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Research paper topic: Hrm : A Comparison Of Hrm Strategies In Two Local Companies - 1031 words

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.. ns. A good example of the ill effects that unprepared and poorly controlled employees can have is the demise of Ford UK. Ford has struggled for years to educate their employees into a flexible mold, in an attempt to stem the tide of advancement from foreign firms. The poor quality of HRM at Ford prevented management from adapting to match the cost effectiveness and quality of certain Japanese and German car firms.

The famous Ford employee quote, Im not doing that! Its not in my job description., sums up the inherent lack of flexibility in the culture of Fords employees. This culture, predictably has ended with the halting of the majority of Fords manufacture in the UK, and moves to countries with more readily-moldable staff. Snell et al (1996) argued that adaptation of so-called flexible forms of work is correlated with firms operating in a competitive market, having technology which requires high levels of skill, engaging in customized production, and following a strategy that emphasizes variety and quality an contrast to low cost. Thus, offering skilled employees high level of involvement, autonomy, training, good wages and benefits can be seen as a way to attract, motivate, and keep qualified employees who will be committed to the long-term goals of the company. It is often argued that the effects of a flexible, competent and committed workforce results in a highly productive organisation, which in turn gives the employees job security and a decent standard of living. Thus, the relationship between HRM strategy and company performance is heavily linked with labour market flexibility.

It is essential for a company to have staff that are flexible in every different way, if they are going to respond competitively to the market. Begin (1992) identified four different types of flexibility required. External numerical flexibility the freedom to adjust the size of the work force. Internal numerical flexibility the ability to adjust the working hours of the employees. Functional flexibility the freedom to deploy workers across different tasks within the company.

Financial flexibility the ability to adjust employee rewards, i.e. pay, bonuses, etc. Looking back to the Ford example, you can see that the management did not have the freedom to adjust any of these without risking extreme actions such as walk-outs, which would reduce productivity to an extent where it would have been more efficient to continue without change. A good example of competitive advantage being increased due to strategic human resource management is that of ICL Ltd. ICL were formed in the 1970s at the very beginning of the IT revolution. Originally, they constructed their own systems and provided IT solutions to industry.

From the early 1990s their profit levels dropped steadily until 1997 when drastic action was taken. HRM consultants were hired who suggested an adoption of a best practice policy. The company was severely shaken up and remolded as a forerunner of good HRM practice. Several best practices were adopted, including better internal career opportunities, more intensive staff training systems, bi-yearly performance appraisals with a bonus package for staff who had shown development since the last appraisal, a profit sharing scheme, and a radical change in working methods by the formation of small project groups. In the past three years, profitability has increased dramatically, staff turnover has decreased and productivity per employee is higher than it ever has been. This shows just how important an effective HR function is at influencing the success of an organisation. Peter and Waterman (1982) carried out a study of successful American companies and identified a number of characteristics common among them all. One of these characteristics was productivity through people.

This is where the company sees their employees as a key resource, and vital to the success of the firm. The contribution of the staff to the organisation was valued as a key provider of competitive advantage to each firm studied. Another common characteristic was what they termed simultaneous loose-tight properties. This basically means the company values are strongly emphasized at all times, but staff were given considerable freedom within these, and errors were tolerated. They also identified a shift in the importance of corporate culture from bureaucratic structural based working to the style and skills of their workforce. Four key factors relating to excellence were discovered.

These are concern for customers, innovation, attention to people and a strong leadership. All the firms studied that displayed these characteristics were found to be highly productive class leaders. 3 Conclusion There are a great many theories and practices believed in by HRM writers. What is apparent out of all these different models is that strategic human resource management is vital to the ongoing success of an organisation in todays highly competitive market place. It is apparent that all of the HRM models discussed (universalistic, resource-based, configurational) are relevant and useful to organisations.

The methods used just depend on the size and structure of each company. It is widely accepted, except in monopoly situations, that the key to having happy customers is to employ staff that treat them well. If your staff are happy with the organisation they are going to project a good image to the consumers, thus attracting more business. So, how do you get happy staff? With the use of strategic HRM. If you can obtain employees who are sufficiently trained for their role, who understand that if they perform well they will receive a bountiful remuneration, along with the chance to better their position within the company, they will perform to their absolute best for you. Peter and Waterman (1982) discovered that the singular most outstanding aspects of all the companies studied in their report was an intelligent, well-trained flexible workforce.

This goes to show the undeniable gains made possible to industry through strategic use of human resource management. Bibliography 5 Bibliography Achieving corporate success through people, Burn, 1998 Building competitive advantage, Snell & Bateman, 1999 Building the competitive workforce: Investing in human capital for corporate success, Wovis, 1993 Business driven HRM, Hussey, 1996 HRM: A contemporary perspective, Beardwell & Holden, 1997 HRM trends and challenges, Walton & Lawrence, 1985 Human Resource Management, Torrington & Hall, 1995 Working for Ford, Beynon, 1988 People Management journal HRM Human Resources Internet guide to Human Resource Management http://guest.btinternet.com/~alan.price/hrm/site.h tm Business.

Related: comparison, methods used, human resources, working hours, ford

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