Strategic HRM Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 14 August 2016

Strategic HRM

Do you agree that “Strategic HRM is crucially interested in HRD and employee participation”? In your answer, discuss the problems and tensions embedded within HRD and employee participation.

I believe that an organization’s best competitive advantage is their people, and Human Resources Development (HRD) and employee participation is critical component of an organization’s Strategic Human Resource Management. A culture that supports learning can make a world of difference, especially if senior managers and employees are committed to HRD. There are key issues that make training and learning more effective such as the motivation and interests of learners, the support from managers and supervisors and the overall learning culture within the organization. There are several problems that organizations should consider when implementing HRD. One issue is that it is difficult to determine the type of learning that is required for each employee in the organization. Implementing workplace learning is a difficult and complex task that requires the involvement of senior managers and line managers.

It is not always easy to motivate line managers to become fully involved and realize the importance of HRD as they do not view their subordinate’s development as part of their job responsibilities. Line Managers are often focused on making their department more efficient and productive and do not realized that investing in their employee’s skills and knowledge may help them reach their goals in those areas. HRD requires the integration of various activities such as identifying needs, selecting learning activities and supporting the learning of new skills, and how the line managers think, feel and act, will play a key role in achieving this. Line managers may have difficulty with their involvement as they may not have time due to the pressures of work and they may not have the skill or positive attitudes required to assist with developing others.

When line managers are expected to be involved in implementing HRD and are responsible for the development of their subordinates, it can cause tension between them which according to _Phillips, 1995_, could lead to a regression into the typical manager type of behaviour. Managers may find it difficult to focus on developing their employees when there is pressure to meet performance targets. Another obstacle to overcome is that most organizations may focus on profit animation, reducing costs and marketing their products, rather than focusing their time and money on developing their employees. Many companies view their employees as individuals that help get the job done, but may not realize that many employees have skills and knowledge beyond their everyday jobs that could be developed if the organization changed their focus. Often organizations put more emphasis on marketing and financial matters as opposed to training.

The issue of diversity is another problem that needs to be considered. There has been a growing awareness of the importance of understanding diversity in the workplace and organizations should be focusing on ensuring they are doing the right thing to conform to the law. Many organizations may not feel that diversity is an important issue that they need to deal with, however they should be offering awareness training once the issues are identified as part of their HRD to communicate information to all employees. Organizations need to realize that the shift towards diversity requires commitment from the organization to a long-term cultural change when developing the learning in order for it to be effective. Again support from senior managers and leaders is critical if the organization expects employee buy-in.

Another problem to consider is the _”human capital theory”_ (Garrick, 1999) which relates to how employees in organizations perform and the results they achieve can be considered a return on investment (ROI) which can then be assessed in terms of costs and benefits. This can hinder HRD as it puts pressure on Human Resources to show the value of the workplace learning to the organization by measuring ROI, therefore if the benefits cannot be measured, the organization will not be willing to invest.

For example, if I were to push for HRD as part of the Strategic HRM in my organization, the first thing I would be asked to do by my CEO and the Board of Directors would be to show them how it will benefit the organization. It may be difficult to predict what benefits investing in employees by providing workplace learning other than by measuring the impact on succession planning down the road. We can invest in training for employees now, to prepare them for future roles in the organization as we forecast retirements.

There is also the ‘endogeneity problem’ which means that instead of HRD being the cause of an improvement in production and profitability, it may be that firms that are more productive and profitable do more HRD. Part of the problem is that there needs to be a link between skills and organizational performance.

Organizational politics may interfere with decisions on training needs and employee relations may also interfere with HRD. The idea of a learning organization may be difficult to implement as employees may be fearful of or resist change. The organizations culture may give little consideration for training and not see the link between HRD and organizational strategy. Smaller companies or companies that are located in less industrialized areas may be at a disadvantage when considering Strategic HRM and HRD as employees may lack the knowledge and may not be educated on what it is or the competitive advantage it can offer a company. However, smaller organizations can also be viewed as having an advantage when it comes to adopting workplace learning, as Ortenblad (2004) suggests, smaller organizations might be more suited to the idea because their structures are relatively organic and flexible.

In conclusion, although there are a variety of problems and tensions embedded HRD professionals can overcome the obstacles by educating the employees and providing senior management with the benefits of HRD in the workplace. The benefits include, improving the performance of employees and help them to learn, develop, and/or grow. Hopefully managers have positive attitudes towards HRD and will accept the responsibility of developing their employees through coaching and leading by example.

Write about 500 words to answer this question.

How might organizations work with unions to achieve strategic HRM goals, and how might unions prepare to represent their members in a strategic HRM environment?

Organizations can work with unions to achieve strategic HRM goals by involving the union in their decision-making and making them feel that their opinion counts. Organizations need to create a partnership with the union and educate them by advising them of the organization’s goals and by working with them to develop a plan to create the organization culture that is needed to achieve their strategic goals. It is also important for the organization to gather feed-back from the union on their ideas. Working together to achieve a common goal will assist the organization when they are implementing their strategy as the union will offer positive feedback to their members and encourage them to recognize and support the organization’s strategic HRM. It is important for the organization to have a cooperative and non-adversarial relationship with the union. The organization should also support the union’s strategic goals and assist in any way they can with creating a positive environment for learning. Building trust and respect with the union is key, and it has to be earned over time.

