Approach to human resource planning
Human resource planning has always been a crucial component for the competitive growth and development experienced in the modern tourism industry. Critical to the successful growth, development, and positioning of the firms in the market is the human resource asset.1 Here, the human resource asset is planned strategically and remains an integral element in the industry wide business planning for the firms that operate within the tourism industry.2 Despite the value of human resource planning in the industry, there is no evidence to show that firms that operate within the industry have a common industry wide universal human resource planning framework on which standards, procedures, and policies for executing human resource planning are based. However, a common understanding of the techniques and strategies used in any industry for planning human resources is applicable for the firms that operate within the tourism industry. In this case, the firms that operate within the industry use specific models that suit their operating environment to carry out human resource planning activities, with a decision making process aligned to the organizational strategies and objectives of the firm.3
Firms in the tourism industry carry out human resource planning activities by identifying and recruiting people with the right skills. In addition, the firms use motivational techniques to enhance the performance of their employees by ensuring that there are interactive links between the human resource planning activities and business planning objectives.4
Studies indicate that firms operating in the tourism industry have adopted a situational approach in carrying out the human resource planning based on short range and long range corporate strategic planning. The long range strategic planning provides the firms with the strategic approach in forecasting the human resource demands in the longer term while short range corporate strategic planning is aimed at coordinating the current human resource in the industry to enable effective running of a firm to achieve its business level objectives and strategies. Here, forecasting the demand for labor, conducting an analysis of the supply of the labor in the market, and ensuring the demand for labor in the industry is well balanced provides firms and their top level managers the ability to determine extensively plan their human resource staffing requirements. 5
Typically, the entire process of human resource planning for the firms operating in the industry revolves around the technique of setting organizational goals and objectives, scanning the external environment for any changes that affect the human resource in the industry in addition to environmental factors that affect the supply of human resources for the firms, including the labor supply.6 In addition, the firms commonly target well skilled human resource to recruit into the firms. The recruitment process is an industry wide approach that is based on the common concepts of human resource planning in any industry. In this case, the firms always look for the right number of skilled people who have the requisite skills for executing the tasks assigned them effectively and efficiently in the pursuit of organizational objectives.7 Firms in the tourism industry recruit the best talent by first clearly designing good planning strategies to that underlie the framework for achieving organizational success in a competitive industry. In this case, each firm within the industry must compete and create an image as the best tourist destination in the market.
In their planning strategies to get the best skilled human resource in the industry, firms that operate within the context of the industry plan well based on the ever changing business environment. The changing business environment can be both internal and external. The overall elements that change in either of the situations include changes in technologies with a typical example including the advent and use of the internet to discover the best tourist destination and identify what is provided at the destination point without visiting that place. In this case technologies can influence positively or negatively the competitiveness of a tourist destination and any firm operating within that environment. Other factors that affect the flow of tourist and the operations of a firm in the destination of interest include economic structures that are still existing and emerging within the industry, the attitude employees have toward an organization and its organizational structure, government policies within which a firm operates, and other problems that might be associated with employee turnover within the industry.8 When problems emerge within a firm operating in the industry, the management experiences a significant rise in the number of problems associated with the human resource planning.
For managers to be successful in human resource planning and address the problems and challenges that face firms operating within the tourism industry, a number of strategies are used. In theory and practice, the firms which are acting individually within the industry use a framework for human resource planning. Within the human resource planning framework, it is critical to note that a number of objectives that are critical should be achieved, because of their significance in the human resource planning process. In this case, firms operating within the industry have to identify the human resource objectives and strive to meet them.9
Individual firms operating in the tourism industry set their objectives to optimize the human resources and competitively position their firms. The objectives in the human resource planning include the ability of a firm operating in the tourism industry to accurately forecasting the human resource needs and requirements, identify the best methods to cope up with the dynamically changing technologies, market conditions, optimize the available human resources, and create a framework for the development and promotions of the human resources within the firm. It is critical for firms to identify the objectives relevant to their firms to reap all the benefits associated with applying the objectives appropriately. Different studies show that, when the objectives are properly used, the accruing benefits which include accumulating the best of talents within the industry, enabling a firm to reap from their talent.10 In addition, well used objectives enable employee development and growth in skills and experience. That is in addition to other aspects of employee personal development. Other benefits firms experience when they apply the objectives properly include cutting costs, organizational growth and expansion, and success in the planning process. In this case, human resource planning in the tourism industry is, according to research studies, based on different models, depending on an individual firm.11
The human resource planning approaches the firms use include identifying and classifying the plans according to the roles the firm intends to do within the society of its setting, which are consistent with the expectations and impact each of the plans have on the society and the firm in general. In this case, the firms classify the plans according to the philosophy of the firm. In this case, the philosophy draws on what the firm intends to do and the image they want to create within the environment it is operating on. The philosophy contains a clear statement of the economic objectives the firm wants to achieve and the action plan that will provide the necessary framework to achieve the economic objectives.12 In this case, the purpose for which the firm is set up is clearly stated with the salient activities that the firm does and the expected results. In addition to that, firms in the tourism industry formulate strategic approaches for long term objectives and the course of action that is necessary to attain the goals.13 Here, policies, procedures, standards, budget, and programs are set to achieve the objectives for which the firm has been established. The human resource is the critical asset that drives the formulation of the strategies and underlies the successful implementation of the strategies in driving an organization or a firm in attaining its objectives. To be successful in implementing strategies within the industry, firms within the tourism industry have models for human resource planning processes. Each of the models are applicable depending on the operating environment of the individual firm. Once such a model illustrated in the figure 1 below.
