Human resource management is one of the most crucial activities that relate to managing the employee and employee-related activities in an organization.
Human Resource Management is the most important function in every organization. Human resources deal with the issues related to people such as compensation, managing the performance, development of the organization, safety, wellness, benefits, motivation of employees, communication, administration, and training. A large organization usually has a separate human resource department for this while in a small organization this is done by the general manager. In many countries, the human resource function is directly or indirectly influenced by politics. The major impact of politics in an organization is the formation of a trade union. Trade unions are formed by the employees of the organization by forming an alliance with any of the political parties of the country or the region. This paper deals with HR functions in general, the HR department of the Canadian company called Alcan, and the influence of politics on HR functions.
“Human Resource Management (HRM) is the function within an organization that focuses on recruitment, management, and providing direction for the people who work in the organization. Human Resource Management can also be performed by line managers.” (Heathfield).
Human resources are the most important asset of the organization. So the human resources department has to use it effectively. The main objective of human resources is to maximize the return on human capital and reduce financial risk. So human resources manager is responsible for conducting the activities in an efficient and fair manner.
“Attracting, retaining, motivating, and developing people with varied interests and expectations is a major HR challenge.” (Introduction to Human Resource Management 2007).
Functions of Human resource management
The functions of human resources management are divided into two types. They are management functions and operative functions. The management functions are planning, organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, and coordinating. The operative functions are procurement, training, and development, wages and administration, health and safety.
Managing people is the heart and essence of being a manager. Thus a personnel manager must perform the basic functions of management. His functions involve planning, organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, reporting, and budgeting the work.
“Planning is the determination of personnel programs and changes in advance that will contribute to the organizational goals. In other words, it involves the planning of human resources requirement, recruitment, selection, training, etc.”(Managerial functions of HRM). Planning is the foundation of the actions of any enterprise. Planning is a predetermined course of action. It is the determination of plans, programs, strategies, and procedures to achieve the desired organizational goals. Proper planning avoids problems that may arise in the future. Planning requires the ability to think, analyze, predict, control the actions of its personnel, analyze the problems, and make a decision. The most important features of planning are research and forecasting. These two are interrelated because planning is the result of forecasting. Planning should be able to predict the trends in wages, labor market, union demands, etc. Thus planning has to be done in advance so that unanticipated problems and events may be properly dealt with.
After a course of action has been determined it is important to establish an organization to carry it out. An organization is a structure or framework to allocate the different functions among its members. An organization is “an arrangement of people and resources working in a planned manner toward specified strategic goals.” (Business Definition for Organization 2008). An organization is a structure or framework to allocate the different functions among its members. This is done by designing the structure of relationships among jobs, personnel, and physical factors. It consists of the assignment of specific functions to different persons or departments with the authority to carry out them and their accountability to the management for the result obtained. It seeks to achieve the maximum result with the minimum effort by decentralization.
Staffing is a very important function of human resource managers. Every organization requires the right people to perform its activities. Staffing is the process of finding the right people with the right abilities and skills and fit for the organization. The staffing process is a complex process involving manpower planning, developing sources for recruitment, employment decisions, induction and orientation, transfers, promotion, and demotions, etc. The job description and the job specifications are used as a tool for the process of job analysis. The HR department specifies the job title, the department, and the number of employees required in an organization. They attract qualified applicants through advertisements and select the best candidate through interviews.
Directing is an important function in human resource management. “Directing is influencing people’s behavior through motivation, communication, group dynamics, leadership, and discipline. The purpose of directing is to channel the behavior of all personnel to accomplish the organization’s mission and objectives while simultaneously helping them accomplish their own career objectives.” (ERVEN, 1999).
Direction involves getting persons together and asking them to work willingly and effectively for the achievement of organizational goals. The top management takes the decision by consulting the personnel department. It involves supervising and guiding the personnel of the enterprise. To execute plans direction is essential. The success of the organization depends upon the direction of things rather than their design. Direction consists of motivation and leadership. The personnel manager should be a good motivator. At the same time, he must be a leader and able to exercise leadership styles that are suitable to the organization. He should have the capacity to lead and motivate the employees to work.
