HR Department: General Overview
Human resources (HR) comprises of many functional areas, with responsibilities ranging from training and development to recruitment. The HR profession has undergone a myriad of changes in the last two decades and continues to evolve as new opportunities and challenges emerge. The modern HR department has more roles to play in an organization other than records management, payroll, and employee remuneration management.
Human Resource is a vital task in health care as proper service delivery is highly required in this sensitive field. Human resource management (HRM) plays a crucial role in evaluating the experience and quality performance of health workers. Its activities are geared toward the development of both the organization and its individual employees, with a goal of boosting service delivery. This paper will discuss the general responsibilities of the HR department in an organization, the challenges faced by HR managers, and a further discussion on how HR coordinates with other departments in an organization. Additionally, the paper will include success stories of three companies in their HR department, which have transformed the way the companies do business.
Functions and Activities
The HR manager in an organization is responsible for developing an employee relations strategy that outlines specific steps to be followed by the organization in ensuring the wellbeing of employees. Employee relations also extend to ensuring a safe working environment and promoting a discrimination-free environment. Human resource administrators in minor organizations may engage in carrying out examinations and/or handling workers’ grievances.
Other activities under the workers’ affairs umbrella include sourcing permissible assistance for staff members regarding their interaction and threat alleviation. A good example of risk alleviation in a company would be evaluating current workplace policies then offering employees the appropriate training for easy adaptation. This situation, in turn, prevents or minimizes cases of employee complaints about being misrepresented by company policies, which mainly occurs because employees failed to comprehend these policies at the pace of the first.
Recruitment and Selection
Every organization’s goal is high efficiency and productivity that enables it to compete favorably in the market. This goal can only be met if the company has a background of well-trained and equipped employees who match the duties. HR managers devise strategic solutions relevant to the workforce needs by carefully analyzing labor force trends, then selecting and recruiting individuals to fill labor gaps in an organization.
Human resources are also involved with corporate branding as far as the training and recruitment of talented employees are concerned. It is the responsibility of an HR manager to ensure that incoming as well as continuing employees have the right training and aptitude to match the company goals. For example, in health care, the HR manager may rely on his/her knowledge in Human Resource Management to initiate a cross-training program that would result in nurses being specialized in particular fields, to ensure performance standards are adjusted upwards.
Compensation and Benefits
HR managers are responsible for guiding compensation and benefits specialists in an organization. The HR department may also design compensation structures and synchronize the performance management structures with the compensation system. This ensures employee benefits are accorded the same priority that performance in an organization receives so that employees do not end up deprived after giving so much to the organization.
The HR department is also charged with a responsibility to devise an appropriate health care plan for the employees (Mayhew par. 3). Examples of human resource duties that are in line with the health of employees include monitoring the compliance of an organization with the Family and Medical Leave Act and ensuring health information about employees remains confidential. This role of ensuring workers’ compensation and benefits plans are devised and adhered to best explains the primary importance of an HR department in any organization, which is striking a balance between an organization’s goals and its employees’ needs.
Training and Development
Training is one of the primary roles of the HR department of any organization. This function includes activities such as orientation for newly hired employees, leadership training, and conducting professional seminars and workshops. HR managers evaluate needs in an organization to determine the appropriate training required, as well as the time for training. Periodical training in organizations is conducted with the primary goal of boosting performance and productivity through capacity building.
HR administrators have a role to appraise the performance of workers to determine whether supplementary education and direction could advance their capacity. This evaluation is mainly carried out by examining employee records, to determine the areas where extra training is needed to boost their performance and job skills. Another important role in line with training is the implementation of employee development strategy, as well as succession planning. Information on succession planning is used in monitoring employees who demonstrate a keen interest in advancing the employment ladder.
Successor Failure Stories
While the stories that are presented in this section are not lifted from the field of health care, their lessons can effectively be applied to health care institutions, which make them relevant for this paper.
