Huawei Technologies Co.’s Human Resource Challenges

Introduction

With its main offices located in Shenzhen, Guangdong, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. is a globally recognised private corporation that offers networking services and telecommunications machinery. Having been established more than three decades ago by Engineer Ren Zhengfei, the corporation has been growing gradually in terms of operations, performance, and employee enrolment. For instance, its initial business entailed the production of mobile phone switches. However, according to Cendrowski (2017), the company has maintained a leading position for the past four years regarding its sale of telecom and networking machinery in almost 180 nations around the globe. Operating in the telecommunications services industry, the company has approximately 180000 workers who are distributed in all its branches within and outside China (Cendrowski 2017).

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It has various categories of workers, including R&D personnel, Chief Operating Officers, and Market Development Managers among others. Huawei’s 2013 objectives entailed developing “leading positions in mobile broadband, fixed broadband, and backbone network solutions” (Sahota 2013, para. 4). With the above highlights, it is crucial to examine the company’s HR issues, including employee recruitment, selection, retention, development, and motivation. This paper will also address challenges faced by the company and its HR in addition to the opportunities it can tap to enhance its continued operations.

Organisational Challenges Affecting the HR Function

Host Country’s Reputation

The 21st-century business environment has been characterised by high competition to the extent of calling for upgraded HR strategies aimed at ensuring that companies remain operational in the market (Whittaker & Marchington 2003). Nonetheless, various organisational challenges hinder the smooth operation of human resource personnel. The article by Cooke (2014) provides general organisational issues that many multinational corporations in China, including Huawei, are facing. Figure 1 below gives a summary of such challenges.

Organisational elements affecting HR operations in China
Figure 1: Organisational elements affecting HR operations in China (Cooke 2014).

Huawei is among companies whose industry faces stiff rivalry. Since its establishment in 1987, the corporation has been recording tremendous progress. The host country’s business culture has significantly influenced the organisation’s progress. For instance, as Cooke (2014, p. 886) reveals, “The hands-on role of the Chinese government in shaping businesses and their operating environment, not only within China but also internationally, has been widely observed.” In particular, in 2014, Huawei realised revenue amounting to almost 6 billion American dollars whereby approximately 70% of this amount came from its overseas businesses, thanks to the Chinese government’s input (Chong 2013). Such profitability paints a picture of an organisation whose HR team is dedicated to ensuring that only capable employees are allowed to be part of its assets. While this finding may be true, Chong (2013) and Taylor (2011) reveal a rather worrying organisational issue that depicts the company’s human resource department as failing in its mandate of ensuring first-class business image. For instance, customers from across the world continue to view Huawei’s commodities “as low quality due to their country of origin and pricing strategies” (Chong 2013, p. 1). In this case, the company’s HR has been linked to an unfounded issue that it has no power to control.

China is well known for producing and supplying products to virtually all countries around the globe. According to a study by Feeney (2009), counterfeit commodities produced in China flooded the American market in the last few years, a situation that sent signals around the globe that it was conducting an illegal supply of poor-quality items to various countries. Although the issue might have resulted from a single company in China, the tainted public image affected virtually all manufacturing organisations based in this nation, including those that had invested heavily in guaranteeing quality such as Huawei. As a result, the company’s HR unit has been having a hard time proving to countries such as the U.S. and Australia among others that all items it produces and supplies are superior. Cantarello, Filippini, and Nosella (2012) confirm that indeed the HR team has a crucial role to play in ensuring that products supplied meet the required quality threshold. Edwards (2010) concurs with this assertion by pointing out the input of HR personnel in branding their companies or boosting their global reputation. In the current context, Huawei’s continued growth and profitability are sufficient evidence that the global population has tested and proven the quality status of its items. For instance, as shown in Figure 2, the business has been thriving since 2007.

Huawei’s continuous growth between 2007 and 2014.
Figure 2: Huawei’s continuous growth between 2007 and 2014 (Chong 2013).

Security Issues

In addition, the company has been linked to security concerns in various countries, some of which have gone to the extent of blocking it from conducting business in such regions. According to Chong (2013, p. 5), America and Australia have “blocked the company from setting up network infrastructure due to concerns about national security.” Although such an issue may be beyond the control of Huawei’s HR department, this unit has been significantly affected because it is depicted as performing below par in terms of implementing the company’s security policy (Taylor 2011). In 2012, the American intelligence unit presented a dossier that advised the government and companies to shun consuming commodities supplied by Huawei among other organisations from China such as ZTE (Chong 2013). Moreover, the organisation is experiencing issues related to cybersecurity whereby countries, including Australia, have obstructed its supply of telecommunications services.

