Increasing Employee Effectiveness and Organizational Contributions: Topics in Human Resource Management
The current global economic situation has required many companies to cut back on the number of employees that are a part of their organizations, and to hold off on hiring additional employees during a period of limited growth. This has arguably made effective human resource management more important now than ever before, with the attaining of organizational goals wholly dependent on the ability of an organization’s employees to carry out an ongoing operations. There are several key issues that have an effect on the ability of human resource managers to ensure optimum performance of organizational members, some of which have a larger influence than others. It is through a comprehensive understanding of these many issues that effective human resource management techniques and methods can be developed and maintained for future operations.
EEO and Affirmative Action
One of the continuing issues that human resources managers must deal with that serves as a complicating yet highly pressing factor in the current era is that of maintaining diversity in the organization. Equal employment opportunity laws are meant to ensure that hiring and promotion activities are conducted fairly, without taking issues such as gender, race, religion, and other factors not related to job performance into account (Condrey 2010; York 2010). Affirmative action plans can also be implemented to ensure greater inclusion of these groups within organizations (York 2010).
Both equal employment imperatives and affirmative action plans will continue to have large and meaningful impacts on personal career trajectories and organizational operations as a whole. Despite widespread hiring freezes, diversity must remain an important aspect of any organization’s workforce not only for reasons of ethicality and legality, but also to ensure that broader perspectives and understandings are allowed to contribute to effective relations within the organization and with the organization’s customers, suppliers, and partners. Without maintaining diversity through strict adherence to equal employment opportunity rules and possibly through the use of affirmative action plans, which can also specifically provide training to women and minorities and thus improve their capabilities and their likelihood of promotion, organizations become less viable through stagnation (York 2010). This also carries personal detriment to all members of the organization.
Planning, Recruitment, and Selection
Planning is one of the most essential and foundational elements of human resources management, as it determines exactly who specifically will be needed to adequately fulfill a given organization’s operational needs (Sison 2003). Once these needs have been identified and the necessary staffing requirements planned for, recruiting the right candidates for essential positions is also a major part of effective human resources management (Sison 2003). The selection of the proper candidates is a complex process with many factors, and without prior planning and effective recruitment is next to impossible to hire the right individuals (Sison 2003).
In this time of reduced hiring and , the most essential aspect of the planning, recruitment, and selection aspects of human resources management is the planning phase. With cuts being made and organizations trying to do more with fewer employees, accurate and comprehensive planning is extremely important to make sure that operational goals can still be met. The recruitment and selection of necessary employees is also highly important, of course, as the new members of any organization must be the most effective individuals possible in order to increase the efficiency of money and time spent on human resource management, but planning is the primary method by which organizations can limit human resource expenditures while maintaining operational potential. This will therefore become an increasingly important part of all human resources managers’ tasks until economic recovery truly begins in a meaningful manner.
Human resource development is a complex issue with many different topics of ongoing study and evaluation factoring into the ongoing training, advancement, and both personal and professional progress of employees. Determining the effectiveness of human resource development spending and the specific modes of development that will better enable an organization to reach its goals are second in importance for human resource managers only to initial staffing needs (Condrey 2010). There are also several phases to the construction of proper development plans that are similar to the staffing phases of planning, recruitment, and selection (Werner & DeSimone 2008).
As companies contend with smaller or fixed workforces yet still attempt growth and continued viability, the issue of human resource development will only become a more and more prominent feature of human resources management. Ensuring that the employees of a given organization are as effective as possible depends on adequate training and is even assisted by increased personal satisfaction and development, as well. Putting increased effort into human resource development programs and taking the time to design truly effective and meaningful development methods should improve individual productivity, thus assisting the human resources manager in other aspects of their duties and responsibilities, as well. Human resources managers ought therefore to spend time and energy on their own development and education in order to ensure that the most effective methods for workforce development — an increasing feelings of personal value amongst employees — are being utilized.
Compensation and Benefits
Compensation and benefits packages are also complex and highly important issues for cash-strapped organizations facing continued uncertainty. These features of employment need to remain competitive in order to attract the best individuals to the company, yet they must remain somewhat limited if they are to be sustainable and the organization is to remain profitable (Sison 2003). It is also important that these packages be made incredibly clear to employees at the start of employment and whenever changes are made to employee compensation, as clear expectation help facilitate productivity and loyalty (Werner & DeSimone 2008).
