Human Resource Management and Employees
After an organization’s structural design is in place, it needs people with the right skills, knowledge, and abilities to fill in that structure. People are an organization’s most important resource, because people either create or undermine an organization’s reputation for quality in both products and service. In addition, an organization must respond to change effectively in order to remain competitive. The right staff can carry an organization through a period of change and ensure its future success.
Because of the importance of hiring and maintaining a committed and competent staff, effective human resource management is crucial to the success of all organizations. Human resource management (HRM), or staffing, is the management function devoted to acquiring, training, appraising, and compensating employees. In effect, all managers are human resource managers, although human resource specialists may perform some of these activities in large organizations.
Human Resource Management and Employees Essay Example
Solid HRM practices can mold a company’s workforce into a motivated and committed team capable of managing change effectively and achieving the organizational objectives. Understanding the fundamentals of HRM can help any manager lead more effectively. Every manager should understand the following three principles: All managers are human resource managers. Employees are much more important assets than buildings or equipment; good employees give a company the competitive edge. Human resource management is a matching process; it must match the needs of the organization with the needs of the employee.
HR Management: Laws and Regulations Laws and regulations at the federal, state, and local levels regulate how companies conduct staffing. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act banned most discriminatory hiring practices. Three sensitive areas of legal concern that managers must comply with are equal opportunity, affirmative action, and sexual harassment, described in the following sections. These areas, as well as other laws, impact all human resource practices. Equal Employment Opportunity Individuals covered under Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws are
protected from illegal discrimination, which occurs when people who share a certain characteristic, such as race, age, or gender, are discriminated against because of that characteristic. People who have the designated characteristics are called the protected class. Federal laws have identified the following characteristics for protection: Race, ethnic origin, color (for example, African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian) Gender (women, including those who are pregnant) Age (individuals over 40) Individuals with disabilities (physical and mental)
Military experience (Vietnam-era veterans) Religion (special beliefs and practices) The main purpose of the EEO laws is to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity of getting a job or being promoted at work. Affirmative action While EEO laws aim to ensure equal treatment at work, affirmative action requires the employer to make an extra effort to hire and promote people who belong to a protected group. Affirmative action includes taking specific actions designed to eliminate the present effects of past discriminations.
Employees are also protected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which was established through the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Title VII. The scope of authority of the EEOC has been expanded so that today it carries the major enforcement authority for the following laws: Civil Rights Act of 1964. Prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. Civil Rights Act of 1991. Reaffirms and tightens prohibition of discrimination.
Permits individuals to sue for punitive damages in cases of intentional discrimination and shifts the burden of proof to the employer. Equal Pay Act of 1963. Prohibits pay differences based on sex for equal work. Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. Prohibits discrimination or dismissal of women because of pregnancy alone, and protects job security during maternity leaves. American with Disabilities Act. Prohibits discrimination against individuals with physical or mental disabilities or the chronically ill, and requires that “reasonable accommodations” be provided for the disabled.
Vocational Rehabilitation Act. Prohibits discrimination on the basis of physical or mental disabilities and requires that employees be informed about affirmative action plans. Most employers in the United States must comply with the provisions of Title VII. Compliance is required from all private employers of 15 or more persons, all educational institutions, state and local governments, public and private employment agencies, labor unions with 15 or more members, and joint (labor-management) committees for apprenticeship and training. Sexual harassment
Few workplace topics have received more attention in recent years than that of sexual harassment. Since professor Anita Hill confronted Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas on national television over a decade ago, the number of sexual harassment claims filed annually in the United States has more than doubled. Since 1980, U. S. courts generally have used guidelines from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to define sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is defined as “unwelcome sexual advances for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
” Sexual harassment may include sexually suggestive remarks, unwanted touching, sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature In a 1993 ruling, the Supreme Court widened the test for sexual harassment under the civil rights law to whether comments or behavior in a work environment “would reasonably be perceived, and is perceived as hostile or abusive. ” As a result, employees don’t need to demonstrate that they have been psychologically damaged to prove sexual harassment in the workplace; they simply must prove that they are working in a hostile or abusive environment.
