Human Resources Management: Tasks, challenges and maintaining employee competence

Human Resources Management: Tasks, challenges and maintaining employee competence


The role of the Human resource department is crucial to the performance of the entire organization. In the current business world, the competition of services and products is a key issue; this has resulted in firms focusing their attention on improving their services and products. By utilizing human resources, companies have now realized they can achieve this. The following is a research paper highlighting several duties and functioning of the human resource (HR) department. Several topics are addressed in the text including; managing employees for competitive advantage, Challenges faced by the HR in terms of managing regulatory issues,organizational demands and environmental influences, workflow patterns and workflow designs and managing employee competencies through recruitment and selection. How well a firm manages its human resources reflects directly in its performance.

Managing Employees for Competitive advantage

Competitive advantage is when an organization is using a value-creating strategy that is not being applied by any other competitor simultaneously. The firm enjoys a sustained competitive advantage if their competitors are not able to duplicate the benefits of the strategy. Organizations have to develop ways of managing their employees to achieve their competitive advantages goals (Jassim). HR management needs to be restructured to serve as a source of competitive advantage. Recent progress in strategic management alongside HR management has led scholars to try and link the two fields together. They have come up with two models for strategic human resource management to help in achieving a competitive advantage. They are; the behavioral perspective/ matching model and the capabilities model.

The idea of the behavioral perspective model involves the firm matching their HR practices to their desired competitive position. Management works out the behaviors needed in the operations of a specific business position and implements those HR practices. Scholars argue that organizations need to distinguish their business strategy by choosing either a differentiation strategy or a cost leadership strategy. This will guide the HR department on the practices to implement to select individuals with behaviors suited to fit their strategy.For example, if an organization chooses a differentiation strategy based on higher levels of product innovation from their competitors, they will need to adopt risk-oriented,co-operative and creative behaviors (Jassim). The following practices would, therefore, match their human resource requirements; choosing individuals who are highly skilled, applying fewer controls,providing more resources for experimentation, allowing and in certain instances rewarding mistakes. If an organization selects a cost leadership strategy, it will have to create jobs that are repetitive,require less training, and have predictable behavior. The firm will also operate by reducing employees to the least numbers needed plus appraising high output performance.

The capabilities model, on the other hand, is based on the organization’s resource basis perspective. HR management is valued for its purpose in generating strategic capabilities when considered in terms of resource-based thinking. The behaviors expected of the HR department include; developing firms that are more flexible and intelligent to their competitors over a long period, creating an organization that portrays superior levels of operation and co-operation (Gowan, 2018).  The HR department can hire and develop talented employees and integrate their contribution to the resources available to the firm to achieve their competitive goals.

Human Resource Challenges

The human resource department faces several challenges. The challenges arise since internal factors are not similar across different firms, and external factors are ever changing.Key among these challenges is managing organizational demands, environmental influences and regulatory issues (Gowan, 2018).

Organizational demands are the factors within an organization that influence how staff members are managed. Some of the ways that corporate demands pose a challenge to HR management are; the strategy that a company applies. As mentioned earlier, a business will choose a strategy that will place them at a better competitive position to their rivals. The approach selected, will influence the kinds of jobs that must be undertaken to ensure its objectives are met therefore affecting the key activities of HR management. HR heads may find it difficult to acquire employees with certain skills in instances where the organizational strategy is complex and more demanding (National Institutes of Health, 2019).  The characteristics of the company is also an organizational demand that creates challenges in managing human resources.  Organizations are different in terms of size and stage of development. The size of the firm corresponds to the challenges linked with managing staff members. The size of the organization influences the type and amount of resources applied, training,benefits,discretion, and degree of autonomy that management expects staff members to display in their duties. Also, HR managers are faced with more pressure in managing employees at a young startup company compared to a mature firm with prior experience in managing staff members.

Environmental influences are also a challenge to HR management. These are the external pressures that exist outside the organization which management should consider to manage their staff members strategically.  A good example is the trends in the labor force that are leading to increased diversity in the workplace. The number of minorities, women and old employees is steadily growing in the labor market. Organizations are now forced to reevaluate their recruitment and selection processes to eliminate any form of discrimination directly or indirectly (Kumari, 2012). In addition to this, firms will have to educate their staff members on the benefits that different perspectives and backgrounds add to the performance of the firm.

