HRM, Unions’ and Government’s Role for Workforce

Role of HRM

Human resource management (HRM) is the unit within an organization charged with the mandate of formulating and implementing policies and practices that determine how employees are managed in an organization. Thus, HRM is the management of people within an organization (Mathis & Jackson, 2008). Policies and practices for managing people in an organization keep changing due to changing trends in fashion, legislative, labor markets, social, educational, economic, and organizational structures (Martin, 2010).

Management of the people within an organization includes the following roles: first, the recruitment of the required workforce. This ensures that the organization as a pool of committed and competent workforce (Randhawa, 2007, P.7). The second role is compensation and benefits management for the workforce. HRM accomplishes this by providing adequate and equitable remuneration of the workforce for its contribution to organizational objectives (Randhawa, 2007, P.9).

The third role is performance management, which involves performance appraisals and other assessments. This function is achieved through analysis of real performance by comparing the workers’ performance with the standards and then correcting any deviations. Fourthly, through personnel development, the HRM is able to improve the quality of the workforce. Personnel development includes all training, educational, and development activities that are aimed at informal and formal intentions that mutually benefit both the individual and the organization (Martin, 2010). Firth, initiation of leadership development programs aims at producing leaders with managerial competence and capability. This is mainly achieved through succession planning, formal training programs, and other induction processes aimed at transitions and development of management competence.

Moreover, it is the main custodian of legal compliant processes within the organization. The HRM ensures that the organization observes various laws, including equal opportunity law, health and safety laws, laws dealing with employees’ welfares, labor laws, and various other laws and policies relating to the way people are managed in an organization (Randhawa, 2007, P.9). Additionally, personal administration and reporting to ensure issues such as absenteeism, the welfare of employees, motivation, retirement, and layoff and dispute resolutions are handled professionally. Lastly, due to changing trends in social setups, globalization, and advancement in technologies such as IT, HRM is charged with the responsibility of shaping the organizational size and its complexity (Mathis & Jackson, 2008).

Role of Unions

Unions play very crucial roles in the compensation and working conditions of their members and non-members and their organizations. These roles include, first, through their advocacy, they minimize wage disparities as they raise wages for low, middle-wage, and non-tertiary education holders’ workers than for higher-earning workers (Mishel & Walters, 2003). Secondly, unions ensure that their members get better fringe benefits packages such as more generous health benefits and receive better pension plans than the non-unionized workers (Mishel & Walters, 2003). This is mainly achieved through their collective bargaining with organizations and the government.

Thirdly, they represent employees in disputes relating to working conditions, employee welfares, and wage negotiations. Through this role, they are able to mediate with organizations and government until an amicable solution is arrived at regarding the disputes. Mostly these negotiations end with employees achieving gains such as higher wages, safer working conditions, job security, and improved bilateral governance (Sullivan & Hodson, 2007, P.140).

Fourthly, most unions, especially in the United States, have effective grievance procedures that are clearly stipulated in their contract with employers thus in case of any grievances they are solved as per the contract reducing the room for personal biases and blame game (Sullivan & Hodson, 2007, P.141). Additionally, through collective bargaining power, they are able to influence political decisions for their members and the community at large. Lastly, they are very influential in setting standards for jobs and terms and conditions.

The role of unions in the U.S. should increase. This is because there are new emerging institutions, fields, and new recruits who need representation through the unions. In addition, killing or reducing unions represents the suppression of our democratic space, which is guaranteed by our constitution. Unions in the U.S. are continuing to expand though they have been faced by challenges such as resistance from HRM, changing industry trends, and global competition. The following are some of the unions that are experiencing rapid growth in membership in America: American Federation of States, Municipal Employees, UFCW, SEIU, and American Federation of Teachers (Sullivan & Hodson, 2007, P.145).

Role of Government

First, the relationship between the employers, employees, and trade unions is influenced by the government and its institutions through policies, laws, programs, and the socio-economic, political, and cultural set up the country (Macdonald, 1997, P.3). The government and its arms are involved in solving matters relating to collective bargaining, grievance, and dispute settlement between the concerned party in order to ensure that there is the proper observance of the law, and the matters are settled fairly. Secondly, the government is one of a key component in setting industrial relations (IR) outcomes, which define how organizations operate, minimum wages, terms, and conditions of employment for workers (Macdonald, 1997, P.4).

Additionally, the government is also a major employer, especially in the public sector, thus it can pervasively influence bargaining developments and contents of agreements hence setting an example for industrial relations for the organizations (Bean, 1994, P.103). Lastly, the government is the principal controller of the majority of incomes; it can set wage standards that can help in reducing and solving wage disputes between employers, employees, and trade unionists.


Bean, R. (1994). Comparative industrial relations: an introduction to cross-national perspectives. OH: Cengage Learning EMEA.

Hodson, R. & Sullivan, T.A. (2007). The social organization of work. OH: Cengage Learning.


Martin, J. (2010). Key Concepts in Human Resource Management. NY: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Mathis, R. L. & Jackson, J. H. (2008) Human Resource Management. Mason, OH: Thompson South‐Western. ISBN‐10: 0324542755 ISBN‐13: 978‐0324542752.

Mishel, L. & Walters, M. (2003). How unions help all workers. EPI Briefing Paper #143. Web.

Randhawa, G. (2007). Human Resource Management. NY: Atlantic Publishers & Dist.