FAQ

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What Is Human Resources?

Human resources is a term used to describe the individuals who comprise the workforce of an organization, although it is also applied in labor economics to, for example, business sectors or even whole nations. Human resources is also the name of the function within an organization charged with the overall responsibility for implementing strategies and policies relating to the management of individuals (i.e. the human resources). This function title is often abbreviated to the initials ‘HR’

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What are the key functions of Human Resources?

Human Resources may set strategies and develop policies, standards, systems, and processes that implement these strategies in a whole range of areas. The following are typical of a wide range of organizations:

Recruitment and selection (resourcing)

Organizational design and development

Business transformation and change management

Performance, conduct and behavior management

Industrial and employee relations

Human resources (workforce) analysis and workforce personnel data management

Compensation, rewards, and benefits management

Training and development (learning management)

implementation of such policies, processes or standards may be directly managed by the HR function itself, or the function may indirectly supervise the implementation of such activities by managers, other business functions or via third-party external partner organizations.

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What are the Human Resource Management trends and influences?

In organizations, it is important to determine both current and future organizational requirements for both core employees and the contingent workforce in terms of their skills/technical abilities, competencies, flexibility etc. The analysis requires consideration of the internal and external factors that can have an effect on the resourcing, development, motivation and retention of employees and other workers.
External factors are those largely out-with the control of the organization. These include issues such as economic climate and current and future labor market trends (e.g., skills, education level, government investment into industries etc.). On the other hand, internal influences are broadly controlled by the organization to predict, determine, and monitor—for example—the organizational culture, underpinned by management style, environmental climate, and the approach to ethical and corporate social responsibilities.

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Major trends

To know the business environment an organization operates in, three major trends must be considered:

Demographics:

the characteristics of a population/workforce, for example, age, gender or social class. This type of trend may have an effect in relation to pension offerings, insurance packages etc.

Diversity:

the variation within the population/workplace. Changes in society now mean that a larger proportion of organizations are made up of “baby-boomers” or older employees in comparison to thirty years ago. Advocates of “workplace diversity” simply advocate an employee base that is a mirror reflection of the make-up of society insofar as race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

Skills and qualifications:

as industries move from manual to a more managerial professions so does the need for more highly skilled graduates. If the market is “tight” (i.e., not enough staff for the jobs), employers must compete for employees by offering financial rewards, community investment, etc..

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Individual responses

In regard to how individuals respond to the changes in a labour market, the following must be understood:

Geographical spread:

far is the job from the individual? The distance to travel to work should be in line with the pay offered, and the transportation and infrastructure of the area also influence who applies for a post.

Occupational structure:

the norms and values of the different careers within an organization. Mahoney 1989 developed 3 different types of occupational structure namely craft (loyalty to the profession), organization career (promotion through the firm) and unstructured (lower/unskilled workers who work when needed).

Generational difference:

different age categories of employees have certain characteristics, for example their behaviour and their expectations of the organization.

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Framework

Human Resources Development is a framework for the expansion of human capital within an organization or (in new approaches) a municipality, region, or nation. Human Resources Development is a combination of training and education, in a broad context of adequate health and employment policies, that ensures the continual improvement and growth of both the individual, the organization, and the national human resourcefulness. Adam Smith states, “The capacities of individuals depended on their access to education”. Human Resources Development is the medium that drives the process between training and learning in a broadly fostering environment. Human Resources Development is not a defined object, but a series of organised processes, “with a specific learning objective” (Nadler,1984) Within a national context, it becomes a strategic approach to intersectoral linkages between health, education and employment.

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Structure

Human Resources Development is the structure that allows for individual development, potentially satisfying the organization’s, or the nation’s goals. Development of the individual benefits the individual, the organization—and the nation and its citizens. In the corporate vision, the Human Resources Development framework views employees as an asset to the enterprise, whose value is enhanced by development, “Its primary focus is on growth and employee development…it emphasises developing individual potential and skills”(Elwood, Olton and Trott 1996). Human Resources Development in this treatment can be in-room group training, tertiary or vocational courses or mentoring and coaching by senior employees with the aim for a desired outcome that develops the individual’s performance. At the level of a national strategy, it can be a broad intersectoral approach to fostering creative contributions to national productivity

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Training

At the organizational level, a successful Human Resources Development program prepares the individual to undertake a higher level of work, “organized learning over a given period of time, to provide the possibility of performance change” (Nadler 1984). In these settings, Human Resources Development is the framework that focuses on the organizations competencies at the first stage, training, and then developing the employee, through education, to satisfy the organizations long-term needs and the individuals’ career goals and employee value to their present and future employers. Human Resources Development can be defined simply as developing the most important section of any business its human resource by attaining or upgrading employee skills and attitudes at all levels to maximise enterprise effectiveness. The people within an organization are its human resource. Human Resources Development from a business perspective is not entirely focused on the individual’s growth and development, “development occurs to enhance the organization’s value, not solely for individual improvement. Individual education and development is a tool and a means to an end, not the end goal itself”.(Elwood F. Holton II, James W. Trott Jr). The broader concept of national and more strategic attention to the development of human resources is beginning to emerge as newly independent countries face strong competition for their skilled professionals and the accompanying brain-drain they experience.

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Recruitment

Employee recruitment forms a major part of an organization’s overall resourcing strategies, which identify and secure people needed for the organization to survive and succeed in the short to medium-term. Recruitment activities need to be responsive to the ever-increasingly competitive market to secure suitably qualified and capable recruits at all levels. To be effective these initiatives need to include how and when to source the best recruits internally or externally. Common to the success of either are; well-defined organizational structures with sound job design, robust task and person specification and versatile selection processes, reward, employment relations and human resource policies, underpinned by a commitment for strong employer branding and employee engagement strategies.

Internal recruitment can provide the most cost-effective source for recruits if the potential of the existing pool of employees has been enhanced through training, development and other performance-enhancing activities such as performance appraisal, succession planning and development centres to review performance and assess employee development needs and promotional potential.

Increasingly, securing the best quality candidates for almost all organizations relies, at least occasionally if not substantially, on external recruitment methods. Rapidly changing business models demand skill and experience that cannot be sourced or rapidly enough developed from the existing employee base. It would be unusual for an organization to undertake all aspects of the recruitment process without support from third-party dedicated recruitment firms. This may involve a range of support services, such as; provision of CVs or resumes, identifying recruitment media, advertisement design and media placement for job vacancies, candidate response handling, shortlisting, conducting aptitude testing, preliminary interviews or reference and qualification verification. Typically, small organizations may not have in-house resources or, in common with larger organizations, may not possess the particular skill-set required to undertake a specific recruitment assignment. Where requirements arise, these are referred on an ad hoc basis to government job centres or commercially run employment agencies.

Except in sectors where high-volume recruitment is the norm, an organization faced with sudden, unexpected requirements for an unusually large number of new recruits often delegates the task to a specialist external recruiter. Sourcing executive-level and senior management as well as the acquisition of scarce or ‘high-potential’ recruits has been a long-established market serviced by a wide range of ‘search and selection’ or ‘headhunting’ consultancies, which typically form long-standing relationships with their client organizations. Finally, certain organizations with sophisticated HR practices have identified there is a strategic advantage in outsourcing complete responsibility for all workforce procurement to one or more third-party recruitment agencies or consultancies. In the most sophisticated of these arrangements the external recruitment services provider may not only physically locate, or ‘embed’, their resourcing team(s) in the client organization’s offices, but work in tandem with the senior human resource management team in developing the longer-term HR resourcing strategy and plan.

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