Human resource management is an established profession. Nevertheless, it gained recognition as an independent discipline in the recent past (Gowen, McFadden, & Tallon, 2006). Despite its popularity, there is no consensus on what entails human resource management (Gowen et al., 2006). Additionally, there is no agreement on whether the role of human resource management should be defined based on organizational context.
Human resource management plays an important part in the healthcare industry. It facilitates the recruitment and retention of skilled personnel. It also assists in employee training and development (Harris, Cortvriend, & Hyde, 2007). Harris et al. (2007) allege that human resource management helps to enhance the quality of health services. This paper will discuss the functions of human resource management in a healthcare setting.
Aspects of Human Resource Management
The functions of human resource management in the healthcare industry are somewhat different compared to other sectors (Harris et al., 2007). For human resource personnel to discharge their duties in healthcare organizations effectively, they require undertaking training. The healthcare industry comprises a labor force made up of professionals and non-professionals (Harris et al., 2007). Thus, the human resource staff must have requisite skills to deal with the workforce (Gowen et al., 2006). Gowen et al. (2006) claim that in the healthcare industry, human resource workers face complex challenges. The problems are quite different from those experienced in other sectors.
They include employee shortage, poor performance evaluation methods, and lack of established ways of employee motivation. Most employees in healthcare organizations do not have fixed working schedules. For instance, physicians may be called to work at any time. The human resource employees encounter challenges managing the working program for such professionals (Khatri, Wells, McKune, & Brewer, 2010).
Key Roles of Human Resource Management
According to Khatri et al. (2010), the primary functions of human resource management in healthcare including strategic planning, employee recruitment, retention, compensation, and training and development.
Strategic planning refers to “a systematic process of envisioning a desired future and translating this vision into broadly defined goals or objectives and a sequence of steps to achieve them” (Khatri et al., 2010, p. 12). In the healthcare setting, human resource managers help to set organizational goals and avail the requisite personnel and financial resources. Additionally, the managers guide workers on how to utilize the available resources to facilitate the realization of organizational strategic goals. Human resource managers also assist corporate development by identifying processes and systems that require enhancement.
Human resource managers appreciate the need for experienced staff in healthcare organizations. Thus, the core role of human resource management in the healthcare industry is to recruit workers based on the needs of an institution. According to Khatri et al. (2010), human resource managers hire both professional and non-professional staff. The managers understand the direction of healthcare organizations. Knowledge of organizational goals helps the managers to recruit the right workforce (Khatri et al., 2010). Human resource managers ensure that the hired employees understand the values of the healthcare organization.
Employee retention guarantees a smooth and efficient functioning of an organization. In the healthcare setting, human resource managers must recruit employees that suit the needs of the organization. It helps to ensure that workers remain in an organization for an extended period (Lengnick-Hall, Lengnick-Hall, Andrade, & Drake, 2009). Lengnick-Hall et al. (2009) hold that human resource managers consider factors like the applicant’s interests during recruitment. Besides, human resource managers address employees’ needs in the organization as a way to motivate them. Motivating workers helps to minimize their turnover. Human resource managers may promote experienced workers to prevent them from leaving a healthcare institution.
Employee compensation helps to minimize turnover. Mostly, compensation depends on the level of education of an employee, experience, and skills required for a particular job (Lengnick-Hall et al., 2009). Today, employee compensation takes different forms. For instance, some workers may get commissions or incentives for good performance. Human resource managers have a role in establishing a good employee compensation scheme. Additionally, human resource managers assess workers to determine those that deserve compensation (Lengnick-Hall et al., 2009). The human resource staff has to ensure that it comes up with a compensation program that cannot overwhelm the healthcare organization. Nonetheless, the program has to be competitive to attract and retain skilled workers.
Training and Development
In a healthcare setting, employee training and development are paramount (May Lengnick-Hall et al., 2009). According to Lengnick-Hall et al. (2009), healthcare organizations require equipping their employees with skills that might be useful in the future. Human resource managers monitor the healthcare environment to identify possible changes. They also help employees to come up with working schedules that can enable them to undertake training to advance their skills.
Most Important Function
West, Guthrie, Dawson, Borrill, and Carter (2006) posit that to identify the most significant role of the human resource management in the healthcare setting, it is imperative to evaluate all the functions based on their impacts on the organization. The function that may have the greatest effects on the organization is the most important. West et al. (2006) identify employee recruitment as the most important function of human resource management in the healthcare industry. According to West et al. (2006), healthcare organizations require a team of skilled and motivated employees to realize their strategic goals.
Thus, human resource managers have a responsibility to recruit not only experienced but also motivated employees. They have to consider the interests of applicants before hiring them. Recruitment of unskilled employees may have severe impacts on the healthcare organization. The employees would pose not only immense danger to the patients but also subject the organization to possible lawsuits. Such a condition would affect the reputation of the healthcare organization, thus inhibiting its ability to achieve significant growth. Additionally, the recruitment of unskilled employees may be costly to a health organization as it would be forced to spend financial resources on training.
Role of Human Resource in Strategic Management
West et al. (2006) define strategy as a “plan of action or policy designed to achieve major or overall goals of an organization” (p. 989). Strategic management refers to the formulation, administration, and implementation of organizational plans. The formulation of a strategic plan entails analyzing the internal capacities and the external environment of the healthcare organization. It helps to select the best plan of action that optimizes the company’s core competencies (Harris et al., 2007). On the other hand, management and implementation of the strategic plan involve decision-making and running the operations meant to realize organizational goals.
The primary role of human resource management in a healthcare organization’s strategic plan is to ensure that the institution has the right employees. According to Harris et al. (2007), the strategic plan is meant to help a healthcare organization to realize its long-term goals. An organization cannot accomplish long-term goals if it does not have the right employees to implement the strategic plan. Thus, the human resource management helps to source and recruit the necessary workforce. It also helps the employees to understand the strategic plan and provide them with the needed resources. The human resource must show that it supports the strategic plan by contributing to assembling workforce and resources.
According to Khatri et al. (2010), human resource management helps to convert strategic directions into initiatives that can facilitate the realization of organizational goals. A strategic plan is usually in the form of tactical guidelines. Thus, the human resource management helps to align the strategic directions with the operations of the healthcare organization. The success of a strategic plan depends on the degree of support that it gets from the top management. Therefore, human resource managers have to convince the leadership of the healthcare organization on the viability of the strategic plan to win its support.
Human resource management is vital to healthcare organizations. It helps in the recruitment and retention of skilled employees. Human resource managers contribute to identifying and hiring the right workforce for healthcare organizations. Additionally, it facilitates employee training and development. Healthcare workers require advancing their skills to deal with patients effectively. The most critical role of human resource management in a healthcare organization is employee recruitment. The human resource managers ensure that healthcare organizations have experienced employees to facilitate the implementation of strategic plans.
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Harris, C., Cortvriend, P., & Hyde, P. (2007). Human resource management and performance in healthcare organizations. Journal of Health Organization and Management, 21(5), 448-459.
Khatri, N., Wells, J., McKune, J., & Brewer, M. (2010). Strategic human resource management issues in hospitals: A study of a university and a community hospital. Hospital Topics, 84(4), 9-20.
Lengnick-Hall, M., Lengnick-Hall, C., Andrade, L., & Drake, B. (2009). Strategic human resource management: The evolution of the field. Human Resource Management Review, 19(2), 64-85.
West, M., Guthrie, J., Dawson, J., Borrill, C., & Carter, M. (2006). Reducing patient mortality in hospitals: The role of human resource management. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 27(7), 983-1002.