The Role of Human Resource Management in the Workplace
Human Resource Management is a term used to describe how organizations acquire, manage and motivate employees. It also involves the processes and activities put in place to help establish good relations and avoid conflict between coworkers, as well as employee and management staff. A multi-faceted discipline, it is consists of several elements that need to be coordinated in order to create a productive workplace.
Statement of the Problem
This paper aims to examine two important aspects of human resource management in the workplace, namely Employee Motivation, and Employee Development and Training. These aspects will be analyzed within the context of JCB UK, a construction equipment manufacturer. Employee motivation and staff development and training have been selected as the two under performing areas in this company. Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory, John Stacy Adams’ Equity Theory and other need-based theories, the paper will discuss how the under performing elements influence motivation, conflict and overall job performance. Recommendations of possible solutions will also be provided.
Motivation: According to Moorhead and Griffin, motivation refers to the factors that lead people to engage in a certain behavior rather than the alternative. In an organizational setting, it describes forces that encourage employees to work harder, set goals to increase profit, etc.
Conflict: The business dictionary defines conflict as “friction or opposition resulting from actual or perceived differences and incompatibilities”.
Conflict Resolution: Processes established within an organization that help to resolve conflict between employee and employee, and employee and management staff.
Needs: Something needed for individuals to survive and to be comfortable in life.
Equity: The Oxford dictionary refers to equity as “the quality of being fair and impartial”.
The Purpose of Human Resource Management in the Workplace
Human resource management focuses on the methods, processes and techniques that can be used by an organization to make the best of its workforce. HRM sees people as the company’s most valuable resource and aims to develop employee skills in order to achieve business goals. Human resource management requires management staff to coordinate several elements, some of which include communication, employee motivation, employee training and development, employee relations, remunerations and incentives, change management and other functional areas.
Human resource management is not a standalone activity, but an ongoing process that is part and parcel of the general management of an organization. In other words, it is a small part of what managers need to do to run a successful enterprise. Improper or ineffective management of human resources ultimately leads to unmotivated staff members, lower job performance, misuse of physical resources and a decrease in profit.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory
Abraham Maslow’s theory has been one of the most popular human resource management theories since the 1940s. Maslow claims that individuals are motivated by the pursuit and/or fulfillment of certain needs. Needs follow a hierarchical structure, and when one level of needs is met, the individual then progresses to the next. According to the hypothesis, there are 5 levels or types of needs. These ranges from what human beings need for survival to achieving one’s full potential. For an organization to keep staff motivated, it has to fulfill these needs to a certain extent.
Types of Needs
Please note that “needs” refer to individual or personal needs and not organizational goals. These two, however, are closely related. In other words, the fulfillment of an individual’s need will ultimately result in the person being motivated to meet organizational goals.
Physiological needs are the basic necessities of human life. These include the need for food, shelter, air and other survival requirements. The lack of these necessities makes it impossible to live.
The need for security and protection against threats are a bit more complex than physiological needs. To fulfill these needs, employees require remuneration, access to health care and other life benefits.
Need to Belong
The next level of needs is centered on a person’s need to belong. Generally, this need manifests as a desire to be part of a family, group, organization or community. It is social in its orientation and a crucial motivating factor in the work place.
Individuals strive to be recognized, respected and valued in their place of work. Employees that are perceived to be important to the function of the organization tend to be more motivated and driven to achieve company goals.
Self-actualization refers to the process where one realizes his or her potential and capabilities. To Maslow, it is the highest need and one that can cause employees to be increasingly productive when fulfilled.
The Equity Theory
In the early 1960s, John Stacy Adams pioneered a theory that focuses on the fair treatment of staff members. Dubbed The Equity Theory, it is a justice-oriented hypothesis and one that has been adopted in the legal framework of Human Resource Management systems and unions around the world. The basic premise of this theory is that management needs to be consistent in the reward or punishment of employee input and behavior.
Employees are likely to perform better in an organization that aims to treat same-level staff members equally and reward input appropriately. Same-level employees, for instance, are expected to earn the same salary. However, if one invests in working overtime, he or she should be entitled to more pay for performing additional work. Fairness should also be applied in conflict resolution. Employees want to be assured that conflict will be resolved fairly without the arbitrator extending favor to one party.
Employee Motivation: JCB UK Case Study
At the most basic level, motivation is the willingness of employees to do what is required and to invest extra effort into achieving organizational goals. In an article titled ‘Need-based Perspectives on Motivation’, Moorhead and Griffin maintain that there are three major factors that influence overall job performance: motivation, skills and having access to resources needed to get the job done.
