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The Primary Function of Human Resource Management



Introduction

Food and grocery sector is one of the fastest growing sectors of the UK economy. The food and grocery industry continues to attract young population to start their careers and attain higher ranks in this fast-developing business sphere. This tendency is not only noticeable in the UK, but also across developing and developed countries. The Human Resource Development (HRD) plays a key role in the food and grocery sector in transforming employees to deliver maximum productivity as well as developing them according to performance standards and job description. The HRD also evaluates performance standards by conducting performance appraisals, diagnoses weaknesses in employees, imparts effective training programs and plays a monitoring role.

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Development activities and effective training are necessary to shine abilities, skills and knowledge of workers. All businesses consider training programs as a key to success and effective tool in the food and grocery business, especially when introducing new products to the market.

Undoubtedly, Human Resource Management (HRM) issues have become a serious concern for management since they assist to attain their goals, which involve efforts and demand the effective and efficient employee management. The spacious array of human resource activities begins initially with planning, selection, recruitment and organizing formal training programs, but further extends to evaluating job allocation, planning need of the required labor, conducting interviews, selecting people, training and orientation, managing compensation and promotion, communicating to employees. It also includes counseling and disciplining, as well as establishing commitment of employees towards growth of the company.

Other activities include evaluating employee performance, ensuring fair treatment, health and safety of workers, maintaining good relationships with workers; handling complaints and grievances on health and safety, adherence to human rights and other government legislation, which are practiced in organization.

Irrespective of the area of specialization, from production to marketing and sales, accounting or acquiring knowledge about employees’ responsibilities and rights, HR department ensures that effective HRM practices should prevail in all managers, which will enable them to perform more efficiently (Schuler, Jackson, & Storey, 2001). Since I have started my career in HR department of Tesco PLC, an in-depth knowledge of best practices of HRM is essential for shaping my career in the UK food and grocery sector.

Definition of HRM

Bratton and Gold (2003, p.7) in their definition state that HRM is a strategic approach for managing employees’ activities, which focuses on leveraging employees’ abilities in order to accomplish sustainable competitive advantage. The latter is attained through accomplishment of a distinctive set of employment programs, policies and human resource processes. The authors stated that HRM processes consist of planning, selection, recruitment, performance appraisals, and development of an employee, reward and compensation management, development of employee relationships, ensuring health and safety measures, as well as managing relations with trade unions. Further, to Price (2004, p.32), HRM emphasizes on hiring flexible, committed and capable workers, rewarding their performance, as well as enhancing competencies by training programs.

SWOT Analysis of HRM of Tesco PLC

I have realized that implementation of strategic HRM and its role in the organization has increasingly attained importance in Tesco PLC. HRM always encounters several challenges but focus mainly on the efficiency of work, skills of the workforce, and improve performance of the management, with a target to achieve the goals of the business. HRM has been a significant strength of Tesco PLC. The company ensures that each worker receives an equal opportunity to understand his or her role in contributing to the Tesco PLC core objectives and values. This process necessitates an innovative induction program, which is meant for different cultures, individual learning style and different commitments at work. The integrated HRD program has been strategically included for different levels of workers, and from senior managers to the bottom level the training is imparted according to needs. Another key strength is the frontline workforce, which ultimately reflects the image of Tesco PLC to its consumers, but all workers contribute a significant role in transforming core values ??and customer expectations into reality.

However, Tesco PLC HRM also has some weaknesses in its functioning, such as ensuring a fair treatment to all workers in Tesco PLC or what role they play in discharging their duties is a big problem for the management. Geographical diversification is another weakness of Tesco’s PLC HR department because its major operations, nearly 75%, are concentrated in the UK; hence, the department encounters the challenges in searching skilled workers in other locations. In fact, many times products are recalled causing a financial loss to the business, which shows the incompetency of senior executives in selecting the appropriate products.

Tesco PLC is planning to launch its stores in India, Sri-Lanka, and Pakistan, which will offer an opportunity for HR department in particular to expand its operations globally. Besides, the department will increase its knowledge on HR policies practiced in these countries. The biggest threat to HRD is staff retention and unionism. Many employees after achieving experience during their tenure in Tesco PLC quit their jobs and join competitors such as Walmart and Sainsbury because of remote promotion prospects and job dissatisfaction. This threat results in high loss of financial revenue spent on training programs (Price, 2004).

