Describe about An Assignment on Human Resource Management with Case Analysis?
The report aims at critically evaluating and assessing contemporary theories as well as concepts based on strategic human resource management. It highlights upon the case scenario of Corus organization to provide a deep insight into the aspects of human resource management and associated problems that the department of the Company face (Cameron & Green, 2004). The analysis has been conducted with reference to best fit practices as well approaches based upon suitable drivers of performance of jobs. Key challenges that Corus faces with respect to human resource management have been highlighted, followed by appropriate responses as well as strategies to achieve the desired objectives of the organization.
Strategic Human Resource Management:
Strategic Human Resource Management refers to the vivid intensions of an organization including its plans of achieving organizational objectives through human assets. The concept in built upon three propositions – firstly human capital acts as a key source of competitive advantage; secondly individuals who are meant to implement designed strategic plan; thirdly it is important to adopt systematic approach for defining the objectives the organization wants to achieve (Burke, Noblet & Cooper, 2013). The process of strategic human resource management includes the utilization of effective approaches for development of specific strategies that are vertically integrated with corporate strategy and with each other horizontally.
Sources: (Wilkinson & Kannan, 2013)
Strategic HRM bears five main approaches, namely resource-based strategy, increased performance management, attaining strategic fit, highly-involved management, and committed management. Resource-based strategy refers to developing strategic capability. It addresses methods to increase strategic capability by growth of managers as well as other staffs involved in strategic planning.
All strategies of human resource need to be aligned as per corporate strategy. These must be an integral part of corporate strategy that contributes towards planning of business process. The actual purpose is to attain a coherent technique for managing members whereby different practices are in fact mutually supportive (Boxall & Purcell, 2011).
This aims at impacting upon organizational performance by means of people in areas like that of productivity, customer service, quality, profits, growth, and finally imparting higher shareholder values. It basically includes rigorous procedure of recruitment as well as selection, effective training and development activities, performance managing processes, and incentive pay system.
It involves the process of treating organizational members as business partners who need to be valued and respected. The main purpose is to develop a suitable climate whereby management and employees meet and discuss matters of increased involvement and participation to define desired objectives and sharing essential information relating to organizational vision, objectives, and values. Such an approach is helpful in understanding what must be achieved and how it is to be achieved.
It has been defined by Storey (Bolton & Houlihan, 2007) that hard human resource management emphasizes upon costs that are incurred by organizational human resources. On the other hand, soft human resource management emphasizes upon the “human” aspects of the concept.
Johnson has detailed that best practices refer to those practices of human resource management within an organization that possess additive, universal, and positive impacts upon organizational performances. It relates to the basic fact that such desirable best practices each member would add would result in overall enhanced performances of an organization (Cook, Macaulay & Coldicott, 2004). This concept is based on the theory of universalism. In this case, an assumption would be a set of practices aiming at increased organizational commitment or performance to benefit a business firm.
Source: (Mitchell, 2007)
Brief Summary of the Company:
As referred to in the case scenario, Corus was established in the year 1999 on merging of British Steel plc with that of the Dutch Company Hoogovens. Now, it is a subsidiary of Indian Tata group. Corus includes three sub parts – Strip Products, Long Products, and Distribution and Building Systems. Corus Strip Products in UK manufactures steel in strip manner (Beardwell, Holden & Claydon, 2004). These are utilized within markets of vehicle manufacture, electric appliances, construction, tubes as well as packaging. The Company aims at being a leader within the steel industry with its quality products, high customer service and value to shareholders. Moreover, it is a company with with highly committed members with relative low turnover. Overall costs of payroll are quite low as compared to other costs like raw materials or energy. Cost of labor is only around 13% of total costs. This is actually quite less as compared to other assembly line processes.
Problems faced by Corus:
Although the Company has been performing effectively and strategically, there are some issues that have been prominent within the organization and often prove to be significant barriers towards positive organizational changes. Change is often regarded as a factor challenging abilities, customs, practices and experiences of individuals (Armstrong, 2008). It is often a threat for an organization. Change may create resistance towards successful change. For instance, on changing job roles, managers as well as employees may feel they are losing out on power. When number of jobs is reduced, other employees feel insecure. This often results in low morale as well as poor productivity. Although the firm increasingly supported change as well as innovation, not every time that it realized success or desirable outcomes. Some of the problems that Corus Strip Products faced are:
Workforce issues – Corus has an ageing workforce. It possesses an appreciated degree of expertise within the organization including long-standing increased rewards that retained skilled and experienced human assets in the industry. Aged employees with increased technical skills and abilities stayed since these were not that easily transferable. Only a less number of young employees felt attracted towards the industry due to less job opportunities as well as reduction in number of apprenticeship schemes in the nation. Corus plc possessed a history of rewarding “lengthy service” instead of “distinguished service.” This refers to the fact that all those members who were retained in the firm for a long period of time often with low productivity were given increased rewards than new members with high productivity (Amann, n.d.). This happens to be an area within Corus that required major changes and improvements so that all those members with increased performances were rewarded adequately.
