Trends and Challenges in Human Resource Management

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Trends & Challenges in Human Resource � PAGE �1�

Human resources have been a beneficial aspect to several organizations globally and recently, has been considered one of the most important job functions for many successful corporations. Hiring and retaining qualified employees have previously been a challenging task and with the help of human resource professionals, seeking and maintaining conceptual employees has now become a priority for top earning corporations.

Compensation and employee benefits are often the driving mechanism for several corporations and until recently, other beneficial factors are also key components for retaining key employees.

In this essay, our group of human resource professionals will discuss the overall fundamentals of the human resource function which includes how a complete performance management system differs from the use of annual performance appraisals, evaluate the effectiveness of various performance appraisal methods and possible problems impacting performance appraisals, discuss the advantages of managing turnover in organizations, examine contemporary safety and health management issues in the workplace and discuss the future trends and challenges in human resource management.

The role of the human resource manager is evolving with the change in competitive markets, along with an ailing economy. Human resource managers must play a strategic role in the success of an organization and the future holds various trends and challenges for human resource management.

An example of a future trend in human resource management is the continuous growth in competition on a national and global level. To become more competitive, organizations must become more resilient, adaptive, and customer focused to succeed. Human resource managers must be able to evolve and become employee sponsors and change mentors. Human resource professionals must also become business driven and have an understanding of the organizations overall picture, as well as be able to influence key policies and decisions.

Human resource professionals are now more educated and human resource managers are now seeking professionals that have extensive human resource experience and have a wide range of business training. Human resource will become a greater function of the business instead of simply being an administrative task. Examples of the background that human resource professionals must posses are finance, economics, operations, statistics, and strategy. Future human resource professionals will also study in a changing academic environment where business and financial skills are emphasized in human resource programs.

Human resource managers will be held more accountable for the decisions they make regarding hiring top notch talent. Talent management will become the focus of human resources and human resource issues will be measured as a part of the business plan. Human resource managers will also be more significant in developing leadership for an organization.

There will also be two career paths leading to human resources which are human resource delivery and compliance issues while the other will be focused on finance and business strategy relative to talent needs, organizational design, and workforce development. The human resource core value will stem from helping organizations solve risk and compliance issues, personnel challenges, and looming talent shortage.

Future challenges for human resource management is the retirement of baby boomers. Human resource professionals will be faced with the challenges of filling important positions with candidates that are well qualified as well as creating training programs to train new talent. Human resource managers are concerned about the younger workforce lacking core competencies human resource professionals' view this as a serious issue that could undermine the nation's global competitiveness. Other challenges facing human resource management are further technological developments, economic environments and legal environments.

Fundamentals of human resource management define performance management as the process in which managers make certain that employee tasks and productivity add relevance to the organization's goals. In addition, performance appraisal is defined as the assessment of specified areas of an employee's performance (Noe, et al., 2007) A complete performance management system differs from the use of an annual performance appraisal provided that one regularly evaluates an organization as a whole; and the other evaluates individual performance on a yearly basis according to distinct roles. An effective performance management system identifies and aligns staff performance goals with organizational objectives and strategies to enhance business and employee development.

Performance management systems are generally established to achieve three common objectives, including: strategic, administrative, and developmental (Noe, et al., 2007). Performance management enforces consistency with organizational standards and encourages constructive employee behavior, which together promotes the value of the company and supports its business initiatives (Noe, et al., 2007). The overall performance management process regulates pay scales, promotions, employee enhancement, staffing, downsizing, and workforce empowerment; thus supporting administrative and developmental goals (Pulakos, 2004).

A complete and efficient system constitutes established objectives, effective training, constant communication and continuous feedback (Helm, et al., 2007). The assertion of executing a complete performance management system is to essentially recognize high and low performers at different levels; and identify all areas of improvement (Helm, et al., 2007). Such distinction is relevant to an organization's efforts in recognizing and retaining top performers for the overall growth and success of the company. Accordingly, a decisive management system is the source for putting into effect comprehensive annual performance appraisals. With wide-ranging intent, the performance management process guides constructive decision-making, while annual performance appraisals direct employee advancement (Pulakos, 2004).

Although the human resource profession future position holds a tremendous value to various corporations, currently, the human tendency to judge may generate severe ethical, motivational, and legal issues in the workplace. Devoid of a structured appraisal system, little chance exists of guaranteeing that the judgments made are fair, lawful, accurate, and defensible (Archer North and Associates, 2006).