One way to build trust is to allow the union access to as much information as possible as it relates to the current status of the corporation and future plans. The Union needs to know that the organization is not telling them what type of culture they want to create; they are willing to work with them to create the beliefs and values that they envision and want them to be part of the decision-making. There has to be some sort of acceptable trade-off to offer the Union that will benefit them and the organization so it is a win-win. In the United Kingdom there are provisions in the 2002 Employment Act that allow union learning representatives (ULRs) to have paid time off to arrange learning for union members. In Ontario, we do not have this provision in our Employment Standard’s Act however, the organization could allow the union the same opportunity without the requirement by law.

Under this provision, the ULRs are able to promote the value of training and learning and give advice to members. The ULRs are entitled to receive time off with pay so they can be trained on how to develop the skills they need to analyze needs and negotiate with employers. ULRs can create learning agreements and learning committees to cover the union member’s rights to learning. Recent research on the Union Learning Fund suggest that it offers value to unions by helping to establish joint workplace training and learning committees with employers, which improves relations and trust. I believe this type of organization would offer great value to both unions and employers in Canada.

In conclusion, the outcome of whether or not the organization can create a partnership with the union will depend on several factors, most importantly as Heery (2002) concludes, whether the ‘qualitative gains’ are not heavily outweighed by ‘quantitative’ losses for the union. It also will depend on the past relationship that the organization has had with the union, for example if collective bargaining took place recently and the outcome was viewed as poor for the union, or if collective bargaining is going to take place in the near future and there is a negative outcome expected, the union will not be as willing to cooperate with the organization’s strategic HRM goals.

Write about 500-750 words to answer this question (You will need to read the articles provided to help answer this question-please take care in referencing any quotes).

Argue both for and against the argument that employers exploiting ’emotional labour’ are contravening employee rights and reinforcing gendered, classed, and raced social relations.

Emotional labour in the workplace is when a worker uses emotion towards customers as part of the customer service experience. It means that a person suppresses or evokes certain emotion to conform to social norms. Employers that promote or make full use of emotional labour are contravening employee rights as there are different behavioural expectations depending on who (male vs female, race etc.) is doing the emotional labour. These different expectations are based on ‘social norms’ which construct identities in such a way that privilege some at the expense of subordinating others (Chong, 2009).

Intersectionality is defined as:

“a concept often used in critical theories to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another.” (Geek Feminism Wiki)

It is important to examine this when studying whether or not employers are contravening employee rights when exploiting emotional labour as it reinforces intersecting systems of race, gender and class oppression. Arlie Russell Hochschild defines emotional labour in her ground-breaking book, The Managed

Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling (1983), as the following:

This labor requires one to induce or suppress feeling in order to sustain the outward countenance that produces the proper state of mind in others . . . This kind of labor calls for a coordination of mind and feeling, and it sometimes draws on a source of self that we honor as deep and integral to our individuality.

As _Chong, 2009_ argues, gender, race and class processes are central to the social construction of emotional labour as based on interlocking hierarchies. Emotional labour is not a neutral act as it has the effect of causing inequalities to appear neutral on an individual level and thus justifying oppression. It is a fact that employers expect employees to act a certain way based on their job, for example an article by Ned Resnikoff on _”How companies force ’emotional labor’ on low-wage workers”_ states:

“A Starbucks barista’s job is more than just serving coffee. She also needs to be polite, even friendly, to the customers. If she does her job correctly, then maybe the customer will walk away feeling like the barista was actually happy to serve him-that it was not only her job, but a genuine pleasure.”

However, does the emotional labour that is expected by Starbucks change based on the employee’s gender or race? I would think not, all employees are expected to be polite and friendly, regardless of their gender or race. However it may be wrong for the employer to force this type of emotion onto their employees, but in the long run, presenting this type of emotion may benefit the employees in the service industry, such as Starbucks, as they may get more tips. It is hard to determine whether or not employers that exploit emotional labour are contravening employee’s rights as it is dependent upon the job that the industry that they are in and the position that the employee has. I do agree however that there are gender inequalities when it comes to women in the workplace, however these inequalities are only apparent in certain roles, for example, the flight attendants that Hochschild (1983) studied in the book: _The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling_.

The front-line employee is the face of the company and just as they are expected to do their job correctly, they are expected to represent the company in a way that respects the company’s core values. Part of doing this may be by showing certain positive emotions. Even employees that are not on the front line, I will use my role in Human Resources as an example, I am expected to act a certain way and if I am dealing with issues outside of work that could cause me to feel and act negatively at work, I need to disguise those emotions. Is it infringing on my rights to cause me to act a certain way, no, I don’t believe so, it’s all part of the code of conduct and positive work environment that the company is trying to create.


William Collier, Francis Green and Young-Bae Kim. Education, Training and Establishment Survival. Department of Economics, University of Kent, 2007. Retrieved from: . uk/conference_papers/07_12_2007/collier.pdf

HR Council. _Learning, Training and Development._ Retrieved on November 29, 2014 from: o lkit/learning-factors.cfm.

Chong, Patricia. _Servitude with a Smile: An Anti-Oppression Analysis of Emotional Labour._ Global Labour University, 2009. Retrieved from:


Arlie R. Hochschild, The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling (London: University of

California, 1983), 7.

Resnikoff, Ned. _How companies force ’emotional labor’ on low-wage workers._ MSNBC, 2013. Retrieved from: http://w w

Hochschild, A.R. (1983). The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling.

London: University of California Press.

Braton, John & Gold, Jeff(2012). _Human Resource Management Theory and Practice, 5th Edition._ England, U.K.: Palgrave Macmillan

Wikia. _Geek Feminism Wiki_. Retrieved on November 29, 2014 from: HTTP://GEEKF E MINISM.WIKIA.COM/WIKI/INTERSECTIONALITY

Free Strategic HRM Essay Sample


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