Human Resource Dynamics in Organizations

Introduction

The advent of globalization and the fast-paced technological advancement witnessed across the world continue to make competition stiffer than ever before in the business realm. Globalization has ensured that most organizations across the globe have access to state-of-the-art facilities and technological products, which aid in their business activities. Over the years, this development has prompted a paradigm shift in management circles. Attention has gradually moved from having the best infrastructure to having the best team of people in organizations (Armstrong 2009). The importance of people in an organization stems from the view that they are the key organizational building blocks. From the helm of any organization to the very bottom are people and all of them are vital to the organization as they move the organization forward. They formulate, implement, and evaluate policies coupled with constantly devising new mechanisms of transforming organizations to greatness, and in robot-operated environments, they design and program the robots. Concisely, people are the essence of an organization. This change of focus towards people has taken many years and today, people are held in high esteem within an organization. This paradigm shift has led to the development of human resources management (HRM) as a fundamental aspect of organizational management (Armstrong 2009). HRM is made up of several other elements, which include human resources planning as well as recruitment and selection. These two go hand in hand with each other and even overlap with each other in some instances. This research paper seeks to explore the two aspects of HRM in a bid to delineate the dynamics that surround them within the context of organizational operation with a focus on JC Penney to determine how applicable the two aspects of HRM are to its practical day-to-day operations.

Human Resource Planning

In this era where HRM is considered imperative for organizational success, the planning phase of HRM cannot be treated with less importance as it is intrinsic to HRM and by extension, to the well being of the entire organization. Anyim, Ekwoaba, and Ideh (2012) define human resource planning as a systematic and continuous analysis of an organization’s workforce needs in a bid to ensure that the needs remain fully catered for at all times for the long-term success of the organization. It entails forecasting, developing inventories of what is available to give an idea of what is required, conducting audits, implementing the chosen action plan, and then doing a follow up to determine if the plan is working as anticipated (Barnett & Davis 2008). Though it is a generally neglected aspect of HRM, planning is vital for any HR manager who wishes to meet his or her organization’s workforce requirements (Armstrong 2009). An organization in which human resource planning is well developed will reap several benefits such as the attainment of the desired organizational goals especially in the 21st century where organizations have come to the realization that people are the greatest assets that an organization can ever have (Bedell et al. 2007). Planning also assists organizations to fit their workforce into their strategic plans in order to position themselves in readiness for new developments that unfold with time. Apart from assisting an organization to achieve its objectives, human resource planning lays a framework for the development of individual employee’s carriers due to the presence of definite skill development and succession plans (Doving & Odd 2010).

Based on the importance attached to human resource planning, it is imperative that all organizations approach it with the seriousness it deserves if they are to achieve their long-term development agenda. Like many other known disciplines and sub-disciplines, there have been attempts to decipher human resource planning in a theoretical sense. Of the theoretical models that have been advanced to explain the dynamics of human resource planning, a few directly address human resource planning, but most of them address it within HRM. The limited availability of theoretical models that delineate the dynamics of human resource planning is contingent on the view that it largely exists in theory rather than in practice (Armstrong 2009, p.367).

Theoretical models that touch on human resource planning are largely concerned with explaining how HRM policies affect business and how the resultant business environment couples with contemporary culture to influence the organization’s human resources planning. John Storey, in his model of HRM, places emphasis on the extra-contractual relations as the key motive behind planning (Zula & Chermack 2008). This aspect implies that bringing new employees into an organization anchors on building trust that revolves around the operational managers who are directly in touch with organizational operations. In essence, the Storey model of HRM considers the qualitative aspects of employees such as attitudes, commitment, and motivation to be more important than quantitative aspects (Storey 2007). However, since it is difficult to determine the qualitative aspects of an individual with certainty before working with them for some time, everything boils down to the building of trust (assuming that every one that is taken onboard is good).

The importance of employee commitment to HRM-related issues again features in David Guest’s theory. He argues that there is an explicit difference between compliance and commitment (Guest et al. 2013). He adds that both of them are good in human resource planning, but commitment emerges above compliance insofar as building an organization around people is concerned (Simpkins 2008). According to Guest, compliance is merely concerned with meeting the requirements of a contract, which makes it different from commitment in the sense that the struggle by organizations to build themselves around their employees’ abilities and talents is only possible if the employees are committed. Today’s employee-oriented organization is achievable due to employee commitment and the committed employee provides room for the organization to develop and improve its performance (Jones et al. 2006). Like other theories of human resource planning, Guest’s theory revolves around employee development.