Sexual harassment is not just a woman’s problem. Recently, a decision handed down by the U. S. Supreme Court broadened the definition of sexual harassment to include same-sex harassment as well as harassment of males by female coworkers. In the suit that prompted the Court’s decision, a male oil-rig worker claimed he was singled out by other members of the all-male crew for crude sex play, unwanted touching, and threats. From management’s standpoint, sexual harassment is a growing concern because it intimidates employees, interferes with job performance, and exposes the organization to liability.
Organizations must respond to sexual harassment complaints very quickly because employers are held responsible for sexual harassment if appropriate action is not taken. The cost of inaction can be high. The Civil Rights Act of 1991 permits victims of sexual harassment to have jury trials and to collect compensatory damages in cases where the employer acted with “malice or reckless indifference” to the individual’s rights. Employers can take the following steps to help minimize liability for sexual harassment suits: 1. Offer a sexual harassment policy statement.
This statement should address where employees can report complaints, assure confidentiality, and promise that disciplinary action will be taken against sexual harassers. 2. Provide communication and training programs for supervisors and managers. These programs should emphasize that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. 3. Conduct fair, impartial investigations and base actions on objectively gathered facts. The complainant must be insulated from the kinds of behavior that prompted the complaint. Other employment laws Several other laws impact staffing practices as well.
The Fair Labor Standards Act specifies the minimum wage, overtime pay rules, and child labor regulations. The Employee Polygraph Protection Act outlaws almost all uses of the polygraph machine for employment purposes. Privacy laws provide legal rights regarding who has access to information about work history and job performance for employees in certain jurisdictions. Under the Whistleblower Protection Act, some employees who publicize dangerous employer practices are entitled to legal protection. Table 1 lists additional federal laws that shape HRM practices. TABLE 1
Some Federal Laws Shaping HRM Practices Law Date Description National Labor Relations Act 1935 Requires employers to recognize a union chosen by the majority of the employees and to establish procedures governing collective bargaining. Age Discrimination in Employment Act 1967, amended in 1978 and 1986 Prohibits age discrimination against employees between 40 and 65 years of age and restricts mandatory retirement. Occupational Safety and Health Act 1970 Establishes mandatory safety and health standards in organizations. Vietnam-Era Veteran’s Readjustment Assistance Act 1974
Prohibits discrimination against disabled veterans and Vietnam-era veterans. Mandatory Retirement Act 1978 Prohibits the forced retirement of most employees before the age of 70. Immigration Reform and Control Act 1986 Prohibits employers from knowingly hiring illegal aliens and prohibits employment on the basis of national origin of citizenship. Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act 1988 Requires employees to provide 60 days’ notice before a facility closing or mass layoff. Employee Polygraph Protection Act 1988 Limits an employer’s ability to use lie detector tests.
Family and Medical Leave Act 1993 Permits employees in organizations with 50 or more workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for family or medical reasons for each year. Determining Human Resource Needs Staffing is an ongoing process that begins with finding the right people through proper planning, recruiting, and selecting. But staffing doesn’t end once employees are hired; management must keep and nurture its people via training, appraising, compensating, and implementing employment decisions that determine such things as promotions, transfers, and layoffs. Human resource planning
The first step in the staffing process involves human resource planning. Human resource planning begins with a job analysis in which descriptions of all jobs (tasks) and the qualifications needed for each position are developed. A job description is a written statement of what a jobholder does, how it’s done, and why it’s done. It typically portrays job content, environment, and conditions of employment. The job specification states the minimum acceptable qualifications an incumbent must possess to perform a given job successfully. It identifies the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to do the job effectively.