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
Fairmont Hotels & Resort has devised a multi-faceted program dubbed “Service Plus”, which rewards employees who demonstrate exceptional performance in line with the company’s goals. This program stands out because it is all-encompassing and effective. Service Plus recognizes employees or “colleagues” for according to guest’s “engaging services” (Sun and Walsh 8). This program was designed by Fairmont in a bid to strengthen its well-known culture of service excellence and recognition.
Fairmont engaged Globoforce, a global leader in recognition plans, to devise an appropriate platform that would capture the efforts of employees while at the same time encouraging better service delivery to customers. Fairmont and Globoforce first conducted research to establish the way the employees wished to be recognized. After obtaining feedback, Fairmont sought to remodel its existing recognition platforms into a new, more effective program. Service Plus’s main goal was to encourage employees of the multinational corporation to promote Fairmont’s mission by delivering engaging services to customers.
Fairmont’s desire to extend to its employees in the company philosophy led to a thorough evaluation of existing recognition programs to determine areas that needed improvement. Although a recognition program was already in place at Fairmont, the feedback indicated a need to launch a more formal recognition program that would be executable on a global scale. Interviewed employees indicated an interest in a program that would enable them to recognize efforts by their colleagues in delivering memorable services (Sun and Walsh 7). The feedback further showed that employees wanted consistency in the manner the awards were presented as well as reforms in the selection criteria for those to be awarded.
McDonald’s Employee Retention and Sales Incentives
McDonald’s the USA employs internal promotional programs intended to minimize employee turnover, as well as to encourage the promotion of specific products on the restaurant’s menu. These promotions are implemented by franchisees who own various restaurants. Operators work hand in hand with advertisers in providing employee incentives to promote certain items that are on the menu. Employees are encouraged to market those products that are concurrently being advertised on various platforms. Incentives in the form of awards are given out to employees who can promote the sales of the targeted products.
Michael Proctor, one of the operator-owners of McDonald’s, introduced the advertising-based incentive strategy to promote marketing efforts for his restaurants in St Louis. The incentive-based program encourages employees to promote certain items to the restaurants’ customers. This is especially encouraged for the drive-through, because of the high number of people passing there. Proctor then monitors the progress of the sale for the targeted products. Employees who sell above the set goals are rewarded. Funding for this program is derived from franchises as well as from the national advertising accounts.
For Proctor’s restaurants, he works with managers to initiate competitive practices between restaurants with the aim of encouraging employees to increase sales. The particular product under promotion changes from time to time. For example, one month may see the promotion of an Angus burger, while the following month the company promotes frappes. Proctor encourages his managers to be creative when designing reward programs as a way of achieving the desired behavior by employees (Sun and Walsh 10). Incentives may include a gift card, plane tickets, or even a more entertaining reward like being driven to a shopping spree in a limousine.
Sodexo’s Use of Social Media in Corporate Branding
Sodexo has perfected the art of recruiting potential employees through various social media platforms. This world leader in foodservice uses multiple sites to advertise new opportunities to potential employees, connect with other company recruiters, and to maintain contact with job candidates. Through social media, potential employees can learn beforehand the cultures and company initiatives of Sodexo (Sun and Walsh 11).
This program was introduced to establish a more active presence in social media for the company. The newly appointed vice president, Ariel Ball wished for the company to source, attract, and recruit talented individuals through social media as a way of enhancing the company’s employment brand.
The company’s social media program received serious attention from the management after the company was rebranded from Sodexho Alliance to Sodexo in 2008. This change of name meant the creation of new web search terms, which caused Ball to direct a significant focus on the impact that social media for the organization. Among the concerns was examining the viability of recruiting employees via social media to address the company’s labor needs. After several experiments, the company launched its first career blog, which would later become a platform for engaging potential employees. Recruiters would engage interested candidates on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
Role of HR in Development and Change Management
As noted earlier, HR has evolved from the traditional role of record-keeping and employee compensation to robust roles such as strategic planning and employee recruitment. The role of HR in an organization has increasingly taken a center stage as workplace needs grow in dimension and complexity. Today, human resource development is a separate entity that stands on its own. Strategic development is primarily concerned with improving the productivity of an organization.
