External influences are constantly changing, therefore human resource managers must ensure that they are able to adapt and provide sustainable approaches in order to have a successful business. Businesses which adapt to the influences and changes productively and efficiently will achieve effective outcomes. One of these major influences is socially subjective. Social influences affect the needs, values and standards of employees and society itself. However, in many cases, these expectations are not met and create disruptions and disputes in workplaces. Factors which many result in the issues include; gender inequality, career flexibility and women in the workplace; along with many others. In order to resolve these persistent issues, human resource management must implement strategies to withdraw from these external influences. Strategies that HRM may consider include; Training and development programs, recruitment, rewards management and job design.
As the need for both parents to work has been a significant social change over the past few decades, there has been large increase of women in the workforce and the need for workplaces to be more flexible to enable their employees to manage both family and work responsibilities. Awareness of the career flexibility issues were raised in the article “Flexibility in the workplace key to retaining top talent”, stating that more flexibility is needed, for women especially, to be able to balance their lives between work and at home to allow any private or family and work commitments to be completed. Human resource management is crucial to set out a flexible work structure in the business that will allow women to manage their duties, both at home and at work. This strategy is found in the method of job design, under flexible work structure.
With this strategy, employees are offered with flexible options, for instance, casual or part-time work, job sharing, flexible working hours or telecommuting, which leads to women(and men) able to work more efficiently and stress free. With this strategy, businesses also are assisted as new employees are not required. An example of a business which has already taken this approach is Telstra. The company ensures that their employees are supported, have access to learning and development opportunities, are rewarded for what they do, and are well connected for the next stage of their career. Telstra makes sure they are achieving their objectives by providing: mentoring, health & wellbeing, rewards & benefits and gender pay equity.
Another issue in Human resource management is gender inequality. As stated in the article “Sexism in the city: more effort and less pay”, women are being treated unfairly as the wage gap between males and females are unacceptable. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, as of February 2012 there was a gender wage gap of 17.4 per cent across all sectors; with an average full-time weekly wage of $1,186.90 for women and $1,437.40 for men. Women working in the health care sector can expect to earn 32.6 per cent less than men with finance coming a close second 31.3 per cent. On the other end of the spectrum the retail sector offers the lowest percentage at 7.9, with public administration right behind it at 8 per cent. A reason behind this disproportionate salary issue includes women being more vulnerable than men and women not being assertive in the workplace, leading to reluctance to speak up, Spoken by a 56- year old employee.
It is important that human resource management takes this issue seriously and rapidly applies various strategies. Strategies that human resource management may use to address this issue effectively include; rewards management, as employees receive bonuses either monetary or non-monetary. Another strategy is job enrichment, a method of job design. Through this strategy, employees receive higher opportunities for promotion, retention rates, greater rewards and satisfaction. The final strategy HRM could undertake is Training and development. With assistance, females have the opportunity to understand all requirements, thus, providing the same service as the opposite gender, Illustrated in the article “Health and social workers suffer work pay gap” by workplace Gender Equality Agency; the company focuses more rather on the performance of the employee than the gender.
Women in the workplace have continued to be an issue which also comes under social influences as part of human resource management. As stated in the article “Slow progress on female bosses” by Lucy Battersby, “Australian companies are still failing to promote women into senior management positions, prompting calls for quotas and executive bonuses tied to increasing the number of females in top jobs. The latest census of women in leadership roles, to be released on Tuesday, found that while the number of female directors has increased there had been ”negligible change” in women at senior management level – 9.7 per cent compared to 8 per cent in 2010. But most of these are non-executive roles; less than 1 per cent of executive directors in Australia are female”. It is fundamental that human resource managers take more action towards this issue as more women in Australia have the right to take on higher roles.
HRM must implement strategies such as Training and development programs, associated with mentoring and coaching, so that women get the opportunity and ability to enhance and maximize their skills and knowledge for their future career opportunities. An example of a company which undertook a focus on women in the workforce is Westpac. Shown in the article “Westpac banks on female talent”, Westpac set a target in 2010 to increase the percentage of women in leadership roles from 33% to 40% by 2014.Westpac was able to achieve this by focusing on creating specific development programs for women and increasing their participation across all leadership programs and recognising the need to change the culture of the workforce. Westpac also reinforced flexible work practices, including the concept of group wide policies for job sharing, grandparental leave and flexibility for childcare and elder care.
There will always be disputes and complications in workplaces in relation to social influences such as women in the workplace, gender equality and career flexibility, however, human resource management provides many effective strategic approaches and opportunities that can be applied to assist and overcome these matters such as training and development programs, performance management, recruitment, job design methods and rewards management. With the use of these strategies, business will increase society’s values and standards and effectively increase the equality of women in the work force.
Courtney from Study Moose
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