Based on the above human resource planning process, the human resource personnel who is in charge of the entire process is responsible for the evaluating the operating environment to determine the level of human resource needs and skills level requirements as already discussed above.14 Figure 1 shows a conceptualized framework of the human resource planning activities in the lifecycle of a firm. It is critical that the entire process be under a well skilled human resource personnel with the right skills in carrying out the process. The human resource personnel should use scientifically proven techniques and methods for scanning the environment, to acquire the best talent in the society. In this case, once the organizational objectives have been set, it is critical to align the objectives with the human talent available in the organization and if the talent is not available, it becomes crucial to identify and recruit talent from outside the organization.15 It is important to embed requisite human resource planning activities with the right staffing needs, appropriate compensation, identify the training and development needs, and establish strong labor relationships within a firm operating in the industry to avoid unnecessary labor disputes.16
Well skilled human resource personnel undertake to identify, using the right human resource forecasting tools, the gap in the market of the human resource personnel and available personnel within the firm. In this case, forecasting techniques include the use of judgment, ration and trend analysis in the market, the Delphi forecasting technique, work study techniques, and the flow models among other techniques that are scientifically proven.17 In this case, the environmental factors which include employee turnover form the firm, or within the industry, demand generation for their skills, and the prevailing microeconomic and macroeconomic factors that affect the demand and supply of the labor force within the industry. Other factors to consider during this phase include social conditions such as working conditions, government regulations, religious and cultural issues, and technological factors such as the exponential rise in the use of the internet.
It is important at any point in the forecasting phase to identify personnel ratios in terms of the historical relationships among people working in the firm and the job categories as part of the forecasting component. That is in addition to the use of other forecasting tools such as time series analysis that provides a clear understanding of the past staffing levels and the current trends to discover a number of issues related to the human resource planning for a firm in the tourism industry. The purpose of the time series analysis is to identify the past staffing levels and establish the trend in human resource staffing while ensuring that information about the cyclic tendencies and the random movement of the skilled people is understood. The resulting findings can be used to determine the relationship between the staffing levels, prevailing economic conditions, and the approach to use to retain the best talent and skills within a firm operating in the industry. In addition, the results are used to inform the human resource programming phase and the approaches used to implement the organizational objectives formulated from different sources of information combined.
The use of tools such as replacement charts for successful human resource planning includes elements such as promotions and replacements. That is in addition to establishing a skills inventory against which employee skills are evaluated for promotional or replacements needs. On the other hand, when the human resource personnel determine that employees have to be recruited from the outside of an organization, it is critical to identify the availability of the required labor, supply level, and assess the alternatives to complete the whole process of human resource planning up to the control and evaluation and the supply assessment levels as shown in figure 1 above.
The impact of external influences
External influences in the tourism industry have a significant impact on human resource planning. It is critical to identify the external influences to determine the level and kind of influences they present in human resource planning. External influences include economic conditions which are defined by the growth or expansion of the firms, or the contraction of the industry, job creation in the economies of nations, the demand and supply in the labor market of skilled human resources, and the contract the firms have signed with labor unions.18 The influences have a direct and indirect impact on human resource planning because they affect the approach used by firms in the industry in forecasting the demand for labor, internal supply forecasts, ability to reconcile the demand and supply of the human resources in identifying gaps and filling them, and the strategies the firms formulate to develop the action plan for their human resource planning process. Other factors closely associated with external factors include the political environment. The political environment is determined by the level of stability of a nation and security. In this case, skilled personnel find it difficult and risky to work in an unstable political environment, implying that looking for well skilled and experienced personnel to work in a politically hostile environment is difficulty.19 That is in addition to the fact that firms in the tourism industry might not operate in such a dangerous environment. While the economic and economic environment are external factors that impact on human resource planning in an organization, firms experience a number of barriers to human resource planning in the industry.
