Different ways in which HR objectives can be delivered in organisations
Human resource (HR) management has become a strategic part of most businesses, which not only enables the department to take part in strategic decision-making, but also demands more from it. The role of HR vary from business to business, depending on its size, structure, needs and many other variables, however, the input in business performance that it has is invaluable. People are what make the organisations succeed; therefore building its capability through people is one of the objectives of strategic HR management. In order to do so, HR has to be responsible for its people throughout their lifecycle - on boarding the right people, managing their expectations, setting their performance objectives and promotion of positive employment relationships through employee engagement, personal development and support.
With change being a common term these days, looking at the skillset of current workforce is another way of assisting business in its performance, as having the right people, and developing the right skills can save a lot of time and money. In times where loyalty to an organisation is not a requirement but a fairly rare phenomenon, an organisation has to be willing to develop its people, allow them to grow and succeed within. Strategic human resource management supports not only day-to-day business activities, but also long-term goals and objectives.
Delivering the HR function in a professional, ethical and just manner
Often people talk about professionalism, and as there is no one right definition to it, ethics is definitely an integral part of it (CIPD, 2015). Therefore HR plays a great role in facilitating an ethical culture and leading by an example.
With so many scandals frequently happening, that it makes it clear how easy it is to damage organisations reputation by not following ethical decision-making. Raising difficult questions and approaching them in an ethical manner should be the right thing to do. Probably one of the strongest cases of looking at ethics within organisations is avoiding litigation and the costs that come with it - both monetary and in customer perception.
As mentioned earlier, through delivering HR objectives of employing the right people, the perception of the organisation in their minds is a great deal in attracting the right talent - their behaviours can easily be changed based on ethics and policies and how staff is treated. Living in a social media era, there is nowhere to hide. And having the right people, attitudes and customer perception can give the organisation a competitive advantage.
As a member of Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD), I follow CIPD Code of Professional Conduct, where Ethical Standards and Integrity is one of the main groups of rules. It sets out the ground for being an HR professional, being a champion for better working lives and showing a commitment to the profession.
Criteria of evaluating the contribution of the HR function, and key methods used to do this
To understand the value added of HR function to overall organisation performance, it is important to look at the effectiveness and efficiency of the function at both strategic level and technical level of providing support and HR services (Mnestudies.com, 2017).
One of the relatively new approaches to HR performance evaluation is benchmarking, which allows an organisation to analyse and adapt by analysis and comparing its performance with other organisations, usually with similar offerings and market. The traditional HR benchmarking looks at cost and headcount, measuring functions efficiency, not effectiveness. When using the benchmarking in a more thorough manner, it helps HR to become more strategic part of the business, demonstrating the business impact of HR though key performance indicators (KPI's) and other measurements (Deloitte, 2017). The HR can use the information obtained through benchmarking to find the best practices in such areas and recruitment, employee engagement and retention, and help organisation to achieve the best results continually.
In the 1990s Kaplan and Norton developed a model known as the Balanced Scorecard, which includes both the tradition financial indicators, as well as modern non-financial indicators, to finally give a more balanced view of the organisations performance. Once the tool was used internationally, the concept was extended to a management tool for describing, communicating and implementing strategy (Kaplan, 2010). Once three stages performed, the fourth - feedback and learning - gives the capacity for actual strategic learning, by gathering feedback, evaluating and making any necessary adjustments (Kaplan and Norton, 2007). One of the weaknesses though of using balanced scorecard is that it focuses on easily measured outcomes, but the qualitative ones are difficult to measure, however it's strength lies in it's strategic approach focused on the bottom line (McLean, 2005). A newer modification of this - the HR Scorecard is a strategic HR measurement system, consisting of HR deliverables, HR policies, processes and practices, HR system alignment and HR efficiency (Becker, Huselid and Ulrich, 2001).
Apart from using models, HR metrics is a great way of evaluating the performance and effectiveness of the function. Such metrics as exit interviews and staff surveys can give insight in employee opinions; appraisals help to identify performance scores and learning needs.
Organisational objectives that the HR function is responsible for delivering and how these are revolving in contemporary organisations
Today people are the key asset of any organisation, therefore HR should play a role in creating a business strategy by building such cultures that are capable to adapt to change (Baron, 2011). Even though HR presence in strategic management does not always come noticed, according to a 2012 Economist Intelligence Unit study 70% of CEOs want their HR directors to play a key role in strategic planning (Persaud, 2013). Today, HR creates strategies and tools for managers to lead and develop their teams and grows the value of employees in the organization (creativehrm.com, 2017).
Career planning has developed from growing desire of employees to grow in their jobs and is in forefront at many companies in order to create a set of talented employees and enhance their career satisfaction. Career planning and up skilling falls under retention as today it is unknown how long the employee will stay, and satisfying ones need for growth and development could possibly retain a talent. From strategic point of view, a career development system helps organization with better usage of ones skillset and future planning. Personal Development Plans (PDP) have become popular due to having clarification for both - employee and the manager, enabling employee to work towards set short and long term goals and giving manager a chance to give constructive feedback and monitor the performance.
Employee engagement has become a topic over the last ten year, building on the older concepts of motivation from Herzberg and Maslow, as well as behavioral aspects (CIPD, 2017). Many organizations conduct employee opinion or attitude surveys, as well as focus groups and other collective gatherings in order to gain employee insights. The difference between a pre-set question survey and a focus group is that from a live session it is possible to gain more qualitative data as well as play around with questions, going deeper into employee opinions. As part of technological and social development, employers are now looking at obtaining insights through more engaging means as social media, having live stream of attitudes and opinions (CIPD, 2017).