The Harvard model is slightly different from the first two in terms of its point of emphasis. It also acknowledges the importance of employee development, but at the same time proceeds to point out that stakeholder satisfaction is also important for any organization (Doving & Odd 2010). This assertion implies that during the planning process, how the planned course of action satisfies stakeholders must be considered. Employees may be adequately catered for, but if what they do does not serve to address stakeholder concerns, all their effort will be in vain. At this point, it becomes apparent that the element of human resource planning in HRM is a complex undertaking, which touches on many other functions of an organization, thus efforts must always be made to ensure that it fits in with those functions (Geeta et al. 2010).

Recruitment and Selection

Recruitment and selection, like human resource planning, is one of the key components of HRM. There would be no HRM if there were no recruitment and selection since it is the avenue through which employees enter an organization. This aspect makes it sound more important than other components of HRM. To a given extent, such a line of argument may be permissible, but only if the effectiveness and performance of an organization are not emphasized. In the 21st century, organizational effectiveness and performance are among the key concerns of every business (Sparrow 2006). This development makes it imperative for organizations to consider the process of recruitment and selection carefully because as Tabassum (2011) notes, organizational success is inextricably linked to proper recruitment and selection procedures. This argument is founded on the view that proper recruitment and selection procedures can help organizations to maximize their competitive advantage as it enables them to choose the most talented and well-trained individuals to join their team (Anyim, Ekwoaba & Ideh 2012).

In essence, the main objective of having a clear cut recruitment and selection program in an organization is to enable it to attract the best, viz. highly qualified employees, and place them in the right positions so that a person-job fit is ensured (Greer & Virick 2008). This way, an organization eventually ends up with a team of properly motivated and highly skilled employees who give it the potential to outperform competitors in the scramble for markets. Liao (2009) posits that in circumstances where individual employees are not matched to the right jobs, the organization for which they work can lose tremendously in terms of reduced productivity and unsatisfactory service delivery. This aspect means that recruitment and selection aid in averting a scenario that many organizations have often found themselves in, in the past. The level of qualification of an individual or the number of skills he or she possesses, do no matters significantly, but the available literature on recruitment and selection agrees on one important idea. Viz. what matters is that the right skill is matched to the right job and that is the bottom line of recruitment and selection (Collins & Kehoe 2009). The process entails but is not limited to, psychological tests as well as other assessment criteria, which examine the personality types, interpersonal characteristics, as well as stress handling capabilities of prospective employees (Piotrowski and Armstrong 2006). Such information plays a major role in helping recruiters with the placement of the right people in the right positions. Braddy et al. (2009) argue that with the advent of the Internet, some firms find it very easy to conduct a recruitment and selection process on their own or using online recruitment agencies. The sprouting of online recruitment agencies adds to the view that it is a very important process whenever a firm looks to hire new staff.

Various scholars have advanced several theories to explain the recruitment and selection process and all that it entails. Among these is the autocratic recruitment and selection model, which was advanced by Baron et al. in 2001 (Collins & Kehoe 2009). This model espouses the idea that employee selection should be done based on an employee’s ability to perform specific tasks (Collins & Kehoe 2009), which implies that it is normally based on specific predetermined philosophical guidelines that have to be strictly adhered to in the process of recruitment and selection. This process pays a lot of attention to the pay-labor or pay versus workload relationship. This model is a result of strict control from the top management.

Another model that has been advanced to attempt to explain the recruitment and selection process is the commitment recruitment and selection model. Baron et al. identify this model as being similar to the autocratic model in the sense that it also follows specific pre-determined guidelines in the recruitment and selection process (Collins & Kehoe 2009). This aspect makes it clear that most, if not all, recruitment and selection models depend on pre-determined guidelines, but their differences manifest in other ways. This model espouses a closely-knit organizational culture in which employees relate more like family members and the relationship between the employer and employee is considered very important (Collins & Kehoe 2009). Organizations that subscribe to this model espouse the decentralization of authority and horizontal communication. The result of all these is the development of a sense of belonging, which engulfs the entire organization from management to the very bottom (Ratna & Chawla 2011). Organizations that support this philosophy tend to place much emphasis on the ability of the prospective employees to fit into the organizational culture or have a similar cultural orientation as a prerequisite to joining the organization.

Other theoretical models explain the process of recruitment and selection. However, the salient point in all of them is that each of them places emphasis on the ability of a prospective employee to fit in with certain organization-defined requirements, which implies that this process has to be closely tied to the planning component of HRM for it to work well (Compton et al. 2009).

