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Soft And Hard Human Resource Management

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Commerce
Wordcount: 5339 words Published: 18th May 2017

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HRM is an essential and vital function for organizational success. Areas within HRM like Manpower planning, Job analysis, Selection and Recruitment, Compensation and Benefits, Performance evaluations, Contract negotiations and Labor legislations are parts of hard HRM – whereas functions like Organizational development, conflict management, human resource education, leadership development, organizational culture, and relationship building are components of soft HRM. The hard HRM can be categorized as the basic functions and soft HRM as advanced functions. In today’s knowledge economy, where human capital determines the growth and success of an organization, both hard and soft HRM are sig.

Hard HRM:- a very instrumental, practical approach, people seen as a passive resources to be used, deployed and if necessary disposed of HR planning is seen as a factor of production incompatible with trade unions-may necessitate confrontation to implement concepts.

Soft HRM: – sometimes known as development humanism stresses human side entails trust, collaboration, skill development place for unions in this model where unions are marginalized and by passed on many issues or alternative forms of employee representation are initiated above all, about commitment and partnership.

Hard HR Management

Soft HR Management

Treats employees simply as a resource of the business (like machinery & buildings)

Strong link with corporate business planning – what resources do we need, how do we get them and how much will they cost

Treats employees as the most important resource in the business and a source of competitive advantage

Employees are treated as individuals and their needs are planned accordingly

Focus of HRM: identify workforce needs of the business and recruit & manage accordingly (hiring, moving and firing)

Focus of HRM: concentrate on the needs of employees – their roles, rewards, motivation etc.

Key features

Key features

Short-term changes in employee numbers (recruitment, redundancy)

Strategic focus on longer-term workforce planning

Minimal communication, from the top down

Strong and regular two-way communication

Pay – enough to recruit and retain enough staff (e.g. minimum wage)

Competitive pay structure, with suitable performance-related rewards (e.g. profit share, share options)

Little empowerment or delegation

Employees are empowered and encouraged to seek delegation and take responsibility

Appraisal systems focused on making judgments (good and bad) about staff

Appraisal systems focused on identifying and addressing training and other employee development needs

Taller organizational structures

Flatter organizational structures

Suits autocratic leadership style

Suits democratic leadership style

As analyzing this, the hard approach to HR might be expected to result in a more cost-effective workforce where decision-making is quicker and focused on senior managers. However, such an approach pays relatively little attention to the needs of employees and a business adopting a genuinely hard approach might expect to suffer from higher absenteeism and staff turnover and less successful recruitment but the soft approach will certainly appeal to the touchy-feely among it who like to see people being treated nicely.

And it can also make a good business case for an approach which rewards employee performance and motivates staff more effectively. However, the danger of taking too soft an approach is that when all the employee benefits are added up, the cost of the workforce leaves a business at a competitive disadvantage.

HMR and Personal/ IR Practices with Compared to 27 Dimensions of Story’s Definitions

Story’s model gives a clear idea about the difference between personal and industrial human resource management, According to story’s model of human resource management:

Human Resource Management has to be implemented into the organization strategy and has to be considered in the higher level of the organization.

Human Resource Management needs to be included to management functions and creates an impact on the organizations ability to achieve their goals.

Human Resource Management’s main key function is to encourage commitment from the employees in the organization but not complaints.

Human’s ability, capability and commitment is what differentiate each organization has.

Points of difference between personnel and IR practices and HRM practices




Beliefs & Assumptions


Careful delineation of written contracts

Aim to go beyond contract

Guide to management action


Business need

Behavior referent



Managerial task via a vise labor



Strategic Aspect

Key relations

Labor management


Corporate plan

Marginal to

Central to

Speed of decision



Line Management

Management role


Transformational leadership







Key Levelers


Separate, marginal task

Integrated, key task


Job evaluation

Performance related


Separately negotiated


Labor management

Collective bargaining contracts

Towards individual contracts

Role of the Line Managers and employees in the organization.

The areas where front line managers and employees make a significant difference to people management practices are:

Performance Appraisal

Training, coaching and guidance

Involvement and communication

Openness – how easy is it for employees to discuss matters with their front line manager

Work-life balance

Recognition – the extent to which employees feel their contribution is recognized.

These are all areas where, although the process may be designed by HR, it cannot be delivered by HR. The front line manager role is crucial in a number of respects

In enabling the HR policies and practices, or bringing them to life.

in acting upon advice or guidance from HR

in controlling the work flow by directing and guiding the work of others

To do this successfully, this part of the front line managers role must be given at least as much recognition as other operational areas and they must be allocated time within their work schedule to carry out the people management side of the job. The qualities and skills needed from front line managers.

The Bath research found that front line managers exercise a strong influence over the level of discretion that an individual has over how they do their job. Some managers can permit and encourage people to be responsible for their own jobs whereas others can stifle initiative through controlling or autocratic behavior.

To encourage the kind of discretionary behavior from employees associated with higher performance, front line managers need to:

Build a good working relationship with their staff. They need to lead, listen, ask, communicate, be fair, respond to suggestions and deal with problems.

Help and support employees to take more responsibility for how they do their jobs by coaching and guidance.

Build effective teams.

