Learning Outcome 1
Human Resources is seen as the “new approach” to Personnel Management where instead of fixing something after the event things are put in place on a “what if” basis instead. Within Human Resources, staffs are given more responsibility for their roles and actions rather than being told what to do and when to do it. Human Resources also see’s each employee as an individual rather than grouping everyone together as was previously done with Personnel Management.
Human Resources also uses a structured pay level e.g. two people doing the same job but one has more responsibilities than the other would see that person have a larger salary than the other whereas Personnel Management would have seen them on the same pay scale.
Human Resources have also introduced the idea that each member of an organisation is a valued member of the team and their ideas and experience are vital to the organisation therefore policies and procedures are tailored towards this such as performance based salary or bonuses.
Another way in which Human Resources has changed the working environment is during the recruitment process; Line Managers are now given more input when recruiting new staff where before any recruiting was the responsibility of the Personnel Department.
Previously the Personnel Department were there to offer a welfare service to members of staff but the introduction of Human Resources changed this and recognises that staff is the most important asset that an organisation has.
The following are two different definitions of Human Resources:
“ a strategic and coherent approach to the management of an organisation’s most valued assets – the people working there who individually and collectively contribute to the achievement of its goal” Armstrong (1999)1
“Human resource management is a distinctive approach to employment management which seeks to obtain competitive advantage through the strategic deployment of a highly committed and skilled workforce, using an array of cultural, structural and personnel techniques” Storey (1995)2
The roots of personnel management are situated within the nineteenth century and stem from the work of Social Reformers such as Lord Shaftesbury and Robert Owen. They condemned the exploitation of workers and facilitated the appointment of the first personnel managers. With this in mind some of the larger employers developed a more paternalistic outlook to make life less harsh for workers. Welfare officers were appointed to oversee new initiatives such as unemployment benefits, sick pay and subsidised housing. There was both a business and ethical case for employers to care for their employees it enabled the company to retain trained staff and recruit easily, there were better employee relations which in turn increased productivity.
The second phase of personnel management was moving away from the sole focus of welfare and towards other organisational design such as staffing and training. Social scientists such as F.W Taylor and Henri Fayol 3 saw the idea of social relationships to be constructive towards employee morale this led to labour being utilised to maximum efficiency and increase productivity. The Humane bureaucracy stage is said to be influenced by the Human Relation School which sought to improve the potential for industrial conflict if the scientific approach was used