As the number of hired workers in companies raises so are the Human Resources Managers facing more challenges as they need to maintain a competitive edge in their business both at home and abroad. China’s entry into the World Trade Organization created fresh opportunities which resulted to some firms retreating and others expanding (Bamber, Lansbury & Wailes, 2004), making the entry of foreign firms to be faced by challenges than it was in the 1970’s and thus even the HR managers are in for a challenge since they have to carefully know how to tackle the culture of post-WTO China so as to have an effective HRM systems.
According to Lucas (2004) it is important to understand the HRM challenges facing foreign firms in China and how to overcome them. According to information given by interviewees, who included senior managers and private equity specialists, it was discovered that the ‘Western model’ of HRM may not solve the challenges.
Firms had to come out with ideas on how to manage human resources in response to the changing environment in China. To know how the firms were doing this, interviews were conducted rather than survey instrument (Deery & Mitchell, 1999). After the interviews it was noted that the strategies of the HR in China differed from those of the West.
For instance one of the HR process in China is selection of people they want to work in their companies. Some private successful firms wanted young people who are from school others selected people who do not drink or smoke. While firms really wanted to remove redundant employees in their companies, some of the managers that were interviewed said that there was benefit “organized” over-staffing. Again in the issue of employee contribution; to encourage employee contribution there had to be change of mentality like their association of mistakes with penalties.
It was noted that many employees in the foreign firms were afraid to do anything outside their job description thus the HRM policies were encouraged to aim at helping these employees. There was also the issue of training programs in which they should also teach about what is wrong and its solution. One way of helping these employees according to (Verma, Kochan & Lansbury, 1995) was to train them well in their jobs so as to extend even beyond their job description. This however has to be encouraged through creation of friendly environment involvement in risk taking.
There is also another problem of lack of ground rules that are well-established which results to interference with the operations. Some individuals have the power to stop some industries from operating. The foreign firms thus need to know the relevant person in that location. The HR has the role to select well-connected people in management team (Morgenstern, 1984).
Even in some companies they need the individuals they want to hire for their jobs to have connections with government bodies or powerful individuals so as they can link them in case of a problem. The HR also plays the role of “change agent” (Blanpain, Lansbury & Park, 2002) where they help firms implement new programs, improve processes and transform positively the organization’s culture.
Employment relationship is vital as the employers need to have good relationship with their existing employees as well as their new ones so as to avoid problems at the place of works hence increasing workplace productivity. This however can be complex as sometimes the employees can find the rules set by the employers quite challenging. As human the way we choose to control our goal maybe different from what the organization wants. The organization needs people who can interact with others to be productive to the company.
The employment relation constitutes of three sides that is the employers, employees and the law. In addition there are employment rights. In different countries and cities we have different way of treating employees and companies also have got different policies. Employment relationships are faced by challenges such as competitive pressures, technological change as this may result to either the employer seeking new employees who have got the most updated technological skills or requiring the old employees to update their skill by going back to class of which other will not welcome the idea, changing of owns behaviors; this may lead to disappointment to either party.
As time goes by the employee-employer relationship changes. This according to Blanpain, Lansbury & Park (2002) can be brought about by societal, organizational or individual changes. From the society point of view changes in the relationship is as a result developments in our society for example the cultural norms influence and the values that are related to exchanges.
The organization together with the employee composes the second and third sources of changes in employment relationship. The organization and the employer both are part of the society and are both influenced by the same structural factors and dynamic change processes. However they still have some differences as the desires of the organization and those of the employee may not necessarily converge.
For instance the organization may require organizational flexibility to cope with the competitiveness. Similarly the employee desire and expectations of the organization may change for example an employee with a family probably with small children will want the employer’s flexibility to provide good balance between his job and his private life as an important issue.
There seems as if the traditional labor laws are less effective in determining the employment relationships in many countries (Dickens & Neal, 2006). The pressure for flexibility in firms has led to changes in the employment relations. These changes have been linked to societal factors.
In 1999-2000, twenty-seven Dutch Organization (Bach, 1999) a questionnaire was distributed to groups of employees. The data that was gathered from a sample that represented the working population showed that the younger and older employee was underrepresented and there was over representation of people between 25 and 44 years.
This is a contradiction to the Chinese authority who wanted younger people. The questionnaires also assessed individual characters, employee obligations toward the company and employer obligation toward the employee. It was noted that most employees aired out their opinions on several issues affecting them and they were thinking beyond their jobs. This is unlike in China where due to fear of intimidation employees were afraid to air out their opinions.
A comparative study of employment systems in the US and Japan was achieved by use of game-theoretic framework (Rapra Technology Limited, 2005) here the employment system was seen as an equilibrium outcome of interactions among management, labor, and government. In both countries, the relations evolved from ones associated with short-term contracts and company-wide employee representation. While Japan continued in the same path, the U.S experienced a breakdown of implicit contract during the Great Depression (Mortimer & Leece, 1994).
It is important to study internationally comparative employment relations so as to contribute to our knowledge about the employment relations in other countries and also to provide model for the development of policy. Due to globalization, there is increased economic connectedness hence the need to learn about employment relations practices in other countries. In addition it also helps with theory construction. International comparison requires acceptance of reference point.
Employment relations in Britain as accordance to Jenkins (2000) was characterized with formation of unions which marked a big growth up until the World War II when due to a rising number in unemployment the membership of the unions declined.
This was also caused by part-time jobs and concentration in the private sector where unions found it hard to recruit. Unlike most other Western European countries, Britain (Sparrow & Cooper, 2003)has one main union confederation that is the Trades Union Congress(TUC) that was established in 1868.Between 1980 and 1990 private sector firms’ membership of employers associations fell sharply before it started to rise again slightly in the 1990s.
The state plays a very important role in employment relations either directly and/or indirectly. The changing pattern of employment relation in Britain reflects some trends which may include de-industrialization, proportion increase in services and growth of a typical employment.
Employment relation in United States of America can be started in 1930s (Stuart & Martinez- Lucio, 2005) when the US unions first arose as a seemingly permanent force. Between 1940-1950 the unions grew tremendously and in 1960s and 1970s transformed government employment into sector with strong unions.
Employer’s organizations in USA are relatively unimportant and unlike in other countries there have not been any employer’s confederations. By 1985 the depth of union membership crisis was acknowledged and new forms of employee participation appeared in some workplaces. Though in the early 1990s there was a strong economic recovery (Bender & Theodossiou, 1996), there was growing polarisation in employees’ labor market experiences. By 2000 the pressures from globalisation increased. The non-union sector has marked a tremendous growth in spite of the labour laws being enforced.
Almond, P & Ferner, A 2006, American multinationals in Europe: managing employment
relations across national borders, Oxford University Press, Melbourne
Bach, S 1999, Public Service Employment Relations in Europe: Transformation, Modernization
Or Inertia?, Routledge
Bamber, G, Lansbury, R & Wailes, N 2004,’ International and Comparative Employment
Relations: Globalisation and the Developed Market Economies’, 4th ed, SAGE, Boca Raton,
Bender, K& Theodossiou, I 1996, International Comparisons of the Real Wage-employment
Relationship, University of Aberdeen
Blanpain, R, Lansbury, R & Park, Y 2002, The Impact of Globalisation on Employment