Management has the power to select either hard or soft dimension in HRM. The management choice is based on that management purely depends on whether the management emphasis is placed on the employees or the firms resources. Soft dimension seeks to let workers grow over time through coaching them it is based on McGregor theory Y. On the other hand hard dimension is based on McGregor X. In reality management borrows from both dimension so as to make labor policies human and applicable.
Flexibility in the work place is geared at making workers more productive. Several models of flexibility are adopted by different firms depending on external and internal firm’s environment. Flex time is geared at making the worker to effectively balance allocation of time in work and social life. This type of flexibility earns benefits to both employer and employee.
Earnest and Young company has made use of time flexibility. It allows workers to make crucial decisions regarding the number of hours to be allocated to work and those to be allocated to social life. Female employees of Earnest and Young have been the greatest beneficiaries of this flexibility.
HRM is differentiated from both IR and personnel management on several grounds. The main difference is that HRM seem to have welfare of workers at heart than both IR and personnel management.
The soft and hard dimensions in HRM are based on different assumptions. First and foremost, hard dimension borrows widely from McGregor theory X while soft dimension has its basics drawn from McGregor theory Y. many firms have failed to make pure choice from both dimensions. They have preferred combination of both.
HRM has its basic goal of caring for the welfare of both the employer and employee. This is why HRM has been clearly distinguished from IR and personnel management.
Flexibility in work place has been used by firms to enhance workers satisfaction and improve efficiency. Earnest and young has made use time flex to enhance work flexibility and productivity
The management of every company is always at cross road in determining the choice of HRM dimension, all in all the decision made should enhance growth of both the work and the firm.
Management choice of either Hard or soft (loose-tight) dimension of human resource management purely depends on whether the management emphasis is placed on the employees or the firms resources. Guest (1987) emphasized that, soft HRM is closely linked with McGregor theory Y, utilization of human talents in work place as well as human relations movement. Soft HRM aims at making the employees very much committed to work. This is achievable when employees’ behavior is not controlled by any external pressure or any form of sanction but rather through self regulation. This creates high levels of trust between the organization and the employees formed on a strong base of effective communication. According to (Storey & Sisson, 1993) the soft or else the loose HRM model is associated with flexibility and adaptability of organizational goals. Creating mutual trust ensures workers are committed in all their duties this definitely results to high productivity. Therefore workers should be treated as very valuable company resources which give a company competitive advantage. This means that employee should be trained and allowed to develop to enhance their productivity.
On the other hand hard HRM emphasizes on the calculative, quantitative and business strategy of managing head count resource. The focus of hard HRM is on strategic fit where labor policies and practices are coherent among them and are closely tied with the goals and objectives of the organization. The employee has to follow strict policies of the organization. This perspective borrows a lot from the McGregor theory X, which suggests that human beings need to be compelled to perform to the expectations of the management. (Guest,1987)
It is clearly portrayed by (Guest, 1995) that there is conflict between self regulatory behavior and mutual trust advocated for in the soft HRM model verses minimal trust compounded by directing employees emphasized by the hard HRM model. The different assumptions of human nature under each model form the basis of this conflict. Though there is tension and conflict between the models, they all have a place in modern organizations.
It is possible to implement quality soft strategy and low cost hard strategy. Practically human resource policies never take any extreme of hard or soft model. Failure to borrow from both models only leads to deceptive representation of organizational labor policies.
Guest realizes the rift between the two models but does not embark on their distinctions in theory building. Guest, (1988, 1995) model has six dimensions: human resource strategy, human resource out come, human resource practices, performance out comes, financial out comes and behavioral outcomes. According to him this core values should be integrated with strategic objectives of a firm. For example on out come, the management may aim at reducing head count to enable expansion of the firm.
Behavioral outcome refers to how the employees react to certain issues through communication or other ways. Performance out comes refers to firms objective which monitors employees yearly performance e.g. the number of new clients the employer has brought on board over one year. Financial outcomes measure the increase in profits due to reduced costs.
The model has its bases on the assumption that traditional personnel management is different from human resource management. It emphasizes that fundamental elements such as commitments have direct relationship with performance of any firm. Guest was categorical that it is not easy to establish commitment relationship and high performance. Finally the guest model has lukewarm view on labor unions.
