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Human Resource Management Case Study Essay

1. Ch 1, page 60-61, question 4: What is “evidence based HR”? Why might an HR department resist becoming evidenced based? The concept of “evidence based HR” is using specific tools (key performance indicators) to help clarify course of action, identify errors or omissions, and align HR to corporate strategy. It is a decision-making process combining critical thinking with use of the best available scientific evidence and business information (Rousseau & Barends 2011). It forces HR professionals to measure their efficiency and effectiveness quantitatively. In addition, it presents a clearer way to share information with colleagues in a systematic way. One tool that is used is Critical Path Analysis, which helps illustrate the minimum time needed to complete a process. Another method is process mapping, which can help determine needed steps/tasks and enable users to systematically follow the process outlined. Utilizing these tools helps develop uniform, consistent operating procedures, which results in a more efficient system.

Two key characteristics of evidence based HR are a focus on business strategy, taking into account financial and organization performance measures that are most critical to the company and then using quantitative methods to identify human capital strategies that drive those outcomes; and standards of evidence, in which criteria is used to determine the importance of various relationships which can be used to better design employee strategies. An example is the measurement of employee productivity and work quality against organizational goals. Evidence based HR forces human resource professionals to systematically gather, utilize and evaluate information based on results. In addition, it causes HR professionals to be precise and utilize valid evidence. To do this, HR professionals must evaluate evidence to determine its’ worth.

Furthermore, it involves change and systematic work skills, which often causes resistance. However, at the same time evidence based HR allows HR professionals to be viewed as a source of competitive advantage and as a department that creates value by maximizing the use of the company’s most important resource, its’ personnel. It also elevates the importance of employees as a resource beyond the HR department and increases the value of the department to the entire organization, and most importantly utilizes statistical evidence to “find the critical human levers for improving business results” (Gibbons & Woock 2007).

2. Ch 2, page 99,-100 question 4: How can strategic management within the HRM department ensure that HRM plays an effective role in the company’s strategic management process? When strategic management within the HRM department is used to ensure that HRM plays an effective role in the company’s strategic management processes, it will basically force HRM to review their mission, their goals and their objectives. These factors will have to be in-line with the strategic processes of the company. The two have to be in-sync when they are handled through strategic management. It integrates HRM into the company and the strategic processes from HRM are then also integrated into the strategic management processes of the company. HRM becomes a more active, effective department and both HRM and management then work as a unified team towards the company’s mission, objectives, and values.

It creates the most productive and opportune environment for customers and the company. When we look at it from the opposite spectrum, if strategic management is not in place within the HRM department, it will create a state where the company is less efficient because although strategic management is being used throughout the company, it is not being used within the HRM department. When we strategically manage HR, we become involved with the employees from a strategic basis. By doing so, we are better able to handle the resources needed for the employees and to provide our employees with more, like better benefits, more comprehensive compensation packages, and related items. The employees are encouraged in their work because they are being motivated by the strategic management of HRM and what it’s doing to provide for them – the employees. Due to the greater encouragement, it reduces employee turnover and increases efficiency. This causes the company to be able to fulfill their goals and objectives that have been both created and managed through the strategic management process.

3. Ch 3, page 147-148, question 3: Many companies have dress codes that require men to wear suits and women to wear dresses. Is this discriminatory according to disparate treatment theory? Why? The process of establishing if an action/policy is discriminatory can be very challenging. However, a number of theories seek to differentiate actions that constitute discrimination and those that do not. Disparate treatment Theory is amongst the most commonly used theories that have been used to ascertain whether an act or policy amounts to discrimination or not. The theory argues that one is subject to discrimination if they are treated less favorably than others are in similar situations (Bent, 2011). Many companies have dress codes that require men to wear suits and women to wear dresses.

This has raised a debate on whether such policies are discriminatory or not. Based on the Disparate Treatment Theory, such a policy cannot be considered as discriminatory. Men and women cannot be on the same platform in that they both dress differently. Even if people from both sexes were allowed to determine whatever they dress, there is no way that men would dress exactly as women (Belton, 2004). The most important consideration as to whether the policy that commits men to wear suits and women to wear dresses amounts to discrimination would call for the scrutiny of the motive. Many companies that take up such a policy are not inclined to punishing or discriminating against women.

