Interview with an Human Resources Professional

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Background

To preserve the anonymity of the interviewee, it was chosen to omit any names of organizations or persons providing information on the relevant HR practices and their implementation. The current interview was performed with Mrs. X (name changed) who has experience working in the HR field for over ten years. She is currently holding the position of HR Director at a local company that organizes events, provides catering services, and manages local tourism services. The interview took 30 minutes, and this paper compiles relevant feedback from Mrs. X on the topic of HR management. Mrs. X was contacted a week ago via email and asked to participate in the interview. I asked whether she would be willing to participate in answering several questions on her area of specialization and she agreed to have a Skype call with me to conduct the interview. We avoided meeting face-to-face given the current situation with social distancing.

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Demographic Information

In the first section of the interview, I asked Mrs. X several questions about the demographic information on her practice. She was open to discussing this with me as this information is important for understanding the details of the HRM practice as well as the scope of work with which she has to deal regularly. When I asked about the number of employees that her company currently employs, Mrs. X did not hesitate to provide an exact number – 139. This makes up for quite a large personnel group that Mrs. X deals with regularly. She also indicated that her organization was a national firm, which meant that she had to deal predominantly with local employees living in close communities. The interviewee mentioned that her staff currently includes some of her acquaintances, but she made sure to hire them based on their skills and professionalism to avoid any selection bias.

Mrs. X indicated that understanding the difference between exempt and non-exempt employees as she often struggled when managing issues about this area of expertise. She said that exempt employees, which are not entitled to overtime pay under the guarantee of the Fair Labor Standards Act, make up only a small section of her employees (US Department of Labor, no date). These employees are paid at least minimum wage at her organization and will usually do less than 40 hours of work per week. However, while it is not required to pay overtime to exempt workers, Mrs. X worked on negotiating overtime payment for the majority of such employees because she saw it as an important boost in engagement and productivity. Non-exempt workers are entitled to overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the interviewee mentioned that such employees make up the majority of the firm (Doyle, 2020). The company pays time and a half of the regular rate of pay when the individuals work more than 40 hours per pay week. She said that overtime occurs often because of the nature of services that the company provides. During events, it is common that a person has to stay longer to ensure that everything is taken care of as well as that visitors enjoy their events to the fullest. Regarding unions, Mrs. X indicated that her employees were represented by Restaurant, Hotel, and Catering Workers Industrial Union. However, she said that there were never any issues with unions as she worked on solving problems with employees directly. At this time, four more employees are working in the HR department of her organization.

Interview

The first question was about a Federal employment law that Mrs. X considered to be the most challenging. She said that the HR department is highly challenged by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which does not allow discriminating against workers aged 40 and older based on age (EEOC, no date). The law affects the organization directly as a private-sector employer that has more than 20 employees working 20 or more weeks per year. Mrs. X said that the law is challenging because the nature of the work that the company does relies heavily on physical work such as catering or event organizing, which means that employees have to be active and on their feet all of the time. For non-supervisory work, Mrs. X prefers employing younger persons who can cater for prolonged periods. Thus, ADEA goes against the manager’s preferences, which is challenging.

The second question was about a successful HRM practice that Mrs. X found to be highly valuable. She said that continuous staff training and development was the key to organizational success as well as the improvement of the overall work at her HRM department. Continuous training and development required the investment of time, financial resources, and energy into the training of workers who have been working at the company for a long time as well as newcomers (Karim, Choudhury, & Bin Latif, 2019). Mrs. X said that many companies did not understand the value behind training but her experience showed that without training, workers may get unmotivated and dissatisfied quicker than expected.

The third question was about the most complicated positions to recruit in her organization as related to a large number of jobs compared to the number of qualified candidates. Mrs. X said that hiring individuals for supervisory positions were challenging because it is rare to meet managers who worked in the event organization and hospitality industry. Many potential managers have experience supervising but have to be trained on how to develop events and organize them. The most successful hiring strategy was asking other employers in the industry for recommendations about employees who can be hired. She may hear that a manager is leaving their position at an event organization company and contacts them to inquire whether they would consider working for her. The success rate is usually around 50%, so Mrs. X relies on her HR strategy of continuous training and development to make sure that arriving managers comprehend the nature of the business beyond just supervising personnel.

The fourth question was about the strategies, practices, and policies that contribute to boosting engagement and motivation. Mrs. X mentioned that throughout her career she had implemented many strategies but nothing was effective as “creating a safe, supportive, and positive environment in the workplace where collaboration, teamwork, and well-being are put at the forefront.” Mrs. X said that she was doing everything she could to create a comfortable work environment that reflects the vision and mission of her organization. For instance, workers have long-term access to tea, coffee, and stacks; they are transported to events and homes on paid-for vehicles, as well as offered flexibility in the way employees approach their work. The environment that Mrs. X works on creating encourages collaboration among workers through improving communication during regular social gatherings (Entrepreneur Editorial Team, 2019). In addition, Mrs. X always asks her employees to provide feedback and uses data acquired from anonymous worker surveys to assess satisfaction and engagement. Metrics that Mrs. X uses include absenteeism rates, employee turnover rates, and productivity.

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The fifth and final question was about ethical issues that Mrs. X encounters during her work as an HRM director. The interviewee said that HR departments at organizations encounter a variety of issues such as employment problems, cash, and incentive plans, employee discrimination, privacy issues, safety, and health, as well as restructuring and layoffs. For instance, in terms of employment issues, Mrs. X was often challenged by the hire friends or relatives for the positions of highly placed executives. She mentioned that several acquaintances were hired to the organization but only based on their expertise and skills and not because the HRM knew them. Employee discrimination was also an ethical challenge as she had to deal with arguments among workers who discriminated against each other based on race. Mrs. X said that she had to make a complicated decision to let some workers go because of their statements. Performance appraisals were also indicated as challenging because of the ethical dilemma of assigning higher rates to workers who may not be deserving of them but rather based on unrelated factors such as closeness to the management. On the other hand, some employees are given low scores despite their high performance. Although Mrs. X said that she had always avoided making such an unethical mistake, her subordinates were caught making unfair appraisals, which led to the undervaluing of some employees. As a supervisor, Mrs. X conducted another appraisal to give fair scores to workers based on their engagement and performance. Also, she carried out a meeting with other HR managers to instruct them to be fair in their evaluations and not allow their interests and feelings to influence their decisions during appraisals.

Closing Statement

I would like to thank Mrs. X for participating in this important interview and offering first-hand insight into the practice of Human Resource Management and the complexities of the job. In my opinion, the experience that Mrs. X has in the field can be used for the learning and guidance of future professionals in the field of HRM. Since the work of a Human Resource professional is associated directly with dealing with people, a true specialist in the field understands what is best for employees since they are people and have opinions and concerns that may impact the work at organizations. The interview showed me that a positive environment and collaboration among workers had a significant impact on improving the perceptions of workers about their jobs as well as boosting their motivation and participation. Continuous training and development have also been shown to be an important component of successful HR management.

References

Doyle, A. (2020). Difference between an exempt and a non-exempt employee. Web. 

EEOC. The age discrimination in employment act of 1967. Web.

Entrepreneur Editorial Team. (2019). How to improve collaboration within the workforce. Entrepreneur. Web.

Karim, M., Choudhury, M., & Bin Latif, W. (2019). The impact of training and development on employees’ performance: An analysis of quantitative data. The International Journal of Business and Management Research, 3(2), 25-33.

US Department of Labor. Overtime. Web.

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