Cultural issues – Corus Strip Products is quite successful in traditional industry. This refers to the fact that it had structured activities in relevant business areas. The attitude that is borne in the minds of the organizational people leads to the difficulty in bringing about necessary changes (‘Sunny’ Hu & Cheng, 2010). Some employees at the organization were frightened of uncertainties as well as considered some initiatives to be threat to current status. Job reduction happened to be one of the most concerning issues for the firm and some of the previous approaches led to several job cuts. Most of the members did not consider it to be concerning since the organization had previously faced some difficult times and even coped effectively. Hence, this made possibility of changes to be further difficult.
The concept of performance management is one of the most crucial of HRM department. As per research it has been identified that the process of performance management system in the current scenario is much more effective and robust as compared to that in the previous times. Although the system has improved adequately from past, there still remains scopes for further betterment. The company has been conducting performance appraisals by the traditional feedback system, whereby feedbacks from organizational employees are gathered and analyzed to conclude something. Another factor is the inappropriate implementation of the techniques and improper documentation of performance managing system. It has been identified from the research that the aspect of performance management in Corus forms the basis for any other activities of human resource management such as annual bonus related to employee performance rating, decisions of job rotation, training needs and job promotions. Thus, the firm needs to emphasize more upon its performance management system (Lee, Lee & Wu, 2010). Corus must aim at enhancing its overall performance of human capital along with their self-development. To quite an extent, it has put efforts to address all relevant issues; however due to increased level of subjectivity as well as key decisions related to that. The managers must focus upon the Hertzberg’s two factor theory that states factors, one resulting in job dissatisfaction related to hygiene and another resulting in job satisfaction related to motivators. The employees at Corus must be provided with the basic amenities and management must take control of such aspects.
Sources: (Amann, n.d.)
Organizational Change Management:
With respect to change management at Corus, whenever things changed, it had created stress as well panic for its employees. This is especially at the lower level of organizational hierarchy. Every time any change occurred within the operational setting of Corus due to technological or economic or legal and environmental factors, the managers felt the pressure in an unrealistic manner and then these were decentralized to the lower levels in an increased manner (Wilkinson & Kannan, 2013). The firm had failed to see beyond the change and assess the probable reasons of changes. This resulted in the faulty interpretations of changes. The managers failed to assess the rising situations and were only short-focused instead of having long forecasting capabilities.
HRM Process at Corus:
While effects of global financial crisis were quite strong and were felt at varied extents across the entire area where Corus operates, maintaining happy and contented employees as well as providing them enough motivation during the hard times has always remained the central attention for the Company’s human resource department. It is a strong realization of the firm that its employees form the most precious human capital that play key role in creating competitive advantage of the business in the world (Wilkinson & Kannan, 2013).
When the world was hit by the economic crisis, employees of Corus has their own contribution to the tough times and the initiatives to cut off costs as well as increase value in the latter half of the year.
Although the Company maintains a well defined policy regarding human resource, yet managing it is not that easy. The employees cooperate as teams and aims at achieving common goals. Yet, the leader has immense roles to play (Das, 2003). There is a lack of open discussion sessions amidst managers and employees to allow people speak and convey feelings. On the other hand, managers also fail to communicate effectively with the employees. There is a sheer lack of commitment, autonomy and confidence among the employees
Challenges of Human Resource Management:
The human resource managers within Corus have been facing serious issues in the on-going business scenario such as globalization, technological advances, workforce diversity, and political changes including that of legal or environmental changes within information technology. Such challenges are said to enhance the pressure upon human resource managers for attracting, retaining, and nurturing human talent at Corus (Tsui & Lai, 2009).
Globalization – At the economic as well as political level, globalization refers to a process of market denationalization, legal and legal systems and politics, that is utilization of global economy. Globalization is an extension across national borders of similar market forces which have been operating for centuries at various levels of human economic activity (Fletcher, 2002). This refers that both world trade as well as financial markets are getting more and more integrated. This also imposes a threat upon the human resource management of organizations like that of Corus group (Hsu, 2015). The managers possess a challenge for dealing with increased number of functions, increased heterogeneous operations as well as increased involvement within personal life of employees.
Technological advances – A risk exists in adapting with workplace for increased technological changes that influence work nature as well as generate obsolescence (Kazi, 2005). At Corus, advanced technology has reduced the frequency of jobs which require less skills as well as increased number of those jobs that require considerable skills. In fact, it has been a shift from labor work to knowledge work. This demands changes in the organizational setting accordingly.
Workforce diversity – Workforce diversity includes age, gender, ethnicity, ancestry, physical qualities or abilities, sexual orientation, race, educational background, income, geographic location, educational background, marital status, religious beliefs, work experience, and parental status. The Company is said to face serious challenges due to the existing workforce diversity (Grieves, 2003). The mixture of multiple talents of varied cultural backgrounds, ages, genders and lifestyle within the organization has given rise of issues related to human resource management and requires immediate measures. The challenges that are faced due to workforce diversity may be transformed into strategic asset of Corus if it capitalizes upon these diverse talents. In the recent years, Corus is said to lose its markets as well as talent to its competitors(Andresen & Kleiner, 2005).
