In a firm in the 21st century, it is important to practice strategic human resource management. This is where the personnel activities of an organization are matched to the strategic objectives. There are several main areas where the management can ensure that the personnel activities help the organization to achieve its objectives.
EEO and Affirmative Action
The company should approach the government rules on equal employment opportunities and affirmative action for women strategically. The government prohibits the discrimination of potential employees in the employment process in any organization. One should not miss to be employed or his application to be weighed fairly due to factors such as sex, race, ethnicity, age or disability. Neither should these physical factors be the determinant in considering a staff’s upward mobility (Coate & Loury, 1993). Instead of the firm working hard to ensure they comply with the rules and are not liable for any fines, it should look at the advantages of increasing diversity in the workplace. The world has become a multi-cultural place.
When an organization has people of different races and ethnicities working together, the ideas that are generated are more. The brainstorming sessions are great as people get to see how others view the situation. There is great talent in the company that ensures creativity and innovativeness that helps the firm deal with the turbulent forces in the external economic environment. With such a diverse environment, the staff is also bound to have certain similarities. Many companies now have a diversity steering committee that is charged with ensuring that the management of similarities and differences between employees is being conducted well. It does not cause conflict, alienation and a loss of belongingness. There are even cultural audits that are carried out to ensure all is going well. All staff are also trained on handling cultural and physical diversities. Diversity becomes a source of competitive advantage (
(Wright, Ferris, Hiller & Kroll, 1995).
The organization should have a policy of handling sexual harassment and any other form of discrimination. The employees should know that they have the appropriate channels to forward their complaints. Audits should check that all claims are investigated and the issues are addressed. In such an organizational culture the employees know their interests are protected and they are treasured as employees of the organization.
Compensation and Benefits
Compensation given to employees is one of the biggest motivators in the workplace. An employer should ensure that the salaries of the employees are competitive in the market place. The company should carry out human resource surveys to research on the market rate at different levels of responsibility. A firm that compensates its employees highly sends a message to potential employees in the market place and other organizations that it values its employees (Ivancevich, 2007, p39). It ensures the company records high levels of employee retention and low levels of employee turnover. The company therefore does not lose its best talent to its competitors.
Low compensation and benefits can lead to employee job dissatisfaction which greatly affects productivity. Employees who are not happy tend to record high levels of absenteeism, low morale and conflict incidences that in the end also affect other employees negatively. The employees should feel that they are adequately paid for the work they do. There should be pay for higher levels of productivity. The employees should be able to understand the performance appraisal process. The goals and objectives in the performance appraisal should be realistic and achievable otherwise staff will be frustrated. They should also be challenging in a positive way for the employees otherwise they will be bored.
Compensation is not just about money in terms of wages, commissions, salaries and bonuses alone. Strategic organizations recognize that the employees are motivated by a myriad of factors. According to the Maslow’s needs theory, there are employees who are motivated by fulfillment of higher needs such as feeling of belongingness, safety and security. There are also others who are motivated when they know they will be promoted, recognized and mentioned. There are staffs who want to have a sense of achievement and work that is not challenging will kill their morale. The organization should empower their employees by training and giving them higher levels of responsibilities with minimum supervision. It causes the employees to grow and the organization enjoys the fruits of the dormant talent that was not being utilized (Doughty, 2004).
Human Resources Planning, Recruitment And Selection
The human resource department should be strategic when it comes to the recruitment process. The company should recruit based on its future anticipated needs taking care to also include the external environment demands (Lengnick-Hall, 1988). Recruitment of staff at all positions should be justified. There should be no duplication of effort since staff costs are one of the highest costs for companies in the 21st century. The human resource should have the job description in place which is clear. What will be the roles and responsibilities of the staff? The second crucial question is what skills, experience, abilities and qualifications are requisite for the staff in order to perform the required job? It is costly to employ a person who does not have the basic skills to perform the job and the company incurs more costs in training the staff. The staff will also feel demotivated and frustrated.
The recruitment and selection process is also very important as the company should ensure they select the best interviewee for the job (Becker & Gerhart, 1996).. The human resource staff should be equipped with appropriate interviewing skills. The questions asked should be appropriate and not off-tangent. The interview process should be objective as possible and not subjective to the manager’s likes and dislikes. The costs of recruitment are also high and the company should ensure they select the best in the market.
Human Resources Development
Trainings in the organization should also be organized strategically. The trainings are also costly and therefore should be result-oriented. The marketplace has become a technological driven environment and employees may find themselves having obsolete skills. They therefore need to be taken for training courses. Instead of the organization opting to recruit outside the organization, the management can adopt a policy to train the employees within the organization and promote them. This will work to increase employee morale and loyalty towards the company.
The organization should also investigate to know the reasons for an employee’s non-performance. It could be there is a knowledge or skills gap that needs to be addressed. There are times however that the organization’s demand for productivity will be so high that there will be no time for training for internal employees. At this point the organization will be forced to recruit outside the organization for an employee with the requisite skills and experience.
Safety and Health
In a company where the working conditions are substandard, the staff’s health deteriorates. Their eyesight and hearing may become impaired. Other conditions may develop leading to the staff’s productivity going down. The government has passed regulations to ensure that employees have a safe working environment to work in. Companies should ensure that their employee’s health is protected or they will liable to pay damages and other forms of compensation to the injured staff. There are also the costs of government fines and penalties. The Trade Unions usually negotiate for better working conditions for their members. The company should be proactive and have a health and safety committee that oversees this aspect of human resource management.
When employees see the organization working to ensure better working conditions they feel treasured and valued. It goes to increase loyalty towards the organization. Beyond ensuring compliance to government regulations, the company should have health talks with employees where they are taught and counseled on maintaining healthy lifestyles. Topics such as nutrition, exercise, diets, abstinence from alcohol and smoking should be covered. Companies now have stress management programs where the nature of work tends to be emotionally draining. A strategic firm recognizes human labor is an important asset.
Employee and Labor Relations
The employers should be interested in the labor trade unions rights in the market place. The employees get together under Trade Unions to negotiate for better working conditions and better pay. The Unions have become concerned with the high levels of corporate down-sizing or retrenchments in the 21st century. The employer’s representatives should be equipped with high negotiation skills to have meaningful and productive conversations with the Trade Union’s representative. The employee’s will to work is influenced highly by the Trade Unions (Bhavani & Tamilselvan, 2010). The company does not want the company’s productive time lost through strikes and go- slows. The industrial relationship should therefore not be one of high conflict. As it is a relationship that concerns power, there will always be a certain level of underlying tension but conflict can be controlled.
In applying the human resources practices mentioned the company will have competitive advantage in the market place. It will not be about compliance and avoiding liability but about being proactive and going the extra mile to attract and retain the best talent in the market-place.
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