Another challenge is the concerns brought about by regulatory issues. Regulatory concerns are the one problem thathas the most direct influence on the management of staff members. The issue is that the impact of legislation on employment is extensive and interpretation of laws keeps on evolving (Jassim). If an organization does not follow the legal requirements, it damages their reputation diminishing the morale of the staff members and their influence on winning the individuals they wish to add to their labor force.

Work design and workforce planning

Work design and workforce planning are also vital operations in the organization that are influenced by the functions of the HR department. When looking at work design, it is essential to address the difference between managing a job design and a job analysis. Job analysis involves assessing the behavioral requirements of a particular competitive strategy specific to the culture of the firm. The aim of conducting job analysis is to define the right person for the position from the views of the firm and staff members that the qualified applicant will collaborate with (Jassim). The advantage of conducting job analysis is that it helps in attracting and targeting of potential recruits plus it also assists potential recruits to carefully decide on whether to apply for the job or not. A job design, on the other hand, are description specifics of a particular job.  The job design is mainly used to identify the roles and goals linked with each task. For firms to maintain a positive employment relationship, the HR managers will have to design,program,organize, coordinate and analyze the costs of each job. This way, employees will choose to take the role or not with sufficient knowledge and details of their tasks.

Workforce Planning

Workforce planning involves making sure the company has qualified personnel with the needed skills at the right time (National Institutes of Health, 2019). Coming up with a workforce plan assists the HR department to assess the gaps currently in the workforce. It also assists to establish the HR requirements needed in the future. Various aspects that the HR department can consider in their workforce plan include; the supply analysis by understanding their current workforce and how they estimate its changes over time due to trends. Also, they could consider monitoring the progress of their solutions and their influence on the gaps they were created to address. Continuous monitoring will improve the effectiveness of the solutions they deploy.

Managing Employee Competencies

Relying on the workforce and security in employment for competitive advantage only means companies have to be careful in choosingindividuals with the right skills. The recruitment and selection process are determinants of how a firm can achieve this in the right way.

Recruitment involves the actions organizations employ to find potential staff members, communicate the attributes of the firm and the job position plus persuade qualified persons to apply for existing vacancies in the firm (Kumari, 2012).  A successful recruiting procedure results from identifying the reasons the organization is recruiting employees and the kind of employees they require. Firms can choose to conduct their recruitment internally or externally whereby internal recruitment involves companies offering job openings to find staff members within the company itself. External recruitment, on the other hand, involves advertising job positions to acquire new personnel to the organization to fill in the posts.

After identifying the best pool of qualified applicants, the next step is deciding the individuals to retain for further consideration and finally the ones to recruit.  The selection process is about predicting if the applicant can either do the job or can learn about it and do it properly. Some of the activities that are carried out in the selection process include; analyzing resumes and applications to identify the applicants that best fit the requirements of the task and the firm. Also, determining and using effective techniques to review the degree of fit within the job requirements, the firm’s culture and the qualifications of the applicants (Kumari, 2012).


HR management can be stated to be the key mechanism of improving the capabilities of the firm. The goal of the HR field is to make sure that they are hiring only the people with the best abilities to add to their companies’ workforce. However, in today’s competitive market it is difficult for firms to attract the right employees. Organizations will have to develop HR management practices that are effective in meeting their competitive advantage objectives and are relevant to current and future labor trends.




Gowan, D. L. (2018). Human Resource Management: Managing employees for competitive advantage. In D. L. Gowan, Human Resource Management: Managing employees for competitive advantage (pp. 35-51).

Jassim, R. K. (n.d.). Competitive Advantage Through the Employees . Retrieved from Semantic Scholar:

Kumari, N. (2012). A Study of the Recruitment and Selection process: . SMC Global. Industrial Engineering Letters, 34-43.

National Institutes of Health. (2019). Workforce Planning. Retrieved from National Institutes of Health Office of Human Resources:


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