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Hospitality Human Resources Management Essay

In organisations today, the scope of human resource management is vast but there are three main functions that human resource management is comprised of – strategies, plans, practices, processes and policies; attract, manage, develop and reward; and contributing to the overall performance of the organisation. Throughout this literature review the different approaches that various authors take when outlining the what activities, tasks and functions contribute to the role of an human resources manager in organisations will be discussed as well as the features that are unique to the industry and affect the role of human resources manager in hospitality. I will also make an executive suggestion as to which human resource approach I feel is the most appropriate for organisations in the hospitality industry from the readings used in this literature review. The main sources that will be referenced in this literature review include Rudman (2010), Armstrong (2006), Baum (2007) and Fáilte Ireland (2005).

Human resource management is an important role within organisations and businesses which focuses closely on both the recruitment and the overall management of employees within organisations and businesses. It is a strategic approach when it comes to managing people in the work place and works to create, as well as reinforce, a work environment that is positive for organisations employees. (Heathfield, 2013). When recruiting new employees, the human resource managers of organisations look for candidates who are highly experienced in the organisations field, possess a wide variety of skills that can be applied within the organisation, and have a positive working attitude and good work ethics which they will apply to the organisation or business. Human resources management is the control of an organisation’s employees; according to Rouse (2011) an organisation’s human resources management department is in charge of creating, implementing and overseeing all policies that are to do with the behaviour of the organisation’s employees as well as the organisation’s behaviour towards the employees.

Human resources management can be defined in many different ways and everyone has a different view on what human resources management is comprised of. It is said that up until the 1980’s human resources management was known as personnel management, and making the change from personnel management to human resources management offered organisations a new beginning. It offered organisations new beginnings as human resources management, according to Rudman (2010), is based on three key aspects; commitment and engagement, integration and fit, and flexibility and adaptability. As human resources management can be defined in various ways it is apparent that authors will have different views on what human resources management is as well as what the tasks and activities are that make up the role of a human resources manager in organisations.

The roles and functions of a human resources manager are viewed differently by organisations but all organisations do have a human resources function whether they openly recognise it or not. Human resources management uses a human resources system as a means to operate. This human resources systems amalgamates the philosophies, strategies, policies, processes, practices and programmes of human resources management. (Armstrong, 2006). Armstrong’s (2006) human resources management activities model, which was based on Becker and Gehart’s (1996) human resources management model, views the role of the human resources manager in organisations to comprise of ten key components. The ten key components of Armstrong’s (2006) human resources management activities model include organisation, an employment relationship, resourcing, performance management, the development of human resources, reward management, employee relations, health and safety, welfare services as well as employment and human resource services.

These ten, supposed, key components of the human resources management activities model can also be matched to a human resources model Armstrong (2006) claims. This human resources model shows that human resources and the structure that an organisation is built on should be managed in a way that harmonises them strategically. It is also said that there is a human resources cycle which is made up of four functions that are generically performed in all organisations. These functions include selection, appraisal, rewards and development according to Armstrong (2006) who believes that the human resources cycle starts with selection, then goes on to appraisal – or performance management which it is also known as – before splitting off into two sections, rewards and development, before finishing the cycle with performance. This model and matching human resources cycle explain human resources management in a way that appears to cover every aspect of it simply and effectively.

Where Armstrong’s (2006) human resources management model talks about there being ten key components of human resources management and are simple, Rudman (2010) goes into more detail when defining the scope of human resources management. Rudman (2010) said that the scope of human resources management is influenced by how big, or small, an organisation is along with other characteristics and it “…covers everything an organisation does to attract, manage, develop and reward…” (p. 8) employees who help the organisation achieve its goals. This scope of human resources management means that Rudman (2010) see the role of a human resources manager as consisting of activities, but he also talks about there being five main elements when it comes to human resources management. The five elements that Rudman (2010) suggests are the core elements that make up human resources management are staffing the organisation, managing people and performance, developing people and performance, rewarding people and performance, and managing employment relations.

Staffing the organisation works towards attracting and acquiring any of the human resources that an organisation needs in order to achieve the organisation’s goals while managing employment relations aims to balance both the interests of the employers and their employees so that the organisation can work to achieve their goals. When an organisation manages people and performance it encourages their employee’s contribution and commitment to both the organisation and the organisation’s overall performance while developing people and performance ensures that the organisation’s employees have the necessary skills, knowledge and competencies that are required for the present performance and future performance of the organisation. When organisations reward people and performance it influences the behaviour and performance of the organisation’s employees by encouraging them with future contributions as well as recognising their past achievements. These five core elements make up what Rudman (2010) believes to be the scope of human resources management.

While Rudman (2010) suggests that there are five elements that make up the scope of human resources management, and Armstrong (2006) claims that there are ten key components that comprise to make up his human resources management activities model which has a complementary matching human resources management model; there are many other perspectives when it comes to discussing what makes up the role of a human resources manager. Another perspective is that of Baum (2007) who suggests that there are eight aspects that combine together to make up what the role of a human resources manager involves. Baum’s (2007) views on what human resources management is good practice is adapted from Fáilte Ireland (2005) model of what good practice in human resources management is.

