This paper aims to identify and address various methodological and conceptual issues with regard to HR systems. HR systems ought to target specific strategic objectives and work by influencing employee effort and motivation, opportunities for workers to contribute plus build on their skills, knowledge, and abilities. The paper also explores various concepts regarding labor unions and their laws, mentioning the different types, plus a brief history about them in the USA.
Managing Employee Competence
Various strategies can be applied by the HR department in managing employee professionalism, key among them include; managing employee training and their development. Voluntary training resources can be used which come in various forms, including; e-learning programs, learning seminars, manuals, articles, and books. For them to be more effective, HR can incorporate tangible benefits through various forms such as advancing the raises and promotions of the employees who participate in the competency training programs. The benefits will encourage the employees to build upon their expertise. HR can also employ coaching strategies as a way of managing the development of workers’ careers at the company (Monks). Regular coaching sessions are an inexpensive and simple approach to improving employee competencies. The sessions provide constructive feedback and aid in improving the employees’ current skills. This allows the workers to deliver their best quality plus also offering more chances for them to learn more once they have a solid foundation.
Managing Employee Attitudes and Behaviors
The HR manager assesses the behavior of the workers to determine their contribution to the business and their overall productivity. In most instances, an individual’s behavior is determined by their attitude. In the workplace, workers can either have a negative or positive attitude about particular services, products or work tasks, management and their colleagues. If employees have a negative attitude, it results in laziness in doing routine tasks, and they are easily frustrated by minor challenges. Employees with a bad attitude complete their tasks at substandard levels.
On the other hand, workers with a positive attitude make workdays more enjoyable. They complete their duties with minimum complaints and do so to a higher standard. Therefore, it is essential for the HR head to come up with strategies that build a positive attitude within the workforce, which in turn improves their workplace behaviors. Some of the strategies they could employ include; managing employee performance. The contribution and performance of the workers to the success of the organization are aspects that can be used to motivate them even more. If staffs are allowed to share their ideas, suggestions, and thoughts to the challenges facing the company regularly and routine work tasks, it builds a sense of accomplishment, a feeling that goes a long way in boosting a positive attitude within the work environment. Performance reviews are essential in assessing the progress of the employees, and if applied effectively without bias they make the workers feel important, elevating their motivation (Youndt).
Managing the employees’ compensation structure is also another effective strategy that the HR head can implement in improving the attitudes and behaviors of workers at the company. One way of applying this strategy is by implementing a compensation structure based on merit pay. Merit pay links compensation to management’s analysis of the workers’ performance. The bonuses that the employees earn plus their total earnings become their new basic salary. Not only is the merit pay system effective in achieving the company’s goals, but also fosters individual motivation by identifying achievements and effort and rewarding it in a real way. Incentives and rewards added to the workers’ pay become part of their base salary for the rest of their contract with the company unless extreme conditions arise. The effectiveness and workability of these rewards and incentives and the merit pay structure are dependent on the existence of an appropriate performance appraisal system. Scholars argue that performance pay programs and merit pay encourage novice employees to retain their profession in the firm; hence the business retains employees with experience. Often, the attitude of employees changes depending on external influences with the critical factor being company benefits and compensation. Workers are encouraged and motivated more if their pay is increased from performance efforts. Employees who do not earn a raise due to low performance will find it encouraging to acquire focused training that aids them to improve as they work towards a pay raise.
Managing Labor Unions and Laws
Unions began forming in the 19th century in response to the economic and social impacts of the Industrial Revolution. In the U.S.A history of unions, early employees and trade unions contributed to the role of independence. As much as their physical efforts for the cause of independence were not effective, the ideas they came up with like, protection for workers, formed part of the American culture. In America’s history of trade and labor unions, the most famous union is the American Federation of Labor (AFL) created in 1886 by Samuel Gompers. At its summit, the AFL had close to 1.4 million members. The union is recognized for successfully negotiating wage increases for its employees and improving safety in the workplace for all its members (Lepak). The government regulates labor unions through specific labor laws. The laws are the area that deals with the rights of employees, employers and labor organizations. Employers opposing recognizing workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively with management has resulted in a system of primary federal laws and regulations. Modern labor laws were formed way back since the enactment of the Wagner Act in 1935. It is best recognized as the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) (Lepak). The Act has since been revised twice through the Labor Management Relations Act and the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. The labor laws not only enhance the powers and recognition of the unions but also regulate their activities in their efforts of improving workers’ working conditions. A good example is when civil and state criminal sanctions are subjected to unions that commit vandalism through their organized campaign. On the other hand, strikes in the industrial sectors subject to the NLRA whose aim is to improve wages cannot be outlawed by the state.
