Human Resource Development Importance and Issues

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Introduction

Any company highly values human capital which is the most important input into the day-to-day operations of the firm. It is the responsibility of the management to ensure that every employee is satisfied with the conditions of work so that the employee can deliver to the maximum. As a result, companies that have invested in better human resource management have advanced more besides getting the best output out of their employees. Therefore, human resource development is important to ensure that the relationship between the firm and the employees is at its best. Human resource development puts into consideration the interrelationship between strategy, structure, and culture to improve human capital, as well as increase profitability for the firm by creating customer value.

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Definition of Human Resource Development

Human resource development entails the enhancement and continuous upgrading of the human capital in an organization or institution, to increase productivity at work. Wilson (2005) asserts that this is usually achieved through integrating the process of learning within the program of the organization or through frequent workshops. It mostly involves human development starting from the point when an employee first joins a firm and goes on throughout the period the employee will spend with the firm. In this regard, Werner and Desimone (2011) argue that policies through which employees’ potential can be maximally tapped are continuously sought and implemented. Furthermore, human resource development generally focuses on the management, the working environment and resources in ensuring that the company’s mission and goals are met.

Roles of a Human Resource manager

Human resource managers are expected to recruit new staff to the organization, as well as oversee the general well-being of all other employees in the organization. As stated by Millmore (2007), a well-managed human resource department will have high retention of employees and well interrelations between employees and the management. It is the responsibility of the human resource manager to ensure that, a uniform organizational culture is promoted through encouraging positive employee interrelation and building their morale to improve productivity. Greer (2001) asserts that the human resource manager is expected to discover the area of weakness in the organization, either due to lack of training or insufficient knowledge, and provide necessary solutions, which may include inside training. The responsibility of ensuring that the employees are free to air their goals, and are consequently provided with facilities to make them achieve their professional and personal goals, also lies with the human resource manager. According to Ungson and Wong (2008), continuous new processes need to be invented by the human resource manager which will mitigate risks and propel accountability in the organization, while creating a sense of belonging for the employees.

Organizational strategies need to be implemented properly for effective change to be noticed, and this is done by the staff who if not well managed will end up either not implementing the strategies at all, or implementing them in the wrong way which may be disastrous to the organization. Furthermore, it is expected that the human resource manager generates a system through which the employees can forward their grievances, or job-related stress and action is taken in that regard. In the view of Arthur and Boyles (2007), employees expect to be promoted up the ranks, therefore the human resource manager is once again called upon to come up with a method of evaluating the employees’ performance and the criteria for promotions. It is the expectation of the organization as a whole, that the human resource manager will be able to discover the career goals of employees and their talents, through relating with the employees personally and hence assign duties accordingly.

The human resource manager needs to know the attendance of various employees, their tax deductions and wage rates in order to prepare the payroll. He also needs to get information on the records of employee performance, and all the details appertaining the date of recruitment, age, job qualifications, and expected retirement date to be able to prepare for promotions and job advertisements. In addition to that, Beauregard and Henry (2009) propose that the human resource manager also needs to have a way of providing continuous online training to the staff, to increase their competitiveness in the business environment. Since the human resource manager is also an administrator and cannot find time to attend to every employee on personal grounds, he therefore needs a way through which employees can be able to query the human resource office directly online. Wright and McMahan (2010) feel that being a high-rank manager, the human resource manager needs information on how other line managers under him are performing so that he can be able to implement changes where necessary.

Human Resource Development Issues

Human resource development practitioners usually face many issues in their attempt to make organizations have a high competitive advantage. To begin with, there is the dilemma of getting the right employee into the organization from numerous applications they receive. In Vanita’s (2003) view, human resource managers have to ensure that the questions they ask during an interview are correct, and do not require the interviewee to give out too much of their private information. On the same note, the questions need to be as direct as possible and avoid ambiguity so that the interviewee can understand them easily.