Job analysis is then followed by a human resource inventory, which catalogs qualifications and interests. Next, a human resource forecast is developed to predict the organization’s future needs for jobs and people based on its strategic plans and normal attrition. The forecast is then compared to the inventory to determine whether the organization’s staffing needs will be met with existing personnel or whether managers will have to recruit new employees or terminate existing ones. Recruiting strategies Recruitment includes all the activities an organization may use to attract a pool of viable candidates.
Effective recruiting is increasingly important today for several reasons: The U. S. employment rate has generally declined each year through the 1990s. Experts refer to the current recruiting situation as one of “evaporated employee resources. ” Many experts believe that today’s Generation X employees (those born between 1963 and 1981) are less inclined to build long-term employment relationships than were their predecessors. Therefore, finding the right inducements for attracting, hiring, and retaining qualified personnel may be more complicated than in previous years.
Keep in mind that recruiting strategies differ among organizations. Although one may instantly think of campus recruiting as a typical recruiting activity, many organizations use internal recruiting, or promote-from-within policies, to fill their high-level positions. Open positions are posted, and current employees are given preferences when these positions become available. Internal recruitment is less costly than an external search. It also generates higher employee commitment, development, and satisfaction because it offers opportunities for career advancement to employees rather than outsiders.
If internal sources do not produce an acceptable candidate, many external recruiting strategies are available, including the following: Newspaper advertising Employment agencies (private, public, or temporary agencies) Executive recruiters (sometimes called headhunters) Unions Employee referrals Internship programs Internet employment sites But there’s more to recruiting than just attracting employees; managers need to be able to weed out the top candidates. Once a manger has a pool of applicants, the selection process can begin. Selecting the Best Person for the Job
Having the right people on staff is crucial to the success of an organization. Various selection devices help employers predict which applicants will be successful if hired. These devices aim to be not only valid, but also reliable. Validity is proof that the relationship between the selection device and some relevant job criterion exists. Reliability is an indicator that the device measures the same thing consistently. For example, it would be appropriate to give a keyboarding test to a candidate applying for a job as an administrative assistant.
However, it would not be valid to give a keyboarding test to a candidate for a job as a physical education teacher. If a keyboarding test is given to the same individual on two separate occasions, the results should be similar. To be effective predictors, a selection device must possess an acceptable level of consistency. Application forms For most employers, the application form is the first step in the selection process. Application forms provide a record of salient information about applicants for positions, and also furnish data for personnel research.
Interviewers may use responses from the application for follow-up questions during an interview. These forms range from requests for basic information, such as names, addresses, and telephone numbers, to comprehensive personal history profiles detailing applicants’ education, job experience skills, and accomplishments. According to the Uniform Selection Guidelines of the EEOC, which establish standards that employers must meet to prevent disparate or unequal treatment, any employment requirement is a test, even a job application.
As a result, EEOC considerations and application forms are interrelated, and managers should make sure that their application forms do not ask questions that are irrelevant to job success, or these questions may create an adverse impact on protected groups. For example, employers should not ask whether an applicant rents or owns his or her own home, because an applicant’s response may adversely affect his or her chances at the job. Minorities and women may be less likely to own a home, and home ownership is probably unrelated to job performance.
On the other hand, asking about the CPA exam for an accounting position is appropriate, even if only one-half of all female or minority applicants have taken the exam versus nine-tenths of male applicants. A quick test for disparate impact suggested by the Uniform Selection Guidelines is the four-fifths rules. Generally, a disparate impact is assumed when the proportions of protected class applicants who are actually hired is less that 80 percent (four-fifths) of the proportion of the majority group applicants selected.
For example, assume that an employer has 100 white male applicants for an entry-level job and hires one-half of them, for a selection ratio of 1:2, or 50 percent (50/100). The four-fifths rule does not mean that the employers must hire four-fifths, or 40 protected class members. Instead, the rule means that the employer’s selection ratio of protected class-applicants should be at least four-fifths of that of the majority groups. Testing Testing is another method of selecting competent future employees.