The framework underlying the recruitment and selection procedures used in the tourism firm included the employment equity act which prohibits discrimination based on diversity, sex, gender, etc., codes of good practice, medical scheme act and regulations for the health insurance cover for the employee were also focuses and a successful person to occupy the position could enjoy the benefits.
A summary of the phases and the tasks undertaken at each phase in the recruitment and selection process demonstrates the impact the legal, regulations, and ethical considerations had on the process as shown below.
Job analysis is done to compile a job description for vacant position. At this phase, the details in the job analysis, job descriptions does not hint at any discrimination and the information was communicated in a clear and concise manner as to leave not ambiguity in the prospective applicant.
Letters acknowledging receipt of applications are sent to each applicant and each application is screened based on the job description details provided in an advert as per the request to find the information in the firm’s website. Each of the unsuccessful applicants is sent a regret letters if they don’t qualify because they have not passed the screening test.
Interviews are conducted for each successful applicant and the questions are similar to avoid any discrimination. Each of the interviewee is screened and the scores assigned according to a reliable and valid measurement scale. Other considerations include engaging a professional to do psychometric assessment of the candidates. Each of the candidates has to sign a consent form. The purpose of the assessment is to predict success in the job if the candidate qualified for the position. The key elements include standard procedures, which are followed and executed professionally. The whole process was defined by a number of good practice indicators, which include:
Recruitment Policy: The approach to recruitment and selection is organized and consistent with legal, ethical considerations, and obligations. There are well written and documented recruitment, selection, and shortlisting procedures. Advertisements and interviews are scheduled and done as deemed appropriate. There is a well thought out plan for the recruitment and selection timescale. There are also well written out policies for equal opportunity for each of the internal and external applicants.
Job Description: It was clearly written. The tile was provided and other detailed requirements provided.
Retention Policy: One critical indicator is induction that is conducted at the appropriate time, the right place, and with the right content.
Difficulties in Human resource planning
Human resource planning becomes a difficult task because of the challenges associated with training employees in attaining the short term objectives in an organization, when economic conditions compel firms to downsize their workforce, and the ability to adapt to new and diverse workforce. That is in addition to the multicultural environment that employee’s work in and the challenge of developing a good and an unbiased framework for the recruitment and selection of new and skilled employees.
The effectiveness of human resource planning
Assessing the effectiveness of human resource planning in the tourism industry provides a clear cut answer on whether the model used by the firms that operate within the industry has enabled the human resource personnel to implement human resource plans effectively by being aligned with the organizational objectives. The level of utilization of people as an asset within a firm, the level of demand and supply of the human resources, based on the complex organizational structures of the firms, is typical of a successful or failed organization. For the case of the firms operating within the tourism industry, it presents difficulties in assessing the level of effectiveness except on a case by case basis.20 Notwithstanding that, the key elements used to assess the level of effectiveness are based on a case example of tourism in protected areas. In this case, a study of the approach used in human resource planning included identifying the human resource staffing needs. In this case, the suitability of a person to fill a position within a firm in the industry is based on a job analysis.21 The recruiting and selecting personnel were able to identify the best talent for any vacancy that arises because of a framework that had successfully worked there before.
Based on the case study identified above, some of the aspects of the human resource planning were effective and other aspects were not. To demonstrate the level of effectiveness, it is critical that the firm employs a framework of assessing the effectiveness to determine any divergence form the original organizational objectives. That is despite the process of evaluating the level of effectiveness being subjective, the organization or firm provides a list of points made when examining the level of human resource planning effectiveness.22
According to the case study report, the effectiveness in human resource planning was identified in its effectiveness in predicting the supply of human resources in filling out the vacancies that could arise within the firm. The success rate was realized in effectively analyzing the rate of human resource turnover, skill inventory, and replacement charts, which were crucial to the evaluation process. In addition, the availability of human resources included identifying the external and internal factors that influence the demand and supply of human resources, the successful attainment of organizational human resource planning objectives, which were integral components of the organizational objectives. An examination of the impact of approach used in the recruitment and selection process, the development, maintenance and reward of the human resources was according industry best practices, based on both theory and practice. In this case, job analysis and design, recruitment methods, selection, and training strategies are critical for any firm operating in the industry.23 That is in addition to career development and motivation activities. A successful implementation of the activities mentioned above shows the level of effectiveness of the human resource planning in the firm. Among the key aspects that need to be assessed, evaluated, and implemented that were lacking included the impact and level of commitment of the human resource planning personnel, critical consideration of environmental issues, and regular evaluation of the long term objectives without emphasizing on short term objectives.
