In spite of the modifications within the micro and macro environments, the number one goal of economic agents remains that of registering profits. Still, they now do this by placing a significantly greater emphasis on the needs of the various stakeholder categories. Companies for instance strive to increase their revenues by satisfying the needs of customers or by generating value to the entire public, or to the community in which they operate.
Incremental emphasis has also been placed on the creation of a pleasant and dynamic working environment, in which the staff members can develop both professionally as well as socially. The aim is that of satisfying and stimulating the employees to become more loyal and committed to the organization, and as such increase their efforts to supporting the company reach its overall goals. All the strategies implemented in this direction are organized under the generic name of (HRM).
It has to be noted that the principles behind HRM practices and policies stand as true and valuable lessons for activities outside the actual treatment of the staff members. An example of the external utility of human resource management is their applicability within the organization of events. For exemplification, one should consider the necessity to organize and manage a community festival. HRM elements to be considered in the management of the festival include the recruitment and retention of the necessary personnel, the open communications, the people skills, the ability to resolve conflict, the ability to form and manage a diverse workforce, that of ending partner collaborations and so on.
2. Human Resource Management
Before launching a more intense discussion of the applicability of HRM within the events industry, it is necessary to offer a clearer explanation of the concept of human resource management. The lines below provide two of the most popular definitions of HRM:
Human resource management is a distinctive approach to employment management which seeks to achieve competitive advantage through the strategic deployment of a highly committed and capable workforce, using an integrated array of cultural, structural and personnel techniques (Storey, 1995, quoted by Brewster and Larsen, 2000, p.6)
HRM includes anything and everything associated with the management of employment relationships in the firm. We do not associate HRM solely with a high-commitment model of labor management or with any particular ideology or style of management (Boxall and Purcell, 2000, quoted by Redman and Wilkinson, 2006, p.7)
Human resource management is then the totality of policies, decisions and actions taken relative to employees, from the time the company decides they need new staff members, up to the point when the employee leaves the organization. The tasks and responsibilities of a human resource manager are wide and complex, including the selection and recruitment of new candidates, culminating with the hiring of the new employees. Within the organizational context, the HRM department is in charge of establishing and communicating the working tasks to the employee, and then conducting evaluations. The HRM team will also help the employee develop professionally by creating a professional path agenda. The will also identify and strive to implement employee incentives and remuneration packages — in most cases, the final decision falls in the hands of the company executives, but the HRM department is the most important advisor. Upon the departure of the employee, the HRM specialist will conduct interviews and identify the reasons for the employee’s departure, with the specified intent of improving the company’s future relationships with the employees.
3. Events Management
An event is generically understood as a social gathering to which numerous people participate, and at which they are joined together by a common purpose, such as the gathering of money for a given cause, the celebration of a certain happening, the viewing of arts collections and so on. Since it implies the participation of numerous individuals, the management of events is often a complex and challenging task.
The management of an event has evolved through time from a point at which a social gathering would be organized at a small scale by the number one interested party, to a point in which there are specialized events management organizations that come in and handle every aspect of the wedding, the political debate, the art gallery viewing or the charity event. What should be noted is that each event is unique and that great attention has to be given to the specific details.
Despite the recognition of the increase in the size of the events market, the determination of the actual market size is difficult to obtain. Still, an event is often observed and rated based on five criteria — the number of visitors, the amounts of money the visitors spent, the activity and participation of the visitors, the effectiveness of the advertising campaign and finally, the satisfaction of the visitors (Shone and Parry, 2004).
Planning and administrating a business, political or social event requires several gradual steps. At a primordial stage, it is necessary for the event manager to test the idea of the event and establish its feasibility. It is also essential at this stage to identify the scope of the event; similar to the general business climate, the goals established have to be SMART — specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time framed (Acuff and Wood, 2004).
Then, it is necessary for the target audience to be identified and the strategy for their attraction to be set in place. Third, the events coordinator will have to pay attention to the planning elements, such as the food, the music, the participants and so on. Fourth, the events manager will have to set a budget for the event; in most cases, the budget is already set and the task of the coordinator is that of organizing the event within the given financial constraints. Fifth, the event manager will have to attend to the logistics aspect of the gathering, by which he would ensure that the participants and the other parties involved are able to reach the location, can easily park their vehicles in the vicinity of the location and so on.
Another aspect is that of maintaining constant communications with the public. The main scope of this desiderate is that of appealing to and attracting the target audience. Yet, it also serves other purposes, such as enhancing the public perception of the company organizing the event or inducing a general atmosphere intended by the event. The manager will also have to consider all the legal aspects related to the event, as well as any potential liabilities.
