The Meaning of Strategy in Human Resource Management

Introduction

Human resource management (HRM) is regarded as one of the most important departments in any organization. It plays an imperative role in improving the performance of an organization as well as setting a foundation for its future success. This report reflects on my learning experiences on strategic HRM and how it has changed my perception of HRM. Moreover, the course has enlightened me on strategic HRM, the necessity of cultural awareness within the organization, and strategic adoption of the best HRM policies beneficial to the organization. Also, it has provided knowledge on linking HRM to the organizational goals to ensure that HRM meets the organizational objectives. Some main themes of the study include the management of employees who come from diverse cultures as well as the adoption of modern methods in managing skilled and unskilled employees.

Cultural Diversity of Employees within Organisations

The study addresses the need of HRM manager to work with people who come from diverse backgrounds. In this light, we understand that the era of globalization has forced companies to employ skilled and unskilled workers from different parts of the world. These employees exhibit cultures dictated by religion, age, country of origin, and race. Culture forms the fabric of a community, and most individuals join a given culture as a sign of identity. Most HR managers often manage people from different cultural backgrounds.

Consequently, it is the responsibility of the strategic manager to deal with these employees and ensure that they work harmoniously in the organization. My first thought of these issues was that HRM should try to harmonize all these cultures into a single culture. This implies that the organization should adopt one culture to form the basis of operation. However, this study shows that cultures are diverse, and the process of harmonizing them is difficult. Boxall (2008) has described several ways of managing employees who originate from a diverse cultural background. First, human resource managers should promote coexistence among all the employees. This purports cross-cultural training for all administrators working with the HRM department. Such training will enlighten them on methods of handling people of diverse culture.

Strategic Management of Human Resource as a New Approach

Conceivably, one of the most imperative functions of HRM, is the ability to manage all employees of the organization to effectively meet the goals and objectives of the organization. This calls for the adoption and use of strategic Human Resource Management. In this light, I thought that HRM managers follow a unique strategy which they apply when certain situations occur. This is in line with the use of Best Fit Method as discussed in Boxall (2008) book, which is known as Strategy and Human Resource Management (best fit or best practice).

In his work, Boxall (2008) discusses two important methods of linking HRM to organizational objectives, which include the best fit and best practice. HR managers should be strategic so that they do not only manage the human resources but also ensure that the management is aligned to the firm’s objectives. The study reveals various strategies of managing human resources and linking them to organizational goals. In this light, the study portrays the need to choose between the best fit and best practice. It is evident that the model of best fit identifies and adopts the best strategy that links their HRM to their organizational goals. This implies that the firm environment dictates the HRM strategy to be used. This is by various researchers who have argued that different competitive strategies require unique HR strategies (Thompson & McHugh, 2002; Bratton & Jeffrey, 2007). On the other hand, best practice advocates for the use of a predetermined strategy which has proved successful. However, the best practices of one organization may not work effectively in another firm since the practices are unique to the organizations (Caldwell, 2003).

In my opinion, the two methods have strengths as well as weaknesses. Since the two strategies have merits and demerits, integrating them would be the best option. As an HR manager, I would study the current best practices of the organization that I manage. Then, I would modify them to link the adopted strategy to the organizational goal. This would ensure that the management combines the model of best fit with best practices.

Strategic HRM as a New Effective HR Method

Strategic HRM is one of the main methods that have emerged from this study. Initially, I thought that the effectiveness of HRM is measured by assessing employees’ satisfaction level and how well the HRM department responds to the needs of employees within the organization (Brewster, 2001). Through the study, I have learned that the effectiveness of HRM is mainly determined by its formulation about the organizational vision, mission, and objectives. Based on the study, it is evident that strategic HRM determines various things. First, it determines the role of human and social capital in meeting organizational needs. Secondly, it assesses the level of employees’ satisfaction in the company and how they are treated by the management. Lastly, it evaluates the ability of the firm to gain and sustain competitive advantage through its employees by ensuring that all HRM processes are planned (Monks & McMackin, 2001).

Furthermore, most of the scholarly articles indicate that there is a paradigm shift in the roles of HRM. In this light, the emphasis has shifted from operational issues of the HR department to a strategic focus where HRM is expected to deal with other functions of the organization (Francis and Keegan, 2006). These functions include:

  • Administrative issues where the HR department must ensure that the organization complies with the legal and regulatory framework of the country’s operation. In this case, it ensures that the company adheres to employment laws, recruitment and government policies.
  • Regarding the financial autonomy, HR has a responsibility of overseeing the monetary rewards received by employees and ensuring that they are competitively equal to their share of work.
  • Also, the HRM has a responsibility of ensuring good performance. In this case, they formulate polices that allow workers to perform in the best way and ensure that their talents are effectively managed (Purcell, 2001).

