The ability of a business to achieve its goals depends significantly on its employees. Therefore, the emphasis should be placed first of all on enhancing the performance of employees in order for organizational performance to be improved (Chang & Huang, 2005). This goal poses the need for organizations to take into account every aspect affecting their employees. In the present day, business environment is competitive and dynamic, and organizational success depends considerably on ensuring that employees are working towards the achievement of a common organizational goal. As a result, human resource management is increasingly becoming an important function in the organization that is geared towards the achievement of its goals and objectives (Boudreau & Jesuthasan, 2011). Many authors agree that HRM plays a strategic role in the contemporary business environment in the sense that the scope of HRM nowadays goes beyond just performing basic administrative functions, but also focuses on linking employees to the strategic goals and objectives of the firm (Wall & Wood, 2005). Owing to the importance of HRM, organizations should handle this function with care due to the fact that it provides a link between its most crucial assets – employees - and the ability of the organization to achieve its goal and objectives (Aswathappa, 2005). The purpose of this reflective paper is to explain how various aspects of HRM work together for achieving a primary objective of increasing the contribution as well as the effectiveness of employees with respect to the achievement of firm’s goals and objectives. This paper considers various aspects of HRM including affirmative action and EEO, HR planning, selection and recruitment, HR development, health and safety, and labor and employee relations. Furthermore, this paper evaluates the relative significance of these HR aspects and ways through which the HRM function can be optimized to shape the behavior of employees in the organization.
Affirmative Action and EEO
The first important HRM area is affirmative action and EEO. Achieving the main aim of HRM, which focuses on ensuring that employees perform their tasks efficiently to achieve the goals of the organization, it is important to take into account the issue of equal employee opportunities (Chnag & Huang, 2005). Affirmative action and EEO are laws aimed at ensuring that organizations adopt fair practices in HR including recruitment, selection, pay, benefits, promotions and recruitment among others. Essentially, affirmative action and EEO are embedded in all HRM functions with the aim of ensuring that employees receive equal opportunities for employment without any form of discrimination (Wall & Wood, 2005). EEO has been helpful in making sure that people have the same employment opportunities notwithstanding their sex, gender, religious affiliation, and race among other factors that can be used as a basis for discrimination (Aswathappa, 2005). EEO and affirmative action laws help ensure that people with disabilities are not discriminated against, since such opportunities are evaluated based on skills and merits rather than physical ability (Wall & Wood, 2005). When an organization provides equal opportunities to its employees, it is more likely to have a workforce that is focused on the attainment of its goals and objectives (Aswathappa, 2005). The HRM department has a responsibility of ensuring that the employees are aligned to the objectives of the firm, and EEO and affirmative action offers an avenue through which this goal can be achieved (Buller & McEvoy, 2012). Affirmative action and EEO have also been linked to diversity and inclusion, which play important roles with respect to the achievement of the organization’s bottom line (Buller & McEvoy, 2012).
This is another important area of HRM, which is instrumental for ensuring that organization has a competent workforce with respect to skills and tact (Aswathappa, 2005; Buller & McEvoy, 2012). For organizations seeking to achieve their goals and objectives, HR development is a mandatory undertaking. HR development helps employees to enhance their abilities, knowledge and skills through such avenues as organizational development, preparation for succession, mentoring and coaching, managing performance, providing employees with career development opportunities, and employee training and development (Wall & Wood, 2005). All these HR development aspects focus on ensuring that the organization has a superior workforce in order to enable individual employees achieve their goals while at the same time contributing to the overall goals and objectives of the organization (Buller & McEvoy, 2012). HR development can also be accomplished by enhancing such workplace systems as communication between various organizational levels, creating a comfortable work environment that nurtures employee learning, fostering collaborative culture between employees, and ensuring that information flows freely within the organization in order to allow the employees easily articulate their views and share ideas (Buller & McEvoy, 2012). In addition, such working environment ensures that employees are in a position to work without feeling intimidated, which has a positive impact on their performance and productivity. The HR development aspect is important, because it is directly linked to the achievement of goals and objectives of the organization in the process of employees achieving their personal goals (Buller & McEvoy, 2012). Moreover, it is also important for the organization to ensure fairness and equality in HR development opportunities. This approach helps employees gain positive perceptions regarding the HR development processes (Buller & McEvoy, 2012).
Benefits and Compensation
Benefits and compensations aspects constitute an important area of HRM. It focuses on managing a number of issues, including expenses for the personnel, creating the performance criterions, and ascertaining that the compensation policies used in the organization are transparent (Aswathappa, 2005). Effective policies of compensation and benefits play significant roles in containing the personnel costs, managing employees’ performance and ensuring that employees exhibiting extraordinary performance are rewarded accordingly. In addition, the benefits and compensation aspects contribute to the transparency of HRM by ensuring that rewards and performance are matched respectively (Buller & McEvoy, 2012). Through the compensation and benefits tools, HR managers can differentiate performing from underperforming employees in an attempt to create a corporate culture characterized by high employee performance (Boudreau & Jesuthasan, 2011). The benefits and compensation unit also assesses the external environment and job market as well as helps ensure optimal personnel costs for the organization. Other roles played by the benefits and compensation unit that are vital for achieving goals and objectives of the organization include defining the strategy for compensating employees, such as performance-based pay, setting simple and transparent policies for compensation, and defining the rules for rewarding employees with superior performance, such as bonus schemes (Aswathappa, 2005). A firm that seeks to motivate its workforce to exhibit higher productivity should offer benefits and compensations. Benefits like paid holidays help motivate employees, while at the same time retain them. Other important benefits include maternity leaves, bonuses and stock options (Boudreau & Jesuthasan, 2011). These benefits help ensure that employees are loyal and work towards the success of the organization, since they also benefit when the organization succeeds (Buller & McEvoy, 2012).
