Management of Knowledge Workers

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Human Resources Management Coursework – Manjeet Singh – 7637434 The Question:
“Examine the claim that the management of knowledge workers requires the development of human resource practises that are more suited to the particular characteristics of these workers and their jobs” Introduction

The term “knowledge worker” was first used by Peter Drucker in “Landmarks of Tomorrow” in 1959. A knowledge worker is someone who specialises in a specific field as they possess certain knowledge which has been accrued through specific courses or experience in relevant activities, they usually have some sort of accreditation or documentation to certify that they have accrued this knowledge. They are typically well educated, and with the application of their knowledge it aids them to solve problems for an organisation and it is through problem solving that value is added for the organisation. As well as problem solving, knowledge workers are also involved in innovation, re-engineering, training etc. although there are certain tasks which would require knowledge workers with specific specialities. Knowledge workers are seen as a crucial asset as with application of their knowledge it can determine the success and reputation of the organisation. “The most valuable assets of a 20th-century company were its production equipment. The most valuable asset of a 21st-century institution, whether business or non-business, will be its knowledge workers and their productivity." (Drucker, 1999, P135) This quote highlights the fact that we are moving away from the traditional mentality that wealth was based on the amount of resources an organisation held in its possession, and more towards how we handle knowledge workers and attain this knowledge. Knowledge workers attract higher banded salaries, with enhanced levels of autonomy in comparison to the normal employee. As a result the turnover of Knowledge workers is typically high, because they are aware of the fact that the knowledge that they possess is of great need and importance to the organisation. In many cases the knowledge that these workers have allows the organisation to establish a competitive advantage over their rivals, which is why they are willing to pay the generous salary of these workers. If the workers are not kept happy, then it is easy for them to just move to a different organisation or hold back on the knowledge that they provide for the company. In addition, as the levels of autonomy are high this means that there is an element of self-government, and they have a high amount of freedom, for example they can work from home, this then decreases the amount of control that a firm has over a knowledge worker. Within this report I wish to discuss the different factors that would result in the need for different HR practices for knowledge workers. I will then also highlight which characteristics these workers possess that sets them apart from their colleagues at the organisation where they work and how the characteristics affect the HR practices. As these workers are of such importance to the organisation, they try their best to keep these workers at the organisation and as their job description differs vastly in comparison to the typical employees, this highlights the need for adaptation in the HR practices that are implemented by the firm as typical employees can be replaced rather easily, through the normal recruitment procedures, however, with knowledge workers, they add value for the organisation, thus, changes would have to be made to keep them happy at the organisation, whilst performing at an acceptable level. What are the benefits a Knowledge Worker receives?

The main technique where we can identify a knowledge worker is by highlighting the benefits that they receive in comparison to normal workers. According to Løwendahl (1997), these workers are offered high remuneration and substantial autonomy, this simply means that there is no one overlooking them constantly and...
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