The human resource managers also find themselves asking questions that dwell too much on the private life of the candidates, which sometimes makes the candidate feel embarrassed. Moreover, human resource managers have to carefully determine the length of the questions to ensure that while important information is not obscured, the questions are not too long and confusing to the interviewee. Grieves (2003) argues that human resource managers mostly do not know how to get information of how the employee will perform under pressure without stressing the candidate during the interview process. Often, human resource managers in a move not to look too stringent to candidates do not know how to ask some questions which seem to be tough, therefore compromising the recruiting process. The logic behind having a stringent recruitment process is to make sure that the candidate shortlisted for employment is the easiest and cheapest to train in case the need arises.

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Additionally, there is a possibility of some human resource development managers having negative attitude towards a certain group of people due to their gender, academic status or cultural background among other factors. It then becomes a challenge for the same person to be fair to any employee who happens to fall in the group they stereotype, hence not being able to actually recruit the best talent. Moreover, Streumer and Kommers (2002) suggest that stereotyping compromises the ability of an interviewer to be objective during the interview process; this in turn jeopardizes the possibility of getting the best out of the employees. Prior experience with a certain person or group of people mostly leads to stereotyping. However, stereotyping is not a personal problem as it has been shown by recent researchers, but rather a common thing among human beings. Since it is difficult to understand peculiarities associated with different people grouping and categorizing are inevitable and this leads to stereotyping.

Additionally, the technological world is very dynamic to the extent that some programs are rendered obsolete with time. This in turn compels the human resource development practitioners to continuously improve their training guidelines. Furthermore, Matthews, Magginson and Surtees (2004) articulate that the advancement in technology requires that various employees should be undergoing training time and again. This exercise is not only expensive but also time-consuming since these people must leave their duties to learn. In addition, some of the employees within an organization might not be willing to be involved in continuous learning processes, and this might lead to conflicts.

Moreover, the changing conditions of the workplaces are quite an issue to human resource development because they sometimes require a complete overhaul of the training program which takes time. Incidentally, Vanita (2003) postulates that the changing environment in which an organization operates usually calls for a change in the skills that employees should have, which requires a change in the method of capacity building.

Strategies Used in Human Resource Development

Various approaches are employed by human resource development practitioners in ensuring that their goals are met. Kartini (2012) believes that an organization needs to constantly review its costs of operation and reduce them as much as possible, in order to gain competitive advantage. For example, Paul (2008) claims that since its entry into Vietnam Market, Coca-Cola has been studying the strategies used by its competitors before coming up with plans of what to implement as far as human resource development is concerned. On top of that, production technology is also constantly improved to ensure that the changing socio-cultural needs of the people are met. As a result, Paul (2008) concludes that Coca-Cola continuously improves its production technology in Vietnam, an example being the move from S5 PLC to S7 PLC which increased the rate of production thus reducing the cost of production.

On the same note, communication is an important aspect of any organization since it ensures consistent inflow of information. Consequently, human resource development has communication as one of its development strategies. Vanita (2003, p.39) observed that, “extensive use of vertical, lateral and informal channels will increase communication flow, reduce uncertainty and improve group performance and satisfaction”. This is achieved through implementation of state-of-the-art information systems, to enhance correspondence between various offices and departments. Another perspective of human resource development is in the emphasis on quality output per worker. In Wilson’s (2005) view it is incumbent upon the human resource department to ensure that they monitor the productivity of workers at the end of every financial year, to ensure that man-hours injected at work are in accordance with the expected results. This ensures that if there is a discrepancy between the two, management can conduct a refresher course for the weak performing employees, so that they can improve their productivity.

Additionally, a firm can encourage ingenuity by providing incentives to employees who come up with new and improved ways of executing their duties more efficiently. In this same regard, the organization should allow the free use of resources within its precincts for the innovation and development of new products and services, provided that these new commodities enhance efficiency. Moreover, organizations need to come up with a culture that is acceptable to all employees and that which encourages hard work, as well as teamwork. On the same note, Wang and McLean (2007) observe that employees get motivated and actually increase their output when they are made to feel like part of the organization.

