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Strategic Human Resource Management involves addressing a number of factors that affect different people in different ways. One of the key issues that the human resource department needs to address is cultural factors both globally and inside an organization. Global cultural factors include the understanding and respect for different cultures that must be recognized from the company as a whole in the company values and mission statement.
The company must give top priority to the acceptance of cultural differences in the way it handles itself in the global marketplace as well as how it handles employees. To be global competitors in the marketplace, companies must actively engage in business transactions with other global companies. In order to conduct those transactions, the company must learn about the culture of the other company to ensure that they do not offend the members of the other company. If a company in the United States wants to do business with a company in China, there are certain protocols that the company executives would want to make sure that they follow if they want to land the contract.
Those same protocols hold true for relations inside a company. Not only are there laws in place to prevent discrimination but management needs to make sure that employees from different cultures are not offended by certain practices, whether from other employees or from management itself. Biases need to be set aside and sometimes that will take special training. Sometimes people need to be taught how to accept and respect other cultures and that just because they are different does not mean they are wrong or second-rate.
Human Resource Management has the responsibility to spearhead the research and training for cultural awareness and acceptance. The department should make sure that all of the employees know not only the law but the company standards when it comes to cross-cultural relations. The company standards need to be set with the highest degree of ethical treatment and must be practiced by all individuals in the company with the top management leading the way.
The Benefits and Challenges of Telecommuting
Many companies are starting to recognize the benefits of having employees telecommute. The concept started in the seventies in California with a big part of the plan to reduce daily travel emissions and save the planet (HRhero.com, n.d). While reducing car emissions is still a big priority many other benefits have developed through the years. Giving employees creative incentives to stay with a company, telecommuting offers key employees the flexibility to work from home, many times at their own schedule. It allows employees to save drastically by cutting their transportation budget, gives them more time with their families, and gives them the ability to work in a more productive, quiet environment with fewer distractions and interruptions.
The benefits for employers are increasing as well. The company can cut back on office space potentially saving thousands of dollars a year. When a company has proven, high performing employees and gives them the option to work from home, those employees will be happier and often times more productive. Fewer employees coming to the office will also reduce the chances for sick workers coming in to the office spreading their germs and reducing productivity. With the advances in technology and the speed of broadband internet connections, there are very few limitations to completing the tasks at hand from a remote location.
There are challenges to telecommuting that must be addressed by both the company and the employee. Most employers should still provide an OSHA approved safe workspace, meaning the employer should provide the desk and chair or at least inspect what the employee has to make sure it is compliant. Thus far OSHA does not have any regulations governing telework in home offices and will not inspect them but that could change in the future (Molinari, 2009). The workers will most likely need to have a computer and printer, internet connection and phone/fax line which should at least be subsidized by the employer. The few initial expenses will be easily covered by the savings that they company will experience.
The question of time spent working will always be a challenge unless the company installs a web-cam to keep an eye on the employee. The challenge of work time will be reduced by only allowing employees to work from home if they have proven themselves with strong work ethics and high production. Keeping an eye on productivity should also be able to eliminate questions about how much time a telecommuter is spending working. If productivity goes down then the telecommuting situation may need to be reevaluated.
Human resource management needs to have direct involvement in making sure that key issues are addressed and that everyone involved understands the policies and procedures for the telecommuting situation. The Human Resource Department is tasked with managing the resources of the company and that includes the resources at alternative work sites as well as the production that comes from those alternative sites.
The benefits appear to outweigh to challenges of telecommuting. According to Brian Molinari (2009), “Current technology, health, environmental, economic, and even legal conditions provide some of you with powerful incentives to permit and even encourage telecommuting.” The employees are a valuable asset to the company as is the company to the employee and it should not be treated as an “out of sight, out of mind” situation. The managers still need to manage and the workers still need to work. As long as proper policies and procedures are set forth to protect both parties, it should be a win-win situation.
HRhero.com. (n.d). Telecommuting: Benefits and challenges for employers and employees.
Molinari, B. (2009, September 18). Telecommuting: Tips for managing employees who work from home.