Lessons Concerning Employees and HRM

From this study, it is evident that managing human resource is the core function of HR managers. The managers must ensure that all employees are effectively managed irrespective of their position and status.

Secondly, the course portrays the inequalities that exist among different employees within an organization. Before undertaking this course, I had a perception that all salaries match the job description, qualifications, and level. However, this study reveals that salaries might not be proportional to the three parameters.

A review of various publications on HRM, especially in Australia, shows that there are differences among employees of organizations (Campbell, Whitehouse & Baxter, 2008). There is a wide gap between the salaries of the top level managers and other workers. Top level managers receive many benefits as compared to ordinary employees within the organization. This difference de-motivates ordinary employees since it discriminates them.

Lastly, there is a great difference between permanent employees and casual employees. Most of the casual workers have fewer benefits as compared to permanent employees. Also, casual workers are treated like nonemployees of that organization.

Recommendations

Based on this study, I can make various recommendations concerning HRM and the employees. First, the HR managers should harmonize salaries, terms of all employees, and ensure good working conditions for all workers. In this respect, organizations must set their salaries in a manner that does not create discriminatory gaps.

Secondly, the study shows that it is important to treat all employees proportionally regardless of their administrative and employment status. In this light, highly skilled employees should be involved in the process of making decisions. Also, these employees should receive attractive and competitive remunerations which are equal to the current remunerations in the job market (Storey, 2001). This will prevent a huge labor turnover, which is caused by workers who move to another organization that offers good working conditions. Huge labor turnover forces the company to spend a lot of money on recruiting and training new employees.

It is also important to ensure that all employees are well motivated. This ensures that employees strive to meet the strategic goals of the company. In my opinion, the best motivation methods should be based on individual achievements. These methods include setting competitive prices to employees who meet and exceed the expected targets.

Another strategy, which can be used in motivation, is training the employees. In this light, skilled and unskilled workers should be trained regularly and given a chance to improve their education. Training should be considered as a core function of the HR department. Through training, the unskilled workers are transformed from an unskilled group to skilled labor. This ensures that employees grow by the modern world that is developing at a very high rate.

Conclusion

This reflective journal touches on the change in perception, attitude, culture, and knowledge that I have acquired after exploring strategic human resource management. Effective management of the human resource department ensures that the organization’s customers, employees, and shareholders reap maximum benefits. The training has imparted new knowledge and skills on strategic management of the HR department. I have learned various skills that I will use effectively as an HR manager. These skills include:

  • Setting up strategic HR goals that are in line with the organizational objectives.
  • Managing human capital so that the firm achieves and maintain competitive advantages.
  • Managing employees from different cultural backgrounds
  • Managing highly skilled and unskilled employees as well as the basic theories of strategic HR management to harmonize them.

References

Boxall, P 2008, Strategy and Human Resource Management, Palgrave Macmillan, New York. Web.

Bratton, J & Jeffrey, G 2000, Strategic Human Resource Management, Palgrave Macmillan, London. Web.

Brewster, C 2001, HRM: The Comparative Dimension, Thompson Learning, London. Web.

Caldwell, R 2003, The changing roles of personnel managers: Old ambiguities, new uncertainties, Journal of Management Studies, vol. 40. no. 4, pp. 983–1004. Web.

Campbell, I, Whitehouse, G & Baxter, J 2008, Australia: Casual, Part-Time Employment and The Resilience Of The Male Breadwinner Model, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australia. Web.

Francis, H & Keegan, A 2006, The changing face of HRM: In Search Of Balance, Human Resource Management Journal, vol.16. no. 3, pp. 231-249. Web.

Monks, K & McMackin, J 2001, Designing and aligning a HR system, Human Resource Management Journal, vol. 11. no. 2, pp. 57-72. Web.

Purcell, J 2001, The meaning of strategy in human resource management, Thompson Learning, London. Web.

Storey, J 2001, Human Resource Management: A Critical Text, Thomson Learning, London. Web.

Thompson,P & McHugh, D 2002, Work Organisations, Palgrave Macmillan, London. Web.