Human Resource ManagementHow people can enhance an organization

Published July 2011 Updated April 2017 13 lectures
Prof. Adrian Wilkinson
Director, Center for Work, Organization and Wellbeing Griffith Business School, Australia
Summary

Human resources management (HRM) is concerned with the way in which organizations manage their people. It is often said that the most important assets walk (some even run) out the door every day. Much of the interest in the HRM ‘revolution’ saw HRM as a distinctive approach, attempting to develop... read moreand fully utilize the potential of human resources in pursuit of the organization’s strategic objectives. It is the promise that is held by this latter view that has most excited practitioners (Redman and Wilkinson 2008).

The field of HRM continues to evolve in today’s organizations as a response to the economic, technological and social realities that influence the nature of business and work. But while many accept the premise that HRM issues are critical in today’s organizations, the notion of ‘people being our most valued asset’ has been promulgated more than practiced. Historically, competitive strategies have not been based on the skills of employees and in fact, labor is still often viewed merely as a cost to be minimized (Wilkinson et al 2009).

In the main, developments in HRM have been driven by large-scale organizational changes as employers adjust to a much more competitive global economic environment. To meet the challenges posed by intense competition, organizations have been downsized, de-layered and decentralized. The type of staff employed and the way they are organized has also undergone considerable change in the new organizational form. Employees work part-time, work away from the workplace and can be subcontractors, consultants and temps. The boundaries between work and home are now much more blurred and employment has to be managed across organizational boundaries. These include public and private partnerships, franchises, agencies and other forms of inter-firm contractual relations which have a major impact on work and employment. Here the relevance of HRM comes to the fore as new forms of work and organization require new HRM strategies and practices. Due to this a number of commentators now argue that there is a need to reconstruct the ‘psychological contract’ between employer and employee. There is a dual focus both on the needs and concerns of employees in organizations, as well as their potential contribution as resources contributing to organizational performance.

This series will examine how senior managers develop strategies that build and deploy their workforce in ways that enhance firm performance. It will look at how staff are attached to the organization and how this involves a sense of engagement and well-being. It will identify individual practices that ensure that employees are able and motivated to perform effectively as the management of talent, learning and reward are vital in order for an organization to fulfil its particular needs. The series will also look outwards to wider global issues concerning people management and focus on the continued importance of human resource management for both organizational performance and employee well-being. The speakers for this series aim to be critical but pragmatic; they are wary of quick fixes and prescriptive checklists. The emphasis of the series is on the implications of HRM research for practice.