HR Planning Process & Requirements

Human resource planning involves some important stages and is the basis of other HR activities. It includes forecasting HR needs for the future to be practiced, as well as ensuring that suitable steps are followed to achieve those needs. Planning plays a strategic role in human resource practices and offers strategic direction to the business. It is necessary to hire capable and well-motivated people to make sure that the best HR practices meet both short-term and long-term goals.

The objectives of human resource department during the planning process are:

  1. To reduce the hiring expenses of the organization by forecasting surpluses and shortages of workers and by ensuring that appropriate measures are practiced to overcome or eliminate these issues.
  2. To perform a key role in the business plan of the company.
  3. To develop the skills and potential of workers that can benefit both employees and the company.
  4. To ensure proper conformity with legislative needs.
  5. To evaluate the impact of HR policies and its effect in practice.

For effective and efficient HR planning, an organization should consider a number of factors:

  1. The strategic goals of the business is to hire the right workers with the appropriate experience and right qualifications when they are needed.
  2. It is essential to establish a culture where people are valued for their contribution, extended mutual co-operation in the work and encouraged to be self-motivated for mutual benefit.
  3. Demographic factor – the distribution of services and the population can change with expansion programs and should be considered.
  4. Change in business trends – the increasing expansion of supermarkets and their different strategies of traditional business functioning should be thoroughly examined.
  5. Economic conditions can render an impact on growth of business; hence, this aspect should be considered for future recruitment, and HRD should formulate an effective policy to tackle this situation effectively.
  6. Technological development – new-technological developments will demand skilled workers who are equipped with the latest IT developments, which may not currently exist in practice.
  7. Legal aspects – changes in legislation, especially with respect to salary and wages, health and medical facilities and amendments in employment and labor act should be considered.

The following steps are usually followed in human resource planning:

  • Collecting and analyzing data
  • Creating human resource goals and policies
  • Formulating and implementing policies
  • Assessing the impact of these plans

Usually the SWOT analysis offers a launching pad to study the external and internal business environment that influences business while implementing human resource planning (Hinkin & Tracey, 2010).

The Global Role of Human Resource Department

Successful companies such as Tesco PLC, with vast global opportunities, unlimited resources but in the case of unexplored markets, must use each opportunity available for increasing product performance to ensure their presence. While working at Tesco PLC, I have observed that several HRM management practices are advocated and might lead to firm survival or improvement, insufficient researches have been done in food and grocery supermarkets. Some successful grocery stores have been prodded and poked, and studied, but still not much is known about their management capabilities, weaknesses and strengths. In operational management, an abundance of managerial skills is available, but, if big companies such as Tesco PLC invite applicants for new jobs and recruit new workers, the optimum option is to develop an in-depth knowledge of human resource management and practices. HRM is also significant because it bridges inter-communication gap between the company and its workers. Further, I believe that the knowledge of HR practices will help me to organize and discipline my life and fulfill personal and career objectives. Undoubtedly, HRM will also help in my personal development planning by learning in-depth knowledge of HR functioning and improving necessary skills in order to be successful in life (Cornelius, 2000).

Processes Involved in Achievement of Goals

This section explains the processes required by HRM for achievement of their objectives such as planning, selection, recruitment, orientation, as well as training and performance appraisal.

Planning Process

Planning process or employment planning begins with reviewing staffing requirements to ensure that desired numbers of employees are working in the organization, with the required skills and talent to achieve its goals. HR planning includes proactive activities, which predict the demand and supply of workers and formulate plans to achieve these needs. The prime steps consist of predicting demand of workers, considering strategic and tactical objectives, market trends, economic conditions, demographic trends, technological developments and societal issues (Torrington, Hall, & Taylor, 2005).

Recruitment and Selection Process

Recruitment process includes searching and inviting qualified job applicants, from whom the organization usually select the most-appropriate talented people to fulfill its staffing needs. The process begins when the need to fill job vacancies is identified, and a HR department receives resumes and application forms from applicants. The outcome offers a number of qualified applicants from which the best suitable ones for the vacancies are chosen. The different stages in the recruitment process begin with identifying job openings, deciding on job requirements, selecting appropriate staffing techniques and resources, and finalizing a pool of qualified applicants. A request from the concerned department for requirement of more employees is sent to HR planning department for their evaluation. Next, HR department evaluates a need for more workers and their job requirements and begins with the selection process. In the recruitment process, recruiting techniques and resources are identified from a range of available options (Peters & Waterman, 1982).