Although testing use has ebbed and flowed during the past two decades, recent studies reveal that more than 80 percent of employers use testing as part of their selection process. Again, these tests must be valid and reliable, or serious EEO questions may be raised about the use of them. As a result, a manager needs to make sure that the test measures only job-relevant dimensions of applicants. Most tests focus on specific job-related aptitudes and skills, such as math or motor skills. Typical types of exams include the following: Integrity tests measure factors such as dependability, carefulness, responsibility, and honesty.
These tests are used to learn about the attitudes of applicants toward a variety of job-related subjects. Since the passage of the Employee Polygraph Protection Act in 1988, polygraph (lie detector) tests have been effectively banned in employment situations. In their place, attitude tests are being used to assess attitudes about honesty and, presumably, on-the-job behaviors. Personality tests measure personality or temperament. These tests are among the least reliable. Personality tests are problematic and not very valid, because little or no relationship exists between personality and performance.
Knowledge tests are more reliable than personality tests because they measure an applicant’s comprehension or knowledge of a subject. A math test for an accountant and a weather test for a pilot are examples. Human relations specialists must be able to demonstrate that the test reflects the knowledge needed to perform the job. For example, a teacher hired to teach math should not be given a keyboarding test. Performance simulation tests are increasing in popularity. Based on job analysis data, they more easily meet the requirement of job relatedness than written tests. Performance simulation tests are made up of actual job behaviors.
The best-known performance simulation test is known as work sampling, and other credible simulation processes are performed at assessment centers. An assessment is a selection technique that examines candidates’ handling of simulated job situations and evaluates a candidate’s potential by observing his or her performance in experiential activities designed to simulate daily work. Assessment centers, where work sampling is often completed, utilize line executives, supervisors, or trained psychologists to evaluate candidates as they go through exercises that simulate real problems that these candidates would confront on their jobs.
Activities may include interviews, problem-solving exercises, group discussions, and business-decision games. Assessment centers have consistently demonstrated results that accurately predict later job performance in managerial positions. Work sampling is an effort to create a miniature replica of a job, giving applicants the chance to demonstrate that they possess the necessary talents by actually doing the tasks. Interviews Another widely used selection technique is the interview, a formal, in-depth conversation conducted to evaluate an applicant’s acceptability.
In general, the interviewer seeks to answer three broad questions: 1. Can the applicant do the job? 2. Will the applicant do the job? 3. How does the applicant compare with others who are being considered for the job? Interviews are popular because of their flexibility. They can be adapted to unskilled, skilled, managerial, and staff employees. They also allow a two-way exchange of information where interviewers can learn about the applicant and the applicant can learn about the employer. Interviews do have some shortcomings, however.
The most noticeable flaws are in the areas of reliability and validity. Good reliability means that the interpretation of the interview results does not vary from interviewer to interviewer. Reliability is improved when identical questions are asked. The validity of interviews is often questionable because few departments use standardized questions. Managers can boost the reliability and validity of selection interviews by planning the interviews, establishing rapport, closing the interview with time for questions, and reviewing the interview as soon as possible after its conclusion.
Other selection techniques Reference checking and health exams are two other important selection techniques that help in the staffing decision. Reference checking allows employers to verify information supplied by the candidate. However, obtaining information about potential candidates is often difficult because of privacy laws and employer concerns about defamation lawsuits. Health exams identify health problems that increase absenteeism and accidents, as well as detecting diseases that may be unknown to the applicant.
Orientation and Training Programs Once employees are selected, they must be prepared to do their jobs, which is when orientation and training come in. Orientation means providing new employees with basic information about the employer. Training programs are used to ensure that the new employee has the basic knowledge required to perform the job satisfactorily. Orientation and training programs are important components in the processes of developing a committed and flexible high-potential workforce and socializing new employees.