The event coordinator will also have to ensure the sufficiency of staff. As the event comes to an end, he will have to maintain communications with the parties involved and with the participants and retrieve feedback, all with the purpose of conducting evaluations (Shone and Parry).
4. HRM Applied to Events Management
As it can easily be observed from the previous section, the planning of events requires the implementation of managerial practices derived from marketing management, financial management, administrative management, legal management and human resource management. At this stage of the report, the aim is that of revealing the HRM policies which find applications in the organization of events. For purposes of clarity and exemplification, the event will be considered that of a community celebration, such as the date a city was founded, following an old tradition. The human resource elements required in the planning of the event are pinpointed below:
identification of staffing needs recruitment, selection and hiring training motivation and retention conflict management communications diversity
4.1. Staffing needs
Staffing is generally understood as the human resource management activity of “obtaining people with appropriate skills, abilities, knowledge and experience to fill in the work organization. Pertinent practices are human resource planning, job analysis, recruitment and selection” (Bratton and Gold, 2001, p.15). The first thing on the agenda is then that of identifying the needs for staff. In a context of a community celebration to which an estimated 20,000 participate, there should be an average of 900 staff members to attend to these visitors.
It is then necessary to divide the work which has to be performed. The event manager identifies the following categories of positions which need to be filled in — chefs and cooking assistants (the city hall offers traditional food to all participants to the event); “sales” assistants (these are virtually the people serving the food to the participants); security agents to ensure that the event plays out in a peaceful manner; entertainers, such as mimes, dancers or singers (the organizer should also make sure to include any local celebrity); administrative staff (to welcome and accommodate the celebrities or to set the stages); cleaning crews and others (such as make up artists for the people taking the stage or sound specialists).
For cooking, there should be 200 people; another 100 should be appointed as “sales” assistants. The number of security agents should be of 120. The number of entertainers varies based on the formation, such as individual singer or band; it is estimated that a total of 100 people would be hired to provide entertainment throughout the duration of the three days festivities. Another 110 individuals would be necessary in administrative positions; 120 people in the cleaning crews and the rest of 150 should occupy diverse positions.
4.2. Recruitment, selection and hiring
Once the event coordinator has identified the staffing need, he moves on to recruiting and selecting the individuals to occupy the available positions. Recruitment and selection is generically “concerned with any means available to meet the needs of the firm for certain skills and behaviors” (Armstrong, 2000, p.201). What these processes generally do it to attract prospective employees and determine which of the candidates are best suited for the available positions. It is imperative that the processes of recruitment and selection be efficient, effective and fair (ACAS). As the best candidates are identified, the human resource manager, after an understanding with the executives, makes an employment offer to the individual. This employment offer will not only include the specification of the salary, but also that of premiums, bonuses, salary renegotiations and so on.
Following the example of the community celebration, the event manager has to find means of attracting prospective employees (the word employees is hereby used as a convention and refers to the 900 individuals required in the organization of the festivities). There are several means in which the planner can attract candidates to the positions. He can for instance use word of mouth, by which he tells his acquaintances that he needs people to fill in positions and asks them to refer the jobs to interested individuals; this method has the advantage that the acquaintances will generally recommend reliable and capable individuals. Other means of securing candidates are those of advertising in the local media, on the internet or at the local employment agency (Arthur, 2001).
The candidates who contract the event planner have to be interviewed and the manager is placed in a situation of identifying the most suitable candidates. Given the complexity of the community celebration, it is generally required of the candidates to have expertise within the job for which they apply and to be team players. It is crucial to hire people with these skills in order to maintain a positive and productive working atmosphere. As the event coordinator, or his delegate/s in charge of staffing, identifies suitable candidates, he makes an offer of financial (and non-financial) rewards. If the candidate is satisfied with the offer, then the parties sign a contract and the individual is hired for the position (Yate, 1993).
In most companies conducting business activities, training has become part of the business model. Its purpose is that of preparing highly skilled staff members to complete their professional tasks in the best possible circumstances, generally with time and cost efficiency. Yet, training also serves the purpose of increasing the morale of the employees, who feel better valued by the entity, and who also have more confidence in the future professional formation, as they are able to acquire new skills (Machin and Wilkinson, 1995).