As mentioned earlier, motivation is affected by the fulfillment or non-fulfillment of needs. In the case study of JCB UK, although employees’ physiological needs are met, the need for safety and security still persists. Because of the high rate of immediate dismissals and a company structure that does not support union laws, staff members cannot secure an ongoing, contractual income that guarantees financial safety. Without this proverbial safety net, most employees are not motivated to invest time and effort into work as employment might end abruptly and lay all their efforts to waste.
Because dismissals are mainly based on the employees’ inability to execute tasks related to the job positions, this indicates a vital flaw in the planning, recruitment and selection processes used to acquire staff. Hiring employees who are not adequately skilled to fulfill job requirements is cost effective to the company because specialized skills generally demand higher pay. As a result, JCB UK has resorted to a business model and strategy that involves hiring fewer specialists and more staff members with general skills in order to cut labor costs and increase the bottom line.
Untimely dismissals and minimal union acceptance also calls the fairness of the organization’s system into question. The rejection of union laws and support by the company further de-motivates employees because the terms of employment include forfeiting certain legal rights. By not being given the opportunity to contest unfair dismissals, staff members perceive a lack of protection from national laws and a higher threat to job security.
Uncontested dismissals also foster feelings of being disposable instead of valued. As seen earlier, individuals have a need to be valued members of the organization. When this need is encroached, it can cause a negative impact on motivation. Inequity in the workplace has many undesirable effects, some of which include unmotivated workers, conflict and a decline in job performance.
Employee Development and Training
The second underperforming area of the analysis is the company’s willingness and ability to train and develop employees. Training and development refers to the opportunities provided by an organization that staff members can take advantage of, with the aim of acquiring new or improving existing skills. It also involves giving staff members resources and opportunities for career advancement.
The absence of advancement opportunities, resources and infrastructure is closely tied to the low level of employee motivation experienced by JCB staff. One of the purposes of Human Resource Management systems is develop employee potential and improve educational levels. As a result, employees learn to use non-human resources more efficiently to achieve the organization’s goals. Without the necessary infrastructure, employees are not only limited in the skills needed to perform tasks well, but they are also unable to progress in their careers to the stage of self-actualization.
Maslow’s theory can be applied effectively here. If a company’s structure does not permit employee needs of esteem and self-actualization to be fulfilled, much less pursued, it can have significant impact on staff motivation and consequently performance. Victor H. Vroom proposed The Expectancy Theory, which argues that employees are less likely to be motivated when they cannot perceive the rewards they can obtain through excellent performance. In other words, if staff members are required to improve their performance without much possibility of promotion, incentives and rewards, the desire to excel diminishes.
Recommendations to Director
Job security is a high-level priority for employees. If staff members feel they can lose their jobs at any point, motivation to accomplish organizational goals decreases. To remedy this situation, the director should consider rendering immediate dismissals illegal and opt to adopt union laws that can provide better safety and security for employees.
The director should also consider amending screening and recruiting methods to avoid hiring employees that do not possess the appropriate skills for the job. Although cheaper labor might be appealing to the company’s bottom line, it will hurt the profit margin in the long run. Human resources can take up most of the organization’s budget and hiring unskilled employees can result in a waste of valuable resources that can be invested in candidates with specialized skills instead.
It is the responsibility of the employer to device fair processes and methods of dismissal. The danger of uncontested dismissals is that they can induce fear and uncertainty in not just the employees dismissed, but the remaining staff. Fearful and uncertain employees tend to perform poorer than those who know that errors can be corrected without resulting in job loss.
There is much truth in Maslow and Adams’ theories about the type of needs and expectations that employees have about the company they work for. When employees fulfill basic needs, such as earning an income, they progress to the more complex needs of esteem and self-actualization. It is recommended, therefore, that the company invest in infrastructure, resources and opportunities that offer career advancement. Rewarding hard workers with incentives and decision-making positions is an effective way to motivate those who have strong needs for power, influence and affiliation.
The director should strive to increase employee educational levels and invest in skill training. Developing human resources is important because they are responsible for allocating and using non-human resources as efficiently as possible. Also, advancements in technology require modern employees to be tech-savvy in order to keep up with a constantly changing world. Without appropriate education and training, employees will be unable to adapt to new ways of doing business and lack the creativity to give the organization an innovative edge.
Human resource management in the workplace highlights the value of motivated employees to organizations. There are several factors that keep staff motivated and driven to accomplish organizational goals, such as skill training, job security and opportunities for career advancement. Without these factors, employees’ extrinsic and intrinsic needs cannot be met. When needs are not met, it results in lack of motivation and poor job performance. This vicious cycle is best broken by an effective human resource management system. Organizations need to come to a realization that, by developing, educating and striving to fulfill employee needs, employers can create a productive, efficient and willing workforce in return.
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