I interviewed Mr. Dan, the Human Resources Manager of XYZ Company Limited. My talk aimed to ascertain or comply with labor laws by the human resources department of this firm. To get more Information on this profession’s intrigues, I focused my interview on the interviewee’s experience in this area. Specifically, my research aimed to address current and past issues the interviewee has faced; negotiations, expectations, and challenges have characterized the interviewee’s experience of the labor-management relationship.
Student: What does human resource management entail?
Mr. Dan: Human resource management is an integral function in an organization that involves recruiting, managing, and directing the workforce. As part of the organization, the human resources department concerns itself with attracting, selecting, training, assessing, and rewarding the organization’s entire human resource. It is also the department’s function to mastermind the organizational leadership and set the appropriate culture to be adopted by all employees of the firm. As a human resources manager, I need to ensure that the organization complies with all employment and labor laws. The human resources management is the company’s arm that liaises with the employees’ representatives in case of any complaints affecting all workers in the organization.
Student: How long have you been in this field?
Mr. Dan: I have been in the human resources field for the last twenty years. Of course, I did not start right away as the manager but has risen through the ranks to where I am today. I have accumulated immense experience in this field over the years. The experience is different every day, with all the dynamics in dealing with individuals from diverse backgrounds and the ever-changing workplace environment.
Student: Have you had specific training or certifications? What and where? What other relevant experiences and education do you have?
Mr. Dan: I acquired skills in this field by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in human resource management at Cornell University, precisely in the school of Industrial and Labor relations. I then proceeded to acquire a master’s degree from Michigan University. I later received my doctorate level degree from Harvard Business School. I also underwent training and certification from the Society for Human Resource Management.
Through its Human Resource Certification Institute, I acquired the Professional in Human Resources certificate. I have also been trained by an association called World at Work, which elaborately covers work-life, compensation, career development, benefits, and performance appraisals. I am also a member of the American Society for Training and Development.
To succeed in this dynamic environment, one also requires skills in other fields. For instance, due to technological advancements, the modes of communication have changed. Therefore, this informed my decision to pursue training in Information and Communication Technology (ICT). This is because such training will enable me to communicate with other departments within the company effectively. Also, to understand the dynamics in the business sector, one requires knowledge on the same. Therefore, I have studied Business Administration, and I also undergo training in transformational leadership annually. This is aimed at sharpening my skills to handle the dynamic workforce using the latest leadership techniques.
Student: Provide a brief profile of your company, including the ways Human Resource Management fits into the organizational structure.
Mr. Dan: This Company, like any other, is a profit-oriented venture. To make our products competitive in the market, however, we have to consider the people behind the production. Every employee in this firm has an integral role to play, and we take their welfare with utmost seriousness. This company operates by set strategic plans. In line with existing labor laws, we ensure that all our employees’ rights are observed and adhered to as part of the strategic plan.
The human resource department’s role in this organization is thus essential because it directly impacts the firm’s performance. As a firm, we recognize the importance of human resources in realizing the goals mas outlined in our strategic business plan. It is possible for this firm to implement its competitive strategy effectively by aligning the human resource policies with existing labor laws. With sound human resource management (HRM) practices, which aim to exploit the capabilities of all workers and create synergy within departments, the company can quickly reach a sustainable competitive level (Huselid, 1995).
To ensure that each employee in this firm contributes to the realization of the firm’s objectives, we have set specific requirements. Every employee must strive to add value to the firm. This means that the employee must observe set operational standards and deadlines to ensure the targets set out by the company are met. The individual performance of all employees is thus closely monitored to avoid redundancy. To sustain a competitive advantage in the industry, the HRM seeks outstanding skills in recruits. We aim to create an environment within the firm that ensures every employee’s skills are fully utilized.
This is aimed at achieving the best possible results, and it creates a sense of satisfaction among our employees. The HRM department in this firm has also cultivated a unique design of working that ensures that our employees are not rendered redundant by my technological devices. We ensure that the employees are well equipped with the skills to operate any new specialized appliances as part of our improving the performance of the employees (Huselid, 1995).
As a department, it is our role to set the recruitment procedures that we feel will help the firm acquire the skills necessary for the achievement of set targets. With the human capital being an integral component of the organization’s structure, we ensure that the selection process helps and influences the acquisition of quality skills from new employees. The department also is involved in the training of both new and experienced employees through mentoring programs and other development strategies.
Motivation is one factor we consider vital among our employees. To this effect, we have set down terms and conditions that employees observe in ensuring that they are in congruence with the firm’s vision. Employees who satisfy or surpass these conditions are highly rewarded. We also employ a performance appraisal technique to motivate our employees’ behavior. Those that qualify are rewarded with incentives such as remuneration adjustment or promotion rank wise.
Our department has also adopted a structure that allows employees to integrate their creativity into their job routines without hustles. This is in line with modern management structures that are taking a paradigm shift from structured job descriptions. As part of motivation, the company readily accepts any valuable ideas from the employees and rewards them. The department, as an integral component of the organization, carries out random job rotations and encourages teamwork among employees and departments. This is done to increase versatility and create the required synergy among employees.
Student: What are some of your most challenging responsibilities; what issues must you deal with?
