Human resource management (HRM) is primarily concerned with the management of labor as a factor of production. Managers often deploy a myriad of techniques, including cultural, structural, and personnel management plans to deploy a team of committed employees to fulfill an organization’s goals (Bouwmans et al., 2019). In line with this goal, HRM plays several key functions in helping organizations to achieve their goals. Some of them include strategic resource planning, recruitment and selection, performance management, career planning, and functional evaluation. HRM is also an effective tool for helping organizations to minimize their liability exposures because acts of negligence, on the part of managers or supervisors, could expose a company to lawsuits. HRM plays an important role in minimizing such exposures by making employees compliant with relevant policies and regulations.
These key HRM functions are aimed at making sure that a firm’s overall human resource potential is aligned with the goal of accomplishing organizational goals. For example, the process of preparing functional evaluation reports in human resource management is often undertaken by comparing an employee’s performance vis-à-vis the objectives of the overall organizational plan (Bouwmans et al., 2019). The same relationship is true for HRM functions that involve performance management processes because employee competencies are often evaluated based on their ability or inability to meet performance thresholds that have been pegged on an organization’s success (Satyendra, 2020). Using this example, the HRM functions highlighted above to draw a parallel between the accomplishment of individual and company goals.
The human resource management practices adopted at my workplace, Bridgestone Fire Company, are primarily aimed at improving job satisfaction levels in the organization. For example, one of the firm’s key policies is to educate next-generation managers using HRM as a tool (Bridgestone Global, 2020c). The goal of adopting this plan is to optimize human resource competencies that exist across all group divisions. At Bridgestone Middle east, the organization participates in conducting training activities for all human resource coordinators to keep them adapted to changing labor conditions that may affect their productivity. So far, by employing this strategy, the company has improved its compensation and rewards management systems by educating various employee cohorts through rigorous training programs. Trainees have used the newly learned skills to expand their skill base and improve their overall performance. They have also been able to impart the same knowledge to younger workers through mentorship programs, thereby safeguarding the value of institutional knowledge in the firm.
At Bridgestone, the adoption of HRM has also played an important role in improving various areas of performance assessment and key competencies that stretch from strategic planning to the improvement of the firm’s corporate image. At various levels of divisional performance, the human resource department of the company has maintained control in key functional areas, thereby making sure that employee interests are represented at all levels of performance. For example, their initiatives have helped to improve employee experiences while working in the company and at the same time enhance business operations through cooperative development (Bridgestone Global, 2020c). This relationship that HRM has in enhancing the effectiveness of the company’s overall business plan has helped to improve synergy across various levels of operation.
At the strategic planning level, the HRM division of the company has helped to improve the company’s bottom-line performance through the adoption and implementation of useful labor-based knowledge that helps to bridge the gap between employee performance and the realization of the firm’s key strategic objectives. The integration of HRM competencies in the fulfillment of the company’s overall strategic goals has happened through a deliberate effort by management and the company’s key directors to include the views of HRM managers in the company’s key-decision making processes. Thus, the company’s managers can better understand how employees would be affected by decisions made at the top level.
Critical HR Process and Proposed Improvements to Meet Business Challenges
As highlighted above, HRM is one of the most important tools of effective organizational management at Bridgestone. Employee safety and well-being are of critical importance to the implementation of HRM plans because management is committed to ensuring all employees operate in a safe environment (Human Resource Practice, 2020). Therefore, the HRM division of the company assumes all responsibilities relating to the health, safety, and wellbeing of its employees. Some of its key responsibilities include the identification of hazardous materials, conditions, or practices that would affect the health and safety of workers (Human Resource Practice, 2020). Thus, part of its principal task is to undertake exposure control as an affiliate strategy of the company’s overall risk management plan.
