Soft and Hard Hrm Models

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“Investing in Africa’s Future”





1. Case Study: Paula was a secretary who had returned to work for her former employers. She was reckoned to be one of the best: a fast, accurate typist, intelligent, and willing. On her return, she acquired a word processing system, and was sent on a course. She was enthusiastic and reckoned she could do things just as quickly on her typewriter. It was assumed that she would come around to it gradually. To encourage this, she was occasionally sent on other courses to learn about additional features, such as mail merge, that would save time. But somehow, Paula never had the time to create the necessary files, and the equipment was only used when someone specifically, and firmly, asked for a document to be put on the machine (which did not happen very often). Even when it was obvious that a document would be revised, or used again in the future, she preferred not to use the word-processing system. When the word-processing software was updated, Paula went on another course, and ‘learned’ the new version…..But still, she did not use it. When Pretty, a former secretary, became the manager of Paula’s section, she discovered that Paula had no idea of how to keep track of documents on the machine, knew only the simplest editing commands, never used standard formats, or ‘boiler-plate paragraphs’, and was still typing out the address labels for regular mailings individually. Paula was booked on an expensive, four-day course on desktop publishing. Pretty’s view was that Paula could be doing 10% – 20% more work, if she was using the system properly, and that the documents would look better. Pretty also discovered that, after the original decision to purchase the system, the previous manager had never taken the time to discuss Paula’s difficulties, or reservations properly. Nothing had been done, after any of her numerous courses, to ensure that she had ‘protected time’ to go over, and then practise what she had been taught (if anything, the reverse was the case - a backlog awaited her). In addition, the previous manager had not arranged access to the ‘local experts’ in word-processing in other sections. Paula’s lack of progress in word-processing had never been discussed, and she was not appraised - so, no cleat statement about what was expected of her had ever been expressed. The possibility of re-defining her role, to take advantage of Paula’s many strengths had never been considered. It was also apparent that the staff Paula worked for avoided making improvements to documents, and often felt frustrated by the slow service that they received. They seemed vaguely aware that Paula was not making full use of the equipment, but did not like to push the matter. She was, as was often pointed out, one of the best secretaries, and the section was lucky to have her…… If you were Pretty, what steps would you consider taking to develop Paula’s word-processing skills? Note any potential pitfalls, and what you see as the main difficulties to overcome.

2. Many organisations espouse the ‘soft’ version of HRM, which focuses on treating employees as valued assets, and a source of competitive advantage. The ‘Hard’ model of HRM stresses HRM’s focus on the crucial importance of the close integration of human resource policies, systems and activities with business strategy. Discuss fully, the Soft and Hard models of HRM

3. Consider the following scenarios and answer the questions after them.

a. A company has for many years offered a wide range of fringe benefits to its employees, including a subsidized canteen, company cars and free Christmas hampers. In reviewing its policy, the company conducted a survey which revealed that employees...
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