Selection process starts with selecting the right applicants with the required qualifications and experience to match the vacancies to be fulfilled. The necessary data and information about applicants and their former employers are gathered; it is important to know whether applicants are seeking a promotion or transfer, etc. The various stages in the selection, in an ascending order, begin with: preliminary reception of applicants, screening, testing, written and oral interview, checking credentials and references, interview at different levels, job previews, implementing the recruiting decision, notification and evaluating the selection procedure. Each stage in recruitment, starting from an initial receipt of an application and then screening to the recruiting decision, is carried under organizational legal environment, which protects the interests of both an applicant and the organization (Morley, Gunnigle, O’Sullivan, & Collings, 2006).

Orientation, Training and Development

Orientation is the stage which acquaints new workers with general background of the organization and the job requirements. It is viewed as one of the significant elements of the socialization process in the organization. Socialization is a stage of establishing to new workers the standards, prevailing atmosphere, and values of behavior that the company expects. Howsoever, training begins with imparting the competencies and the knowledge of basic skills to new workers needed to discharge their job responsibilities. While training focuses on competencies, personal development and skills needed for enhancing workers’ output, employee development training program is a continuous process that becomes applicable when the company desires. The aim is preparing current employees for discharging job assigned or resolving problems in communication, for example, week interdepartmental communication. Training and development of an employee requires analysis and evaluation of employee capabilities, as well as an aptitude in performing job assignments (Cornelius, 2000).

Performance evaluation is a systematic process that involves establishing work standards, assessing employee on the floor performance with regard to established standards and norms, offering feedback to a worker to motivate and eliminate performance deficits. Performance appraisal includes three stages: first, defining performance expectations; second, assessing performance and finally, providing feedback. Firstly, defining performance expectation demands that standards of job responsibilities should be clear to all executives and employees. Secondly, assessing performance means comparing actual performance of a worker to the standards which have been established by the company and generally consist of a rating form. Thirdly, performance appraisal requires regular feedback sessions to evaluate employees’ performance and progress, and later, helps managers to design plans for a desired improvement. The widely adopted appraisal techniques are such as graphic rating scale, alternation ranking, 360-degree appraisal, critical incident and comparison techniques and forced distribution (Pablos, 2004).

Employee’s Benefits and Compensation

Employee compensation includes all types of rewards, salaries and wages given to workers arising out of their employment. It consists of the two prime elements: indirect payments and direct payments. The direct payments consist of wages, incentives, salaries, commissions and bonuses; whereas indirect payments include financial benefits, for example, sponsored insurance, medical and vacation reimbursements. Besides, legal and financial compensations forced by unions, offering equity bonds and other compensation policies, impact the formation of pay plan. The other indirect payments in the shape of benefits given to workers include health and life insurance policies, education for employees’ children, pension and rebate on company’s products and services. Besides, medical benefits during illness/ accident, irrespective of fault are offered as part of workers’ compensation.

The process of determining salary and wages consists of four steps: First, determining salary/ wages to set the present rate of wages for jobs, which matches with job pricing. Second, create the job assessment (relative value of a job) by identifying the worth of a job comparing to another job in respect of efforts, skills and responsibility. Third, identifying and grouping jobs, which have similar pay scales, usually pay scale consists of jobs having nearly equal value as determined during the job evaluation. Fourth, establish pay scale by applying wage curve method. A wage curve represents the graphical representation of the relationship between the average wage paid and the job value for any position allocated. In case grouping of jobs is not done into pay scales, then it becomes necessary to allocate individual pay rates for each job (Anh & Kleiner, 2005).

Conclusion

There is no accurate and precise definition of HRM. However, according to many HR professionals and academicians, HRM is closely connected with business strategy rather than recruiting management. HR processes start by planning staffing requirements. This process includes predicting demand and supply of employees, resource specification, recruiting, applicant’s qualification, salary, training programs, costs analysis, concluding contracts, and other issues related to the job. Besides, other prime human resource processes are planning, staffing, selecting, performance appraisal, orientation, compensation benefits, and career development. HRM practices state that employees are the significant asset to the company; thus, instilling loyalty and motivating workers is a chief function of HRM, which benefits the company. By showing a career development path to workers with effective training programs for fulfillment of company’s goals, reinforced with monetary compensation and job satisfaction will lead to retaining them for the long-term.

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