Bridgestone Tires has also committed to ensuring that it employees work in a safe and healthy environment. This is why all the occupational health and safety programs of the organization are geared toward fostering a safe working environment. By extension, it means that the interests of all other parties that may be affected by the workplace environment, such as local communities and suppliers, are similarly addressed by the overall HRM strategy. The broad appeal of HRM functions in boosting organizational performance has happened through persistent efforts at making sure that management understands the importance of providing a safe working environment for its workers.
Over the years, Bridgestone has managed to address this concern by providing its employees with the tools needed to realize improved productivity. This approach has also been adopted in compliance with set processes, systems, and procedures outlined by relevant authorities regarding workplace health and safety. In this regard, at Bridgestone Tire Company, the HRM department has learned to maintain accurate work logs and records that contribute to the maintenance of proper systems for improving employee safety.
The use of HRM principles in addressing employee safety as a workplace concern has also been influenced by the introduction of safety as a business value. This approach to management means that employee welfare is now considered an important virtue to uphold throughout all levels of operation and a goal that should be met in the same manner as the company strives to maximize its shareholders’ profits. By recognizing employee safety as a core business value, Bridgestone has introduced employees to learn about safety activities that have to be followed in the organization to keep them safe from injuries and other forms of harm. Most changes made by the company to improve workplace safety happened in 2012 when the company changed its mission to “Safety First, Always.” From this change, the organization encouraged everyone to view safety as his or her duty. In other words, employees were taught to view the safety of their work environment as a collective effort and not only the function of HRM.
In light of recent developments relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on workplace safety, Bridgestone needs to adopt more effective ways of meeting specific business challenges, while maintaining some of the gains that have been achieved so far. First, the company needs to have an interim guidance plan on how to continue workplace processes in light of the changing risk factors affecting workplace safety. Some of the key areas that may require immediate attention include the importance of restructuring the built environment to make it safer for workers, adopting fair remuneration strategies to compensate workers for heightened risks, and increasing the use of protective equipment to prevent infections. For example, there is a need to reexamine ventilators and airflow structures in the workplace to improve the safety and quality of air exposed to workers. Furthermore, a risk management plan needs to be introduced, which will address how to manage suspected cases of infection in the workplace. For example, there could be a new policy proposal to increase the frequency of cleaning processes and improve the quality of associated services. Additionally, a policy could be introduced to disinfect all workplace environments where there have been suspected cases of infection.
The role that HRM plays in completing organizational tasks is in line with the views of Verburg et al. (2018) and Blom et al. (2020), which suggest that the discipline should be instrumental in helping organizations to improve their organizational performance. In line with this expectation, HRM has played a pivotal role in navigating the complex business environment that characterizes Bridgestone’s core markets. For example, increased competition from rivals has dramatically changed the business landscape in Dubai and the wider Middle East region, thereby curtailing the company’s key market share growth. However, through the adoption of effective HRM practices, employees in the organization have benefited from improved job security, training, and effective communication about changes that have effectively played an instrumental role in better equipping them with the skills needed to manage change in the workplace.
For example, through effective training procedures, they have been equipped with the skills needed to anticipate the kind of new changes that are expected in the organization based on technological trends that are affecting the marketplace. Relative to these developments, since 2016, the company has effectively managed its production volumes and number of employees by restructuring key business units to accommodate ongoing market changes and still protect employee jobs (Bridgestone Global, 2020a). Additionally, during the same year, the scope of aggregated segments was increased due to structural business unit changes across different market segments, including the Middle East and Africa, Japan, Americas, and Asia-Pacific markets as the key market areas.
Quantitative estimates relating to the need to balance the number of production units and employees have been done by Bridgestone to utilize some of the most effective HR practices in the business. The first restructuring process happened in 2015 in the European market and it was later followed in the Middle East and Africa in 2016 (Bridgestone Global, 2020a). Since 2017, the rest of the markets, including Russia and Asia-Pacific have been undergoing similar changes (Bridgestone Global, 2020a). The adoption of effective HRM practices to safeguard the welfare of employees amidst significant structural changes has helped Bridgestone to maintain a largely productive workforce and still sustain the same output even as it faces newer challenges relating to labor force management in 2021 and beyond.