Retention and Motivation
Retention and motivation of employees is an incredibly important aspect of human resource management. Retaining good employees is a vital aspect of any business. The cost of replacing key individuals can be several times their annual salary and can easily hurt the bottom line for a business. Motivating employees is also a vital facet as it will increase production and help with the retention of employees.
According to an article written by Susan Heathfield (n.d), “Managers readily agree that retaining your best employees ensures customer satisfaction, product sales, satisfied coworkers and reporting staff, effective succession planning and deeply imbedded organizational knowledge and learning.” What does it take to retain your best employees? Ms. Heathfield goes on in her article to discuss some important tips to retention:
- Employees need to know exactly what is expected of them.
- Employees need clear, quality supervision.
- Employees need to be able to approach their managers with comments, questions and concerns without fear of reprisal.
- Employees need to feel that their skills and talents are being utilized.
- Employees need to feel they are being treated fairly.
- Employees need the time, tools and training to succeed at what they do.
- Employees need the opportunity to grow.
- Employees need to feel that their job and income are safe.
- Finally, employees need to feel rewarded, recognized and appreciated.
Based on that list, many of the key points in retaining employees would also serve well to motivate them as well. If employees are given the tools to succeed, the opportunity to grow along with rewards, recognition and appreciation for a job well done, they will definitely be motivated to keep doing a good job.
Motivation does not have to be monetary. According to Herzberg’s Motivating Factors, pay is number eight on the list. Sense of achievement, earned recognition, opportunity for growth and advancement, responsibility and relationships come before monetary motivation. In his research Herzberg noted that “workers like to feel that they contribute to the company” (Nickels, McHugh, McHugh, 2008). A worker feeling appreciated and needed will make all the difference in the world about their work performance.
Motivating and retaining good employees is not only important to the bottom line but also to the reputation of the company. If employees are miserable in their job, they will tell people, including the customers, how rotten the company is, if they are happy, they will tell people too. Happy workers will produce more, happy workers make happy customers, happy workers mean a successful business. Good employees who are motivated and have their needs met will want to do good for the company. They will be less likely to steal or to slack off on the job if they feel they are a part of a bigger picture.
The key factors listed above for retaining good employees have many of the same factors for motivating employees. It does not take a lot for managers to recognize their employees and do the little things that really do make a difference in the bottom line as well as the reputation of the company.
Heathfield, S. (n.d). Top ten ways to retain your great employees.
Nickels, W., McHugh, J., & McHugh, S. (2008). Understanding business (8th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin.
Equal Opportunity Employment
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 sets the standards for equal opportunities for all employees. The standards set forth in the act are not an option for companies to follow. Employers are required to follow the letter of the law when it comes to discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin in the process of hiring, promotion, firing, pay, benefits, training, and so on. The law also prohibits an employer from retaliating against anyone who has filed a discrimination complaint against them.
The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 to protect qualified individuals who have a physical or mental disability from discrimination based on those disabilities. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 protects individuals age forty and over from discrimination in hiring, promotion and pay. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 requires equal pay for men and women who perform equal work. Most recently added is the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 which restricts employers from discriminating against individuals based on genetic information (Department of Labor, 2009).
What this means is that employers can only look at job specific qualifications and skills in the hiring, firing, and promoting individuals as well as in pay, benefits, and training considerations or risk serious consequences. Preferential treatment of any kind, in any way is explicitly prohibited. According to a recent press release on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) website (2010), a jury has awarded over five hundred and fifty thousand dollars to thirteen employees who were victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. While the payout to each victim is not that much money, the overall judgment is meant to deter that type of harassing behavior. The press release quotes the director of the EEOC New York District Office, saying “This case demonstrates how the EEOC will not relent in its efforts to redress discrimination wherever it occurs, no matter how long it takes.” Discriminating behavior will not be tolerated in the workplace.
Affirmative Action is a set of policies that has been set forth to help employers avoid discrimination charges by ensuring that all minority groups are represented. One of the problems associated with affirmative action is that by employers trying to ensure that all minorities are represented; sometimes the person who is most qualified for the position is left out. The companies sometimes feel that they have to meet their “minority quota” and hire or promote under-qualified people out of fear. The basis of affirmative action is that no discrimination occurs and that minorities are considered equally. If an individual is hired it should be on the basis of qualifications, not fear that a discrimination suit will be filed.
