About Human Resource Management and Successful Organizations

Joan Marques - Ed.D., MBA.
Burbank, California

HR (Human Resource) management is an often-underestimated task in work-environments. However, it is adequate and conscientious HR management that will establish and retain a qualified, well-cooperating workforce and therefore, ultimately, an increase of organizational growth, efficiency, and profitability.

The most important tasks of the Human Resource department are to make sure that the people working in an organization 1) feel happy, 2) are in the right job, and 3) get the opportunity to upgrade their skills when necessary.

Of course it is also HR's task to coordinate the recruitment of new employees for vacant positions. This brings up the interesting point of internal recruiting versus external recruiting. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Yet, it is the HR department, together with the particular department management, to determine which way to go in certain cases. Here's the dilemma in a nutshell:

So, as you can tell, everything has at least two sides, and, again, it is HR's call, together with departmental management, to figure out what is the best decision at a certain time and in a given situation.

Another valuable point to consider is that the HR department should be more involved in strategic decisions of an organization, which still does not happen as much as it should. But think of it: if the HR department knows what the long term plans of top management are, it can adjust its hiring requirements to those plans and save a lot of the hassle that the retraining and laying off of employees will bring about.

And then the motivation-issue: Here's where we contemplate on how to retain the best workers and keep them satisfied. There are various ways in which managers, with support of the HR department, can generate improved performance from workers.

An interesting concept is the "flexibility issue" in which various work routines are discussed. Today's workplaces are trying all kinds of methods to keep good workers facilitated. These ways vary from job-sharing (two people filling a 40-hour workweek), and flextime (different people starting and ending their workday at different times, with two specific core-chunks in which everyone is present), to telecommuting (working from outside the workplace), and more.

The basic message here is that different people perform better under different circumstances, and that they also get motivated in different ways: What works for one may not work for another. Managers, in conjunction with HR, should therefore tailor the way they reward employees to these employees' particular preferences, otherwise a reward can have a reverse effect on a worker's performance.

In light of the motivation issue, several theories come to mind, of which I will discuss two here:

  • Maslow's hierarchy of need, for instance, which teaches us that, depending on the need-level of a worker, certain rewards will or will not work for him or her. A worker who is at the basic level will probably care more for an extra dollar per hour than an expensive company present, while a worker who is already settled with regards to basic needs, security, safety, and social contacts, may care more for a prestigious title or a wonderful award complete with the entire ceremony that goes along with it.
  • Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory teaches us that there are different issues at stake when we talk about job satisfaction than when we talk about job dissatisfaction. That means so much as that you can decrease a worker's job dissatisfaction and still not have achieved an increase in his or her job satisfaction. It is important for managers, together with the HR specialists, to take note of that. In a nutshell, Herzberg claims that dissatisfaction will decrease when a worker enjoys good pay and security; good working conditions; good interpersonal relationships; good company policies; and good supervisors. Satisfaction, on the other hand, will increase when a worker enjoys the feeling of achievement; recognition; fulfilling work; a feeling of responsibility; and advancement and growth.

The simple message embedded in all of the above is that people need to be kept satisfied in order to perform well in a workplace. Managers should try to treat all workers correctly and never make the mistake of playing workers against each other, while, at the same time, they should also be aware that the ways in which workers get motivated vary richly. A good rapport between departmental management and HR is therefore recommended, although, unfortunately, it is not implemented too often yet.