices are not just important, but crucial to differentiating organizations with employee morale. It makes sense that in order to deliver good services, an organization needs good people. Hiring the right person in the first place is the key cross any organization. A company needs to make sure it employees and retains good people. Training programs, management, compensation and benefits practices all play into hiring and retaining top talent. Many poor human resources situations such as poor performance, improper job fit and bad attitude can be tracked to a poor hiring decision.
Companies today do not invest the time and/or resources in the hiring process. It typically is treated more like an administrative burden than a worthwhile investment. If the cost of a bad-hiring decision were thought about more, companies would probably invest more time, energy and diligence into hiring. Hiring is one of the single most important decisions that any manager can make. The costs of a bad hiring decision, not including the intangible costs of this decision, such as coworker morale and lawsuit risk can be narrowed down to two main categories: turnover costs and incumbent costs (Wiedenkeller, 2006).
Future Trends and Challenges in HR ManagementIn the next decade human resources (HR) management will begin to shift in new directions. The role the HR profession will be almost non-existent. Many companies will begin to outsource the HR functions and this will lead to the demise of the traditional HR generalists, who handle a range of functions from benefits to recruiting. Prospective HR professionals will need a much broader set of skills, background and experience than their predecessors have had. A degree from a major university will be vital to a HR job; however, learning more about business will be the key to landing those HR jobs. (Workforce Management, 2006) Most jobs that will exist in-house will more likely be strategist. This leads to another future change in HR management.
Strategic HR presents a new challenge that few HR departments universally accept today, the challenge of managing workforce productivity. Becoming strategic requires that all HR efforts become coordinated and united under a uniform set of goals and objectives. Strategist jobs will be more focused on building partnerships with line managers to accomplish the organization’s missions and objectives. Their job will be to find ways to leverage the organization’s human capital to improve business results. “Strategic partner must demonstrate their support for the organization’s strategies by aligning HR functions with the organization’s strategies. Such alignment puts HR in a better position to deliver value, which therefore demonstrates credibility” (Pepperdine University, 2006). HR professionals who are strategists will eventually need to use those skills in assisting the company in creating a global market. This brings us to another change in HR management.
SummaryIn conclusion, the human resources department has to meet many challenges in order for a company to be successful. Among these challenges are maintaining a safe and healthy work environment for its employees. In order to meet this challenge the organization must ensure that all requirements have been abided by and that the proper employee training is given. A company that does not meet these requirements takes a chance of losing employees and therefore the whole company due to lawsuits and safety shutdowns. The HR not only needs to keep the workplace safe but also needs to reduce the stress levels of the employees. Workplace stress has been proven to drastically reduce employee productivity. When productivity and service are lost, the company loses money, so keeping workers safe and happy is a challenge that needs to be met. Along with maintaining a safe environment, HR is continually changing its method of evaluating employees.
By continually managing employees’ productivity and service levels, the company can provide quick and efficient feedback to the employee so that continual improvement can be made. This method replaces an annual evaluation method, which relies on a manager’s memory of an employee’s performance over an entire year. This is flawed because a manager cannot possibly remember every positive or negative an employee makes over the entire year. This also does not contribute to continual performance improvement because the employee only gets feedback once a year and can make a change only once a year when the feedback is given. A large loss in an organization’s profits is due to employee turnover. In order to minimize this loss, HR must improve the recruiting practices and the hiring practices within the organization.
When the wrong hiring decision is made within an organization, the company not only has to worry about losses in productivity and decreasing profits but also must think about losses in employee enthusiasm and morale. Without a smiling employee to sell or provide a service, the company can lose valuable customers and take an even larger bite from profits. HR is increasingly finding itself in a global marketplace. This means that HR professionals must have the necessary skills and knowledge to meet the global need. HR professionals are going to need to be highly educated and will have to take on increasing responsibilities. The future of HR is increasingly becoming an outsourced department within organizations where the HR professional has to take on more to ensure a companies success. To maintain a competitive edge, HR departments must adept to the constant changes and challenges in technology.
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