Organizational activities through which strategic planning may be implemented include staffing, formulation of workplace policies, compensation, and benefits. Staffing in regards to strategic planning encompasses an analysis of the labor needs of an organization to determine the number of employees to be hired. This process is followed by careful selection and recruitment to obtain the right people for various positions. Formulation of workplace policies for its part is involved with establishing policies that are in line with the company goals, as well as their communication to the relevant departments and individuals within an organization.
Human resource strategy (planning) refers to a systematic action plan designed by the HR department. It is a pathway for the implementation of HRM strategic plans and HR plans. An HRM strategic plan refers to the major objectives of an organization, while the HR plan is the specific activities that collectively make up the strategic plan. An easier way to differentiate the two aspects is looking at HRM strategic plan as the long-term goal of an organization, and HR plan as the short-term objectives.
Development in the organization is, therefore, a product of implementation of HRM strategic plans. The Ulrich model is a common way of viewing strategic planning (Ullah 85). The model provides an overview of HR’s place in an organization. The Ulrich model is credited with transforming the way HR is viewed from the traditional role of “personnel management” to the current situation where HR exists in more of a partnership with the organization.
Sustainable change in an organization can only be brought forth in an all-inclusive manner, as opposed to addressing a single element. This implies that both the external and internal factors of an organization must be considered and subjected to a thorough examination. The internal factors, in this case, refer to an organization’s ability to change, i.e. the extent to which an organization can change (Andreescu 4). They include employee values toward work, personalities of leaders in the organization, and the adequacy of strategies currently in place in the organization.
HR can transform an organization’s operations by taking into account both “soft” and “harder” aspects of an organization’s internal environment. The “soft” aspects are things like motivation and attitude, which are much easier to change as compared to the “harder” components like skill level and management capabilities.
The role of HR as a bridge to the gap between employer interests and employee interests is an increasingly challenging one (Ullah 86). It requires HR managers to step out of the framework of the traditional role and address the varying interests of both employers and employees. Some organizations opt to outsource HR services for the best attainment of this role. This is because it may be difficult for the HR department within an organization to effectively evaluate and review programs initiated by superiors.
Trying to reduce the gap between employer and employee interests involves making employees understand that the changes are necessary for the organization to survive in the competitive world, including pointing out the likely benefits that may arise from the changes. At the same time, HR professionals will need to inform the employer on the ways that the intended changes may affect employees. Where appropriate, such changes should be accompanied by an evaluation of employer compensation. For instance, a change in employment policy that requires long working hours should be accompanied by an increment in wages for the employees.
Lewin’s model introduces a three-step process to rolling out changes in any organization (Ullah 85). This model advocate approaching change by addressing the three relevant areas: pre-changing aspects, the actual change, and the post-change aspects. The first step should involve a gradual abandonment of the status quo, in preparation for the impending change. This is what Ulrich terms as “unlearning the status quo” (112). The second step involves the actual rolling out of the desired change in the organization. The third step referred to as “refreezing”, involves efforts to integrate and make the new change permanent.
Relevant Cases: Leadership-Based Compensation
Healthcare is fast adopting a value-based approach to service delivery. This means that employees in health care will be evaluated and paid based on patient satisfaction. It has been projected that leader based compensation will continue to increase as health care adapts to this industry change. One advantage of leadership-based compensation over traditional compensation is that skills and expertise for employees are identified, appreciated, and rewarded.
This, in turn, improves service delivery in this highly where performance expectations are ever-increasing. This compensation structure also ensures that service delivery is in line with the goals of an organization and that competency is emphasized, especially for employees who wish to advance up the employment ladder. Leadership based compensation has been successfully tried and implemented in healthcare institutions in Canada (Dubinsky et al. 58).