HR function in organisations in different sectors and of different sizes
One of the main differences between HR operating in public and private sector is where the priorities lie (Faragher, 2017). In survey results from 2014, it shows that there has been a vast difference in HR budgeting, with private sector organisations paying more attention and allocating bigger budget to talent acquisition and retention, however in public sector major budget reductions are expected (Faragher, 2017).
Investors in People say that "clear differences that define smaller and larger organisations is the bureaucratic nature of the larger business allied with a more hierarchical structure" (Investorsinpeople.com, 2017). Larger organisations normally have bigger HR teams which results in more hierarchical division, with people specialising in their jobs, as example having a recruitment specialist who still works under the HR function, but specialises only on the first part of employee lifecycle, not necessarily getting involved in employee relations or engagement. On the other hand, with having a smaller team and flatter structure, smaller organisations offer HR staff to be more generalists, allowing more freedom and involvement throughout the HR function. Although there are clear differences, todays world has proven that no person and no organisation can be alike, therefore even though we can have benchmarks, it does not mean that smaller organisations would not have hierarchical structure within HR or that large organisations would have big HR teams, it can very easily be vice versa.
Kurt Lewin's three-phase model
The concept of change management has been a familiar topic for a while, and mostly the organisations who deal well with it tend to thrive, but the ones not managing change well, tend to suffer on its expense. In such a changing world and business environment, dealing with change mostly depends on the nature of the change and how well it is communicated and perceived by people involved. Kurt Lewin presented a change model in the 1950s, which is still very modern and vastly common today. His model of Unfreeze - Change - Refreeze is an easy to understand and when each step is understood, it helps in planning for the so distinctive stages and the change process itself.
Unfreeze stage is all about creating a motivation and environment for change with communication being a vital part of the process in order to get people to understand and support the change. Unfreezing the current situation or status quo is the first step of changing behaviours, with some of the activities including building recognition for the change needed, building trust and motivating employees by preparing them for the change. Later in Change stage, people are allowed to embrace the change, from where the problems can be identified and implementation of change evaluated and planned. Actually allowing employees to look at the change from a fresh perspective and bringing in change champions to move the status quo to a new level are some of the ways to push the process. And lastly the Refreeze phase is when the process ends and the organisation returns to stability, but it does not mean that the change process has been successful and so to say frozen until it has become a part of the culture where employees do not have a need or drive to return to their old behaviours. This step is important in order for the change to sustain over time, and process like introducing policies and procedures can be very effective (Kritsonis, 2005).
Kotter's eight-stage model
Dr. John Kotter "identified and extracted the success factors and combined them into a methodology", introducing a 8-step change model to help managers deal with transformational change (Kotter International, 2017). Similar to Lewin's 3-phase model, the first three stages look at creating a positive environment for change, then moving on to actually enabling organisation to perform and embrace the change, and last implementing and sustaining the change. These are the eight stages:
1) Establishing a sense of urgency
2) Creating the guiding coalition
3) Developing a vision and strategy
4) Communicating the change vision
5) Empowering broad-based action
6) Generating short-term wins
7) Consolidating gains and producing more change
8) Anchoring new approaches in the culture
As mentioned by Kotter in his book "Leading Change" (2012), the sequence and following through all the stages is very important as for example skipping the very first stage of establishing the sense of urgency could very quickly lead to a major resistance; or skipping some stages in the middle could cause major problems on the way.
Links between HR practices and positive organisational outcomes
By applying Lewin's three-phase model, Continental Airlines turned from one of the poorest performing airlines to the "Airline of the Year". Continental Airlines was founded in 1934 and started out with limited operations as one of the smallest airlines in the United States, however through facing not only financial but other troubles it grew into on of the most successful and biggest ones on the market. Even after being taken over by Huston airport, increasing the aircraft amount and routes, the company still failed and filed bankruptcy twice in a decade. But when the company was taken over in 1994, the new owner began the unfreeze process immediately and introduced a shift in behaviour from cost saving attitude to giving the best service and adhering to higher customer standards. During the Change phase, employees were offered rewards for company improvements, which brought cohesiveness into company and employees started shifting their mind-sets. Communication and openness during the process was major, and added value to cohesiveness. Once the new standards and attitudes were settled, the company could go through a Refreeze phase, and a proof of success was finally seeing Continental Airlines at the top of the award lists, continuously performing well until a final merger in 2010.
Another example of using the change model involves a motivation for change that's driven by customers and larger public, which for many years was the holding back part in change process. In 2008 the oil prices in America rose so much that a sudden change in consumer attitudes was noticed with sudden interest in fuel efficiency and smaller automobiles, finally catching up with the rest of the world. As foreign car manufacturers had dealt with fuel efficiency for years, American car manufacturers realised that either they change their offer line-up or face extinction. A couple of years later, these manufacturers were still in the middle of the change process, having introduced new lines that can compete in the market. They have now went through all the stages and shifted an idea of manufacturing large gas consumption cars to more fuel-efficient cars and are competing favourably in the tight market.
One of the greatest examples of positive organisational outcome is the growth of one of the world's biggest companies'- Apple. It is a great example of growth potential achievable through combining change and innovation. Succeeding greatly on their product offerings, design and usability throughout the years under Jobs reign, his autocratic leadership style took a toll of employee creativity and collaboration. Even though Apple didn't really need change at the time Jobs stepped down and Cook took his place, he was an operations man and with less involvement in actual product design, he focused on the culture. First of all he changed the leadership style and decentralized decision making process, allowing teams to have more said in what happens within the company and even introduced the first social responsibility program. Some would say that the Unfreeze stage was passed. Introducing innovation in culture and workplace, employees had their say, which presented more collaboration and drove new ideas. Along with innovation, employees had to learn to accept failure, and once the culture was shifted, the Refreezing began. Today, still one of the greatest company's, attracting great talent, and know for creative culture, Apple is an example of introducing change at the right stage of company's lifecycle.
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