Human Resource Management

Throughout this paper, a comparison, contrast and critique analysis has been made for Personnel and Human Resource Management, using various authors’ opinions. The importance on how Human Resource Strategy should be aligned to Corporate Strategy has been highlighted, as well as some relevant Hospitality strategic issues of Human Resource Management have been included and analysed. But it is not only the past what makes up the future but the actual present. Trends in Human Resource Management are in this matter of great importance to the discussion. There are vast numbers of trends today in HRM.

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Two main trends will be looked at. Firstly empowerment, followed by Flexibility. Part of the problem with understanding and applying Empowerment is the difficulty in defining it precisely. Richard Carver, managing director of the Coverdale organization, defines Empowerment in terms of encouraging and allowing individuals to take personal responsibility for improving the way they do their jobs and contribute to the organizational goals. Empowerment requires the creation of a culture which both encourages people at all levels to feel they can make a difference and helps them to acquire the confidence and skills to do so.

Empowerment occurs when employees are allowed greater freedom, autonomy and self-control over their work. Employers to employees encourage responsibility and decision-making. According to the Management Writer Peter Kizilos (1987) empowerment is the corporate equivalent of the fountain of youth. While other critiques arise as ” Oh those words! Empowerment? Non-sense! They need to know what their jobs are” as Deming (1981) a founder of TQM once said. Empowerment is a contradictive concept.

While some people believe that it is a threat to standards, other people differ in opinion, believing that the more empowered employees are, the more committed they will become, consequently loyalty will play a significant role in bottom line results. For almost two decades now, Empowerment has been pioneering small companies. For example, Australian Electronics company, has approved employees to decide amongst them what jobs should be done and by whom; and settled each other’s salaries. The California Retailer implemented too, personal decisions on how much they should be paid and how much time off they should take.

The challenge today is how to extend such high-trust, high commitment cultures into organization employing hundreds or thousands of people. Though when applying these to multinational companies, which are massive in comparison to the SME’s, then someway or another control must be accompanied with this so-called concept of empowerment. In today’s competitive world the budgetary process is an important aspect of HR. organizations are constantly pressured to reduce overhead costs, and HR department is seen as the most expensive resource. Organizations look to downsizing, restructuring and multi-skilling as methods to reduce HR costs.

It is then, when Flexibility comes into play. Flexibility can be defined as ” The ability of an organization to adapt the size, composition, responsiveness and cost of the people inputs required to achieve organizational objectives”, Atkinson (1984). Matching supply to demand in the hospitality industry as with many other industries is a complicated task. The term flexibility has been considered as an alternative to this new era of uncertainty. With the increasing need to adapt quickly to changes in market demand and production, flexibility is becoming increasingly applied.

Although there are various types of flexibility (see Apex 7), a significant approach was Atkinson’s idea of the flexible firm. He suggested that organizations are mainly looking for three kinds of flexibility (see Apex. 8). With the use of zero hour contracts, the use of agency staff and sub-contracting numerical flexibility can be used to match demand for labour and supply. By applying an increase in team working, multi-skilling, re-skilling and project working functional or task flexibility can provide the opportunity of employees exploring new areas of work.

This is positive if there is a willingness and desire from the employees’ side in participating. This will be determined by their orientation, bureaucratic orientated people will be keener to participate in this kind of flexibility whilst, instrumental orientated people will object to the change, and will not see it as an opportunity to learn more but as a disruption from their already known job. Finally financial flexibility, in theory will motivate employees perform better, though in reality, for example Performance Related pay (PRP) can end in a problematic experience due to the perception of some employees in seeing it as “unfair”.

The flexible firm model is not prescriptive in its approach or must be strictly followed. Again as in most of things in life, there is no on right way. A combination of different kinds of flexibility may be the answer for some organizations that are looking for a competitive advantage. As to how this is to be applied to an organization, depends on the organizations values and beliefs. Flexibility is simply a trend that is enhancing many organizations, but the success of its implementation will be up to the adaptability of an organization towards flexibility.

There are still mainly complex issues to be resolved around Human Resourcing and this is only made harder by the dynamic changes taking place in today’s global economy. Some argue that the speed of change creates a costly Pandora’s box of cost increments by eternal change in management practises. But in the words of one Winston Churchill ” we shall do some thing, or the other, but definitely not nothing at all. ” The only way to survive in the world to today is to move with it or faster than in but not against it. HRM and its practices remain the solace for companies large and small in the 21st century.