Problems Faced by Human Resource
Companies have expressed their difficulties in finding HR personnel who are equipped with the relevant training. Lack of professionals poses a challenge to the performance of organizations. This challenge is mostly felt in manufacturing firms, which require competent and skilled personnel to fulfill their objectives. Britain has for many years grappled with the problem of having employees who are not well trained in their specific fields. Analysts argue that this challenge might be worse in developing countries. According to the international labor organization, the South East Asia region has most of its working population possessing low educational qualifications (Abdullah 13).
Globalization has also had a considerable effect on the HR department. Globalization has led to the integration of different governments globally. The driving forces of globalization include information technology, investment, and international trade. Due to international trade, the HR department has to familiarize themselves with a myriad of foreign and international laws to exercise their duties more effectively (Srivastava and Agarwal 47).
Any workplace model consists of a variety of diversity that HR personnel has to contend with. These diversities include educational background, ethnicity, and religious inclination among others. The challenge faced by HR personnel is managing a culturally diverse workforce in a bid to obtain positive results for the smooth running of an organization (Srivastava and Agarwal 47). In an organization that has foreign nationals, it is the work of an HR manager to assure the local staff that the foreign nationals are not in any way a threat to their career advancement.
The world is witnessing rapid advancement in technology. Technological advancement has been blamed for obsolescence and change in job descriptions. People are thus required to possess the skill needed in a world that is fast advancing technologically. In this scenario, the HR manager is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring skilled labor in an organization. It is customary to have a change in the political and legal spheres in a country. The HR department analyzes the changes and/or prepares the staff in adjusting to the changes by laying out strategies that are reasonable and applicable. The strategies implemented should not affect the smooth running of the organization.
In every organization, there should be coordination among all departments. This strategy is set to improve productivity and/or prevent duplication of duties. Duplication of duties leads to redundancy and a lack of career progression. The HR department, which is mandated with the duty of training and recruiting staff, should formulate a model that ensures coordination among all departments. The HR department should act as the intermediary in communication between the management and the employees. This prevents collision thus fostering a good working relationship.
It is prudent that all human resource professionals possess a university or college qualification. This is because obtaining an undergraduate degree aids in the intellectual capacities of professionals. Theorists tend to offer a linkage between communication ability and the level of education. In training human resource personnel, the curriculum should also include the learning of various cultural diversities that occur in a typical workplace.
Human resource is always impacted by a change in the economic environment. Despite these changes, the HR should take charge of the situation and ensure that a company is least affected by these transformations. The HR manager should come up with strategies aimed at filling the gaps because of economic change. The strategies should reflect the face of the organization while at the same time acting as a stepping-stone for the employees to adapt to the changing times.
The HR department should also come up with suitable training programs for employees. The programs should also be in line with the drastic changes happening in the world of technology. Training in an organization is a duty that is a preserve of the human resource department in any organization (Srivastava and Agarwal 48). It is thus imperative for the HR department to come up with appropriate training to keep the employees abreast of recent developments.
The HR department should initiate evaluation systems for employees. This acts as an incentive towards motivating employees to work harder in their respective workplaces. Regarding performance evaluation, the HR department should also come up with career development mechanisms to enhance personal growth (Srivastava and Agarwal 48). A program similar to “Service Plus” (Sun and Walsh 13) can also be adopted in healthcare institutions to recognize hardworking employees. This would both serve as inspiration for colleagues to work hard, while also promoting better service delivery in these institutions.
Human Resource has evolved over the decades to become an integral part of any organization. The basic HR responsibilities include training, recruitment, and strategic planning. Healthcare may be used in health care to build better service delivery and patient satisfaction. In Canada, leader based compensation has been implemented to encourage competency in healthcare institutions. This program is similar to the “Service Plus” recognition plan that was introduced by Fairmont Hotels to recognize its employees for exceptional performance. Recondition of employee efforts in the workplace will result in motivation and hence better service delivery.
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