Overview of JC Penney

JC Penney is a chain of American departmental retail stores with a presence all over the US and a few areas in the surrounding region (Davis 2006). It was founded in 1902 under the leadership of one James Cash Penney whom the company is named after (Keyes 2006). Since its inception, Mr. Penney decided to run the company based on his personal life philosophy, which he called the Golden Rule. It states that one should handle a customer in a manner consistent with how he/she (him/herself) would want to be handled (Keyes 2006). This philosophy contributed to the exponential growth of JC Penney to make it what is today. It has undergone a metamorphosis over the years in terms of the merchandise and it currently deals in all sorts of clothing wares, domestic merchandise, office merchandise, and so on.

The company is of interest to this paper as it espouses management philosophies that are consistent with today’s people-oriented approach to business. Some of these philosophies include diversity within the workforce, propagating a culture of valuing everyone, and perpetuating the founder’s philosophy, viz. doing unto others as you would have it done unto you (Keyes 2006). Precisely, the company has expounded the Golden Rule and it strives to observe it from a variety of perspectives to ensure that no area of its operation is left uncovered by this philosophy.

Applicability of human resource planning and recruitment and selection to JCPenney

JCPenney, as a company, is renowned for its diversity philosophy on human resources. It values everyone no matter his or her race or appearance as long as he or she is capable of delivering the very best to the customers (Sloan 2013). This claim is evident given that JCPenney hired Ellen DeGeneres as its spokesperson due to her honesty, compassion, and equality philosophies despite the fact she is a lesbian (Sloan 2013). Although the move elicited negative reactions from across the US, the company stood by DeGeneres and defended her all the way. Another instance that shows how the idea of equality is entrenched in the culture of JCPenney is the company’s triumph over its rivals to emerge as the seventh-best company for Latinos in the 2012 DiversityInc rankings (Sloan 2013). Concisely, JCPenney has cultivated a culture of valuing everyone based on what he or she is capable of and not who he or she is or where s/he is from.

The company also operates clearly stated mission and vision statements, which are enshrined in a set of eight employment principles (Keyes 2006). These are further strengthened by the company’s business ethics, which also espouse the company’s position insofar as people are concerned. The manner in which JCPenney handles its employees shows explicitly that it has a clear-cut HR policy on which it operates. Arguably, it is not possible to esteem employees if there is no framework within which their needs are catered for and this framework manifests in the form of HRM. Its eight employment principles show clearly that they exist on a contingent policy.

The company’s position on diversity is a clear indicator that it engages in human resources planning in its recruitment and selection process. Incorporating all groups within the workforce does not just happen; on the contrary, it calls for a careful analysis of the workforce to determine the groups that are underrepresented and taking a deliberate step to look for the desired set of skills within the particular group that needs to be taken on board (Wilkinson 2009). If the recruitment and selection process at JCPenney just happens and the diversity within its workforce is coincidental, then the human resource planning process at the company would be a complex process. The planners would have to conduct a survey of the workforce or examine the employee databases to determine the groups that were not adequately represented within the workforce before commencing recruitment and selection. A new dimension to the planning process at JCPenney stems from the view that once the underrepresented group is identified, there is a need to ensure that the recruitment and selection process only picks people from underrepresented groups, but they should have the right skills, qualifications, and be ready to adapt to the culture of the company. However, this process may have limitations because there are possibilities of leaving out the best qualified when seeking to balance all groups within the workforce. This possibility disagrees with JCPenney’s principle of going for the best of talent and skills in the retail industry, which implies that at times, during the recruitment process, the company may be forced to compromise either diversity or skills and qualification required for a particular position.

Conclusion

This paper set out to explore the dynamics that surround human resource planning as well as the recruitment and selection process. JCPenney Company was incorporated to assess the practicability of employing the aforementioned elements of HRM. It became apparent that the two elements of HRM are vital components of organizational success and if managed well, can give an organization a great competitive advantage over its competitors. JCPenney is a typical example of a company that espouses HRM. Even though the specifics are not given about how it undertakes its HR management functions, it is apparent that the composition of its workforce and its organizational culture testify of a meticulously planned and constituted workforce that remains conscious of what is expected of it at all times (Davis 2006). Human resource planning involves several distinct steps. Narahari and Murthy (2009) argue that these steps are vital for the success of HRM and consequently, the organization, which is also true for the recruitment and selection of employees of an organization. It should then be noted that since JCPenney has done well for many years, chances are that the company conducts both elements of HRM in observance of the necessary guidelines.

Elements of commitment are observable within the organization’s culture and its adherence to the founding philosophy, viz. the Golden Rule. This aspect supports the idea that within the operations of JCPenney, many aspects of human resource planning, as well as recruitment and selection, are evident. The company can thus be considered a subscriber to human resource planning and recruitment and selection processes. The organizational framework provided by the company is well defined and it would fit in very well with attempts to link it with the two elements of HRM that were under consideration. In other words, JCPenney recognizes that people are the core of an organization and thus they must be treated with utmost care.

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