A definition of a performance appraisal, as stated by Archer North and Associates, says "Performance appraisal may be defined as a structured formal interaction between a subordinate and supervisor, that usually takes the form of a periodic interview (annual or semi-annual), in which the work performance of the subordinate is examined and discussed, with a view to identifying weaknesses and strengths as well as opportunities for improvement and skills development (Archer North and Associates, 2006)."

Appraisals are used as a way of concluding reward outcomes. The process of the appraisals bring about a way of identifying which employee's are better performing, and who deserves an increase in pay, promotions and bonuses. Additionally, an appraisal system is used to examine the overall development of the company, grow the business to meet varying circumstances, encourage and motivate employees.

The following will outline the effectiveness of various performance appraisal methods and possible problems impacting performance appraisals.

The first appraisal method to be discussed is called the critical incidents file. In this performance appraisal method, the manager must note negative and positive performance actions of workers all the way through the performance period. This appraisal method is a structure of documentation specifically necessitated in this controversial environment (Unknown. 2007). This form of performance appraisal may be demanding on the manager since the manager is required to write out items pertaining to the employee instead of checking boxes in categories. Conversely, a benefit of this type of performance appraisal as stated by R. Bacal says "critical incidents can be exceedingly useful in helping employees improve since the information in them is more detailed and specific than in methods that involve rating employees (Bacal, 2000)."

A different appraisal method is called the rating scale. This method is a performance appraisal form where the manager merely marks off the employee's performance level. A few of the potential areas evaluated contain cooperation, quantity of work, attitude, quality of work, dependability, judgment, and initiative (Unknown, 2007). The rating scale method is easy to understand, use and construct. Nonetheless, this method is very biased, sometimes a predisposition to group the ratings around the average position exists, and a general impression can sway all the individual assessments (Department of Employment Relations, 2003).

Another method is referred to as behaviorally anchored rating scales (BARS). This method is a newer technique that combines critical incidents method and graphic rating scale (Unknown, 2007). If properly implemented, a BARS system, ought to conclude in a fairer, and more precise assessments of the worker's performance (Bacal, 2000). On the other hand, this method requires extensive analysis upfront essential to recognize the job behaviors.

Additionally, the performance appraisal method called ranking assesses a workers performance from best to worst. This technique has a manager comparing a worker to another worker, instead of weighing against each to a standard measurement. The forced distribution method, which is a derivative of ranking, is comparable to grading on a curve. A predetermined amount of employees are positioned in performance categories: such as excellent, above average, average, below average, and poor (Unknown, 2007). This method as stated by L. Sprenkle "creates and sustains a high performance culture, establishes well defined consequences, and let's employees know where they stand (Sprenkle, 2008)."

Performance appraisal is one of the most widely discussed and deliberated management practices, and has given rise to a number of differing viewpoints. Those who see performance appraisal as making an important contribution to human resource management, in that organizations require systematic information on how well employees are performing in their jobs as a key element in ensuring that human resources are used as effectively as possible. Employees at all levels experience a need to know clearly what they should be doing and what is expected of them in terms of quantity and quality of output.

Managing employee performance has become a necessity in today's society. Performance management is essential to the reduction of turnover rates within each corporation. Although managing turnover is a very demanding process, this course of action is also very advantageous to any company, particularly a high performing organization. Whether voluntary or involuntary, turnover has a costly impact on a company. Avoiding and minimizing either type of turnover is necessary to uphold company value and retain a high performing workforce (Noe, et al., 2007). Effectively and proficiently managing turnover helps to maintain adequate productivity, sustain positive employee morale, prevent lawsuits, avoid the expense of replacing workers, and secure a company's most valuable asset, which is highly skilled and valuable personnel (Noe, et al., 2007).

Observing job satisfaction is a fundamental factor in managing turnover. Job satisfaction significantly impacts company strategies, goals and guiding principles (Pulakos, 2004). More important, examining job satisfaction acknowledges the likelihood of preventing voluntary turnover. Therefore, managing turnover is relevant to managing performance and conducting job analysis. As a result, the company ensures it gets the most out of its employees; and employees get the most out of his or her job. Considerable means to accomplish this effort involves providing continuous training, educational and development opportunities, constructive feedback, and exceptional benefits, compensation and incentives.

