Organizational effectiveness depends on having the right people in the right jobs at the right time to meet rapidly changing organizational requirements. Right people can be obtained by performing the role of Human Resource (HR) function. Below is an outline and explanation of how to assess the HR functions of an organization by using HR activities in an architectural firm as an example. Human resource management (HRM), as defined by Bratton, J. & Gold, J. (2003), is
“A strategic approach to managing employment relations which emphasizes that leveraging people’s capabilities is critical to achieving sustainable competitive advantage, this being achieved through a distinctive set of integrated employment policies, programmes and practices.”
According to this definition, we can see that human resource management should not merely handle recruitment, pay, and discharging, but also should maximize the use of an organization’s human resources in a more strategic level. To describe what the HRM does in the organization, Ulrich, D. & Brocklebank, W. (2005) have outlined some of the HRM roles such as employee advocate, human capital developer, functional expert, strategic partner and HR leader etc.
An important aspect of an organization’s business focus and direction towards achieving high levels of competency and competitiveness would depend very much upon their human resource management practices to contribute effectively towards profitability, quality, and other goals in line with the mission and vision of the company.
Staffing, training, compensation and performance management are basically important tools in the human resources practices that shape the organization’s role in satisfying the needs of its stakeholders. Stakeholders of an organization comprise mainly of stockholders who will want to reap on their investments, customers whose wants and desires for high quality products or services are met, employees who want their jobs in the organization to be interesting with reasonable compensation and reward system and lastly, the community who would want the company to contribute and participate in activities and projects relating to the environmental issues. Common rules and procedures of human resource management must be adhered to by the organization which forms basic guidelines on its practices. Teamwork among lower levels of staff and the management should be created and maintained to assist in various angles that would deem necessary in eliminating communication breakdowns and foster better relationship among workers. The management should emphasize on good corporate culture in order to develop employees and create a positive and conducive work environment
Performance appraisal (PA) is one of the important components in the rational and systemic process of human resource management. The information obtained through performance appraisal provides foundations for recruiting and selecting new hires, training and development of existing staff, and motivating and maintaining a quality work force by adequately and properly rewarding their performance. Without a reliable performance appraisal system, a human resource management system falls apart, resulting in the total waste of the valuable human assets a company has.
There are two primary purposes of performance appraisal: evaluative and developmental. The evaluative purpose is intended to inform people of their performance standing. The collected performance data are frequently used to reward high performance and to punish poor performance. The developmental purpose is intended to identify problems in employees performing the assigned task. The collected performance data are used to provide necessary skill training or professional development.
2. Affirmative action has assisted many members of minority groups in creating equal opportunities in education and employment. Who could object to assisting these minorities, who suffered years of discrimination, in getting the equal opportunity they deserve? The problem is, affirmative action promotes racial preferences and quotas which cause mixed emotions. One time supporters of affirmative action are now calling out “reverse discrimination”. If we want a stronger support for affirmative action we need to get rid of the preferential treatments.
The back bone of affirmative action began with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. The amendment abolished slavery and any involuntary labor, is showed there was a calling for equal opportunity for all South Africans.
A comprehensive Human Resource Strategy plays a vital role in the achievement of an organisation’s overall strategic objectives and visibly illustrates that the human resources function fully understands and supports the direction in which the organisation is moving. A comprehensive HR Strategy will also support other specific strategic objectives undertaken by the marketing, financial, operational and technology departments.
In essence, an HR strategy should aim to capture “the people element” of what an organisation is hoping to achieve in the medium to long term, ensuring that:-
o it has the right people in place
o it has the right mix of skills
o employees display the right attitudes and behaviours, and
o employees are developed in the right way.
If, as is sometimes the case, organisation strategies and plans have been developed without any human resource input, the justification for the HR strategy may be more about teasing out the implicit people factors which are inherent in the plans, rather than simply summarising their explicit “people” content.
An HR strategy will add value to the organisation if it:
o articulates more clearly some of the common themes which lie behind the achievement of other plans and strategies, which have not been fully identified before; and
o identifies fundamental underlying issues which must be addressed by any organisation or business if its people are to be motivated, committed and operate effectively.
The first of these areas will entail a careful consideration of existing or developing plans and strategies to identify and draw attention to common themes and implications, which have not been made explicit previously.
The second area should be about identifying which of these plans and strategies are so fundamental that there must be clear plans to address them before the organisation can achieve on any of its goals. These are likely to include:
o workforce planning issues
o succession planning
o workforce skills plans
o employment equity plans
o black economic empowerment initiatives
o motivation and fair treatment issues
o pay levels designed to recruit, retain and motivate people
o the co-ordination of approaches to pay and grading across the organisation to create alignment and potential unequal pay claims
o a grading and remuneration system which is seen as fair and giving proper reward for contributions made
o wider employment issues which impact on staff recruitment, retention, motivation etc.
o a consistent performance management framework which is designed to meet the needs of all sectors of the organisation including its people
o career development frameworks which look at development within the organisation at equipping employees with “employability” so that they can cope with increasingly frequent changes in employer and employment patterns
o policies and frameworks to ensure that people development issues are addressed systematically: competence frameworks, self-managed learning etc.
The HR strategy will need to show that careful planning of the people issues will make it substantially easier for the organisation to achieve its wider strategic and operational goals.
In addition, the HR strategy can add value is by ensuring that, in all its other plans, the organisation takes account of and plans for changes in the wider environment, which are likely to have a major impact on the organisation, such as:
o changes in the overall employment market – demographic or remuneration levels
o cultural changes which will impact on future employment patterns
o changes in the employee relations climate
o changes in the legal framework surrounding employment
o HR and employment practice being developed in other organisations, such as new flexible work practices.
Finding the right opportunity to present a case for developing an HR Strategy is critical to ensuring that there will be support for the initiative, and that its initial value will be recognised by the organisation.
Giving a strong practical slant to the proposed strategy may help gain acceptance for the idea, such as focusing on good management practice. It is also important to build “early or quick wins” into any new strategy.
Other opportunities may present the ideal moment to encourage the development of an HR Strategy:-
o a major new internal initiative could present the right opportunity to push for an accompanying HR strategy, such as a restructuring exercise, a corporate acquisition, joint venture or merger exercise.
o a new externally generated initiative could similarly generate the right climate for a new HR strategy – e.g. Black economic empowerment initiatives.
o In some instances, even negative news may provide the “right moment”, for example, recent industrial action or employee dissatisfaction expressed through a climate survey.