Westonwich District Council: HRM Challenges

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Introduction

Today, issues aimed at managing human resources in public service have gained particular relevance. Human resource management needs to be less focused on administrative methods and increasingly more directed towards the implementation of personnel policy, which is based on the system of interests of the civil servant and government bodies (Bozeman and Su, 2015). Therefore, there is the need for the latest scientific knowledge and effective technologies in the field of human resource management, methods of development and management of the workforce, the study of innovative technologies in working with personnel. The use of modern technologies for HRM is a promising direction for the development of human resources in the state and municipal service. The potential of their use will be shown below using the example of the Westonwich District Council (WDC), which provides a range of local government services to a predominantly rural population.

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State of the Art: Survey Findings

The survey conducted among WDC employees showed alarming trends: 54% of the respondents are actively seeking alternative employment. This fact testifies the crucial ineffectiveness of motivation and retention strategies and approaches applied at WDC. The findings can be categorized as the following: responsibility, participation, and promotion; work/life balance and workplace stress; financial reward and incentives; organizational culture and diversity. Although some categories demonstrate rather good results, others indicate significant problems. The best results were obtained in the category of responsibility, participation, and promotion: 61% find their work rewarding, 44% are satisfied with the variety of work, and the level of satisfaction with the level of responsibility, as well as employees’ perception of promotion opportunities are high and corresponds to the best standards even in commercial organizations – 71% and 70% of WDC employees accordingly are satisfied by these parameters (Wilkinson, Armstrong and Lounsbury, 2017). At the same time, even in this category, some problems are evident – only 32% are satisfied with their training and development opportunities, which indicates not only the lack of proper corporate training, talent management, and workforce development but also improperly built system of promotion, not based on employees’ professional growth. This likely will lead to the problems in promotion system in the future, as the system has no basis connected with employees’ competitive advantages and already currently represents lost opportunities and benefits due to not using the full potential of organizational performance.

WDC employees are dissatisfied with the excessive workload – 89% stated that their jobs have become increasingly stressful in recent years, and 90% say that they ‘sometimes feel stressed’ when they are at work. This is a critical alarming signal for WDC, requiring immediate actions on balancing work responsibilities and load for employees, restructuring teams, introducing effective business processes, and improving corporate information systems (IS). At the same time, 55% are happy with their work-life balance, which is quite a surprising result taking into account the two above mentioned. Nevertheless, this gives ‘space’ for team building and conducting training in frames of organizational changes in the process of business process reengineering and modifications of corporate IS. Here, however, one should take into account that only 15% say change is managed well by WDC – thus, before planning and all the more so introducing any changes, an appropriate change model should be chosen, based on theoretical implications and applicability for WDC specifics.

Organizational culture and diversity can be characterized as rather ambiguous. Some indices are quite satisfactory: 61% find their work to be rewarding, 13% enjoy it ‘greatly’; 59% are satisfied with their physical work environment, and 88% are happy with the council’s equality and diversity practices. At the same time, only 28% are considering themselves ‘listened to when they are at work’, 37% are satisfied with the ‘amount of discretion’ they are allowed to exercise in their jobs. Although these parameters can be attributed to the first category – responsibility, participation, and promotion – in the context of WDC HRM practices research it is more expedient to consider them in the category of organizational culture, as it is one of the most important factors in today motivational systems in any organizations, both in the commercial sector and in public administration. Analyzing the results for this category of answers shows that positive aspects of organizational culture and diversity are rather due to legislative requirements for the organizations of the public administration sector than to the conscious efforts of WDC leaders. They have to provide employees with ergonomic workplaces and observe diversity quotas but, as it is evident from the overall results of the survey, the organization does not use advantages and potential of diversity to improve organizational performance, as commercial organizations do. Moreover, only 36% are happy with their job security – this is much less even than the admissible value in business sector companies, and is surprisingly low for public administration organizations (Esteve and Shuster, 2019). Being ‘catalyzed’ by weak engagement and dissatisfaction with material incentives (21% are satisfied with their pay and benefits, but no-one says they are ‘very satisfied’), this situation can lead to a kind of catastrophic situation with staffing in WDC and, as a consequence, providing appropriate services to the covered population.

Key Issues

Based on the above brief analysis of the situation, it can be said that the most crucial issues to pay attention to are our lack of talent management and well-organized business processes, representing two core approaches to the treatment of employees’ motivation. Motivation as a direction of psychology is based on a certain psychological and scientific apparatus. The science of HRM considers two groups of theories of motivation – substantive and procedural. Substantive theories involve relying on human needs, ranking them in various ways. The supporters of this theory include Maslow with his concept of the pyramid of needs, McClelland and Herzberg, sd well as some other American psychologists and researchers (Garley, 2015). At the same time, procedural theories prefer taking into account not only the needs of the individual as the basis for the formation of the reward system. They suggest that employees’ work and organizational behavior is largely based on a person’s internal attitudes and expectations. These theories attempt to analyze how an individual chooses a certain type of behavior and to influence the factors that determine this choice (Garley, 2015). Proponents of procedural theories of motivation believe that an employee, having assessed tasks and the amount of remuneration for their implementation, proportions the challenge with own intentions, motivations, and expectations and chooses a certain type of behavior (Vokic and Hernaus, 2017). He/she sets goals based on the tasks offered but reduces and modifies them by own value orientations.

