HR knowledge

‘Describe and critically evalute the key factors which shape the role and practices of the HR/Personnel function within an organisation with which you are familiar. On the basis of your analysis identify the main HR challenges currently facing this organisation. Relate your analysis to appropriate literature’ Tutor: Maxina Butler-Holmes The HR, Human Resource role is becoming particularly challenging in an ever changing ‘macro-environmental flux’. Each year there are many legislative changes which affect organisations, operationally, technically and financially.
In 2007 alone, the CIPD, Chartered Institute for Personnel Development (2007), reported many new challenges to organisations ranging from minimum wage increases, new family friendly policies such as the enhanced maternity and adoption rights under the Work and Families Act 2007, the Smoking at work laws – from 1 July, under the Health Act 2007, where workplaces in England became smoke-free, and employers now have to provide smoke-free workplaces for all employees, to the Statutory holiday entitlement increasing from 4 weeks (twenty days) to 4.
8 weeks (twenty four days) to implement the Work and Families Act 2006 commitment to make paid time off for bank holidays additional to holiday entitlement. In 2008, many other changes to employment law will come into effect, which will directly impact into the demanding HR role. This essay will critically review some of the ever changing factors which shape and challenge the role of an organisations HR function. The organisation in focus is Unique Party Inc, an American owned party goods distributor employing approximately 100 personnel, segmented into managerial, clerical and operational personnel.

The organisation known as ‘The Prestige Balloon Company’ was founded approximately eighteen years ago by the current President. At this time the business was primarily managed and run by a married couple employing a handful of personnel within a small distribution facility. The business was sold eight years ago to a large American, family owned business, ‘Unique Party Favors Inc’, who wanted to acquire a European business with established customer and vendor links. Due to the ambitious expansion and growth plans of its new owners, the business relocated to its current site in Scunthorpe.
Over the next couple of years a structure started to evolve, involving the appointment of department Managers, covering Finance, Distribution, Sales and Marketing, and Purchasing and Inventory. At this time there was no specific HR function, relying on each departmental Manager to cover their own specific personnel issues and requirements. The organisation steadily grew up until a couple of years ago to over one hundred people, at which point it was apparent that there was a distinct need for a full time dedicated HR qualified professional to manage all personnel affairs.
Unique party have suffered from a distinct lack of quality, professionally trained Managers. Typically in the past the best operator within each department was promoted into managerial roles, despite little or no legislative, academic, or qualified knowledge. This has led to many issues occurring, ranging from claims of unfair dismissal, racial discrimination, poor morale, and poor working practices with little motivation.
Since the arrival of the HR Manager, she has attempted to drive change into the organisation. This change has been resisted, resistance being typical of that described by Kurt Lewins ‘Force-Field’ affect, as systems which are held in a constant state of ‘equilibrium’ by equal and opposing forces detailed in figure 1 below.

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