Safety and Health
Regardless of the industry, there is always the likelihood of damages or accidents, which can affect the health of employees. All forms of work are vulnerable to various forms of hazards including toxic chemicals, dangerous equipment and machinery, electrical wires, and display screens (Aswathappa, 2005). Apart from the physical hazards, psychological hazards such as work stress are also imminent. For all organizations, employee safety and health are important. First, it is worth noting that employees are entitled to work in an environment that is both healthy and safe (Boudreau & Jesuthasan, 2011). No worker, including his/her family members, should experience any suffering because of the workplace dangers that can be avoided. Through ensuring that the workplace is healthy and safety, employees as well as the organization benefit. Safety and health in the workplace is related to the goals of HRM that include retaining employees, organizational productivity and reputation. Unsafe workplaces are likely to make employees feel underappreciated (Boudreau & Jesuthasan, 2011). For example, when the organization fails to adequately train its employees regarding the use of equipment and machinery, allows minors to operate heavy equipment, or fails to implement a safety code, employees are likely to feel that organization is not concerned about their wellbeing. In such a case, employees are likely to opt to search for jobs in other companies that appear concerned about the wellbeing of their employees (Boudreau & Jesuthasan, 2011). In addition, healthy employees who feel comfortable and safe in their workplaces are likely to exhibit more productivity compared to sick or injured employees. In a safe and healthy workplace, employees perform optimally. Such workplaces are also characterized by few sick leaves and absenteeism, which in turn contribute to the organizational performance (Boudreau & Jesuthasan, 2011). Moreover, companies that have regular accidents in the workplace develop a reputation of being negligent. The customers of the company, its competitors and the public will view the organization as unprofessional when it disregards safety requirements. It is evident that the role of HRM is to ensure that the workplace is safe and healthy for its employees to work optimally towards the achievement of strategic goals and objectives (Aswathappa, 2005).
Employee and Labor Relations
This is another important HRM area concerned with shaping the behavior of employees and making sure that their conduct is honest and accountable. The employee and labor relations aspect of HRM seeks to bridge the gap between employers and employees in order to make sure that the employee-employer association is fruitful and benefits both parties (Boudreau & Jesuthasan, 2011). Its additional focus is on resolving conflicts that are likely to occur within the organization among employees and between employees and the organization. A firm that is concerned with the issues facing its employees and develops appropriate measures to address these issues creates an environment characterized by employees feeling that the company cares about them and takes their grievances into account (Boudreau & Jesuthasan, 2011). Labor relations also make sure that the companies do not infringe on the employee rights while at the same time ensuring that workers do not breach their contractual obligations. The labor and employee relations aspect of HRM is an important feature in achieving goals and objectives of the firm that cannot be disregarded (Boudreau & Jesuthasan, 2011).
Relative Importance of the HRM Aspects
All these HRM aspects are not only vital, but also equally important because of the fact that they are related and that negligence in one aspect affects another one (Chnag & Huang, 2005; Wall & Wood, 2005). For instance, failing to train employees (HR development) is likely to cause dangers in the workplace (Safety and Health). Similarly, EEO and affirmative action spans all HRM functions including promotion, recruitment, benefits and compensation, and employee training. For HRM to contribute to the success of the organization, all these aspects should be taken into consideration. Disregard of some areas of HRM is likely to result in negative outcomes for employees, such as reduced morale, lack of motivation, and lower productivity among others.
Optimizing HRM to Shape the Behavior of Employees
The optimization of HRM to shape the behavior of employees can be done by ensuring that HR managers are sufficiently competent to handle HR tasks appropriately. In this respect, HR managers are supposed to relate to employees appropriately and ensure open communication channels (Boudreau & Jesuthasan, 2011). Another way for optimizing HRM in influencing the behavior of employees is using the behavioral perspective of HRM (Aswathappa, 2005). This perspective maintains that different strategies require diverse role behaviors from employees for the successful implementation of these strategies. The role behaviors that contribute to the success of the firm are known as desired employee behaviors, which include flexibility, willingness to learn and behave in a way that is aligned with the values and objectives of the organization (Aswathappa, 2005). In such a setting, the HRM system should identify the desired employee behaviors, ascertain the availability of opportunities for the needed employee behavior, ensure that employees have the needed competencies to behave as needed, and lastly motivate workers to exhibit the desired behavior (Aswathappa, 2005).
Class Activities that Enabled Learning
A number of class activities were instrumental in fostering learning, which included visits to the firms and actual field research concerning the aspects of HRM. The visits to firms were helpful for the understanding of various HRM aspects and their relationship to the success of the firm. These visits were the reflection of actual HRM practice. In addition, field research also enabled to explore various HRM aspects firsthand.
From the course, I have learn to appreciate the important roles that employees play in guaranteeing the success of the organization. I have also learnt that all HRM areas are equally important. Thus, not one of them should be ignored at the cost of another. This new knowledge will be helpful in my HR practice, because it will allow me to make informed decisions with respect to the allocation of resources to various HRM aspects.
Effect on Career Plans
The knowledge from this course has renewed my interest in HRM. The issue of labor and employment relations caught my attention. As a result, I am likely to focus in my HRM practice on employment and labor relations. The organization that I will work for in in the future, I intend to ensure smooth relations between the employer and the employees and reconcile their different interests.
From the reflective paper, it is evident that all areas of HRM are equally important and interrelated. Therefore, disregard of one aspect of HRM is likely to have negative ramifications on other HRM areas. Another important finding from this exercise is that the behavioral perspective of HRM can be helpful for optimizing HRM functions to influence the behavior of employees.