This can be achieved through organizing open forums where employees are allowed to submit their views on how to improve the organization, or by implementing information systems through which employees’ contributions are submitted and given attention. Paul (2008) suggests that though they have managers, Coca-Cola recognizes that its structure highly depends on the lower employees in order to achieve its mission. Therefore, in Vietnam, the firm implements a strategy in which it seeks to maintain a positive attitude towards work among the employees. This is not only done so as to get the best output from the employees, but also to increase the customer value through better service. With more settled employees who are ready to work, Coca-Cola is able to easily meet its objectives thus enhancing its profitability.

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Werner and Desimone (2011) purport that in addition to the above strategies, human resource development practitioners usually practice continuous training among the employees in order to keep them abreast with the current trends. To achieve this, the organization can arrange to have a training department within its structure or send its employees to be trained somewhere on regular basis. Besides making the employees able to adapt to the dynamics in the world of technology, learning also enhances quality and efficiency output.

Importance of Human Resource Development

The dynamics of technology and customer needs warrant higher levels of comprehension and problem-solving skills in the job market. Streumer and Kommers (2002) think that for employees to be competent and adequately deal with any contingencies that may arise in their line of duty, they have to be trained perennially. Unfortunately, training as a personal initiative is an expensive affair. On the other hand, Grieves (2003) found that on-the-job training is more practical and equips an employee with invaluable skills, which through specialization and division of labor ensures that there is horizontal and vertical transfer of skills in the organization.

By and large, economic development is hinged on human resource development. A workforce that is sufficiently proficient in the execution of its duties is a direct result of a working education system that offers quality training. If a workforce is well trained, it shows that there are quality products and services in the market which translates into higher standards of living. It is imperative that the less developed countries improve the quality of their education and human resource development, in order to increase their Gross Domestic Product figures.

Along with that, the productivity of a nation and a firm will increase when each employee’s output is enhanced. Kartini (2012) observes that through capacity building and constant training, employees get to enhance their efficiency and rate of output. This in turn increases the productivity of an organization as a whole, and gives the firm a competitive advantage over others. Similarly, increased efficiency through human resource development leads to emergence of new ways of production, which are cost-effective thus help in reducing the cost of production.

On the same note, human resource development broadens the thinking capacity of employees which makes them more accommodative. This ensures that workplace conflicts are minimized, and teamwork is enhanced which leads to employees supporting each other in their duties. Not only is productivity enhanced in this way, but also the employee to employee and employee to management relationships are improved, thus making the organization achieve its goals more easily.

Furthermore, Wang and McLean (2007) are of the opinion that continuous training which results from human resource development equips people with entrepreneurship skills thus enhancing creative thinking. Therefore, in a society where human resource development is insisted businesses flourish and new products are developed, which help in making the lives of the members more comfortable. Moreover, when businesses flourish not only does the income of people increase, but also the job opportunities increase.

With the current dynamics in the corporate world, many issues are constantly demanding the attention of human resource development practitioners. In the view of Betts, Clarke & Clegg (2002), technology is constantly advancing and this requires constant training to help people to be at par with the level of technology. Unfortunately, the information about some new technology does not flow as fast as people would expect. This leads to knowledge lag when even the trainers do not know about the new technology. Though outsourcing can help in dealing with this problem, it is sometimes expensive and an infeasible option. On the same note, computer technology is increasingly becoming part and parcel of organizational culture. Virtually every office must have a computer which helps the people to execute their duties. However, the rate at which computer technology and software change are very high, yet the computers dictate what should be learned and when. Consequently, the rate at which learning materials become redundant is very high.

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Besides the above issues, globalization is emerging as another very crucial issue as far as human resource development is concerned. Globalization has led to increased ease in the transfer of information from one place to another. As a result, technology moves very fast from one place to another causing a shift in the mode of operations. Additionally, commodities are easily exported and imported by various countries, some of which are of high quality. Matthews et al. (2004) argue that this compels the country with low-quality goods to endeavor and improve their quality, because customers can easily get the products elsewhere. It is also important to note that globalization has increased the rate of employee exit, which has become a thorn in the flesh of the trainers because they are not sure whether the employee will stay after being trained.