This is one area that is of somewhat less importance in this time relative to other issues of concern to the field of human resources management in the current period; the high levels of unemployment and continuing uncertainty in the job market can make certain compensation and benefits packages seem more attractive today than they would have been even a year and a half ago. Still, organizations must ensure that compensation and benefits are adequate enough to maintain employee loyalty during uncertain times, and that make it clear that the workforce is an essential and valued part of the organization. Instilling and maintaining a certain degree of equanimity between executive compensation packages and those offered to the general workforce can assist in this endeavor, and the human resources manager(s) at any given organization should make themselves open to employee questions regarding compensation, serving as a liaison between the workforce and those that truly determine compensation levels.
Safety and Health
Safety and health issues are not directly affected by the current economic climate and overall business environment of the period, but these remain constant concerns for any organization. In addition, reduced workforces typically increase employee stress and workloads which can negatively affect safety and health outcomes, thus showing an indirect influence on these issues stemming from current uncertainties (York 2010). Promoting safety and health is often, and should remain, a part of effective development programs, making employees more aware of how to handle job related stress and how to avoid potential injuries (Werner & DeSimone 2008).
Safety and health concerns remain prominent issues in any workplace regardless of other environmental factors and workplace issues, and though some operations and organization have obviously more imperative safety concerns and greater risks, even a standard office worker can experience job related injuries through the repetition of relatively mundane activities. The role of the human resources manager in this regard is to ensure that roper procedures are in place, well publicized, and frequently reviewed with employees in order to avoid injuries, and the door must also remain open both for suggestions as to how to improve such procedures and to handle any potential injuries that might arise. Also highly important is the task of making it clear to employees that their safety and health is a definite concern of the organization, as this demonstrates the value of the employees to the organization and can help to maintain an effective, efficient, and productive workforce.
Employee and Labor Relations
All issues in the field of human resources management have to do in some way with management’s relationship to the general workforce. The specific issue of labor relations, however, demands special attention in the current era; ensuring that employees remain a highly valued part of the organization, and that they are made aware of this value, goes a long way towards promoting productivity (Sison 2003). Labor organizations and even unorganized employees often view management with a fair degree of opposition and adversity, and overcoming this is necessary to and true organizational viability.
In a period of layoffs, pay cuts, and other issues seen as damaging to labor, making it clear that certain cuts are necessary in order to maintain organizational viability — which is of course ultimately a benefit to employees — is definitely a part of the human resources manager’s responsibilities. The current business climate being what it is, it is likely that employees and labor organizations will understand the necessity of certain cuts, but the inclusion of employees and/or their representatives in the decision making process is still very important and highly beneficial to any organization. It will also, of course, make other aspects of the human resource manager’s job less difficult, as it will then be possible to maintain better employee/management relationships and thus other issues can be engaged in with a lessened degree of animosity or adversity. The more in sync management and employees can become in this era, the greater the potential for organizational growth and profitability.
Combined Functionality and Varying Importance
Though discussed separately above, all of these issues of human resource management are of course interrelated. Labor relations are hugely influenced by compensation and benefits packages as well as through safety and health standards, development programs, and equal employment opportunity issues. Planning, recruiting, and selecting employees can, in turn, heavily influence the types of development programs that are seen as necessary, and all of these have a major effect both on the cost and the profitability of operations, making a comprehensive view of human resources management essential to organizational efficiency.
That being said, some of these issues are definitely of less importance in the current era than others. Safety and health concerns, for example, are not especially important in relative terms when compared to other human resource management topics, and though maintaining diversity is an important part of organizational success (and of remaining on the correct side of ethical and legal issues), issues of equal employment opportunities and affirmative action plans have not been greatly influenced by recent economic trends and uncertainties. In the current climate, the issues of compensation and benefits, labor relations, and development plans are all of increased importance as these more directly and more profoundly influence the cost and profitability of operations. Human resource managers and organizations as a whole must maintain control over these areas in order to ensure the continuation of an adequate and efficient workforce despite limited capital and cash flow.
The basic issues of human resources management do not really change based on the larger economic climate the business world might be facing. Changes to this climate, however, definitely have an effect on the relative importance of these various issues, and also help to shape the way in which these issues are perceived and dealt with. Maintaining an awareness of changes to the economic climate and their effect on issues of human resource management needs to be a primary concern of human resource managers in periods of volatility in order for their organizations to remain viable.
Condrey, S. (2010). Handbook of Human Resource Management in Government. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Sison, P. (2003). Personnel Management in the Twenty-First Century. Quezon City, PH: PMAP.
Werner, J. & DeSimone, R. (2008). . Mason, OH: Cengage.
York, K. (2010). Applied Human Resource Management: Strategic Issues and Experiential Exercises. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.