Discrimination in the workplace is not only illegal and immoral but it can hurt a company’s chance for survival. An equal employment opportunity discrimination lawsuit will not only hurt the company financially, but will have a negative effect on employee morale as well as public relations. Once the other employees hear about the discrimination, they will be hard pressed to retain much loyalty to their employer. Once the local community hears about the suit as well, they will have a difficult time supporting that business. The laws are simple and straightforward; following them should be first priority before any other business practice.
Department of Labor. (2009). Equal employment opportunity is the law.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2010, May 5). EEOC collects on $471,000 jury award after winning appeal from waterproofing company in sex harassment case.
Vacation Time, Sick Time and Personal Time
Vacation time, sick time and personal time can be a difficult issue for companies that try to enforce the parameters of those off times. What happens to that sick time when employees are healthy and never need sick time? At most companies, that sick time is lost if it is not used, which causes employees to call in sick when they just need a personal day. More and more companies are moving to the Paid Time Off (PTO) system and are having mixed results. There are creative alternatives out there that can benefit everyone.
The traditional time off package includes two weeks paid vacation, eight sick days, two personal days in addition to ten paid holidays. That traditional package has a few flaws that make it difficult for some employees to be treated fairly. If an employee is relatively healthy and doesn’t need all of their sick time then they end up working more than some co-workers without any additional compensation. The flip side of that coin is that employees will take sick days when they are not sick just so they can use the paid days instead of losing them. Other issues include some of the paid holidays. For the employees who are not Christian, many companies require them to take a day off for a holiday that they do not celebrate as well as require them to work on holidays that they do celebrate.
PTO packages are becoming more and more popular at companies and are hugely popular with employees making them important recruiting factors. PTO packages combine all of the traditional time off into a package of thirty paid days off per year that an employee can use at their discretion. The downfall that companies are seeing with these types of packages is that employees are seeing all of this time as vacation time and are not taking time off when they are sick. The ill employee still comes to work infecting other employees and reducing productivity according to F. John Reh in an article on About.com (n.d).
An interesting twist on the PTO vs. sick time issue is brought up by Susan Lucas (2008) on her Evil HR Lady blog. Susan states, “I'm actually a fan of personal responsibility and unlimited sick time. In my experience, people only take sick time when they actually need it. Those that abuse the privilege are usually the problem employees anyway, and you should be managing them right out the door for other reasons.” This is an interesting point in that people are not going to use their vacation time for sick time anyway, so why not adjust the system and make the package true vacation time for them to use as they wish.
What would be the harm in offering unlimited paid sick time? As Ms. Lucas suggested, the employees who are abusing it are probably the employees who are abusing other terms of employment anyway. The benefit to offering unlimited sick time would be that people would actually stay home when they need to and would stop coming to work sick and spreading their illnesses to other people forcing a huge reduction in productivity. The cost difference would probably be about the same but the morale of employees would be higher if they felt that companies were offering them something special.
While there are no laws requiring paid time off in any form, it is a sought after benefit in the job market and is advantageous to the employer as well as the employee. A creative paid time off package will make the employer more attractive and will earn the loyalty of employees. A flexible paid time off package will reduce employees abusing the system and ultimately will result in a more productive workplace.
Reh, F. (n.d). Sick leave vs. paid time off (pto).
Lucas, S. (2008, March 13). Paid time off.
The Benefits of Benefits
An important issue the human resource managers need to address is the significance of benefits and the impact that they have on employee performance, satisfaction, and loyalty. Employee benefits are becoming more and more expensive to offer but there are substantial trade-offs to not offering them or to offering substandard benefits packages. Generous benefits packages can contribute to more successful recruiting and better retention of quality employees which could pay off in the long run.
Employees who receive benefits packages are often times more satisfied with their jobs and are more likely to stay loyal to the company that is taking care of them. According to the Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Centers website (2009),
Turnover costs for many organizations are very high and can significantly affect the financial performance of an organization. Direct costs include recruitment, selection, and training of new people. Much time and expense go into this process. Indirect costs include such things as increased workloads and overtime expenses for coworkers, as well as reduced productivity associated with low employee morale. Estimated costs vary from organization to organization, some as low as a few hundred dollars to as high as four times the annual salary of the employee.