The practice of managing turnover is directly linked to the implementation of a complete performance management system. Valuing high performers, supporting workforce development, and encouraging the separation of low performers is in the best interest of an organization to ensure growth, profits, competitiveness and consistency of standards (Noe, et al., 2007).

Performance management, performance appraisals and managing employee turnover rates are only a fraction of the human resource function. Managing safety and health is also a major function within the human resource profession. Every organization and wants the work environment to be healthy and safe for their employees. Health and safety programs take on many forms and that may include restructuring jobs to eliminate unsafe surroundings, manage safety-training programs, and offer incentives for excellent safety reports. Unsafe working conditions are the appearance of work environment that have the possibility to cause and occasionally harm or injury employees.

Health hazards are the appearance of work environment that gradually and increasingly lead to decline of an employees' wellbeing. Typical causes include physical and biological hazards, cancer causing chemicals, and stressful working conditions.

Contemporary Safety and Health Management Issues in the Workplace area that closely relates to minimizing employee turnover rates in an organization are active measures that ensure that employee safety and health are stressed and policies and procedures affecting both are monitored and enforced. A well thought out and enforced Environmental Safety and Health program for the organization can go to enormous lengths to help decrease employee injury, and the resultant lost time and productivity. The program will also reduce the organization responsibility to make available a safe work environment.

Employers are obligated by law to provide a safe and healthy work environment for every employee. The standards set for improving safety working condition and health is enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Many companies that face safety and health issues are dedicated to a drug free work environment and stress reduction. A drug free work environment has a dramatic impact on today's workforce. The United States Department of Labor (2006) reveals that America's workplaces are at risk because of alcohol and drug abuse. Methamphetamine is considered a major problem in the workplace. Department of Labor has implemented a program that will help promote safety and health in the workplace by encouraging all workers with alcohol and drug abuse problems to seek help. Implementing a drug free program in the organization will help protect the employee and will send a positive message that the organization values health and safety in the workplace (DOL, 2006).

Stress is another common issue that everyone faces in society. CIGNA Behavioral Health conducted a 2003 workplace survey that indicated a high rise in workplace stress. The survey indicated 45% of employees believed their jobs were more stressful and were considering leaving there jobs (Stack, 2008). Today's economy is fast-paced and employers must evaluate the safety and healthy environment for maintaining a successful workforce. High production demand is leveled on the workforce that may lead to stress and burnout. When employees are covering for vacant positions in addition to their own workload for extended periods of time, they become burned out.

The cost for the organization and its employees through excessive absences, decision-making errors and low morale is enormous. Understanding the need for an effective safety and health program through education and partnerships assists in reducing the impact of alcohol, drug abuse, violence and stress. Workforce development and coordinating services, such as employer assistance programs, can provide those right tools and information.

To work efficiently, the Workplace Health and Safety Act requires cooperation from both employers and employees to ensure that the workplace is a healthy and safe environment. Both the employees and employers are required to abide by the rules and regulations from the act, which are set for them. The Act requirements for employers are quite clear; the act is to guarantees a healthy and safe work environment of each employee. The employer also has a responsibility to make sure that his or her workplace health and safety is in the manner of his or her business. The employer has a responsibility to make sure other persons are not out in the open to risks to their health and safety arising out of the behavior of the employer's business or undertaking. Essentially, Employers are required to:

Provide a safe and healthy workplace

Provide and maintain a safe system of work

Provide the safe use of handling, storage and transport with necessary resources (safety clothing & equipment)

Provide procedures to identify assess and eradicate unsafe risks and hazards

Provide information and training for employees to work in a safe and healthy environment

Ensure that employees carry out workplace rules

It is important to be aware that hazards exist in any workplace and one should be trained effectively to identify them. Additional examples of hazards in the workplace include exposed wires, power leads on ground, equipment left in walkways, temperature often unacceptably hot or cold, and glare from windows, computer screens and lights. Making sure that the safety committee is kept up-to-date of these problems, and they can provide solutions in order to eliminate or minimize hazards like these. In many cases simple features like anti-glare screens which helps to prevent glare on the computer screens, can solve the problems, also relocating employees desk stations away from the air-conditioning duct can help with the temperature problems. Cooperation from both employers and their employees is needed to uphold a healthy and safe environment.

In conclusion, existing trends and challenges in human resource management varies from one area of the profession to another. Maintaining and managing employees' performance, turnover rates and safety and health administration assures that the organization is on the correct path to longevity and retaining productive employees.


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