In particular, when the company attempted to sign a business agreement with the Australian National Broadband Network, security issues forced the government to issue orders barring any deals. According to Chong (2013, p. 5), the goal was to “ensure the security and resilience of Australia’s critical infrastructure.” In this case, the issue of security was arising from Australia’s general perception of China. As a result, the company’s HR team suffered because its efforts to ensure smooth business in its overseas branches seemed to depict it as incompetent, especially based on the way it could not convince some governments to grant Huawei the opportunity to proceed with its plans.

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In particular, this issue portrayed a situation whereby HR personnel were not capable of offering the necessary security to their overseas employees and businesses. According to Prevett (2015), a company’s human resource team is mandated with ensuring the safety of its assets, including its sensitive data in all branches, regardless of their locations. In this case, the cybersecurity concern linked to Huawei affected this team, despite its dedication to hiring some of the highly proficient IT specialists who guarantee utmost overall data safety. As Cendrowski (2017) reveals, the fact that the company has been allowed to carry out business in more than 170 nations globally is enough testimony that its HR unit has all it takes to not only sell the brand overseas but also offer the necessary security support.

Opportunities Available for Huawei and the Role of Its HR

The contemporary business world is witnessing substantial changes that may be purely linked to the rapid transformation taking place in the telecommunications sector. Companies operating in this industry are facing stiff competition that is forcing them to implement strategies that can help them to remain functional and aggressive. To achieve this goal, they have invested heavily in their HR units, for instance, by setting criteria that ensure that only competent and diverse employees are hired after demonstrating capabilities to take their respective companies to the next level. Although Huawei has been recording gradual growth for the past four years, it still has opportunities that it can pursue to expand its business and, consequently, realise higher profits. For instance, the company has room to access untapped strategic markets, a move that requires its HR to do thorough research on clients’ demands before hiring a workforce whose competence will be sufficient to meet such desires.

In particular, according to PTI (2016), the company has already identified business prospects in India whereby it has declared its interest in emphasising research and development agendas. Nonetheless, despite the anticipated profitability from its smartphone gadgets in India, Huawei is yet to clarify whether it will be producing mobile phones in this country. However, through its HR, which carried out preliminary consultations with the Indian government to determine its anticipations, a report by Huawei’s boss based in this country confirms that indeed the organisation needs to ensure that it launches businesses that best satisfy clients’ unique demands (PTI 2016). In addition, a conference held in the company’s headquarters in 2017 revealed yet another growth opportunity whereby it is currently seeking to exploit public cloud services (Huawei exploring new growth potential in an intelligent world 2017). The organisation wishes to tap this business prospect by investing huge financial resources in establishing a transparent and a reputable public cloud stage. This plan is in line with the revolution linked to digital systems that are creating avenues for value-based developments. The company also has an opportunity to enlarge its pool of partners.

In particular, it can “invest in industry alliances, business union, open source communities, and developer platforms” (Huawei exploring new growth potential in an intelligent world 2017, para. 5), a strategy that can advance the sector by establishing sustainable and mutual networks. In this endeavour, Huawei’s HR team has a role to play in ensuring that it secures partnerships with like-minded stakeholders who embrace the company’s vision and mission. Winning such stakeholders will require HR personnel to exercise the transformational challenge presented in an article by Chadha and Kumar (2017). The authors indicate a possible shift in the functions performed by human resource managers. In particular, before 2020, Chadha and Kumar (2017) reveal that HR administrators will only secure partnership opportunities after disclosing their respective companies’ data detailing not only the milestones achieved but also growth plans that such businesses intend to accomplish in the future. As a result, Huawei’s HR group will have a key function in the process of searching capable alliances. Since contemporary partners are interested in what companies want to achieve, the team will need to be equipped with the appropriate information. Consequently, it will further be required to liaise with the company’s boss and employees to review its growth plan that needs to be shared with potential partners.