Changes in political or legal environment – This refers to the changes within political parties as well as rules and regulation on account of new set of laws. This is another threat that Corus faces since it fails to abide by those rules. Several changes have been taking place within the political as well as legal framework (Leffakis, 2009). The human resource is not efficient enough at Corus to conduct effective practices to bring about the necessary changes or adjustments in the organization. They in fact fail to anticipate changes and face these without any hamper to normal operations.
Changes in economic environment – This factor involves examination of effects of several factors of production. These include inadequate availability of raw materials, power, electricity, encouraging culture of consumerism, increasing awareness of consumers, demanding quality products, and maintaining upward trend within inflationary pressures, decline in value of rupee, increasing demands of high wages, and enormous costs of employee welfare as well as other benefits (Martin, 2010). In case of Corus, the inflationary economy led to the scarcity of resources, higher cost of machine, labor and material. These raise the operational costs of Corus.
Information Technology Revolution – The factor of information technology has greatly impacted the human resource management of Corus by means of its customized information system in the department (Truss, Mankin & Kelliher, 2012). This even led to a challenge that Corus had to face in terms of using electronic computers for making decisions related to management, and that of impacts of strategic functioning.
Besides these the research shows that there are other aspects as well as in Corus that requires adequate attention (Mello, 2006). Some of these are training need analysis, linking rewards as well as recognition with effective performance appraisal, personal development plan, attention towards methods of appraisal, involvement of employees within setting of targets, safety policies, active participation of employees in organizational processes, coordination between superior as well as subordinates, managing time in performance appraisal as well as providing feedback, etc.
Source: (Agrawal & Thite, 2003)
Recommendation for Improvements:
In the present on-going situation of human resource management of Corus, the department has been evidenced to face severe challenges in its operations such as globalization, changing information system, workforce diversity, changing economic and legal environment, etc. The challenges that Corus had been facing in context to human resource management may be overcome and managed with some careful planning and implementation of suitable action measures by the organizational management itself (Mitchell, 2007). Although the challenges are inevitable, yet these can be managed effectively with strategic approach.
It is important to conduct training for human resource personnel that are cross-cultural in nature in order to help them understand other cultures as well.
It is necessary to motivate professional experts on a constant basis so that they do not change organizations that frequently. It is not always important to motivate people with financial means, but it can be achieved even by non-financial means such as increased encouragement, employee training, and job satisfaction (Price, 2004).
Human resource department at Corus need to adapt themselves to the technological advancements and keep accepting the positive changes for organizational betterment.
The organization need to shift its human resource strategies along with the changing economy. The strategies need to be agile, flexible and adaptive in nature.
Whenever technical changes occur within the organizational setting of Corus, it would require implementation of increased training to the existing employees and workers. Since training as well as development acts as the realm of this specific department, it gives rise to a challenge meant for human resource managers (Pugh & Mayle, 2009). Therefore, human resource managers at Corus need to initially determine the type of training that would be necessary along with implementation of training measures for ensuring every worker to keep up with the prevailing technical changes. The managers of the specific department must determine the preferred perfect timing for training the employees and the time to recruit the vacant posts with new technical workers at Corus.
On account of the changing pattern of information system, it is important that the human resource managers as well as other professionals are given adequate training regarding the adopted human resource information system and supporting them to overcome the emerging challenges (Robinson, 2006).
The organization needs to use an effective performance evaluating system as well as career development planning strategy for reducing professional mobility.
The situation of aspects related to human resource management may be improved by utilizing motivational techniques whereby the managers may motivate employees and workers with both financial and non-financial techniques (Truss, Mankin & Kelliher, 2012).
The human resource professionals need to possess a strong sense of responsibility with empowering attitude, capability of providing and receiving feedback, hard work, etc. The professionals at Corus need to master knowledge within group dynamics as well as group functioning, strategies of managing conflict. The employees need to identify themselves with the organizational abilities (Rowley & Jackson, 2011).
Although the Company has been performing effectively and strategically, there are some issues that have been prominent within the organization and often prove to be significant barriers towards positive organizational changes. Change is often regarded as a factor challenging abilities, customs, practices and experiences of individuals (Sparrow, Scullion & Tarique, n.d.). Human resource practices on a general basis are becoming increasingly challenging every day. This is even reflective in case of Corus Strip Products. The firm has been facing several problems such as attracting new employees, retaining existing employees, dealing with workforce diversity, informational as well as technological changes, training needs and processes, managing work culture, etc. For reducing mobility of professional human resource experts, the managers of the department along with higher authorities of Corus need to encourage the people in various ways so as to make them realize their value within the organization.
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