Coordinating and controlling
Coordinating refers to balancing, timing, and integrating activities in an organization so that unity of action for a common purpose is achieved. Coordination in the management of personnel takes place at all levels that are from the top management to the bottom level workers. The personnel department has to coordinate the activities of developing; reviewing personnel policies, training, and development, employee benefits, job evaluation, etc. Controlling is the act of checking and verifying whether everything occurs in conformity with the plan already adopted. It is through the process of controlling the actions and operations are adjusted to predetermined standards. This process provides management with actual performance information for comparison with the predetermined standards and enables them to take corrective measures immediately. Controlling also makes an individual aware of their performance through review reports, records and personnel audits, etc. Controlling is necessary to ensure that activities are being carried out in accordance with stated plans.
The operative function is concerned with the activities dealing with procuring, developing, compensation, integration, and maintenance of efficient employees.
It is concerned to obtain the proper kind and number of personnel needed to achieve the organizational goal. It basically deals with manpower recruitment such as recruitment, selection, and placement, induction, orientation, etc
“It is the process of searching for prospective employees and stimulating them to apply for jobs in an organization.” (Operating Functions of HRM).
Recruitment of prospective candidates is a planned approach by the management. Recruitment is of two types of sources i.e. Internal and external. Internal sources are selecting the employee within the organization when a vacancy arises. It is good for the organization because the existing employees can already know the rules and regulations of the organization, and there is no need for special training and moreover, this will help to increase the reputation of the organization among the employee. Internal recruitment is made either by promotion or transfer of an employee. Promotion refers to shifting an employee from one job to another with an increase in salary and responsibility. The transfer of an employee refers to the shifting of an employee from one position to another without any increase in salary or responsibility. The external source is selecting the employee from outside the organization. Both internal and external recruitment has their merits and demerits. The choice of recruitment method depends upon the vacancy and the HR practices of an organization.
It is concerned with collecting relevant information about the applicant. The objective of the selection process is to know whether the applicant had the required qualification for the specific job and chooses the applicant who is most appropriate for that job.
“It is the process of assigning the selected candidate with the most suitable job in terms of job requirements. It is matching of employees specifications with job requirements.” (Operative Functions of HRM).
By proper placement of workers reduces turnover of employees, absenteeism, and rate of accidents and also helps to improve morale.
Induction and orientation
Induction and orientation are given to new employees to be familiar with the organization’s rules and regulations. They will help to understand the company’s objective, policy, programs, etc so that the new employee will also try to achieve the goal of the organization.
It is concerned with the development of employees by increasing their skills through training so that job performance is achieved. In this stage, the employees are provided training programs and they are also arranged for, job training, vestibule training, holding seminars and conferences and providing them vocational counseling and appraising employee potential and performance are undertaken under this function.
It is concerned with providing adequate and equitable remuneration to personnel for their contribution to achieving the organizational goal. The compensation function includes the function relating to wage survey, job classification, job description, job analysis, wage system, etc.
“Integration of human resources with the organization through job enlargement, job evaluation, variable compensation plans, disciplinary action programs.” (Importance of HRM Functions).
It deals with improving the condition that has to be established. The personnel department is responsible for maintaining the physical condition of the employees. The basic purpose is to assist in achieving the organizational basic objective.
The HRM function of Alcan
Alcan was incorporated in 1902 as a northern Aluminum Company. It is the largest aluminum company and it is considered the world’s third-largest company after its parent company Alcoa. Alcan is giving more importance to human resources.
HRM has the virtue of emphasizing the need to treat people as key resources, the management of which is the direct concern of top management as a part of strategic planning processes of the enterprises”.
Human Resources Management
It is necessary for an HR leader to improve efficiency and service continuously through initiatives such as shared services and outsourcing. Alcan is mainly looking for high skilled workers, dedicating and productive workforce.
Human Resource activities in Alcan
Alcan gives more importance to its human resource activities. There is a Human resource committee in Alcan to carry out the HR activities. “With a broad responsibility to review all human resources policy and employee relations matters, this committee is responsible for periodically reviewing the overall management organization structure, succession planning for senior management, reviewing recommendations for the appointment of Executive Officers and making recommendations based on trends in the area of human resources management.” (Corporate Governance 2005).
Training and development
Alcan is providing various training programs for employees. The training programs are Professional qualification training, Key qualification training, Environmental health and safety training, corporate training. Alcan also offers a development program for managers.
“Alcan’s executive compensation policies cover cash compensation and benefits including pensions, and are designed to enable Alcan to attract and retain highly qualified people to carry out the objectives of the organization.” (Compensation – General 1995-2008).
