Human resource management, whether specifically titled or not, has been a part of any organization’s management since groups banded together for specific tasks. Ancient armies, projects, and even educational and religious institutions all had concerns about their ability to bring in the appropriate person for the positions at hand. Formally, Human Resource Management in the contemporary world is both the tactical and strategic manner in which an organization manages the human portion of its resources, both collectively and individually, and how management of those individual resources contributes to the overall positive objects of the business. Over the past few decades, though, and with the advent of increasingly sophisticated technology, Human Resource management has changed from using people to employ people, develop people, and track the utilization and compensation of their services. Instead, a newer system has evolved using computers, database management, and data mining to provide more optimal ways in with the Human Resources department can move to more of a Personnel Department, playing a major role in staffing, training, and helping to manage people within the organization in order to strategically recruit, train, and retain the best people who will work towards the company’s strategic goals. This, in combination with methodologies from various schools of strategic thinking change the paradigm of how Human Resources are perceived within an organization, and how the function of HR fits in with the organization’s overall goals (Swanson & Holton, 2001). This change has been a necessary evolution in order for the process of HR to morph from an administrative to a strategic function. Essentially, Human Resource Management works within a multi-tiered platform, one that takes into account a number of strategic and tactical functions: Affirmative Action and EEO; Planning, recruitment and training; ; Compensation and Benefits; Safety and Health; and Employee and Labor Relations.
Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunities- Affirmative Action and Equal rights to employment refer to Human Resource policies that take factors including race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity into consideration in order to benefit a group that has been marginalized or underrepresented — typically because of history of discriminatory behavior, or to balance out the workplace (United States Department of Labor, 2010). The term “affirmative action” was first used in the United States during the Kennedy Administration and was used to develop programs that would achieve a non-discriminatory atmosphere. The purpose was to provide equal opportunities during a time in which it was common for individuals to be hired and promoted if one race, not hired or demoted if another. The policy of non-discriminatory actions in business are now global in character, with different countries taking differing stances and interpretations on what constitutes bias and discrimination. In the 21st century, it is less race or ethnicity that has become a hot-button issue, and now more sexual orientation (Sowell, 2004). For the human resources professional, the function of both legally managing EEO and Affirmative Action are central to the overall position for the organization, as well as upholding the law.
Recruitment and Training – Recruitment and training have been important parts of HRM for decades. The company decides it needs x number of people in y jobs, HR advertises, screens, sets up interviews, and manages the process of hiring and initial training. This is an important role because it is part of both the strategic and tactical plans to hire the right people for specific jobs — and to train them. However, it has now been part of the HRM prevue to help keep employees longer-term, since the trend in certain age classifications has been to switch jobs approximately every 3-5 years — using job switching as mobility. A new way of looking at HRM is through Strategic Human Resource Management. However, is not simply using computers to recruit and assist in the hiring of staff, or integrating higher level functional managers. It is the planning, implementation and application of the full use of appropriate information technology for both networking and supporting a specific group of people in their shared performance of Human Resource activities. In effect, it is taking a technological premise and deconstructing that Human Resource portion to individual managers and employees. These actions are typically allowable through the Internet or a company’s own servers, and are not the same as simply the electronic tools used to manage people systems. By greater empowerment of managers and employees to perform certain functions that are more appropriate for their own department or area, HR staff is allowed to focus less on the operational and more on the strategic functions of their job (Armstrong, 2008).
HR Development — HR Development takes on a more strategic and managerial role for the department than hiring and training. It allows the HR Manager to become more integrally involved in job forecasting, internal programs and development, and retention of employees, as well as greater participation in executive search functions. Linkage within the entire business process cycle is essential — techniques like benchmarking, SWOT analysis, environmental scanning analysis, and other models have been around for decades, simply not used specifically with a HR focus. The competitive nature of the business world, however, has changed to the point where an organization can no longer afford to pass up such key pieces of the organizational outlook that HR offers. HR, for instance, typically looks at the task as more than a group of employees. Instead, taking a longer-term approach to business needs, the HR model tends to see actions as macro-functions within the organization, and employees as the potential resources to streamline and improve that function. To engender a truly strategic and synergistic HR department, though, the department must be performance based, continually demonstrating its strategic capabilities (and value), and be responsive to the emergent nature of strategies — the resource solution center (Ivancevich, 2006).