Motivating and incentivizing staff is the most problematic at WDC, according to a survey. Most employees are dissatisfied with the remuneration system and in their answers emphasized its imperfection, the absence of forms of non-material incentives. However, with the limited material resources allocated, the organization needs to rely on non-material methods of motivation, especially since they have long been recognized as much more effective in the long-term strategic plane than purely financial motivation tools.

Attempts of modern scientists and practitioners to create effective working approaches to motivate and stimulate employees are not always productive due to the high complexity and indeterminacy of motivational factors and related processes. However, researchers of this problem are unanimous in the opinion that the interest of staff in achieving high labor results is a source of increasing the efficiency of the organization’s functioning, a prerequisite for the implementation of its strategy, a guarantee of an increase in potential and competitive status (Wilcox, 2016). The actualization of this problem is substantiated by research results: motivation increases labor productivity up to 1.5 times (while demotivation decreases it several times), allows reducing delays by 90%, absenteeism – by 18-50% (Sparrow, 2015). With high motivation, the professional potential and competencies of an employee are realized quite fully – by 70-80%, while with low motivation, at best, by 20-30%. By increasing the motivation of employees, it is possible to increase their productivity by 2-3 times (Garley, 2015). With the limitedness of most types of material, technical, raw materials, financial and other types of resources, effective motivation makes it possible to ensure the achievement of high-performance indicators of the organization through the activation of human capital, that is, without large investments, which makes the problem of motivation especially relevant for WDC.

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In particular, employee involvement represents the degree to which the values of the employee coincide with the values of the organization. The effectiveness of this activity can be assessed only through the satisfaction and involvement of staff. Engagement is the most important sociological characteristic of the team (Garley, 2015). In essence, it is analogous to the economic characteristic of its production activity – labor productivity. Engagement directly affects the performance of an organization, that is, with minimal investment of money and time, an optimal result is achieved (Niranjan and Thomas, 2018). A talented employee is devoted to the organization, for him/her work is the most important part of life, and he/she always strives for growth and development, likes responsibility, knows how to set goals and achieve them.

In turn, a high level of engagement can be ensured through an effective talent management system. The term “talent” in the talent management concept denotes a system of individually-specific characteristics of an employee, which includes abilities and personality traits, knowledge, skills and experience, motivation features, including motivation for learning, and professional growth and development (Rozman, Treven and Cancer, 2017). Such a system of characteristics makes it possible to obtain a result of labor that is distinguished by novelty, high quality, and social significance, and must correspond to the characteristics and content of the professional activity of the subject of labor, as well as the strategic goals of the organization. Accordingly, the talent management process is a purposeful activity carried out to create in an organization a system of recruiting, developing, and retaining such employees who can provide high labor results that meet the criteria of quality, novelty, and social significance (Sheridan, 2015). At the same time, talent must be considered from the standpoint of the strategic goals of the organization, its corporate culture, and the general context of activities.

One can say that talent management is becoming an increasingly important aspect in improving organizational performance. As one of the approaches of strategic HRM, it interacts with the rest of management functions, focusing its attention on one of the key resources of the organization – the people who implement the organizational strategy. Talent management is the implementation of an integrated approach to managing various HR processes, including recruiting, onboarding, development and training, performance management, leadership, and career planning (Greene, 2020). At the same time, talent management initiatives are impossible without well-adjusted and well-defined business processes, in the conditions of organizational chaos or excessive workload that prevents employees from working on their development and manifesting initiative and involvement. Innovative processes encourage HR functions to integrate with the organization’s business processes in real-time.

The workload of the staff can be called, without exaggeration, a reflection of the company’s health. It should be borne in mind that even if one of the employees in the chain is loaded for 8 hours, while others are overloaded or underloaded, this can also be regarded as a failure in the business process, which requires neutralization. In this context, the main goal of business process reengineering is to significantly improve all indicators of the company’s performance. Accordingly, this process should lead to maximum efficiency in the work of every part of the company, be it people or equipment (Bhaskar, 2017). At the same time, it is important not to randomly load employees so that they are constantly in an emergency mode of performing endless tasks, but to clearly define all functions for pre-built business processes (Mavetera et al., 2015). Each employee should have instruction according to which he/she will perform the actions. It should be developed taking into account the work of calculating the time spent on performing a particular function and time for rest, which is also necessary to improve the quality of performance of certain actions.

Recommendations

Employee engagement arises when the organization has established all the mechanisms of work and represents that very spark that gives impetus to inspiration. Among the tools for talent management in the public administration, the following exclusive practices can be distinguished: the practice of “social elevators”, the opportunity to study abroad and specialized programs for the training and retraining of servants, the creation of a personnel reserve (Deters, 2017). Along with the exclusive ones, the following inclusive tools are used: the institute of mentoring, personnel rotation mechanisms, within the framework of the concept of a new model of civil service; a tool for assessing and rewarding civil servants based on performance is being formed, which is directly related to talent management. One of the tasks of talent management is to prevent talent leakage and create the right conditions for employees. Talented team members need to be given interesting projects, provide opportunities for further training and professional development. The most important factor in professional and career development, as well as professional environment and recognition.

