: Discussion

Human Resource Management: A Concise Definition

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It is important to note from the onset that human resource management (HRM) does not have an assigned definition. This essentially means that in the past, numerous authors and management experts have offered a variety of definitions with regard to HRM in an attempt to solve the ambiguity that has surrounded the said definition over time. Indeed, as Blyton and Turnbull (as cited in Collings and Wood, 2009) point out, the ways in which practitioners and academics have used the term “indicates both variations in meaning and significantly different emphases on what constitutes its core components” (p. 1). In seeking to wholly define HRM, I will take into consideration a number of definitions that have been floated in the past.

To begin with, HRM according to Beer et al., (as cited in Price, 2011) “involves all management decisions that affect the relationship between the organization and employees — its human resources” (p. 27). In this case, human resources in the opinion of the author is an umbrella term for all those who work in a given organization. On the other hand, HRM in the opinion of the American Management Association (as cited in Price, 2011) can still be defined as “the organizational function accountable for obtaining and maintaining qualified employees” (p. 27). As per this definition, HRM is synonymous with personnel management. As an organizational function, HRM may therefore be concerned with activities such as the procurement, compensation as well as development of employees.

Next, we have yet another meaningful definition to human resource management as proposed by Cascio. According to Cascio (as cited in Price, 2011) HRM is essentially “the attraction, selection, retention, development and use of human resources in order to achieve both individual and organizational objectives” (p. 27). This is the definition of HRM that will be adopted in this discussion.

The Primary Functions of Human Resource Management

functions could either be primary or secondary. In this section, I will concern myself with the primary functions of HRM which in the words of Sims (2007) include “human resource planning, equal employment opportunity, staffing (recruitment and selection), compensation and benefits, employee (labor) relations, health, safety, and security, and human resource development” (p. 321).

To begin with, when it comes to human resource planning, it is important to note that organizations must plan for not only the present but also the future especially with regard to the demand and supply of human resources. As Werner and DeSimone (2011) point out, HR planning activities come in handy in the prediction of how human resource needs could be affected by changes in management strategy.

Next, we have equal employment opportunity which as a primary function of HRM concerns itself with the various responsibilities an organization has as far as the enhancement of fair and just procedures as well as policies relating to compensation, appraisal, and hiring is concerned. According to Werner and DeSimone (2011), an organization has a number of moral and legal responsibilities it must adhere to and it is for this reason that it must ensure that it does not engage in discriminatory hiring, training, or even compensation practices.

Third, staffing (recruitment and selection) has got to do with not only the identification but also the assessment and evaluation of potential employees for both existing and future job openings. Recruitment and selection according to Werner and DeSimone (2011) is the basis for selection and placement decisions.

Compensation and benefits as yet another HRM function is concerned with the establishment as well as development of a wage structure and benefits package that can be regarded equitable (Werner and DeSimone, 2011). To spur optimal performance, an organization must amongst other things ensure that the compensation package it offers its employees is competitive. Employee (labor) relations activities on the other hand in the words of Werner and DeSimone (2011), “include developing a communications system through which employees can address their problems and grievances” (p. 9). Key issues in this case according to the author are contract negotiations and enhancement of relations with the relevant labor unions.

The last two primary functions of HRM are health, safety, and security and human resource development. While health, safety, and security has got to do with all those activities that are critical in the promotion of a healthy and safe environment at the workplace, human resource development essentially deals with the enhancement of the competence and skills of workers in an attempt to equip them with the relevant skills required to handle various job demands both in the present and in future (Werner and DeSimone, 2011).

The Contribution of Human Resource Management to an Organization’s Strategic Plan

One of the ways in which HRM can directly contribute to the strategic plan of an organization is via selection and staffing. It is important to note that the successful implementation of a plan depends on the skill of those charged with the said implementation. Human resource management comes in handy in the hiring of competent and qualified individuals.

Next, it should also be noted that to succeed in the strategic planning process, organizations must equip their employees with the necessary skills and capabilities. It is the human resource department that is usually charged with training and development.

Third, HRM also plays a critical role in both the execution and monitoring of strategic plans. In addition to ensuring that it identifies and coordinates the activities of various departments involved in the execution of organizational goals and objectives, HRM also helps monitor the progress of key goals so as to ensure that they are aligned with the representations and projections of the management. Deviations can hence be remedied in a timely manner.

Human resource management can also help in the determination of the applicability and practicability of a strategic plan. This it could do by amongst other things taking into consideration skill availability, market conditions, budget constraints, etc.

Human resource management could also come in handy in the conduction of impact assessments. For instance, when an organization comes up with a strategic plan, it could rope in the human resource department to determine the impact the implementation of such a plan could have on different departments, organizational structure, cost forecasts, etc.


Collings, D.G. & Wood, G. (Eds.). (2009). : A Critical Approach. New York, NY: Routledge

Price, A. (2011). Human Resource Management (4th ed.). Hampshire: Cengage Learning.

Sims, R.R. (Ed.). (2007). Human Resource Management: Contemporary Issues, Challenges, and Opportunities. Charlotte, NC: IAP.

Werner, J.M. & DeSimone, R.L. (2011). (6th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.