Human resources refer to the individuals who operate an organization (What is Human Resources). Just like other resources, for example financial and material, human resources form an important part of organizational resources. Apparently, human resources are the most important resources in an organization because they are involved in managing all other organizational resources. Therefore, other organizational resources cannot operate without the human resources. According to Heathfield, human resource is a function within an organization, which is involved in implementing policies and strategies that relate to management of individuals. The term 'human resources' is a relatively new term, which was invented in the 1960s (Bratton & Gold 87). The origin of the term is in Henry Faylor’s scientific theory of management. Human resources function was introduced by organizations, which adopted the principles of scientific theory of management, and those that practiced welfare management (Bratton & Gold 87). At first, those organizations, which adopted the principles of scientific management and welfare management practices applied the term ‘personnel’ to refer to individuals who operate an organization. However, as time went by, human resources became a more usual term for this function. The term was first adopted in the United States and a few multinational corporations. It reflected a strategic approach in management of organizational workforce and in gaining competitive advantage through utilizing highly skilled employees (Bratton & Gold 88).
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Purpose and Role
The main purpose of human resources is to assist an organization in achieving its goals (Bohlander & Snell 26). Often, major organizational goals include maximization of returns and minimization of financial risks. Organizations achieve this by having their human resource managers to match the abilities of the existing workforce and the supply of qualified individuals, with the organizational current and future business plans and requirements to maximize returns and minimize risks (Bohlander & Snell 26). To ensure success in achievement of these objectives, the role of the human resource function is to implement the requirements of the human resources effectively, while considering national and local labor laws and regulations, net cost, and ethical practices (Mclean 3). Moreover, the role of human resource function is to ensure maximization of employees’ commitment, motivation, and productivity.
The main function of human resources is to develop and implement policies, strategies, standards, processes, and procedures in different organizational areas (Nadler 76). These areas include recruitment, selection, and hiring; training and development; change management and business development; performance and behavior management; compensation and benefit management; industrial and employee relations; and motivation management and morale-building. Sometimes, the human resource department may involve directly or indirectly in implementation of strategies, policies, and/or standards in these areas. In other instances, other departmental managers or business functions do implementation of such strategies, policies, and/or standards.
Management Trends and Influences of Human Resources
It is important for an organization to consider its current and future needs for both core and contingent employees in terms of their expertise and capabilities (Elwood & James 5). This requires analysis of external and internal factors, which have the potential of affecting the motivation, productivity, development, and retention of employees. Internal factors are those factors that an organization has control. Such factors include organizational culture, business ethics, and corporate social responsibilities. An organization can control these factors through predicting and/or monitoring, and then taking corrective/preventive measures (Elwood & James 5). On the other hand, external factors are those factors, which an organization cannot control. They may include economic climate, trends in the labor market such as changes in education and skills level, and government regulations related to labor. An organization should conduct frequent assessment of the external environment in which it operates in, to ensure it updates its human resources needs in accordance with the current trends.
Continuous assessment of the external environment requires an organization to have knowledge about the environment in which it operates. Commonly, there are three environmental trends, which affect human resources. They include diversity, demographics, and skills and qualification (Elwood & James 6). An organization should be aware of the demographic characteristics of its workforce. These include their age, social class, and gender. These characteristics have a direct impact on the employment benefits such as pensions and insurance packages offered to by an organization to its workforce. Diversity means that an organization should have a workforce, which reflects the structure of the society in terms of gender, race, age, and sexual orientation, among others. In reference to skills and qualifications, an organization should adopt flexibility in such a way that as it moves from blue-collar to white-collar professions, so does its need to hire highly skilled and competent employees. In case of a ‘tight’ labor market (low number of highly skilled individuals), an organization can compete for such employees by offering competitive remunerations and other employment benefits (Elwood & James 6).
Moreover, an organization should understand how potential human resources respond to changes in labor market (Kelly 54). Individuals usually consider the geographical location of an organization. For instance, how far is the physical location of the job from the individual’s place of residence? This is a very important consideration because the distance travelled by an individual to his/her place of work determines the payment package. Moreover, the level of development of transportation and other infrastructures in the area where an organization is located, determines the kind of human resources such an organization has in place. An organization may fail to attract highly skilled human resources if it is located in a less developed area (Kelly 55).
Training and Development
Human resource training and development is a program, which entails coordinated learning for a specific time, aimed at changing the performance of an employee (Elwood & James 6). The program prepares organizational employees to undertake higher-level tasks within an organization. Training and development of employees first focuses on organizational competencies. This entails evaluating the ability of an organization in terms of developing the skills and qualifications of its human resources, in order to increase their productivity and performance. Once an organization has assessed its capability to develop its human resources, it then embarks on developing its employees through continuous education and both on-the-job and off-the-job training. Training and development of human resources helps to satisfy employee’s personal career goals and increase an employee’s value to the current and future employer, as well as satisfying long-term needs of the organization (Elwood & James 7).
Recruitment and Selection
The way an organization conducts its recruitment and selection process determines the kind of human resources it has in place (Lawrence 43). Recruitment and selection process entails identifying and securing the right individuals, needed to assist an organization survive and succeed both in the short-term and in the long-term. Both the recruitment and selection activities need to be responsive to the changing market needs in order to secure qualified employees at all levels of an organization (Lawrence 43). An organization can source qualified employees either internally or externally. Sourcing employees from within an organization can be a very cost-effective measure. In addition, it allows an organization to retain its employees after taking them through numerous training and development programs and performance-improvement activities such as succession planning and performance appraisal (Skills and Employability Department). However, sourcing employees from outside the organization allows an organization to have a wider selection of candidates, thus reducing the probability of selecting the wrong employee. Nevertheless, regardless of the method used to source employees, an organization should ensure it places the right individuals, thus ensuring the value of its human resources is always high.