“Flexible Firm” as a Hotel’s Human Resource Planning Strategy

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MSc – Human Resources Management Main Assignment

“Flexible firm” as a Hotel’s Human Resource Planning Strategy Overview Human Resource Management (HRM) textbooks often begin their sections of “HRM practices / functions” by first introducing the topic of Human Resource Planning (HRP) and secondly the topic of Recruitment and Selection, while other topics such as Training and Development, Reward Management, Performance Management, etc, are introduced in later chapters. It is observed that this sequence does not come without a reason. In many cases, the outcomes of HRP do determine how the other HR functions should play in sync with each another, so that all HR policies altogether integrate with business strategies to tackle the challenges in particular business environments effectively (M. Armstrong, 2010). HRP is also considered as an effective tool to facilitate vertical and horizontal integration in an organization (Beardwell, 2010) and is the starting point of HRM (O. O’Brien, 2012). In this connection, it is understandable to first look into the HRP function when evaluating the effectiveness of an organization’s HR strategies. In this essay, a Hong Kong 5-star hotel’s HRP function and HR strategies will be investigated against relevant HRP theories. The concept of “flexible firm” is particularly popular in the contexts of HRP. In view of this concept, organizations benefit from enhanced flexibility in resources deployment in functional and numerical terms (J. Atkinson and D. Gregory, 1986), or even in financial terms (M. Riley, 1996; K. Sisson and J. Storey, 2000). In practical cases, however, it seems uneasy for organizations to ideally gain those benefits which the theories’ suggest. Obviously, it is considered true to interpret in a way that there are discrepancies between theories and realities with regards to this “flexible firm” concept. It is also observed that these discrepancies vary across different types of industries, due to the fact that each 1

MSc – Human Resources Management Main Assignment

particular industry has its unique labour market features in terms of labour demand and supply. This essay puts its focus on the hotel and catering industry and takes the Food and Beverage (F&B) Department of a Hong Kong 5-star hotel, the InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong (ICGS) as a case study. The essay is structured in a way to first begin with an introduction to HRP and the concept of “flexible firm” as a HRP strategy. Secondly, it proceeds to the application parts, which first look into the hotel and catering industry, and examine, in the light of the characteristics of the industry and “flexible firm” theories, the effectiveness of ICGS’s HRP strategies for its dining outlets. Thirdly, it

concludes with recommendations on the grounds of various HR functions, such as recruitment and selection, and training and development, in order to see how ICGS can cope with the HRP issues through a holistic enhancement in its HR strategies. Introduction Human Resource Planning Over the years, different theorists offered many definitions of HRP and there may be paradoxically no singular definitions for HRP can be addressed from various angles. M. Armstrong (2010) quoted some HRP definitions from some scholars. One of his quotes was from Bulla and Scott (1994), who seems to have also taken a “hard” approach to define HRP as: “A process for ensuring that the human resource requirements of an organization are identified and plans are made for satisfying those requirements”. 2

MSc – Human Resources Management Main Assignment

Another quote made by Armstrong (2010) was from Reilly (2003), who also takes a “hard” approach, but from the labour market aspect and uses the term “workforce planning” to define the concept as: “A process in which an organization attempts to estimate the demand for labour and evaluate the size, nature and sources of supply which will be required to meet the demand”.

Armstrong...
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