The eight aspects that Baum (2007) and Fáilte Ireland (2005) suggest are activities that contribute to what a human resources managers role is are flexibility, participation, performance management, recognition, reward, communication, learning and development, and empowerment. A human resources manager needs to be flexible according to Baum (2007) because they need to ensure that the organisation can match their demands with the availability of their staff whilst recognising the employee’s work-life balance also needs to be managed. Performance management is an important aspect of a human resources managers role according to Baum (2007) as carrying out regular staff performance reviews within organisations will ensure that both individual performance and team performance is being delivered to the standard of the organisation leads to rewards and recognition, two aspects that Baum suggests are important.

Ensuring that employee’s good efforts are recognised within their peer group and are celebrated will ensure that employees continue working to the same standard so that they can gain either monetary or non-monetary rewards. Learning and development is also important when it comes to the role of a human resources manager as having access to both on-site and off-site courses and learning opportunities for employee’s ensures that employee’s work is up to standard and they are up to date and speed with what they are required to do for the organisation to achieve their goals.

Developing, managing and rewarding people and performance appear to be common, and important, functions of what a human resources manager role consists of according to Baum (2007), Fáilte Ireland (2005), Rudman (2010) and Armstrong (2006) human resources management activities models. The three models that have been discussed all have similar functions but Armstrong’s (2006) seems to cover every aspect of what I think human resources management entails in a more in-depth way compared to how Rudman (2006) explains it. However, each model is specific and suggest what they see as the most important functions of human resources management and activities of a human resources manager.

In the hospitality industry human resources management departments are often considered, and talked about being, a cost center. A cost center is a function in an organisation that does not produce any direct profit but adds to the overall cost of running an organisation. Human resources management is considered a cost center in the hospitality industry as measuring the outcomes of human resources management efforts is not always clear to see and the same goes for the results of managing employees. Many hospitality organisation’s face challenges including the business environment continuously changing rapidly, increasing competition and changing customer demands but the changing technologies of today are making it easier for organisations to share information and replicate competing organisation’s work practices and strategies. (Cho, Woods, Jang & Erdem, 2006).

Cho et al (2006) found that human resources management issues and challenges are becoming increasingly important to an organisation’s performance where as Becker & Gerhart (1996) have argued that decisions regarding human resources management influence the overall performance of an organisation because human resources management aims to improve the efficiency of organisations as well as increase the revenue of the organisation.

A major issue that human resources managers face in the hospitality industry is employee retention as there is a personnel shortage. There is a decrease in the number of teenagers that are available to work in the hospitality industry as the majority of them are looking for jobs that allow them to work nine to five, Monday through Friday and have the weekends off. However, in the hospitality industry this is never the case and, in the vast majority of cases, employees are required to work over the weekend. Because of this decrease in availability of teenagers wanting to work in the hospitality industry, Bonn & Forbringer (1992) suggested that human resources managers are going to have to explore and develop new target markets and methods when it comes to both attracting and retaining employees.

According to Davidson & Wang (2011) jobs in the hospitality industry are being characterised by the levels of labour turnover being quite high with a fair amount of employees leaving their current hospitality jobs for opportunities in different industries. This high labour turnover means that employees are not happy with the work they are doing but, in some conditions, it can also indicate that employee’s cannot reach the unrealistic expectations of the organisation they are working for. However, some other reasons have been known to be the cause of high labour turnover in the hospitality industry and these include; there being a lack of future career opportunities; the job-scope being dissatisfactory; and conflict between management and employees.

Human resources managers are required to think of new ideas that will want people to work for their organisation so that there is a low labour turnover. If an organisation has a low labour turnover this means that their employee’s are satisfied with their jobs, they feel both safe and healthy in their work environment, and their work performance is deemed satisfactory from the employer’s perspective which is very important. Being able to attract and retain employee’s in one of the key components that is part of the activities and functions that comprise the role of a human resources manager.

There are several different approaches that can be taken when it comes to human resources management; these include hard or soft, best practice, best fit and strategic. Two different approaches of human resources management are hard or soft. These approaches are opposing views on different human natures and control strategies; hard human resources management can be viewed as the basic functions whereas soft human resources is the advanced functions of human resources management. Soft human resources management is all about the self direction of individuals and in the center of the approach to managing people is trust, self-regulated behaviour and commitment. With soft human resources management employees are treated as the most significant resources within an organisation and it focuses on the employee’s needs, roles, rewards and motivating them. This makes employee’s the greatest asset within an organisation and they are vital to the success of the organisation.

