Human Resource Management (Hrm) - Paper

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Human Resource Management (HRM) is now a term which is now widely used, yet loosely defined (Guest, 1987). So, what is HRM? What does it mean and what is its focus? “The focus on HRM is on managing people within the employer – employee relationship. Specifically it involves the productive use of people in achieving the organisation’s strategic business objectives and the satisfaction of individual employees needs.” (Stone, 1998) Derived from this and certain theories addressed later in this research, HRM in the field of organisational behaviour engages a set of policies designed to maximise organisational integration, employee commitment, flexibility and quality of work. With this perspective, and rapidly changing trends, it is no surprise and even merit that Industrial Relations (IR) are starting to play a minor role in organisations today (Guest, 1987).

Yet how can one define such a broad area of an organisation? There is no one theory on Human resource management, and certainly not enough ‘evidence’ to suggest its benefits within a competitive market force, especially gaining competitive advantage for a specific company (Clark, Winchester, 1994). This must be done through analysis and evaluation that may be conducted through various forms of communication, for example; confidential employee questionnaires that don’t disclose the employee’s name for a true indication of staff morale, or cross team meetings to analyse certain aspects of staff outlook for their company. Ultimately, a harmonious and ‘happy’ workplace whereby staff actually are excited in a sense to actually go to work and sit down at their desk.

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The term ‘Human Resource Management’ is certainly not new in the workforce, but in recent years has been addressed in depth and with new trends there has been a shift to focus on the staff, and thus is becoming almost ‘fashionable’. Many believe that this open approach to HRM can increase competitive advantage for a firm. There are beliefs that competitive advantage can best be achieved as Guest (1999) put it “by seeking improvements in the management of people and organisational structures; in other words, through better utilisation of human resources.”

Bearing this in mind, there are two functions that are necessary to note when describing HRM. These are the ‘legal’ and ethical compliances within an organisational structure that the firm, including managers and staff, must adhere to. It is essential that HR managers have a basic understanding of the law of employment and what is considered ‘illegal’ as opposed to ‘legal’. In any legal relationship, there are mutual obligations for both parties, and the arena of employment is certainly no exception (Arthur, 1994). It is only when these mutual duties integrate successfully with the objectives and mission of the company that productivity levels will supposedly improve.

There are many things that must be considered when entering into a discussion on legal matters within HRM, ranging from contracts between certain parties, to Occupational Health and Safety requirements which must be fulfilled as preventative measures must be taken for health and well being of employees in any field (Connor, Ulrich, 1996). For example, Ghetto shoes implement a strategy that involves using a specific type of ladder with strong ground support when looking for boxes on high shelves, preventing any damage that may ultimately be quite harmful to employees. Another may be safety gear and helmets when working in a construction site where there may be falling debris that could injure someone quite badly, and thus have implemented signs allowing employees to realise the importance of such matters.

One major issue in the law is that of ‘awards’. These are certain contracts with employees, set by state and federal industrial relations, outlining the minimum terms and conditions that an employer must...
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