There are different types of Unions including; general unions which are designed for both skilled and unskilled employees undertaking different jobs in different industries. Another is the industrial unions which represent different employees serving a common industry. Craft unions are also a different type of union comprising of fairly small unions for skilled employees performing the same task in different industries.
The Union-Organizing Process entails various steps that begin by preparing a committee that has a common perception of the unfair treatment of employees in the company or the industry. The committee should include different, jobs, departments, ethnicities and genders to ensure fair representation. After the committee is created, members campaign to gain support by persuading workers to join the unions. It is necessary for a minimum of 30% of workers to show their support to the union for it to be eligible for an election (Monks). The next step is elections which are set up by the NLRB after they investigate and approve the union’s legitimacy. They facilitate an agreement between the union members and employer in an attempt to determine the setting for an election. If the union wins the majority of the votes cast, they become certified.
Collective bargaining is also a procedural operation. The first step is for both sides, the trade union and employer to decide on their objectives and the amount of pay rise. They will also need to agree on how the money will be allocated among the members of the union. The next step is for both sides to present their arguments at an open discussion platform. A trade union puts in a ‘pay claim’ while the employer puts forward a ‘pay offer.’ Finally, a negotiation process between the employer and the trade union is conducted.
The Grievance Process is a technique of internal dispute resolution by which workers have their grievances addressed. In the context of a union environment, the procedure involves the workers, union representatives and representatives of the employer’s management team.
The NLRB’s Role in Unfair Labor Practices is to ensure both employer and employee are adhering to the policies and laws set in guiding the collective bargaining process. Several policies are stipulated as unfair labor practices by the NLRB including; it shall be termed unjust if an employer restrains or interferes with workers in the exercise guaranteed in Section 7 of its title. It is also unfair if they dominate in the creation of labor unions (Monks).
Decertification of labor unions involves a process where the NLRB allows workers to hold a unique election to eliminate the union as their representative. The process gives workers full relief by getting rid of the union’s authority to act as their negotiating representative. A Corporate campaign, on the other hand, refers to the broad strategies undertaken by unions targeting the employer or the whole industry through public relations attacks, economic tactics, political warfare, and legal action.
Public sector labor relations is overseen state and federal laws. These laws vary from state-to-state. Most states have enacted several laws formalizing the bargaining process for the workers. Some, however, do not allow public sector collective negotiating while others only allow meeting and conferring on issues relating to work. Among the current trends that are important with regard to labor relations is using employee diversity to build competitive advantage and recruiting employees who match the culture of the company.
Creating High Performing HR Systems
The underlying fundamentals of high-performance HR systems include; the principle of sharing information among employees. It involves Building a culture within the workforce whereby workers are able and are more willing to share information. Another is the principle of developing knowledge whereby workers undertaking high-performance work tasks learn in real time on their job by applying innovative methods to solve problems (Lepak). There also is the principle of performance –reward linkage. It involves connecting rewards to the performance of the employees motivating them to go after outcomes that not only will benefit the company but also themselves.
An employment portfolio refers to a collection of samples of an employee’s previous work and proof of their employment achievements, arranged in an organized package. Properly managing these portfolio involves adding content that is relevant and current as possible, organizing the portfolio content with a table of contents and tabbed sections easing referencing plus packaging it attractively in a report cover.
In evaluating the HR system, a HR scorecard is used to measure the performance of the system (Youndt). A HR scorecard refers to a visual representation of primary measures of HR department productivity, achievements plus other aspects important to the company. The factors measured are; training, hiring, costs and performance management.
Companies planning to build their highly-performing organization should add several unique features in their systems including; a clear business strategy different from their competitors and that adds value to their customers, they also need to appoint leaders who unleash capability instead of control plus implementing efficient procedures and processes.
A unique characteristic of strategic human resource management research is an emphasis on human resource (HR) systems, rather than single HR practices as a driver of organizational and individual performance. There exists a grey area regarding what these systems are, the practices that involve these systems, how they operate plus how they should be studied. An organization implementing a HR system should develop one that is inclusive of union representation to promote workers’ rights. An effective system should also include a performance-based payment solution as it motivates the employees improving their attitude and behaviors in the workplace.
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Youndt, Mark A. “Human resource management, manufacturing strategy, and firm performance.” Academy of management Journal (1996): 836-866.