Compensation and Benefits- Compensation and benefits (CB) is a sub-discipline of HRM that focuses on making policy for rewards and remuneration (wages, benefits, etc.). It is typically divided into four parts: Guaranteed pay (monetary rewards or basic salary); variable pay (bonus or incentives); benefits (time off, medical insurance, company car, allowances, etc.); equity-based compensation (stock options, 401K plans, etc.). It is often part of the modern HR Manager to help define factors that influence benefits: the economy, inflation, demographics of an area; unemployment rate, labor market statistics, and the type and competitiveness of certain positions (Gitman & McDaniel, 2008, 282).
Safety and Health- Increasingly, HRM has become more responsible with the safety and security management of the organization. Safety and Security encompasses two overlapping areas. Workplace safety is a process of training employees, working with facilities, and managing ways to eliminate or reduce risks of injury or illness — to protect the workers and the company. Workplace security protects employees from internal and external security risks (a safe work environment). Both of these issues vary depending on the type of organization, location and hours of operation. But, a fundamental issue is using HRM to actually manage these issues rather than react to disasters or unforeseen issues (Introduction to the Human Resources Discipline of Workplace Safety and Security, 2010)
Employee and Labor Relations- Typically, labor relations is the study and practice of managing unionized employee situations in the workplace. Often, union employees see management as the enemy, and HRM seeks to find a way to mitigate tension, to alleviate concern, and to find ways into compromise situations in which a win-win scenario is development. In addition, HRM must be aware of the National Labor Relations Act, the Civil Service Reform Act, and other State or . Unions have diminished in size and influence over the last few decades, but it is still important that HR Managers understand the functions of helping to manage relationships in the organization. Even without unions, however, HRM must function in a way that allows increased dialog between managers and employees; and ways to find more robust areas of commonality between executive/strategic goals and the workforce (Budd, 2007)
Conclusions — Human Resource Management is essential to facilitate the achievement of organizational goals within the modern workplace. Effective HRM also includes risk management, compliance, and the anticipate of strategic needs. The discipline operates under the assumption that individuals have different goals and motivations, and that there is a way to both define and implement these needs that will benefit both the employee and the organization. When HRM is properly employed, members of the workplace feel safe to express their goals and opinions about operating practices within the organization; and the organization feels safe in dialog between management and employees, the sharing of both strategic and tactical goals, and to find ways to develop and enhance job satisfaction while, at the same time, achieving fiscal goals and objectives (Effron & Goldsmith, 2008).
In the United States Navy, for instance, there are numerous aspects of HRM theory and practice that have improved the efficiency and integration of strategy. Essentially, the role of HRM is not only a corporate (re: office) responsibility, but actually happens in every structural unit (ship, submarine, shore duty, etc.). Linkage within this model can reduce labor costs, manage safety issues, and develop staff. Labor and market forecasts can help manage supplies and labor needs; safety management can help save lives and provide ways in which engineers can improve the functionality of equipment; development of staff may come through education and training, allowing staff to participate in decision making, or even taking courses to improve education or skill sets. The power of contemporary HRM is then, twofold: 1) it promoted action rather than reaction, and 2) it has move from the tactical to the strategic.
Introduction to the Human Resources Discipline of Workplace Safety and Security. (2010, March). Retrieved from Society for Human Resource Management: http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/safetysecurity/Pages/SafetyIntro.aspx
Armstrong, M. (2008). Strategic Human Resource Management (4th ed.). Philadelphia: Kogan.
Budd, J. (2007). Labor Relations: Striking a Balance. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
Effron, M., & Goldsmith, M. (2008). Human Resources in the 21st Century. New York: Wiley.
Gitman, L., & McDaniel, C. (2008). The Future of Business: The Essentials. Mason, OH: Thompson Cenage.
Ivancevich, J. (2006). Human Resource Management. New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin.
Sowell, T. (2004). Affirmative Action Around the World” An Empirical Study. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Swanson, R., & Holton, E. (2001). Foundations of Human Resource Development. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
United States Department of Labor. (2010, June). Executive Order 11246. Retrieved from Department of Labor: http://www.dol.gov/compliance/laws/comp-eeo.htm