Armstrong, Michael. A Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice (7th edition), 120 Pentonvelle Road: Kogan Page Limited, 1999.
Aswathappa, Kumar, Human Resource and Personnel Management (2nd edition), New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing Company Ltd, 1999.
Buckley, Ronald and Jack Pannell, “Environmental impacts of tourism and recreation in national parks and conservation reserves.” Journal of Tourism Studies 1, no 1 (1990): 2432
Buckley, Ralf, and Michael Sommer, Tourism and Protected Areas: Partnerships in Principle and Practice. CRC for Sustainable Tourism. Sydney: Pty Ltd. and Tourism Council Australia, 2001.
Tangen Stefan., (2004), “Performance measurement: from philosophy to practice”, International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, 53 no. 8 (2004): 726-737
Shanks Nancy, H, Management and Motivation. New York: Jones Publishers, 2009.
Pattanayak, Biswajeet, Human Resource Management, New Delhi: Prentice Hall of India Private Ltd., 2001.
Rao, Subba P , Management and Organisation Behaviour (First edition), New Delhi: Himalay Publishing House, 2004.
Rue, Leslie W and Byars, Lloyd L. Human Resource Management: (5th edition), New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, 1997.
Walker, James W. Human resource planning. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1980
Walker, James W, “Managing human resources in flat, lean and flexible organizations:
Trends for the 1990’s.” Human Resource Planning 11, (1988): 125-132.
1 L L, Byars, and W, Rue, Leslie, Human Resource Management (5th edition), The McGraw-Hill Companies, 1997, p. 6
2 R Buckley and J Pannell, Environmental impacts of tourism and recreation in national parks and conservation reserves. Journal of Tourism Studies 1(1): 2432, 1990, p.3, 5
3 K Aswathappa, Human Resource and Personnel Management (2nd edition), Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing Company Ltd., New Delhi, 1999, p. 2, 5,8
4 Ibid., P. 5
5 J W Walker, Managing human resources in flat, lean and flexible organizations: Trends for the 1990’s. Human Resource Planning, 11, 125-132, 1988, p. 5
6 Tangen, Stefan “Performance measurement: from philosophy to practice”, International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 53 No. 8, 2004 p. 726-737.
7 Ibid., p. 5
8 B Pattanayak, Human Resource Management, Prentice Hall of India Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 2001, p. 4
9 J W Walker, Human resource planning. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1980
10 M Armstrong, A Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice (7th edition), Kogan Page Limited, 120 Pentonvelle Road, London, 1999, p. 5
12 K Aswathappa, Human Resource and Personnel Management (2nd edition), Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing Company Ltd., New Delhi, 1999, p. 4
13 R Buckley and M Sommer,Tourism and Protected Areas: Partnerships in Principle and Practice. CRC for Sustainable Tourism Pty Ltd. and Tourism Council Australia, Sydney, Australia, 2001, p.4
14 M Armstrong, A Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice
(7th edition), Kogan Page Limited, 120 Pentonvelle Road, London, 1999
15 Byars, L L. and Rue, Leslie, W, Human Resource Management (5th edition), The McGraw-Hill Companies, 1997, p.4
16 Ibid., p. 5
17 Ibid., p. 8
18 Buckley, R. and Sommer, M, Tourism and Protected Areas: Partnerships in Principle and Practice. CRC for Sustainable Tourism Pty Ltd. and Tourism Council Australia, Sydney, Australia, 2001, p. 3
19 Ibid., p. 8
20 S H Nancy, Management and Motivation. Jones Publishers, 2009
21 Rao, P, S, Management and Organisation Behaviour (First edition), Himalay Publishing House, 2004
22 R Buckley and M Sommer, Tourism and Protected Areas: Partnerships in Principle and Practice. CRC for Sustainable Tourism Pty Ltd. and Tourism Council Australia, Sydney, Australia, 2001, p. 6
23 Ibid., p. 10