High turnover rates can cost a company big time. It only seems reasonable that offering a generous benefits package would help reduce turnover by increasing employee satisfaction.
Benefits packages can include health insurance, vision and dental insurance, life insurance, long-term and short-term disability insurance, flexible spending accounts, profit sharing plans, retirement plans, flexible schedules, wellness programs, and child care assistance. Some companies even get creative with their benefits plans and offer unique perks as well. Simple recognition programs can really help boost morale like tickets to a local event, coupons for area services and public recognition for a job well done. Other types of benefits include direct deposit of paychecks, paid holidays, continuing education courses as well as professional development programs. Even bringing in a massage therapist once a month for a fifteen minute chair massage for all employees can really make them feel special. Basically anything a company can do to show their employees that they care about them will foster loyalty and better performance.
The value of providing benefits will increase over time. The estimate provided above from the Missouri Development Center that it can cost up to four times the annual salary to replace an employee proves that it is well worth the expense of benefits to try to keep them. The same article states that the average turnover rate in the US is over fourteen percent, which makes benefits look cheap.
Employees are what makes a business possible and they need to be valued and taken care of. An added benefit to offering benefits is that they are one hundred percent deductible for the business, further reducing the cost. Companies that offer attractive benefits packages also create a favorable reputation for themselves in the community, good public relations, further adding to the benefit of offering benefits.
Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Centers. (2009, August, 28). Reducing employee turnover.
Human Resources and Background Checks
Background checks should be an integral part of any hiring process as well as ongoing human resource management. Background checks of all kinds can help protect a business from fraudulent activities and help ensure productive workers. Checking on the history of a potential employee can include verifying academic credentials, prior employment and job performance, skills verification, as well as criminal background checks and credit history.
Many times a person seeking a job will embellish the truth a bit about their work or education history and that can spell problems for the company later on. What if an applicant for an accounting position states that they have a bachelor’s degree in accounting when all they really have is a certificate saying that they know how to use to the accounting software QuickBooks? What if that person also has a criminal background for theft at a previous employer? What if the potential employer does not request the appropriate background checks and hires the applicant? The company is going to be putting a thief in control of their finances on top of having to train them for the position. That company stands to lose everything they have. Most companies realize this threat and are taking the proactive approach to protect their assets.
Verifying all of an applicant’s history can be very revealing from many perspectives. However, it is important to give the applicant a chance to explain. Even if they only slightly embellish the small details such as prior employment dates or salary, it can mean that they will embellish other facts while in your employment and may not be the best choice for the position. It could also mean that they have just forgotten those little details and they may be a tremendous asset to the company.
An applicant might have a criminal background a mile long that could mean they are immediately taken out of consideration. Consider for a moment the implications of identity theft on someone’s background. Identity theft is a serious problem and can be nearly impossible to get completely cleared up. A hiring manager could have an absolutely perfect candidate sitting in front of them but their criminal background check may reveal crimes that they did not commit because someone stole their identity.
Another issue to be concerned with about background checks is privacy rights. An employer needs to be certain that they are complying with the Fair Credit Reporting Act while they are checking backgrounds as well as in their record-keeping processes. The website maintained by Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (2010) has a wealth of information about what can and cannot be reported and the proper avenues to receiving that information. There is also a vast opportunity for misinformation on the World Wide Web. Anyone can post anything and make it look legitimate. A hiring manager needs to be cautious when looking for information about a potential employee and make sure it is from a genuine source and not a jilted lover.
According to HRM Guide (2010), more companies than ever are checking the background of potential employees - up to eighty-five percent of all employers. While checking out the future employees is important, it is also important to give them a chance to explain anything negative in their report and to respect their privacy. Background checks can be a powerful tool if they are used wisely and kept in perspective.
HRM Guide. (2010, February 17). “TransparentMe” service helps job candidates perform their own criminal background checks.
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. (2010, April). Employment background checks: A jobseeker’s guide.
