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Question 1: 1 page
Considering the changes impacting many different industries, some companies are forced or eager to operate at a global level. Please discuss some implications and challenges globalization presents to HR professionals within a particular industry of your choice. Provide industry-specific examples portraying your understanding of global challenges HR teams may face within that particular arena.
Question 2: 1 page
Place yourself in the position of general manager of a service department. How might formally written job requirements help you to manage your work unit?
Question 3: 2 page at least
While many organizations are sold on the idea that strategic HRM adds value, a much smaller percentage acts on that belief (see the “Eye on the Goal” feature in chapter 1 of the text for a more detailed discussion of this point-see below). However, HR is sometimes to blame for the doubts and suspicions that organizational decision makers have about the contributions of human assets to the bottom line. Strategic HR planning is at the core of the much-needed changes and developments in the new HR paradigm.
Address the following:
Define the current predominant paradigm for HR.
Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the current paradigm. (At least 3 each)
What is the new paradigm for HR?
In what ways does this new paradigm help organizations realize a human-based competitive advantage? (Offer 2-3 ways. Be specific.)
What are some practical steps for HR to transform itself and enhance its contributions to organizational success and effectiveness?
EYE ON THE GOAL
The Human Equation
There is an increasing emphasis in business practice on human contributions to an organization’s success. Such an emphasis is not only a valuable and worthwhile pursuit in its own right, but it also offers a strategic opportunity for significant returns on investment in terms of organizational profitability, efficiency, and effectiveness. Emphasizing the human side yields enhanced employee motivation, morale, retention, productivity, and performance quality. In other words, there is an increasing recognition of human resources as assets and as a form of capital, rather than just an expense. However, quantifying the return on investment in human capital is a challenge that HR professionals struggle with as they find themselves increasingly expected to link human aspects to financial outcomes, especially with today’s tight economy and limited budgets. Strategic investments in human assets can yield quantifiable returns on such practices as effective selection, training, and performance management. When HR professionals understand the methods for quantifying such returns, they are in a better position to effectively influence financial and human resource allocations in their organizations.
Unfortunately, many HR managers view their profession as more of an art than a science. They go about their jobs making subjective decisions based on hunches, personal opinions, or politics—ignoring the vast scientific body of knowledge that can lead them to effective HRM. Business consultants have also adopted unscientific approaches that may be very appealing to their clients (and a great source of revenue for their consultancies), but which have led to the widespread adoption of many unfounded management fads. In their seminal book Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths and Total Nonsense (2006), Professors Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton of Stanford uncover many of the lies that managers believe and act on, to the detriment of their organizations. Pfeffer and Sutton call for “evidence-based management”—practices that are based on rigorous scientific research and can deliver real results.
Furthermore, many managers strongly believe that people are impossible to measure, quantify, predict, and explain. The problem with this notion is that no matter how important you believe people are, they will be viewed as an expense to be avoided or minimized if you cannot quantify the return on investment in them. Resources and attention are then allocated to more tangible assets, with quantifiable return on investment, and investment in people disappears. Moreover, when people are viewed merely as an expense, they are the first to go. This situation is especially true in tough economic conditions, as is evidenced by the recent massive layoffs and high unemployment rates.
Fortunately, science has proven this type of thinking wrong, time and time again. Pfeffer and Sutton (2000) refer to this faulty thinking as “the knowing-doing gap.” Pfeffer’s earlier book, The Human Equation (1998), built an extremely convincing case for the quantifiable return on investment in human assets. He showed that about half of organizations believe that people are their most important asset. Within this half, about one-half act on their belief. They implement some measures, systems, or policies that show they truly value their people. Then about half of that quarter of organizations stick to their beliefs and actions—even under business pressures to abandon their beliefs in order to cut costs or reallocate their investments elsewhere. Interestingly, over the years, this one-eighth of organizations has shown superior results on every imaginable measure of profitability, efficiency, and effectiveness when compared to the other seven-eighths.
Examples of effective, evidence-based HR practices include training to improve employees’ knowledge, skills and abilities; performance-based incentives and internal promotion polities to motivate them to perform at their potential; and employment security and participation opportunities to empower them to leverage their abilities and motivation to benefit the organization. These “high performance work practices” (HPWPs), especially when integrated into coherent “high performance work systems” (HPWSs) rather than adopted as isolated individual practices, have been shown to have a significant influence on organizational performance by improving job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and productivity, and reducing turnover and absenteeism (Aryee, Walumbwa, Seidu, & Otaye, 2012; Combs, Liu, Hall, & Ketchen, 2006; Huselid, 1995; Posthuma, Campion, Masimova, & Campion, in press). The lesson is simple: people do matter, and their value is quantifiable. You just have to find the right measures.
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