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HR managers

HRM is aimed at aligning the mindset of the workforce with strategic goals of the organization. People that work for a firm, are its most valuable assets. Management needs to ensure they have the right people; and then retain them through rewards and motivation. In a dynamic work environment HR managers also have to deal with issues that may emerge from interaction between people, or employees’ personal lives. Besides managing the people, HRM also entails verification of documents and background checks on fresh recruits. Through this course, I have learned about the factors affecting, and the activities entailed in human resource management.

Both internal and external environmental forces affect human resource management. Internal factors can include the relations between employees of a company, the workspace conditions and compensation offered to employees, etc. The external factors include issues like legal requirements, social standards and policies of competing firms and institutions. For instance, by writing a reaction paper about a website I had visited, I became aware of a vital external factor many HR managers have to deal with; working with unions. Unions often negotiate collectively for many employees and they can command a lot of authority.

HR managers must foster a friendly interaction with them, carrying a balance between the demands of employees and the company’s vision and strategic goals. The legal environment and competitive forces in the market are also important external factors. As an example, consider if a company is about to lay-off some unionized employees; they cannot simply remove the least efficient ones. Many unions enforce seniority rules which mean that those employees that have worked longer for the company have better chances of being retained.

In the internal environment, there are some issues such as sexual harassment and workplace bullying. The ‘Gay Witch Hunt’episode from ‘The Office’ highlighted some such issues: the video points out that poor communication between management and employees encourage workplace bullying. Managers have to interact with employees to keep them aware of moral and ethical standards for the work environment. This way they can control unwarranted incidents. In some cases, the law contains specific directives for companies to implement.

In other situations, like dealing with poor employee morale; HR managers have to come up with ways innovative solutions best suited for their firm. In fact, they may even have to derive their own ways of assessing morale and fatigue among the work force. The hiring of new employees is a crucial step in achieving the strategic goals of HRM for any company. HR has to implement a hiring strategy that can gauge applicants functions aligned with this long-tem vision. The text identifies specific steps for recruitment and selection of employees.

The basic process is comprised of the following steps: job analysis, selecting a test, administering the test, relating test scores and criteria and cross validation. During the process of recruitment and selection, HR must communicate with departments that will receive new workers so that their requirements can be fulfilled adequately. Background checks of applicants and verification of the recommendations and documents that they submit are also indispensable functions of HR. The importance of HRM in finding the right person for each job was highlighted through another class project.

As part of one of the assignments, I observed a front desk clerk at a local hotel. By reviewing his job duties, I learnt that every job requires a unique set of skills. HR managers have to ascertain that they screen candidates according to skills relevant to the vacant position. They have to understand the job requirements intimated to them by the department that is looking to recruit. Once again, communication is the key. Human resource managers have to comply with Employment laws such as Age discrimination Act, Americans with disabilities Act, etc during the hiring process also.

Equal Opportunity laws exist in all states broadly based on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Contractors particularly those working with government institutions have been mandated to implement affirmative action plans to boost participation of minorities and women in the workforce. HR managers have to make sure that they do not violate such laws. This can mean that some information cannot be obtained from applicants. Similarly they cannot be removed from employment based on gender, sex or race, etc. To help companies stream line the recruitment process they may use standardized tests and structured interviews.

By watching the TV show, “The Apprentice”, I learned about the use of ‘Behavioral Observation Scales’ and ‘Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales’ to evaluate the performance of the participants. Donald Trump judged contestants on various individual and group activities, relative to each other’s performance in that show. While they may work well in some situations, in other cases a more objective technique may work better. HR managers have to figure out what is the best form of evaluation, using appraisal instruments.

In this function, they can be assisted by peer evaluations, recommendations of immediate supervisors and performance-linked rewards. The case study on BMG shed light on the role of HR management as a strategic business partner. Through it we found out that human resource management has to communicate with other departments and be mindful of their requirements. Every HR function from selection and recruitment to appraisals and beyond can only be performed well if the department maintains clear and intimate communication with other departments. HR policies are among the first documents that a new employee receives from the company.

It is the job of human resource managers to induct the company’s ideologies and standards into employees from the time of their initiation into the firm. Through it one learns that human resources departments have to liaise with other departments continuously to stay in touch with the requirements of these parts of the company. HR managers also facilitate employees to help them increase their motivation and hence, efficiency. Differential treatment of employees based on race, gender and sexual orientation has attracted a lot of well-deserved criticism in past decades.

In today’s environment, companies have to adhere to strict principles in their HR policies. They also have to bear records of decisions relating to appraisals, promotions and lay-offs. HR managers have to assure they conduct their activities according to laws and company procedure. In many cases keeping such records is either legally decreed or advisable. In one of the article reviews, I learnt about wage discrimination against women and how it may be eliminated. It revealed that on average, women are paid $10,622 less than male counterparts in similar jobs.

Such high disparities are also seen among comparison of wages for White males to Black or Hispanic males. High compensations awarded to top level management and CEO’s are another hot issue that many companies have faced censure for. Multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses to senior management have earned public dissent as many companies have been left on the verge of bankruptcy by the economic recession. As legislators mull over steps like salary caps, public companies have to justify their compensation plans for highly-paid senior managers. As highlighted in chapter 6 of the text, salaries of corporate CEO’s have already been slashed.

HR managers in other sectors have to take lead before similar legislations are forced on them as well. But as they limit the compensation offered for top slots in management, they risk losing some of their most valued personnel to competitors. One of the biggest challenges facing firms today is the retention of best performers while implementing austerity measures. At the same time, many companies have also found innovative alternatives to lay-offs and down-sizing. Introducing flexible work hours and part-time employment from some companies are good examples of HR managers taking initiative in a time of crisis.

Many firms are now letting employees work fewer hours that they can pick from a flexible schedule, instead of laying them off. In the current environment, maintaining diversity, maximizing productivity and adequate training for employees remain important issues. The global economic recession has limited many firms’ ability to offer outstanding monetary benefits to employees. Given these conditions, those HR managers will succeed that are able to implement alternate strategies to employ efficient levels of workers while maintaining motivation levels of workers. This course helped improve my awareness of these issues.

It also made me aware of specific strategies and procedures, companies can implement to deal with these issues. Discussions and watching videos were interesting and engaging activities that encouraged interaction among students. These activities helped provide practical, real-world examples of some of the most pressing HR issues in the working environment today. The materials used in the course and the structure of the class improved my understanding of HRM as a strategic tool for a firm and better equipped me for pursuing more information in specific HR-related issues such as employment laws and current trends in the market.

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