Within the community celebration, training sessions are less common than within the business community. Still, they occur and can be explained once again by the complexities of the event. In this order of ideas, the event gathers 20,000 visitors, meaning that it will be extremely crowded and demanding. The people serving the food will have to be quick and expeditious, on top of the original necessity of being good at their job and polite to the “customer.” Then, the administrative staff handles celebrities, which might issues special demands, meaning then that the staff has to be able to handle these chores, as well as cope with the mental pressures.
The training sessions for the staff working at the community festival are shorter and less punctual in comparison to the training sessions offered by economic agents. Yet, they are equally necessary and useful. They could be organized for the duration of a couple of hours, often a couple of days before the actual event.
4.4. Motivation and retention
Similar to the training sessions, the motivation and retention of the staff is less important at the festival in comparison to a business climate. Yet, it is still crucial to the success of the event. Motivation specifically refers to the offering of several financial and non-financial incentives that satisfy the staff and motivate his presence in the company and his hard work and support to the overall organizational goals. The human resource theory argues that each individual is driven by individual needs and that the company should strive to satisfy these needs (Weiner, 1992). Generally, if the employer is able to satisfy the employees’ needs and wants through motivation strategies, then the employer should also be able to retain the employees and avoid the costs that come from large employee turnover rates.
In the context of the community celebration, the motivation of the staff commences with the very recruitment practices. The means used by the planner to attract the staff should by themselves present the individual with the ability to be part of a great event, part of a team, earn money and live a unique experience. Then, once the candidate becomes interested, the planner ought to continue his motivation strategy by making the candidate feel part of the event’s community. As a parenthesis, the culture of the community is essential to motivating the staff.
It is important for the planner to emphasize on the remuneration offered to the prospective staff member. He should reveal both the financial as well as non-financial gains. If the employee should work in the kitchen, he would be allowed to take home some leftover foods. If he should work as a sound engineer, he would be presented with the opportunity of meeting a . The fair treatment of the employees, combined with the ability to deliver on the promises made during the recruitment process, will ensure the satisfaction, motivation and retention of the staff, and will even guarantee the success of future events.
4.5. Conflict resolution
Invariable, whenever there are people, conflicts arise. Within the organizational context, the resolution of conflicts often falls in the responsibilities of the human resource management department. A conflict in the workplace may occur due to professional reasons or due to personal reasons. Elements which foster a conflicting climate include lack of communication, frustrations related to insufficient resources (capitals, commodities, personnel or technologies) or problems and inconsistencies within the leadership act.
The primary approach to conflict is that of creating an environment which does not foster disagreements, but one which promotes communications and open dialogue. Yet, since conflicts will arise, ways of dealing with them have been identified. Five of these methods are: avoiding the conflict, accommodating the conflict, promoting the conflict as a source of competition, promoting compromises, and finally, promoting collaboration between parties (McNamara).
Given that conflicts between the staff members arise throughout the duration of the community festivity, the event manager should first assess the gravity of the situation. If it proves out to be a simple quarrel, he should ignore it. If on the other hand the conflict seems more severe and even stands chances to negatively impact the event, the manager should play the role of arbitrator between the parties. The role of the arbitrator is similar to that of the mediator, with the specification that the decision made by the arbitrator is binding, whereas the decision made by the mediator is treated as a suggestion and is not as such binding (, Kolkey and Chernick, 2007).
Effective communications are pivotal for the success of any social or business endeavor. Within the context of human resources however, it can be perceived as the utmost important element. Communications set the basis for the relationship between employer and employees, as well as among employees themselves. The approach each managerial team takes in relationship to this dimension of human resource management varies based on the unique features of the managerial team, the workforce, the nature of the operation conducted and so on. What is however constant is the presence of communications; throughout the past recent years, a trend has been set in the direction of direct communications (Brunstein, 1995).
This type of communications sees that the executive leaders address the staff members directly, reducing as such the gap between the workers and the executives and bridging a more trustworthy relationship. Due to these benefits then, it is advisable for the event manager to communicate with the staff members through direct interactions, rather than delegates, as often as possible.
Another element that should be taken into consideration by the even manager is that of creating an infrastructure that allows communications. This could refer to the event coordinator gathering information on the telephone polls in the vicinity and the signal of the mobile phones, the existence of wireless internet connections at the selected location and so on.
The final HRM dimension used in the organization of events is that of diversity. Diversity is generally understood as a behavior by which one includes and treats equally fair people with various cultural, economic, social, religious, political or otherwise backgrounds. The University of Tennessee (2003) for instance defines diversity as “a commitment to recognizing and appreciating the variety of characteristics that make individuals unique in an atmosphere that promotes and celebrates individual and collective achievement.”
