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Human resource refers to the labour force of an organization. The appendage “human,” is used to differentiate this resource from other kinds of resources in an organization. In addition, the word is used as an aesthetic reference to an organization’s workforce. Human resource management (HRM) is a relatively new concept of managing a company’s workforce to ensure maximum production. Moreover, this new form of labour management is designed to alleviate conflicts between the workers and the management of a company. Furthermore, this department ensures that the welfare of the company’s labour force is appropriately catered for. The HRM department is independent of, but has a close relationship with the central management. Since the managers of a company are part of the company’s labour force, the welfare of the management staff also falls under the HRM department. In small organizations, the human resource management department consists of a few staff members who may include a specialized manager supported by an assistant and a few subordinate staff members. In large organizations, the department may be a large entity with an intricate working framework. HRM represents a new paradigm of management that contrasts the traditional concept that propagates autocratic managerial skills (Ferris 1995, P.164).The emergence of the HRM has metamorphosed the working environment to a situation where the employee does not view the environment that he or she operates in as a creation of circumstances. HRM gives an employee the feeling the he or she is part of the company and not one of the company’s accessories.
HRM is a new field that merges the business aspects of management with academic knowledge to produce an appropriate authority in matters of labour management. In previous forms of management, the line managers, who were responsible for the management of workers’ affairs, although experts in their respective disciplines, they were not equipped with knowledge to specifically deal with labour issues. These managers focused more on the adherence of procedures by the workers rather than their productivity. Today’s HRM majors on the improvement of workers to ensure that there is maximum performance. Furthermore, HRM makes sure that the ethical issues of labour management are regarded with significance. HRM differs from classical management systems in that an employee is allowed to influence the manner in which his or her duty is executed. In addition, the HRM department has manifested the ability of employees to perform their duties under minimal supervision. In this regard, the feeling that the employee has to attain a certain level of personal contribution to the total production is eliminated (Bratton & Gold 2000, P.6).
The HRM paradigm of management of labour force was developed because of increasing conflicts between employees and organizations’ management. In addition, the gap that existed between the management and the labour force, and communication breakdown, adversely affected companys’ staff. Prior to the establishment of this mode of management, business enterprises and organizations relied on departmental management to deal with workers’ affairs. With time, companies started specializing and the management of individual departments started focusing on their field of operation. Because of numerous commitments, a overall management body could not have enough management personnel and the required time to deal with the labour force welfare issues. This disparity necessitated the formation of a human resource department in order to address workers problems sufficiently (Bratton & Gold 2000, P.12). The new HRM department would specialize in monitoring the efficiency of the labour force and ensuring favorable working conditions for workers (Bratton & Gold 2000, P.17).
A detached HRM department differs with the classical management system in which the workers welfare used to be handled by departmental management. A direct supervisor of a worker would ensure that the worker attended his or her duties properly and undertook any corrective measures if any were required. In addition, the departmental management was more inclined to controlling the workers’ actions rather than ensuring that the worker was operating in a favorable working environment necessary for good performance. Although the HRM department undertakes the duty of instituting disciplinary procedures against the workers underperform under fair working conditions, the department does not take the extreme measures common with the executive line managers. The HRM takes the initiative to investigate and identify the underlying cause in every labour problem (Ferris et al 1995, P.20). The bureaucratic nature of management hindered the establishment of a direct relationship between the worker and the management. Alternatively, workers would form a workers union, which would represent them in all forums with the management. The workers union would maintain an aggressive relationship with the organization’s management.
Several models of HRM have been developed since the inception of the theory into the business world. One model is designed to match with organizations’ management. Consequently, it is called the matching model of human resource management. This model assigns the available jobs to the labour force in order of the relevance of the personnel concerning the task to be tackled. Matching is done such that the available workforce is utilized to its maximum capacity. This model emphasizes that the human resource must not be in excess to avoid unnecessary expenses on labour. Another model suggests that the human resource is the basic component of any organization, and thus must be recruited as long as the personnel being recruited are competent. In this case, the human resource is considered a prime capital of the organization. The acquiring of capital and nurturing of individuals to fit their respective roles is considered the prime priority of the human resource department. HRM is used to gauge people’s performance and act accordingly to either correct their course of action or motivate them when their efforts are focused on realizing the organization’s objectives (Blyton & Turnbull 2000, P.96). In addition, this model seeks to enhance the management’s knowledge through learning. Another variation of human resource management postulates that the labour force is the key asset through which an organization achieves its goals and therefore should be managed and organized in such a way as to benefit the organization. In this regard, the organization is the first priority when considering any issue. Furthermore, the human resource is regarded as a means of achieving organizational goals. An objecting theory is that the labour force should be treated as the most important feature of an organization and the objective of the organization should be aimed at improving the welfare of the workers. Moreover, the labour force is considered the chief beneficiary of an organization’s prosperity.
Major changes accompanied the establishment of the HRM mode of management of the labour force. These changes minimized conflicts between the employer and the employees. An effective HRM management is the key to a company’s good performance. One of the functions of the HRM department is the performance appraisal of the labour force.
A company’s departmental management best assesses the worker’s performance. The departmental management possesses the most reliable information regarding workers’ performance. To get accurate information on all workers, the HRM department has to liaise with other departments to obtain details of the labour force performance and conduct (Bratton & Gold 1995, P.20). Appraisals are then awarded according to the workers’ assessed performance. Appraisals could be in form of a salary increase or a promotion for a highly productive worker. One special characteristic of the human resource management department is that a horizontal relationship exists between the department and all the workers in a company. The human resource department handles all worker issues including those of the managerial staff.