Mr. Dan: As a human resource manager, I encounter myriad challenges. By virtue of my position, I must balance advocacy roles for both the firm and the employees. If at any given time, I appear to favor either side, there is no doubt that complaints will be raised. Unlike in the past, where human resource management concentrated on acting as the policing wing of government; the role has completely changed. This is with regard to modern labor and employment laws.
There are various responsibilities that are challenging. Such duties include handling employee relations. In the case of poor performance or gross misconduct by our employees, the decision to discipline them is left with me. I have to assess the case presented against an individual employee in order to determine whether it is credible to warrant disciplinary action. Before subjecting any employee to disciplinary action, I have to do so in accordance with labor and employment laws. In case a decision is made to terminate an employee’s contract, due justice protocol must be followed to avoid possible legal reprisals.
As the head of the human resource department, I deal with issues ranging from individual employee conflicts to complaints concerning the workplace environment. In my long experience, the highest number of complaints arises from within the working environment. Examples include racial abuse of employees by their colleagues and supervisors; sexual harassment, which include being subjected to unwarranted sexual advances; and gender-based violence. Each case is unique in its own way, and as the one in charge, I use the company and labor laws to determine what action to take.
Student: What are some “lessons learned” over the course of your experience in this field?
Mr. Dan: From my experience, I have learned that the approach a company takes in recruiting its employees matters. A company’s management must realize that, like other elements of a successful venture, the human capital must be given the necessary attention. Most firms, in particular, those whose aim is to make a profit have, on many occasions, neglected the welfare of their employees in pursuit of profit margins. Any company worth its salt must aim to offer the human resource the most appropriate support systems to enable it to perform optimally. Dealing with workplace conflicts is an essential part of achieving success as a company.
The human resource department must have the appropriate channels in place to address the conflicts. Experience has also taught me that an informed workforce performs professionally and appropriately. Therefore, it is essential for the human resource department to make sure that every employee within an organization understands his/her rights and adequately understands the channels to follow to seek redress. This would involve training them on labor and employment laws (Pattanayak, 2005).
Student: Where do you see employee or labor relations going in the future? What trends can you identify, good or bad?
Mr. Dan: The face of employee and labor relations has continuously changed since the American Revolution times of 1996, which signified the official birth of labor unions. With changing economic times, there is a likelihood of labor unions becoming stronger in anticipation of the confrontation with employers over issues such as salary increment and allowance adjustments. I can foresee a situation in which crises will rock many organizations in the world as more and more employees continue to agitate for better working conditions.
Unlike in the past, where the bone of contention between employees and labor unions entailed salary rise and elimination of unfair practices such as uncompensated overtime working, future confrontations could arise from the rapid absorption of technology. Nowadays, in various countries around the globe, firms are embracing the use of technology, rendering millions of employees jobless. There is also a likelihood of hitherto un-unionized categories of employees, such as army officers joining the fray to seek stronger negotiating powers. The labor laws have been undergoing changes lately. In this case, it would not be a surprise to see all classes of employees being allowed to join trade unions.
Employment-related issues are likely to take a new dimension. The element of contracting could attract significant attention. In the past, human resources departments have had the sole responsibility and powers to draft contracts and set the rules that are supposed to govern potential recruits. In most cases, the agreements contained clauses touching on working conditions, contract duration, discipline procedures, and benefits.
The labor unions could start demanding flexibility contracting so as to allow the recruits to have their inputs and conditions included in the contracting process. It is debatable when it comes to ascertaining whether this is a good or bad move. It would raise controversy as has been the relationship between employers and unions since the 1990s; however, it would undoubtedly be a welcome idea to the employees.
Student: What would you change or wish to see in terms of future employment or labor relations?
Mr. Dan: The tag of controversy that has surrounded the relationship between labor unions and employers should be removed. It may not be easy, but it is possible to create a collaborative labor relations initiative. It is a known fact that since the entry of unions in labor matters, efficiency has improved in many firms. Today, courtesy of employees joining unions, conditions of working including benefits, compensation terms, and contract issues, among others, have improved. My wish would be to see a universal culture adopted by all organizations, whether government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other private entities. This would involve recognizing employees or human capital as the most critical asset in the running of any successful organization.
The relations between employers and their employees should be smooth. This can be achieved by treating employees fairly. In this case, employees should be given a favorable working environment that addresses their grievances and treats them with dignity. Labor relations should not be demonized but appreciated as an integral part of the employer-employee relationship. Human resources managers in firms should take the responsibility of drafting and implementing rules and regulations in the firms. However, these managers should be well informed to ensure the employees do not feel oppressed or intimidated. Consulting the employees during such decision making could effectively arouse the sense of ownership of the rules and reduce possible conflicts between the two parties.
I carried out an interview with Mr. Dan, the Human Resources Manager of XYZ Company Limited. The aim of my talk was to ascertain the application of or compliance with labor laws by the human resources department of this firm. To get more Information on the intrigues of this profession, I focused my interview on the interviewee’s experience in this area. Specifically, my research aimed to address current and past issues the interviewee has faced, negotiations and expectations, and challenges that have characterized the interviewee’s experience of the labor-management relationship.
Huselid, M.A. (1995). The impact of human resource management practices on turnover, productivity, and corporate financial performance. Academy of management journal. 38 (3): 635-72.
Pattanayak, B. (2005). Human resource management. New Delhi: Prentice-Hall of India.