“Things are happening in employment that are neither a cause nor an effect of HRM but which could have some impact on it. These include the intensification of work, the choices of work location provided by technology and the diverse nature of a society in which many are idle and impoverished while many others are seriously over-worked. ” (Guest, 1998:51) Discuss how the link between the HRM department and line managers might enable a company to manage its human resources in such an environment.
Since the industrial revolution, organisations have followed the lead taken by the Quaker organisations, such as Bournville and Rowntree and have started to care more about their staff, mainly because they believe that if their staff feel better then their productivity will improve. Organisations are now beginning to appreciate the importance of their staff. This objective of this essay is two-fold; Firstly to discuss the role of the human resource manager and the link with the role of the line manager.
Secondly to discuss how this link can work in various environments, namely the intensification of work and the choice of work location provided by technology. The main activities of human resource management1 is planning, encouraging involvement, Recruitment, training and development, contracts, fair treatment and equal opportunities, monitoring employee performance, employee welfare, health and safety, discipline, grievances, dismissal and redundancy. With all of these, it is reasonable to think that line managers will be involved to some extent in the HR function.
The expertise of HRM is needed for more demanding and skills such as policy making, creating and implementing standards and procedures. These must integrate with the organisations existing organisational objectives, policies and procedures. To aid with implementation, the HR department must also be on hand to provide advice and support and organise staff training and development. They will also hold the responsibility of the involvement, communication and consultation of these changes within the organisation.
There are two different types of personnel/HR managers; specialists and generalists. Generalists are involved in most or all HR/Personnel related activities and specialists on the other hand, focus on specific tasks such as training and development or employee relations and are sometimes ‘contracted out’ to various organisations to act as consultants to the company. The first societal interest in people at work is thought to have occurred in 1833, when the Factories Act introduced factory inspectors to assess and regulate working conditions2.
This also saw the growth of the trade union movement as more people began to work together to achieve a common goal, such as improved conditions or pay. The first personnel officer is said to have been Miss Mary Wood3, appointed in 1896 within one of the Quaker organisations named Rowntrees. Miss Mary Wood’s job role was to care for the welfare of Rowntree’s employees, especially the women and children. This is because they were considered to be the future assets/employees of the Rowntree organisation.
The role of a human resources manager has advanced a great deal since 1896; the job role encompasses many more areas, working practices and standards to consist of the following characteristics: It is necessary for HR managers to know of have some experience in all functions of an organisation as it has an input in all functions. It is therefore also necessary for the HR manager to have a good working relationship with the line managers of each function for them to be competent in their job role.
A constant management of the people – rather than people as a resource is also needed, which is the role of the line manager. “The institute of Personnel and development defines personnel management both as being a function pursued by personnel/human resource managers and also as a part of every manager’s job”4. Many of the tasks that were previously/once associated with HR managers, generalist or specialist, are now/have now been transferred to line managers. An instance of this is in the training and development of staff, where line managers are now heavily involved.
“The line-management’s job consists of five basic operations: setting objectives; organising; motivating and communicating; measurement; and people development… “5 Line managers perform similar tasks as the HR manager, especially in the organisation of people. For successful planning and forecasting within the organisation, it is therefore necessary for the line manager and the human resource manager to work together (and fully understand each others role/function) as they will also share the greater responsibility for implementing an ‘selling’ these plans both to senior management and lower level employees.
They therefore have a more central role in performance management. The change in work practices has seen line managers’ increasing involvement in what was once strictly personnel issues, such as the organisation of staff training and the general welfare of their employees. For example, if an org is downsizing/delayering, it should be the responsibility of the line manager of each function to select or indicate to the human resources department which employees should be retained.
This is mainly because it is not in the best interests of the organisation for the human resources department to randomly select members of staff to retain in the company for various reasons such as the skill base and experience of each member of staff. The line managers and the human resources department then have to deal with the likely consequences of such actions. This will include decreased staff morale and motivation as a result of the disruption, increased workload and the insecurity about their job role and how long they will be needed. They also have to work together to cope with any resistance to change.
This resistance can be caused by a number of factors, such as stagnation or the lack of clarity concerning the change and its implications. This can be remedied by strategies such as team briefings, where any employees can voice their opinions or ask questions. There could also be training provided for line managers to educate them on how to communicate with their employees effectively. HR dept need to make regular analysis’s of the organisation’s workforce. This includes the number of staff and their performance (e. g. , attendance, training, targets) and their skills, which requires the input of line managers for an informative analysis.