Human Resources Strategies

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Understanding HR objectives:

As a business grows, moves overseas and/or introduces different products or uses more technology in production, it will require a different workforce. The HR department will need to recruit new employees, make some redundant and redeploy others as training them to provide the necessary skills.

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Making full use of the workforce:

A workforces potential may be underused because:

  • Skills are untapped. It is possible that employees have skills that are unused

  • Employees are underutilised. Some may find that their jobs are not challenging enough-they may not stretch them or use their talents to their full extent.

Maintaining good employer-employee relations

Maintaining good relations with employees is an important HR objective for most business because:

  • It makes expensive strikes and other forms of labour dispute less likely

  • It attracts higher calibre applicants

  • Assists a business to maintain a positive corporate image which may boost salads

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Influences on HR objectives

Internal influences on HR objectives:

  • Corporate objectives. Objectives set by the HR department must assist the organisation in achieving its overall objective.

  • Attitudes and beliefs of senior managers. Hard or soft HRM

  • Type of product. If a product requires highly skilled labour then objectives will be making the full use of the workforces potential. However selling products mainly machinery produced then minimising costs may be HR objective.

External influences:

  • PoD-reduce labour costs

  • Corporate image. Maintaining good relations with employees to avoid damaging the company’s image.

  • Employment legislation. UK and EU laws may make it difficult to hire and fire employees, thereby HR objectives will be to develop workforce potential

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HR Strategies

Hard HR views employees as a resource to be used efficiently. They are seen to be no different that vehicles or product machinery. Employees are to be hires as cheaply as possible, managed closely and made redundant when no longer required.

Soft HR strategies. The ‘soft’ HR approach is based on the belief that employees are perhaps the most valuable asset a business possesses. Thus it is in their interest to maximise value, developing them over time to help make the business competitive

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Developing and implementing workforce plans

Components of a workforce plan

Business have to decide on the amount and type of labour they require given their objectives. A workforce plan can detail:

  • Number and type of workers
  • Any redeployments
  • Redundancies
  • Retraining
  • As an important element of a workforce plan is a skills audit to identify the abilities and qualities of existing workers, highlighting skills and talents of which managers were unaware

A business’s workforce plan will contain:

  • Details of the current workforce
  • Likely future changes in demand
  • Factors likely to affect the supply of labour, such as forecast rates of labour turnover
  • Recommendations regarding  the actions the firm needs to take to acquire and retain its desired workforce.
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Influences/Issues

Influences on the workforce plans:

  • Sales forecasts. Estimating sales for the next year or two can be a prime influence on workforce plans. This helps the business identify the quantity and type of labour it will require.
  • Demographic trends. These have significant effect on potential entrants to the labour fore
  • Wage rates. If wages are expected to rise, business may reduce to demand for labour and look to replace it with more technology.
  • Changes in legislation. Employment laws can limit the number of hours employees may work

Issues in planning:

  • Employer-employee relations. A business should not take decisions about the workforce without consulting employees
  • Changes in technology. New  technology offers businesses different ways to meet the needs of the customers.
  • Migration. Substantial source of relatively cheap labour.
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Value of planning:

  • Enables managers to have the right employees available in the right place with the rights skills. This gives a business a greater chance of meeting the needs of its customers and winning repeat orders.

  • Planning in any function within a business encourages managers to assess likely changes and prepare considered responses.

  • Businesses operating in markets that are subject wide fluctuations in prices or demand might find it difficult to assess the volume and value of the products they expect to sell.

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Competitive Organisational Structure

Functional structures

A functional structure operates a series of separate departments under leadership of a senior manager. Its advantages are:

  • It allows the business to be coordinated from the top and to have a sense of overall direction.

  • It provides clear lines of communication and authority for all employees

  • It lets specialists operate in particular areas

Disadvantages:

  • Senior managers can become  remote as the business grows

  • Decision making may be slow because of the long lines of communication

  • Provides little coordination and direction to those lower in the organisation

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Matrix Structures

Matrix Structures combine the traditional departments of a functional structure with project teams. The advantages are:

  • It can help break down traditional departmental barriers, improving communication across the entire organisation.
  • It can allow individuals to use particular skills in a variety of contexts
  • It avoids the need for several departments to meet regularly, reducing costs and improving coordination

Its disadvantages include:

  • Members of project teams may have divided loyalties, as they report to two or more line managers
  • There may not be a clear line of accountability given the complex nature of matrix structures
  • Can cause disagreements due to slackers leaving the work down to one person
  • Team working can be as distraction
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