Current Human Resource Practices, Challenges, and the Underlying Opportunities

The human resource department of any organisation is associated with various practices that include “recruitment and selection, training and development, retention, performance appraisal, rewards, and recognition” (Abdoulaye 2017, p. 1) among others. This HR responsibility indicates that the department determines a company’s level of employees’ performance and, consequently, organisational success. Therefore, the extent of profitability and reputation of Huawei is purely determined by how competent its HR personnel are in managing the above practices. Schuler and Jackson (2014) support this assertion by pointing out the link between HR practices and organisational effectiveness. The article reveals the role of the Multiple Stakeholder Model in gauging the competence of HR personnel, including their contribution to an organisation.

The company’s recruitment practices are recommendable in many of its branches. In addition to embracing diversity as a key component of ensuring a competitive workforce, Huawei hires employees based on their level of experience in various fields (Abdoulaye 2017). The company’s HR regards workers as vital assets that have helped to define its current global standing. As such, the department has been keen on ensuring that employees are well taken care of through better remuneration packages among other motivation strategies (Abdoulaye 2017). For instance, in a study conducted by Cooke (2014) comparing the extent of employee motivation given by HR departments in the private and public sector, Huawei, which was among the companies selected revealed that its workers benefited from the organisation’s mortgage, a move that was aimed at ensuring that they enjoyed their outside-job lives. In addition, the HR unit has a performance appraisal tool that gauges employees’ input in line with their scope of work. According to Abdoulaye (2017), workers in this company also benefit from training and development initiatives that are aimed at boosting their skills and productivity in their lines of operation. Such motivation programmes have been used as tools for ensuring employee retention because the company recognises well-performing workers by availing better remuneration packages (Abdoulaye 2017).

Nonetheless, the HR is facing various challenges. In the current context, according to Abdoulaye (2017), Huawei’s human resource unit has done remarkable jobs in various branches such as Senegal and even the host country, China. However, it is facing the challenge of balancing job environments in all its subsidiaries to ensure that employees enjoy similar working conditions. According to Cooke (2014), many Chinese companies subject workers to long operating hours. This situation has led to a questionable work-life balance and, consequently, turnover intentions (McCall 2017; CIPD 2017). Pfeffer (2016) reveals how poor working atmosphere influences organisations negatively.

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However, the HR unit still has an opportunity for improvement in some areas such as employee engagement and equitable treatment (Scanlon 2017). The current outstanding growth witnessed in the company, as presented by Chong (2013), is attributable to the input of its diverse workforce. The study by Abdoulaye (2017) reveals additional areas that the company’s HR should improve on to not only retain its current pool of workers but also attract new and competent others. According to this author, Huawei’s “HR should consider the revision of salary scheme, job security, job contract, working conditions, and better recognition and reward” (Abdoulaye 2017, p. 1). Cases of harassment directed to workers have been reported in some countries such as Nigeria (SaharaReporters 2016). Hence, the organisation’s HR has an opportunity for enhancing its employee-staff relationship and working atmosphere to avoid witnessing turnover cases that may ultimately affect its overall productivity (CIPD 2017). It should ensure that all workers are treated in a fair and impartial manner.

Conclusion: Possible Solutions to the Management

Based on the expositions made in this paper, it is apparent that Huawei has been performing well for the past few years. Despite some minor organisational issues that have been affecting the company’s HR team, this department has significantly contributed to the overall remarkable performance through its devotion to ensuring that workers get the necessary motivation to enhance their performance. However, the management has been facing problems regarding security, bans, and the perception that products supplied by Huawei do not meet the required quality standards. Although these problems may not be evidence-based, the company can solve them. For instance, to win more clients in America, it can produce high-end mobile phones because the U.S. market is linked to the production and supply of superior commodities. In particular, it can record high sales by supplying more Huawei Ascend D Quad to the American bazaar. This strategy is based on the phone’s appealing details such as the 4.5’’ 720 pixel HD display and its advanced camera settings. Maintaining quality high-end gadgets in the U.S. may even persuade the government to lift the ban mentioned earlier by allowing the company to establish more businesses. In addition, Huawei may need to enhance its trust among carrier partners such as AT&T. Such a move can build the organisation’s image even in countries such as Australia where it has been barred from doing business.

Reference List

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Chadha, S & Kumar, S 2017, ‘HR 2020: a transformational challenge?’, Human Capital, vol. 21, no. 5, pp. 20-25.

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CIPD 2017, Resourcing and talent planning, Web.

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