Rather, they attribute the policy to the need for sanity and decency at the work place. In a world where dresses for women can expose some of the most sensitive parts of their body, the need for regulation cannot be ignored. Furthermore, one cannot claim that putting on dresses is less fashionable as compared to putting on suits. The design and fitting of the dress and the suit would determine whether one is neat or not. From all these considerations, the disparate treatment theory rules out the possibility of the policy that requires men to put on suits and women dresses as discriminatory to women (Bent, 2011).

4. Ch 4, page 185, question 6: What are the trade-offs between the different approaches to job design? Which approach do you think should be weighted most heavily when designing jobs? There are three major approaches to job design: the engineering approach, human approach, and the job characteristic approach. Each is valuable in its own way, but there are trade-offs that occur depending upon the approach, which is taken. With the engineering approach (also called the task approach), there is a lot of repetition. This can lead to boredom. In this approach, there is specialization to the task, and employees are not encouraged to learn more or improve the job.

Because jobs designed using this approach have employees typically set at a particular station, each employee is basically a wheel in a cog, executing part of a task and passing it on to the next station. There is little interaction between employees and often the job is paced according to a machine (part of an assembly line). It is difficult to take pride in one’s work since there is not a finished product. Employees do not have a say in their work, tools or methods used. However, work is performed accurately, by the best person selected for the job, in a procedural, systematic way. This increases specialization thus leading to higher output. The human approach increases employees’ job satisfaction and emphasis motivators like responsibility, advancement, and recognition.

In addition, importance is placed on working conditions, pay, job security, and employee relations. The psychological needs of employees are paramount in designing jobs, which increases employee satisfaction, but does not necessarily guarantee satisfaction or performance. Another approach, job characteristics, is based on the idea that employees will perform better if motivation and rewards are built into the work. As such, the work is designed to offer a variety of activities so employees can use different skills, tasks are executed in a manner that there is completion of an identifiable piece of work, there is work of importance, employees have the ability to work based on their knowledge, not as part of an assembly line, and there is feedback in regards to the work.

This is optimal, however, drawbacks of this approach include needing to find people who are motivated to find best practices, who can work independently, and who do find motivation at work. The approach which should be weighted more heavily is dependent on the job. In the case of making an automobile or similar repetitive task, one would want to utilize an engineering approach, since the work is repetitive, precise, and focused on output. In most other cases, the job characteristics approach seems logical since it is likely to lead to better, more satisfied employees. It would be important to give sufficient feedback to help manage the employee toward optimal performance utilizing this approach. Ultimately, efficiency and productivity are key, so motivation must be included in some form to produce better results. The job characteristics approach appears to take in regards more factors (skill variety, task identity and significance, autonomy and feedback) to produce greater results.

References

Bent, J.R., (2011). The telltale sign of discrimination: probabilities, information asymmetries, and the systematic disparate treatment theory, University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, 2011, Volume 44, Issue 4, p. 797 Belton, R. (2004). Employment discrimination law: cases and materials on equality in the workplace. Thomson/West Bobinski, D. (2004). The role of HR in strategic planning. Management Issues. Retrieved from: http://www.management-issues.com/2006/5/25/opinion/the-role-of-hr-in-strategic-planning.asp Campion, M.A. & Thayer, P.W. (1987). Job design: Approaches, outcomes, and trade-offs. Organizational Dynamics, 15(3), 66-80.

Gibbons, J. M., Woock, C. (2007). Evidence-Based Human Resources: A Primer and Summary of Current Literature. The Conference Board, Retrieved from: http://www.conference-board.org/ Mashete, P. (2008). Approach to job design. Human Resource Knowledge. Retrieved from http://hrknowledge.blogspot.com/2008/01/approach-to-job-design.html Noe, R., J. Hollenback, B. Gerhart, Wright P. (2013) Human resources management (8th ed.) New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

Rousseau, D. M., Barends, E. G. R. (2011). Becoming an evidence-based HR practitioner. Human Resource Management Journal, 21(3), pages 221–235.


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