Differences between Storey’s definitions of HRM, personnel and IR practices
Storey (1992) has indicated that firms have evolved from personnel and IR to HRM practices. In his work he pointed out four elements which distinguish HRM from IR and personnel management. First and foremost HRM emphasizes on human capacity and commitment which is the cornerstone to organization growth. Secondly, HRM is critical for success of organization therefore top level management should consider it in strategic plans of every organization. Third, HRM has long term implication on every organization hence should be integrated to core business activities that is why line managers are involved are concerned. Finally recruitment, evaluation of workers performance as well as rewarding them should be used only for enhancing commitment of workers but not compliance.
To clearly distinguish HRM from IR and personnel management storey developed four basic outlines which include beliefs and assumption, line management, key levers and strategic concepts.
Under beliefs and assumptions he proposed that HRM aims are beyond contractual limits and aims at nurturing the worker through on job coaching but not policing every workers action. Therefore he called for unitary approach in HRM. This is unlike in IR and personnel management where the point of importance is drafting contract and monitoring employees. Rules and regulations in IR and personnel management are very critical but in HRM they are only put in place according to business needs and may sometimes be overlooked depending on the surrounding circumstances. In addition, HRM focuses on values as well as mission of the organization, this is central when making any major decision but in IR and personnel management the central focus is on norms.
The strategic aspect differentiates HRM from IR and personnel management on several grounds. First and foremost HRM follows business strategies in all its aspects, ensures that decision are made fast and strategies formulated are well integrated. On the other hand, IR and personnel management strategies are piece meal and the strategies are laid down very slowly.
Pertaining line management, HRM emphasizes on direct communication between management and employees to ensure that it is effective this is unlike IR and personnel management where communication is indirect. The key managers under IR and personnel management are specialist of their fields but in HRM makes use general managers. High standardization is emphasized in IR and personnel management unlike in HRM where standardization is not an issue of great concern. The management role HRM where management aims at transforming the organization while in IR and personnel the management has transactional role.
Key levers; in IR and personnel management jobs grades and categories are emphasized so much than in HRM. Due to this categorization of jobs employees are restrained from accessing courses which lead to promotion. In addition, there is excessive division of labor in IR and personnel management than in HRM where team work is emphasized to bring unity in work place. In HRM the aim of solving conflicts is to achieve long term stability unlike in IR where the management aims at settling dispute for short term harmony in the organization.
Flexibility in the Workplace
Flexibility in work place deals with when and how work is done as well as how careers are organized in work place. Flexibility is critical in determining effectiveness of workers. Companies make use of work place flexibility to recruit, minimize labor turn over, manage work loads and respond to diverse needs of workers in the work place. In addition, it tames stress and burn outs in work and enhances job satisfaction.
Traditional flex time
It gives workers the option of choosing the time they wish to start and end their work within a given range of hour’s inconsideration of core business operating hours.
Workers can be allowed to report to work in different times. This is applicable in case where a worker has to accomplish a task within specified hours hence reporting time does not matter. The company is keen to get the work done within given time; hence the worker needs to plan the comfortable time to accomplish the task. (Strorey,1992)
Employees are allowed to select their daily reporting and quitting time. This is done in consideration of co-operating hours. In practice some workers will be allowed to report earlier than others and those who reported earlier quit earlier. This is possible for those companies operating in twenty four hours economy.
A compressed work week
Employee has the liberty to work for more hours in a day so that they may report to work in few days in a week. For example if a worker has to work ten hours per day, the worker may increase hours per day then fail to report to work in Friday. Many companies will allow workers to extend their working hours from Monday to Thursday and leave work at 1:00 pm on Fridays.
It means working part days through out the week or working full days but in fewer days per week. Another form of part time work is job sharing, where several employees share one job (full time) with its salary and benefits.
It is working reduced hours yearly, rather than a week or daily basis. This is clearly portrayed where one works full time during peak season and then taking leave during off peak. This is applicable for restaurant workers who are allowed time off during winter season when customers are few.
Time Flex in Earnest and Young
The company launched its flex schedule back in 1990’s with the aim of allowing workers to balance their professional and personal lives. Currently around sixteen hundred workers are under this schedule. Majority of the workers opting for this time flex are women. New worker willing to join this program are referred to experienced workers of the programs to mentor them. They can also get help from flex time experts of the company who help them to draw business case which will convince the management that they should join the program. (Steven, 2011).