Human resources managers ensure that they select the best candidates, provide them with training and development of a high and appropriate quality and are rewarded in regards to their value to the organisation. Whereas hard human resources management focuses on the strategic objectives of the organisation and human resources is treated like an equal function of production. Hard human resources management aims to minimise the cost of labour and make it flexible and people are often referred to as employee’s with this particular approach to human resources management as it reinforces that employee relations can be because of franchising, outsourcing or subcontracting.

Strategic human resources is an approach that has a goal to use people in the most effective way in regards to the organisation’s strategic needs. This approach is designed to aid organisations meet their employee’s needs in the best way possible. It requires human resources managers to not only think and plan ahead different ways for the organisation to meet the needs of their employee’s but also ways for the employee’s to meet the needs of the organisation as well. (Becker & Huselid, 2006). Strategic human resources management is having the ability to plan for the employee’s needs as it helps improve and increase the amount of skillful employee’s whom choose to keep working for an organisation. Becker & Huselid (2006) suggest that improving and increasing this amount will reduce labour turnover costs, and the money that organisations would have to spend on attracting and recruiting new employee’s.

The best practice approach to human resources management is based on there supposedly being a set of human resources management practices that are best suited and that using these practices will lead to the organisations overall performance being superior to their competitions. It aims to develop employees, increase their level of commitment to the organisation, with the intended outcome to improve the overall performance of organisations and create a competitive advantage that is sustainable. When it comes to this approach to human resources management, what may work for one specific organisation may not necessarily be the best practice for another organisation as it may not fit the style of management, strategy, or working performance of that organisation. (Armstrong, 2006). Whereas the best fit approach to human resources management works on emphasising the significance that ensuring the human resources strategies are appropriate for the organisation. Human resources managers are required to take into account bot the needs of the organisation and its employee’s. With this approach it is up to the organisation to decide what works best for them and what will fit their operational and strategic requirements according to Armstrong (2006).

The most suitable approach to human resources management in the hospitality industry in my opinion, based on the findings of this literature review, is the best practice approach. This is because this approach aims to develop employee’s, increase their level of commitment to the organisation, and have an outcome that improves the overall performance of the organisation. When working in the hospitality industry it is important to attract and recruit the people best suited for the organisation and adopting this approach to human resources management it will ensure that the commitment of employee’s is enhanced and improved which, in turn, improves the overall performance of the organisation. There are a range of human resources practices that are significant to organisations when trying to attract and retain employee’s who will constantly deliver service of a high quality. These practices include selection and recruitment, teamwork, retention, training and development, appraisals and rewards, and employee relations and they are all important to the human resources management in the hospitality industry.


Armstrong, M. (2006). A handbook of human resource management practice, 10th ed. London: Kogan Page. Baum, T. (2007). Human resources in tourism: Still waiting for change. Tourism Management, 28(6), 1383-1399. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.aut.ac.nz/science/article/pii

Becker, B & Gerhart, B. (1996). The impact of human resource management on organisational performance: Progress and prospects. Academy of management journal, 39(4), 779-801. Becker, B. E., & Huselid, M. A. (2006). Strategic human resources management: Where do we go from here?. Journal of Management, 32(6), 898-925. doi: 10.1177/0149206306293668 Bonn, M. A., & Forbringer, L. R. (1992). Reducing turnover in the hospitality industry: an overview of recruitment, selection and retention. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 11(1), 47-63. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.aut.ac.nz/science/article/pii/

Cho, S., Woods, R. H., Jang, S., & Erdem, M. (2006). Measuring the impact of human resource management practices on hospitality firms’ performances. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 25(2), 262-277. Davidson, M. C. G., & Wang, Y. (2011). Sustainable labor practices? hotel human resource managers views on turnover and skill shortages. Journal of Human Resources in Hospitality & Tour, 10(3), 235-253. doi: 10.1080/15332845.2011.555731 Druker, J., White, G., Hegewisch, A. & Mayne, L. (1996). Between hard and soft hrm: Human resource management in the construction industry. Construction management and economics, 14(5), 405-416. doi: 10.1080/014461996373278 Fáilte Ireland. (2005). A human resource development strategy for irish tourism: Competing through people. Retrieved from http://torc.linkbc.ca/torc/downs1/Strategy%20for%20Irish%20Tourism%5b1%5d.pdf Heathfield, S. M. (2013). What is human resource management?. Retrieved from http://humanresources.about.com/od/glossaryh/f/hr_management.htm Nickson, D. (2007). Human resource management for the hospitality and tourism industries. (1st ed.). Boston, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann. O’Neill, J. W., & Davis, K. (2011). Work stress and well-being in the hotel industry. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 30(2), 385–390. doi:10.1016/j.ijhm.2010.07.007 Rouse, M. (2007). What is cost center? Retrieved from http://searchcrm.techtarget.com/definition/cost-center Rouse, M. (2011). What is human resource management (hrm)?. Retrieved from http://searchcio.techtarget.com/definition/human-resource-management-HRM Rudman, R. (2010). Human resources management in new zealand (5th ed.).

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