Building a talent management system begins with attracting high-potential specialists. To do this, HR managers will have to learn and apply HR marketing tools. They will create a positive image of the organization and bring to the team specialists with values relevant to the corporate culture. A talent management program must necessarily include staff development. It is important not only to use what the company specialist has been endowed with but also to develop his/her abilities in the right direction to achieve better results and greater benefits. This is facilitated by the organization of training and advanced training of personnel in any format, be it mentoring, training, or course. This point in the talent management system can help keep specialists in the company, motivate, and develop a career development plan. In addition, caring for talented employees creates the image of the organization that invests in its team.

As part of the talent management system, the growth of employees can mean not only moving up the career ladder but also being involved in new promising projects, expanding areas of responsibility. At the same time, the organization, in turn, receives the result from the fullest use of creative ideas, experience, and capabilities of employees. Career coaching also seems appropriate, as it will help the employee to navigate the situation, develop an attitude to what is happening, determine own development and learning plan. Many organizations have already established their career management systems. However, it does not work effectively without the use of career coaching, since it does not affect the deeper personal level (Cauvier, 2018). One of the tasks of career coaching is working with intrinsic motivation, identifying the potential of a talented employee, and identifying ways to realize it. Intrinsic motivation grows when an employee is aware of what goal he needs to achieve, has an idea of his strengths, and uses this knowledge to benefit. Hence, self-satisfaction increases and the organization creates an environment that attracts and retains talented employees.

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Without a complete understanding of the current situation, a description of existing business processes, and the involvement of employees in the process, high-quality optimization is impossible. To optimize a business process, an understanding of the principles of operation is required, or rather, an illustration of its functioning and historical information. The latter is stored in ERP systems, MS Office programs such as Excel. It is extracted from there using process mining – methods for constructing business processes based on the study of data on operations performed in the system. To get an illustration, it is enough to read the regulations or communicate with colleagues.

As for the direct implementation of reengineering, for WDC, due to its specificity – belonging to the public administration sector and limited resources – the Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) method seems to be the most optimal. The CPI method plans a process with advanced steps that fit new operational needs (Wilkinson, Armstrong, and Lounsbury, 2017). Its basis is the methodology of process management, which implies a long period of improvement of activities, like a continuous production process. According to this method, innovations in business processes should be carried out in stages. First, they are implemented in separate departments of the organization. If the result is positive, then one can start the implementation stage throughout the company as a whole. At the same time, personnel training is being conducted and new technologies are being transferred.

Conclusion

To establish business processes in WDC, making them effective, understandable, working, consistent, it is necessary to start with employees. Namely, the personnel must understand the purpose and methods of any event, understand why everything is being started and where it leads. Only in this case, the optimization of business processes will be effective, beneficial and will increase the efficiency of activities while saving time and effort.

Reference List

Bhaskar, H. L. (2017) ‘Business process reengineering: a process based management tool,’ Serbian Journal of Management, 13(1), pp. 63-87.

Bozeman, B. and Su, X. (2015) ‘Public service motivation concepts and theory: a critique,’ Public Administration Review, 75(5), pp. 700-710.

Cauvier, D. (2018) Strategic Talent Management: How to boost your profits in a disruptive economy. Paramount: Dax Enterprises International.

Deters, J. (2017) Global leadership talent management: successful selection of global leadership talents as an integrated process. Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing.

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Esteve, M. and Shuster, C. (2019) Motivating public employees. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Garley, S. (2015) Workplace motivation. Scotts Valley: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Greene, R. J. (2020) Strategic talent management: creating the right workforce. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Mavetera, C. G., Huisman, M., Mavetera, N., and Lubbe, S. (2015) ‘An investigation of a specific system development methodology for business process reengineering,’ Alternation, 22(1), pp. 351-366.

Niranjan, S. and Thomas, M. (2018) ‘The impact of employee engagement on employee loyalty,’ International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development, 2(3), pp. 324-331.

Rozman, M., Treven, S., and Cancer, V. (2017) ‘Motivation and satisfaction of employees in the workplace,’ Business Systems Research Journal, 8(2), pp. 14-23.

Sheridan, K. (2015) What exactly is employee engagement, Web.

Sparrow, P. (2015) Strategic talent management: contemporary issues in international context. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Wilcox, M. (2016) Effective talent management: aligning strategy, people and performance. Abingdon, UK Taylor & Francis.

Vokic, N. and Hernaus, T. (2017) ‘The triad of job satisfaction, work engagement and employee loyalty – The interplay among the concepts,’ Efzg Serija Članaka u Nastajanju, 15(7), pp. 1-13.

Wilkinson, A., Armstrong, S., and Lounsbury, M. (2017) The Oxford handbook of management. Oxford, UK: OUP Oxford.

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