In addition, these programs can save employers money, providing big returns to an organization, because an organization that invests money to train its employees results in both the employees and the organization enjoying the dividends. Unfortunately, orientation and training programs are often overlooked. A recent U. S. study, for example, found that 57 percent of employers reported that although employees’ skill requirements had increased over a three-year period, only 20 percent of employees were fully proficient in their jobs. Orientation
Orientation programs not only improve the rate at which employees are able to perform their jobs but also help employees satisfy their personal desires to feel they are part of the organization’s social fabric. The HR department generally orients newcomers to broad organizational issues and fringe benefits. Supervisors complete the orientation process by introducing new employees to coworkers and others involved in the job. A buddy or mentor may be assigned to continue the process. Training needs Simply hiring and placing employees in jobs does not ensure their success.
In fact, even tenured employees may need training, because of changes in the business environment. Here are some changes that may signal that current employees need training: Introduction of new equipment or processes A change in the employee’s job responsibilities A drop in an employee’s productivity or in the quality of output An increase in safety violations or accidents An increased number of questions Complaints by customers or coworkers Once managers decide that their employees need training, these managers need to develop clear training goals that outline anticipated results.
These managers must also be able to clearly communicate these goals to employees. Keep in mind that training is only one response to a performance problem. If the problem is lack of motivation, a poorly designed job, or an external condition (such as a family problem), training is not likely to offer much help. Types of training After specific training goals have been established, training sessions should be scheduled to provide the employee an opportunity to meet his or her goals. The following are typical training programs provided by employers: Basic literacy training.
Ninety million American adults have limited literacy skills, and about 40 million can read little or not at all. Because most workplace demands require a tenth- or eleventh-grade reading level (and about 20 percent of Americans between the ages of 21 and 25 can’t read at even an eighth-grade level), organizations increasingly need to provide basic literacy training in the areas of reading and math skills to their employees. Technical training. New technology and structural designs have increased the need to upgrade and improve employees’ technical skills in both white-collar and blue-collar jobs.
Interpersonal skills training. Most employees belong to a work team, and their work performance depends on their abilities to effectively interact with their coworkers. Interpersonal skills training helps employees build communication skills. Problem-solving training. Today’s employees often work as members of self-managed teams who are responsible for solving their own problems. Problem-solving training has become a basic part of almost every organizational effort to introduce self-managed teams or implement Total Quality Management (TQM).
Diversity training. As one of the fastest growing areas of training, diversity training increases awareness and builds cultural sensitivity skills. Awareness training tries to create an understanding of the need for, and meaning of, managing and valuing diversity. Skill-building training educates employees about specific cultural differences in the workplace. Training methods Most training takes place on the job due to the simplicity and lower cost of on-the-job training methods. Two popular types of on-the-job training include the following: Job rotation.
By assigning people to different jobs or tasks to different people on a temporary basis, employers can add variety and expose people to the dependence that one job has on others. Job rotation can help stimulate people to higher levels of contributions, renew people’s interest and enthusiasm, and encourage them to work more as a team. Mentoring programs. A new employee frequently learns his or her job under the guidance of a seasoned veteran. In the trades, this type of training is usually called an apprenticeship. In white-collar jobs, it is called a coaching or mentoring relationship.
In each, the new employee works under the observation of an experienced worker. Sometimes, training goals cannot be met through on-the-job training; the employer needs to look to other resources. Off-the-job training can rely on outside consultants, local college faculty, or in-house personnel. The more popular off-the-job training methods are classroom lectures, videos, and simulation exercises. Thanks to new technologies, employers can now facilitate some training, such as tutorials, on the employees’ own computers, reducing the overall costs.
Regardless of the method selected, effective training should be individualized. Some people absorb information better when they read about it, others learn best by observation, and still others learn better when they hear the information. These different learning styles are not mutually exclusive. When training is designed around the preferred learning style of an employee, the benefits of training are maximized because employees are able to retain more of what they learn.