Human Resource Issue of Delay Retirement
The current economic climate as well as the state of the Social Security system has added perceived challenges to human resource management. According to HRM Guide (2009), sixty-five percent of US workers are delaying their retirement. More and more workers are seeing a necessity to keep working past retirement age as their retirement funds have dwindled and social security reduces payments. This places corporations in the precarious position to prevent age discrimination.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 “protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. It is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of age with respect to hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training.” (Nickels, McHugh, McHugh, 2008) The act also prohibits mandatory retirement age in most companies with the exception of job functions that may not be performed as well as one gets older, such as airline pilots. The law is in place to help protect workers and companies but it can still be a sticky issue that human resource management has to be careful with.
One of the challenges that human resources will have to face to be able to avoid age discrimination is the training of older workers. As the world is rapidly becoming more digital, the need for all workers to be proficient with technology is increasing. Older workers will need to be trained in the technology that is necessary for their job function. Yes, it is easier to hire a youngster that already knows the technology but it may better to keep the loyal employee that you already have. Training systems will have to be carefully designed to meet the needs of older workers so that they understand the technology that they will be utilizing.
What happens when an organization does not feel the need to offer training to their older workers? The company would likely face an age discrimination case based on forced retirement. Not offering training because you can’t teach old dogs new tricks is not only dangerous from a legal standpoint but it is not a smart business move. Older workers are more mature, more stable and more responsible; they also have years of experience that will only benefit the company. An organization that takes the proactive steps to train and keep these valuable employees is a smart company.
A study, conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management in conjunction with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), reported these findings (SHRM, 1998). Of the nearly 400 human resource professionals surveyed:
- 77% agreed that older workers have a higher level of commitment to the organization than younger workers (only 5% disagreed)
- 68% concluded training older workers costs less or the same as training their younger counterparts (6% disagreed)
- 57% reported that age does not affect the amount of time required to train an employee (14% disagreed)
- 49% determined that older workers grasped new concepts as well as younger workers (18% disagreed)
This data shows that age does not really have the impact on work ability as was once thought. The older workers can stay in their functions for many years past retirement age and still be a productive member of the corporate team. Once a company realizes the importance of older workers, those perceived challenges of age discrimination are not so challenging anymore.
HRM Guide. (2009, October 27). 65 percent of US workers expect delayed retirement.
Nickels, W., McHugh, J., & McHugh, S. (2008). Understanding business (8th ed.). New York McGraw-Hill Irwin.
Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). (1998, May 15). Many older worker myths are challenged by SHRM/AARP survey,” press release, Alexandria, VA.
The concept of relationship marketing and the aerospace industry go hand in hand. The aerospace industry does not focus on an individual consumer; rather most of its customers are large corporations who are making very large purchases. The focus of relational marketing is on knowing the customer, knowing their needs, keeping them happy, and building a long-term relationship with them.
An example of relationship marketing prevailing in the aerospace industry would be between United Airlines and Boeing. It would be very advantageous for Boeing to know what United needs and how to fulfill those needs. Boeing has built a solid brand and a reputation for success. Once a relationship has been established and United knows that Boeing will take care of them United will come back as a repeat customer to purchase its next fleet of planes.
Once Boeing has established a directory of repeat customers, the research and development team can work with those customers to develop new products. The relationships that a company builds with its customers can help them develop bigger and better products that will provide growth in all companies involved. The benefit to taking care of existing customers can help both companies expand and reach new markets along the way.
There are certain products and services in the aerospace industry where transactional marketing is the better approach. Products such as pilot headsets, flight bags, handheld radios, and other pilot supplies would fall under transactional marketing. Pilot training manuals and supplies could also be transactional marketing. These types of products that are purchased by individual pilots are generally a single purchase in small amounts that do not offer the high profits that airplanes offer and therefore would not justify the time and expense of setting up a relationship for repeat business.
The difference between transactional and relationship marketing comes down to value of the sale. If the product that is being offered is worth the effort in terms of long-term profits, then it would be in the best interest of the company to set up the relationship. The smaller profits that come from transaction marketing sales are still important but require a different effort. Relationship marketing is the key to success in the aerospace industry.