At the same time, people are increasingly becoming aware of the technology available, and the substitute commodities that can be found in the market. On top of this, Betts et Al. (2002) observe that the wants of people have become very dynamic and satisfying them is complicated. Therefore, many a time human resource developers are left in dilemma on the type of training programs to initiate. On the same note, informed people are highly selective thus requiring the output to be as specific as possible, which is hard for the human resource development practitioners to meet. According to Grieves (2003, p.97), “many change agents and managers appear to be driven increasingly by the demands of the global marketplace resulting in a tendency to concentrate on radical change strategies”.

Conclusion

The human resource department is the nucleus of every organization, because it deals with the recruitment and training of personnel engaged in the production of goods and services. Therefore, for a firm to raise its bottom line, it must ensure that it employs the most suited candidates who can be trained to take up high and low profile roles. Moreover, human resource welfare should be emphasized by every firm. This is because, in order to train employees and make them more knowledgeable and productive, they must be accorded favorable work environments and compensation that is commensurate with their duties at work. When this is done, an organization will most definitely achieve its short-term and long-term objectives.Finally, organizations need to formulate attainable objectives, as far as their human resource is concerned. It is counterproductive for organizations to come up with over-ambitious development objectives, which are imprudent due to the cost factor and worker burnout. The interesting bit about human resources as a factor of production is that it constantly needs to be furnished with new techniques of duty execution. Therefore, employees are always going to be engaged in learning, which may be company initiated or sought externally from institutions of higher learning. Accordingly, human resource development will remain a crucial element in the development plans of firms and governments; to comply with the millennium development goals of universal improved standards of living.

References

Arthur, J. B & Boyles, T 2007, ‘Validating the Human Resource System Structure: A Levels-Based Strategic HRM Approach’, Human Resource Management Review, vol. 17 no.1, pp. 77-92.

Beauregard, T. A & Henry, L. C 2009, ‘Making the Link between Work-Life Balance Practices and Organizational Performance’, Human Resource Management Review, vol.19 no.1, pp. 9-22.

Betts, J., Clarke, P & Clegg, S 2002, ‘The Discourse of Success and Failure in Organizational Learning’ International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management, vol. 2 no.1, pp. 97-112.

Greer, C 2001, Strategic Human Resource Management, Prentice Hall, London.

Grieves, J 2003, Strategic Human Resource Development, Sage Publishers, Thousand Oaks.

Kartini, S. G 2004, ‘Human Capital Response to Globalization: Education and Information Technology in India’, Journal of Human Resources, vol. 47 no.2, pp. 287-330.

Matthews, J. J., Magginson, D & Surtees, M 2004, Human Resource Development, Kogan Page Publishers, London.

Millmore, M 2007, Strategic Human Resource Management: Contemporary Issues, Prentice Hall, London.

Paul, T 2008, International Marketing: Text and Cases, McGraw-Hill, New York.

Streumer J. N & Kommers, A. M 2002, ‘Development in the Emerging Human Resource Development Discipline’, International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management, vol. 2 no.1, pp. 1-6.

Ungson, G. R., & Wong, Y. Y 2008, Global Strategic Management, M. E. Sharpe, New York.

Vanita 2003, Effective Communication in Human Resource Development, Atlantic Publishers, New Delhi.

Wang, X & McLean, G. N 2007, ‘The Dilemma of Defining International Human Resource Development’, Human Resource Development Review, vol. 6 no.1, pp. 96-108.

Werner, J. M & Desimone, R. L 2011, Human Resource Development, Cengage Learning, Stanford.

Wilson, J. P 2005, Human Resource Development: Learning and Training for Individuals and Organizations, Kogan Page Publishers, London.

Wright, P. M & McMahan G. C 2010, ‘Theoretical Perspectives for Strategic Human Resource Management’, Journal of Management, vol.18 no.2, pp. 295-320

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