The implementation of diversity principles is crucial even more so in this context of globalization, but its implementation in the workplace can be a challenging task. The culture should be one that values and embraces the diversity of the staff members, and if possible, even capitalizes on it. Within the hospitality industry for instance, most employers hide their culturally diverse personnel in room service or kitchen jobs, but good managers are able to capitalize on the cultural diversity of the staff members by placing them in front key positions so that they are able to interact with culturally diverse customers.
In order to create a pleasant and collaborative working atmosphere at the community celebration, the event manager should emphasize on the fact that cultural, sexual or otherwise discrimination would not be acceptable; he should as such promote equality and fairness towards all staff members. Additionally, he should recognize the differences between individuals and should point out his appreciation of these differences.
The modern day world is marked by several elements of novelty, including the incremental emphasis placed on the organizational staff members, who are no longer perceived as simple workers, but have become the most important organizational asset. The practices of human resource management however find applications outside the original organizational context, with a relevant example in this sense being the administration of events.
The practice of events management encompasses complex tasks, all which are driven from business management. An event planner draws from marketing management, financial management or personnel management. In terms of the HRM policies with applicability within events management, one could easily point out to at least seven ways in which the event manager is inspired in his actions by the policies of human resource management. These seven ways are: the identification of staffing needs; the recruitment, selection and hiring of the personnel members; the training of the staff; the motivation and retention of the employees; the management and resolution of any arising conflicts; the promotion of effective communications and the creation of a working environment which accepts and embraces the cultural diversity of its members.
Each of the above elements are compulsory to the success of any social, political or business endeavor, but are even more so important when people come together united by a common agenda, such as the celebration of the community’s tradition, as has been the example used in this research.
Acuff, J., Wood, W., 2004, The relationship edge in business: connecting with customers and colleagues when it counts, John Wiley and Sons, ISBN 0471477125
Armstrong, M., 2000, Strategic human resource management: a guide to action, 2nd Edition, Kogan Page Publishers, ISBN 0749433310
Arthur, D., 2001, The employee recruitment and retention handbook, AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn, ISBN 0814405525
Bohlander, G.W., Snell, S., 2007, Managing human resources, 14th Edition, Cengage Learning, ISBN 0324314639
Bowdin, G.A.J., Allen, J., O’Toole, W., 2006, Events management, 2nd Edition, Elsevier, ISBN 0750665335
Bratton, J., Gold, J., 2001, Human resource management: theory and practice, 2nd Edition, Routledge, ISBN 0805838627
Brewster, C., Larsen, H.H., 2000, Human resource management in Northern Europe: trends, dilemmas and strategy, Wiley-Blackwell, ISBN 063119715X
Brunstein, I., 1995, Human resource management in western Europe, Walter de Gruyter, ISBN 3110142759
Fine, M., 1980, Cultural diversity in the workplace: the state of the field, Journal of Business Communications, Vol. 33, No. 4
Mabey, C., Skinner, D., Clark, T., 1998, Experiencing human resource management, SAGE, ISBN 0761951172
Machin, S., Wilkinson, D., 1995, Employee training: unequal access and economic performance, Institute for Public Research, ISBN 1860300162
McNamara, C., Clarifying confusion about conflict, Management Help, http://managementhelp.org/intrpsnl/basics.htm last accessed on January 27, 2010
Prince, A., 2007, Human resource management in a business context, 3rd Edition, Cengage Learning EMEA, ISBN 1844805484
Redman, T., Wilkinson, A., 2006, Contemporary human resource management: text and cases, 2nd Edition, Pearson Education, ISBN 0273686631
Shone, A., Perry, B., 2004, Successful event management: a practical guidebook, 2nd Edition, Cengage Learning EMEA, ISBN 1844800768
Von Thulen Rhoades, R., Kolkey, D.M., Chernick, R., 2007, The practitioner’s handbook on international arbitration and mediation, 2nd Edition, Juris Publishing Inc., ISBN 1933833033
Weiner, B., 1992, Human motivation: metaphors, theories and research, 2nd Edition, SAGE, ISBN 0761904913
Yate, M.J., 1993, Hiring the best: a manager’s guide to effective interviewing, Adams Media, ISBN 1558502823
2003, What is diversity? The University of Tennessee, http://www.lib.utk.edu/diversity/diversity_definition.html last accessed on January 27, 2010
ACAS, http://www.acas.org.uk last accessed on January 27, 2010