If a company is to increase salaries or wages, the human resource management assesses the workers’ data and decides on the amount that each worker is supposed to be paid. The HRM department forwards the report created from the analysis to the executive management and finance department. All departments then sit in a forum to decide whether the proposed plan is viable, failure to which the report has to be revised. Furthermore, the HRM department ensures standardized remuneration of a company’s workers. A uniform appraisal for the company’s workers is possible. Moreover, the fair treatment of the labour force across all departments boosts workers’ morale unlike the management practices that were used before the advent of the human resource (Mathis & Jackson 2000, P.459).
Another function of the human resource department is to recruit new labour force. Recruitment of labour is a task that needs professional knowledge of the qualities required for a productive worker. The human resource management analyzes the need for more labour in every department and decides whether to recruit more workers or not. The department then announces an interview, which it later conducts in conjunction with other relevant personnel. The recruitment process must be geared towards the organization’s goals. The human resource management recruits all personnel from the lowest rank to the highest level.
This new paradigm emerged to bridge the gap between the management and the workforce. HRM differs from the classical kind of management because it has been established to be a committed model. The commitment referred to in this model is the perception of concerned about the workers’ welfare. In this regard, the company sets up a human resource department to specifically deal with workers’ issues. While the line managers concentrate on the maintenance of a company’s tradition, the new HRM focuses on achieving the company’s goals. Commitment policy instills a feeling of a company that the employee is supposed to be committed to in his or her undertakings. Moreover, there should be willingness in the employee’s attitude to work towards achieving the company’s goals (Bratton & Gold 1995, P.7).
Prior to the emergence of the HRM policies of labour management, the usual procedure of communication between the employee and the employer was through the workers union. Pressing issues among the employees were relayed to the union, which would in turn relay them to the management. The union officials in an effort to fulfill the employee’s wishes would take a hard stance in any form of negotiation with the management. The result would be a conflict in which one of the parties often resolved to take extremely radical action. A long standing face off would culminate either into an industrial action or the firing of some workers by the organization. This kind of action would demoralize the employees leading to long-term adverse effects regarding the organization’s operations. The advent of HRM has countered the effects of conflicts between the workers and the employer. An appropriate forum for the representation of employees’ issues has been created by the HRM. The HRM strategy has little bureaucracy in it and does not have a strict reporting procedure (Armstrong 1999, P.20). Workers can therefore present their issues directly to the HRM department without having to follow tedious bureaucratic procedures. In this way, the constant conflicts between a company’s management and its workforce are significantly reduced. The workforce is contented that the management has a direct forum of addressing their issues.
HRM supplements and supports the company’s management by recruiting, training and organizing the labour force to suit the company’s goals. In addition, the HRM advises the management on the most appropriate labour policy concerning achieving the company’s goals. For a business enterprise to make a positive step toward the achievement of its goals, the contribution of the HRM is significantly important and must therefore be considered. The initial plan must include the HRM department’s opinions since it control the most important resource of an organization. Moreover, the HRM must be involved so that the management and the HRM department can agree on a harmonious labour policy to employ while implementing the company’s goals (Armstrong 1999, P.22). Failure to include the HRM department in planning the company’s course of operation would cause a slowdown of the business operations and bring a discord between the employees and the management.
Recently, most companies have embarked on a radical reform in business organization. Most enterprises assess their production lines and determine the line with the highest output. The lines that have loss making operations are halted and their activities may be ceased immediately. Those lines with lucrative operations receive more input from the company’s management so that they can perform even better. This kind of organization is called differentiation. When the company’s lines of business operations are differentiated, the company’s central management cannot relate the problems of employees working in different sectors. The human resource management helps by making sure that employees in different working conditions are treated in a manner that reflects their position and circumstances. Employees working in different sectors whereby one works in the finance department and the other in the manufacturing plant’s production line will have different environments and working conditions (Schuler & Jackson 2007, P.26). While the central management will regard the employees as accessories to the organization who should meet certain standard of performance, the HRM will consider the employees’ working condition and circumstances when evaluating performance and appraisal.
A budget is one of the most important aspects of the business organization’s plan. Employees are a major part of the budget for most of the labour intensive business setups. For a viable budget projection to be realized, a company must involve the human resource management department. The human resource department gives an accurate projection of the company’s labour force needs for the succeeding fiscal period. Furthermore, only the human resource department can accurately estimate the future need for labour and its projected cost. Moreover, the human resource department does the appraisals of company employees. The larger part of the appraisal plan involves financial commitment which has to be evaluated and presented to the management when a budget projection is being drawn (2002, P.25). This contribution of the human resource department to the budget alleviates unexpected labour needs and appraisals that lead to unplanned spending of the company’s finances.The human resource department also helps prevent the company’s financial department from supporting employees unnecessarily thus ensuring minimal labour costs and reduced overall operating costs of an organization (Sims 2002, P.27).
The human resource management has also brought significant changes in the academic front. The new form of labour management comes with a gender sensitive policy. In addition, a new discipline that specifically deals with the administration of labour issues has been established and students are acquiring this new form of knowledge to provide guidance in the management of labour force in business enterprises, which are already lagging behind in terms growth because of archaic ways of management.