All the employees in Alcan receive regular feedback and Alcan offers them a competitive total compensation package. Alcan’s total compensation package includes.
Base salary and incentives
Alcan offers fair and equitable salaries to its employees. Their compensation plans are designed in such a way to help the organization attract and retain the most capable employees and help them to achieve the objectives.
Benefits and pension plans
“Alcan’s policy is to offer globally competitive benefits. The programs are designed to provide employees with adequate protection in the event of catastrophic personal situations. All benefits programs reinforce the Company’s values and strategies.” (Competitive Compensation and Recognition 2008).
Recruitment & Selection
Alcan is using the internet for its recruitment process. This company selects the employees how to have good talent and value. For such kinds of employees, they give full opportunities to develop their full potential.
Political factors affect the organization and its functioning in many ways. Politics means the ways in which people gain and use power in organizations. “Intrigue or maneuvering within a political unit or group in order to gain control or power.” (Politics 2008). Political involvement arises when a dispute exists between the employers and the employees. The individuals in an organization engage in political activities to enhance their power. The potential for politics arises when disagreement exists. Power and politics seem to go hand in hand.
“Promotion decisions have consistently been found to be one of the most political actions in organizations. The opportunity for promotions or advancement encourages people to compete for a limited resource and to try to positively influence the decision outcome”.
Organizational politics is an essential part of every organization. This will help to build team building and thus ensure communication and coordination and also helps to create a framework for decision making. In order to have an effective organization, the manager must know the politics of the organization. This will help the organization to achieve productivity. So it is essential for every manager to know the politics of the organization and use it in a good manner. Alcan is contributing to political parties. Alcan participates in political processes, on the basis of local laws and with the help of guidelines set in the code.
“Negative organizational politics hamper creativity, productivity, fairness, motivation, teamwork, and a host other critical issues that almost everybody knows but is not allowed to speak about in the official hierarchy”
So the organizational politics is to be handled in a good manner otherwise it will create many organizational disputes. Everybody must be aware of organizational politics so that it is managed in a good manner.
“Organizational politics can be described as self-serving and manipulative behavior of individuals and groups to promote their self-interests at the expense of others, and sometimes even organizational goals as well”
Organizational politics and human resources function are interrelated. It had been said that employees at lower levels perceive higher politics than the top level in the organization. Moreover, they proposed that are centrally controlled are inherently higher political. Individuals who are very expert in playing politics may get a good job and also they will get a career-related reward. Organizational politics includes the perception of employees according to their hierarchy level, locus of control, and satisfaction level.
HR managers have a certain power over employees and it is natural that politics play a hand in HR activities. Most of the victims of office politics seem to find themselves out of a job. Other causalities include being denied promotion or find themselves targets of long hours of work or end up having to do unpleasant duties. A well-managed company should theoretically have no in-house politics. But in reality, it is difficult to keep an organization entirely free from politics. Politics plays a part because of power, favoritism, trade unionism, the need to keep out employees who find no favor with the bosses, etc. Office politics even causes good employees to leave for better work environments. “They are so focused on their work and they will never have time to keep a check on ‘political’ issues happening around them. Finally, they would fall prey for this ‘politics’ and will decide to move on.” (Murugesan 2004-2008).
Even after an extensive search of secondary sources, politics does not seem to influence the HR activities of Alcan significantly. There might exist some level of politics in the company because as mentioned earlier, it would not be possible to keep any organization totally free from politics. But it can be said that there is not too much interference with reference to Alcan.
Therefore it can be concluded that politics and human resource functions in an organization are very closely related. The political factor usually has a dual effect on the organization and its functioning. It has both positive as well as a negative effects. But it all depends upon the nature of the political party involved. The political situation prevailing in the country influences the political environment in an organization. Positively a better political environment is useful for protecting the interest of the employees by way of disputing with the employers. The employees are also able to oppose any unethical practices of the management towards the employees. Thus a better political environment will foster a good organizational relationship. There are also negative effects of the political environment. Sometimes the trade unions conduct unwanted strikes or lockouts for demanding more from the employers than they actually deserve. This phenomenon will reduce organizational efficiency.
Strikes and lockouts in the organization will lead to wastage of resources and time which are very much important for organizational effectiveness. The top management should also be cautious while they deal with the trade unions. They should try to accept the needs of the employees without suppressing the interest of the organization. If such a strategy is followed no political influence can be created on the functioning and effectiveness of the organization.
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