In addition to training, employers should offer development plans, which include a series of steps that can help employees acquire skills to reach long-term goals, such as a job promotion. Training, on the other hand, is immediate and specific to a current job. Evaluating Employee Performance Employee performance should be evaluated regularly. Employees want feedback—they want to know what their supervisors think about their work. Regular performance evaluations not only provide feedback to employees, but also provide employees with an opportunity to correct deficiencies.
Evaluations or reviews also help in making key personnel decisions, such as the following: Justifying promotions, transfers, and terminations Identifying training needs Providing feedback to employees on their performance Determining necessary pay adjustments Most organizations utilize employee evaluation systems; one such system is known as a performance appraisal. A performance appraisal is a formal, structured system designed to measure the actual job performance of an employee against designated performance standards. Although performance appraisals systems vary by organizations, all employee evaluations should
have the following three components: Specific, job-related criteria against which performance can be compared A rating scale that lets employees know how well they’re meeting the criteria Objective methods, forms, and procedures to determine the rating Traditionally, an employee’s immediate boss conducts his or her performance appraisal. However, some organizations use other devices, such as peer evaluations, self-appraisals, and even customer evaluations, for conducting this important task. The latest approach to performance evaluation is the use of 360-degree feedback.
The 360-degree feedback appraisal provides performance feedback from the full circle of daily contacts that an employee may have. This method of performance appraisal fits well into organizations that have introduced teams, employee involvement, and TQM programs. Making Employment Decisions Employment decisions go beyond determining which employees are due for raises. Through regular, objective performance appraisals, managers acquire information to make and implement decisions about promotions, transfers, demotions, separations, and compensation.
In most organizations, outstanding employees are recognized for their hard work and outstanding performances, and offered promotions. A promotion generally means rewarding an employee’s efforts by moving that person to a job with increased authority and responsibility. Downsizing has led many firms to rely on lateral moves or transfers instead of promoting employees. A lateral move can act as an opportunity for future vertical advancement because it can broaden an employee’s experiences and add skills. On the other hand, sometimes employees’ performances signal that they aren’t adapting well to their jobs and may need fewer responsibilities.
One option is a demotion, or reassignment to a lower rank or less prestigious position. Demotions are not a popular technique because of the stigma attached to this move. A misconception is that demotions should be used as punishment for ineffective performance. The departure of an employee from an organization is referred to as separation. Separation may be voluntary or involuntary. Resignations and retirements are voluntary separations. Involuntary separations are layoffs and/or firings. Lately, the rash of downsizing throughout the United States has resulted in many layoffs.
Sometimes, however, an employee must be terminated because of poor performance. Dismissal or firing of employees should occur only on the basis of just cause and only after all reasonable steps to rehabilitate the employee have failed. In some cases, such as gross insubordination or theft, immediate dismissal is required. Compensating Employees Employee compensation refers to all work-related payments, including wages, commissions, insurance, and time off. Wages and salaries are the most obvious forms of compensation and are based on job evaluations that determine the relative values of jobs to the organization.
Under the hourly wage system, employees are paid a fixed amount for each hour they work. The system is generally used for lower skilled occupations. Salaried employees receive a fixed sum per week or month, no matter how many hours they work. Most professional positions are salaried; the reality is that these jobholders typically work in excess of a “minimum” 40-hour workweek. Some occupations are compensated through incentive pay programs. Salespeople typically receive commissions based upon the quantities of goods they sell.
Some sales compensation plans contain elements of both a salary and commission. A production worker’s pay may be based upon some combination of an hourly wage and an incentive for each “piece” he or she makes. Some employees are offered merit awards as a reward for sustained superior performance. Employee benefits are supplements to wages or pay. Some benefits, such as unemployment and worker’s compensation, are legally mandated. Other benefits are optional and help build employee loyalty to an organization, including the following: Health insurance Pension plans E