Impact of HRM on Organizational Behaviors
HRM practices are naturally designed to create synergy between organizational functions and employee behaviors. Traditionally, firms have been able to leverage this relationship and improve employee skills with the aim of using the same competencies to boost organizational performance in the future. This outcome has been predicated on the impact that HRM has in affecting organizational behaviors. At Bridgestone, two of its HRM practices highlighted below have impacted organizational behavior.
HRM Practices and their Influence on Performance and Behavioral Outcomes
While different organizations have their unique ways of influencing how employees behave, Bridgestone Fire Company has primarily engaged in implementing an elaborate rewards management strategy to influence behavior. This HRM policy relates to the awarding of employee recognition titles, training opportunities, promotion, bonuses, and similar motivational tools. For example, the company has consistently offered its employees immense benefits for staying with the firm. This approach has encouraged positive behaviors within the workforce, as more employees strive to demonstrate exemplary and commendable behavior to avoid facing disciplinary measures that would see them miss such opportunities for recognition in the future.
Although this approach has largely yielded positive results in terms of employee behavioral change, management still needs to undertake more reforms on its compensation and rewards management plan to address the opposite effect that this policy has on those who fail to be rewarded or promoted. Particularly, I believe that most employees who fail to get these opportunities for recognition or feel that they have been overlooked have become significantly demoralized from improving their performance. This effect is most profound among employees who believe that they do not stand a chance of being considered for promotion or recognition in the future.
One of Bridgestone’s key human resource practices is teamwork. It is regarded as the foundation for the provision of superior services, which is part of the company’s key mission, which states “Serving Society with Superior Quality” (Bridgestone Global, 2020b, p. 1). The concept of teamwork is embodied in the company’s philosophy of “Seijitsu-Kyocho,” which encourages employees to undertake their work with the utmost integrity and seek collaboration always (Bridgestone Global, 2020b). This philosophy also encourages employees to treat one another with respect and, as a “collective whole” act as representatives of the company to other people by treating local community members with respect.
From a human resource management perspective, according to Sparrow (2019), organizations that undertake substantive HRM practices to improve teamwork can substantially increase the amount and quality of resources available to the organization. Researchers have pointed out several benefits associated with such HRM policies, including increased levels of trust between employers and employees, increased supported relations, and advanced levels of knowledge sharing (Sparrow, 2019). Thus, at Bridgestone, collaboration and teamwork have significantly improved organizational performance.
The relationship between teamwork and organizational performance has been a topic of investigation among different groups of scholars. For example, it was investigated in one paradigmatic study by Dewey, which suggested that teamwork is embodied with the goal of promoting creative intelligence – a theory, which presupposes that employee satisfaction can only be achieved when they are allowed to express their creativity and employ critical thought in their decision-making processes (Satyendra, 2020). It is also domiciled within the understanding that human beings can only realize meaningful change if they question their beliefs and thought patterns through creative action changes. Bridgestone’s collaboration strategy has acted as a tool that allows employees to adopt aspects of creative intelligence to improve workplace productivity.
The adoption of teamwork, as a core part of Bridgestone’s HRM strategy, has yielded positive outcomes, particularly with respect to increased productivity. However, it has also had a negative effect, which has manifested through a declined autonomy of role responsibilities. In other words, workers have had to refrain from using their individual approaches to solve workplace tasks in place of standardized procedures, which, at times, have been lengthy and bureaucratic. However, because it is important to respect the company’s policy on teamwork, most workers have been forced to shy away from giving their individual views regarding the accomplishment of organizational tasks. To address this problem, there needs to be a broader decision-making framework that captures individual as well as group inputs. Stated differently, the company’s decision-making processes relating to employee task assignments need to reflect a hybrid model of decision-making that captures individual and group interests.