It is possible in earnest and young for female workers to take six moths of maternity leave and even spent four years working thirty five hours per week. The company aim is to have the worker performing efficiently rather than staying long on work but performing poorly.
Even during peak seasons workers have a schedule which allows them to at least work for fewer hours in some days as the rest of the workers remain to finish the work load. This means that workers can take dinner at home in some days of the week. Every Monday each team meets and draws the work schedule putting into consideration workers social commitments which may affect their work. Youthful workers request for some times off to watch sports while the married need flexible weekly schedule to attend to their children. This has made the firm to attract and retain professional mothers. This has made the company to generally cut turn over considerably. (Steven ,2011).
In devising this policy the company found that it the cost of hiring and training new employees is around 1.5 times more than departing workers salary. Therefore it is better for the company to enhance time flexibility to retain workers than to hire and train new workers. (Steven ,2011).
The company aim is on results but not time employee takes in the office. The program enables workers to make flex work arrangement and still be competent. The workers are taught how to achieve effective balance between work and social life. The work has the power to decide on when and where work should be done.
Advantages to employee
Balance between work and job is achieved. This enables employee to attend to social matters as well as the job. This is quit beneficial to married employees who need to attend to their children as well as be effective in the work. Employee can attend school events with out interfering with work flow in the company. (Strorey,1992)
Reduce burn outs in work place. Where employee are very exhausted or hate working in late hours they find it possible to work when they feel like. This increase job satisfaction and effectiveness in work place.
In part time jobs, an employee can work for several employers this will enable one to gain wide experience. In addition, one breaks monotony of performing one type of job continuously. The skills and experience gained from one employer may help in accomplishing a job of another employer.
Advantages to employer
Increased satisfaction increases workers productivity. The employer will experience minimal errors and wastage. This will reduce cost of production and increase profits.
Reduced cases of absenteeism in the company: This is because workers will have humble time to attend to domestic matters as well as job. For example, a parent will be able to attend a school event during morning hours and still report to work there after.
Reduce cases of stress related sickness because the work place accommodates different needs of the work. One can work when comfortable and thus reduce stress. This means decreased medical cost contributions made by employer.
Retain valuable employees by giving them chance to work in several companies to increase their pay if they feel that you are not paying them enough yet you cannot increase their pay. Employees prefer to work in companies which allow them to work and attend to their families. Therefore an employee will not leave flexible company for another which has rigid work schedule.
Employer treats employees like adults and is able to question employees who fail to report to work as planned.
Employees value the flexibility given by employers hence may down play some negative aspects of work. In addition, employees may be so encouraged to work for a few more hours and fail to ask for payment. This is advantageous to both employer and employees.
Compressed week call for several employees to learn different jobs in the company hence diversify workers skills. This is advantage to the firm if one work leaves the organization fellow workers can take up their jobs.
Demerits to employee
Compressed week may lead to increased stress or may interfere with ones schedule more.
Some workers will have time off work when they do not have any important social activity and probably be in duty when they have important matter to attend. This means that they may not be permitted to attend to their family matters.
The process may not be fair to junior employees who are not involved in formulating the work time table.
Demerits to employer
The employee may be so tired after domestic work such that their productivity is lowered. The employee will engage in activities and eventually report to work when they are not fresh. This means that some of them will take the job for granted.
Increased work hours may lead to increased stress due to increased work hours per day. This affects their service to clients. (Council of Europe, 2005).
The process of determining the work schedule some workers may feel that the employer was not fair to all groups. This may increase animosity in the work place.
Unexpectedly the work load may increase and the workers on duty may not be enough to deal with it. This means that the other workers may need to be called to job. Some of them may not be available instantly this means that work flow is affected.
It is illogical for any company to purely adopt soft or hard dimension of HRM. Every management seeks to strike balance between this two dimensions.
HRM is quit different from either IR or personnel management. HRM has the welfare of both the company and the workers at hand. It aims at promoting long term harmony and stability in work place unlike in IR and personnel management where the aim is enhance job categories and short term stability in the organization. (Storey& Sisson, 1994).
HRM decides to adopt time flex in work place with aim of helping the employees to balance their social and work life. Earnest and Young company has made full use of this flexibility. This has benefited both the management and the employees. The management benefits by reduced labor turn over as well as increased job satisfaction which results to increased productivity. The employees especially married women are able top achieve a perfect balance between work and family life. The management has put in place adequate measure to tame inefficiencies which may result from this flexibility.
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