Many of the qualities and skills which are associated with higher quality front line management are around the behaviors of front line managers. It is not enough to educate front line managers in the behaviors required; organizations must also ensure they are developing the environment and culture in which front line managers are actively encouraged and permitted to exhibit the behaviors above. The Bath research found that organizations which had a strong shared culture with guiding principles for behavior which were embedded into practice over time were more successful

Attribution: http://www.citehr.com/15998-role-front-line-managers-hr.html#ixzz21Teh5Dml

Section B

“There are potential benefits for both the individual and the organization from using a proper performance management”

A good performance management system works towards the improvement of the overall organizational performance by managing the performances of terms and individuals for ensuring the achievement of the overall organizational ambitions and goals. An effective performance management system can play a very crucial role in managing the performance in an organization by:

Improved business profits

The bottom line of an organization improves significantly by increasing employee productivity and quality of work.

Increase employee responsibility

Communicating realistic but challenging job expectations and making employee accountable for their decisions and actions result in noticeable improvements in employee tardiness, absences and organizational commitment.

Equitable treatment of employees

All employees are treated fairly by implementing standardized procedures that promote consistency throughout an organization.

Enhanced quality of work life

Employees experience greater job satisfaction because they become more successful

“As a HR manager, you need to manage different human resource practices in the workplace”

Yes I do agree with the statement. Approaching the nature of HRM from a slightly different perspective, (Bowen and Ostroff, 2004) have argued that what they term a ‘strong’ HR system is more likely to have an impact. Where more ‘high performance’ practices are in place, and all helping to elicit the same kind of attitudes and behavior from employees, the cumulative impact is likely to be greater. In this context, the specific sets of practices that might be associated with competence, motivation or contribution become rather less important. Another reason why specific ‘bundles’ of practices might be less significant and difficult to link to performance is that some practices might contribute to several HR outcomes. For example, job design or goal setting might affect both motivation and opportunity to contribute. This leads to two possibilities. On the one hand it may be most appropriate to follow the Bowen and Ostroff line and count the number of practices in place; on the other, it may be sensible to explore whether specific practices are consistently associated with superior performance.

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“There is an impact of globalization on issues such as human resource planning”

Yes I do agree with the statement. The interest in strategic human resource management (HRM) has spawned a number of empirical research studies that investigated the impact of HRM practices on organizational performance. However, very little attention has been paid to address the impact of HRM practices on operations management and to generalize the findings across countries and industries. Success of some business decisions.

Globalization and The Changing Face of Human Resource Management

The pressures on traditional IR models are not all due to globalization, as we shall see, but many of the changes taking place can be traced to globalization. It is not always easy to disentangle the causes and effects of globalization. However it would probably be true to say that globalization is represented by the opening up of markets due, in large measure to foreign direct investment consequent upon the lowering of investment barriers in practically all countries by the liberalization of trade and by the deregulation of financial markets in consequence of which governments increasingly have little control over the flow of capital across borders. All this implies the dominance of the market system, facilitated by the collapse of alternative economic systems.

Introduction of new technology

Pushing for a more deregulated and flexible labor market More emphasis on productivity and quality Greater employee involvement in the design and execution of work Shifting the focus of collective bargaining from the industry level to the enterprise level. Employers are of the view that issues relevant to the employment relationship such as work re-organization, flexible working hours and contractual arrangements, and pay for performance and skills, are increasingly workplace-related, and should therefore be addressed at the enterprise level.

Downsizing the workforce.

One important response has been the introduction of flexibility in the employment relationship to increase the capacity of enterprises to adapt rapidly to market changes. This has involved measures such as: flexible working hours, part-time work different types of employment contracts to the standard ones familiar to collective IR flexibility in functions, so that employees who are multi-skilled are not confined to the performance of only one task. They can cover up for absenteeism, and make some jobs redundant.

Globalization has, through technology diffusion, substantially increased the introduction of new technology. This, as well as the need for flexible adaptation to market changes, has led to the re-organization of production systems and methods of work, such as the following:

Reduction of narrow job classifications and demarcation lines between managers and workers, accompanied by skills enhancement needed to perform jobs with a broader range of tasks.

The competition generated by globalization and rapid technological changes accompanied by shorter product life have, while destroying countless jobs in industrialized countries, created opportunities for multi-skilled and easily trainable workers, and for the most significant group of emerging employees – the knowledge worker. Knowledge and skills have become the most important determinants of investment, employment opportunities, productivity and quality and of flexibility.

“Different national cultures and practices make an influence for making a culturally diverse workforce”

Difference national cultures and practices make an influence for making a culturally diverse workforce. The workforce of the twenty first century is increasingly diverse and multicultural. To effectively manage and lead in this environment, HR must be knowledgeable about cross cultural factors on both the domestic and global fronts in human resource management. By promoting education in cross cultural competencies throughout the organization HR can better serve the company to successfully achieve its mission and goals.

As a concept and as a reality, culture is broad and multifaceted. On a daily basis culture influences who we are as individuals, families, communities, professions, industries, organizations and nations and how we interact with each other within and across regional and national borders. Defined as a set of values and beliefs with learned behaviors shared within a particular society, culture provides a sense of identity and belonging. From language, communication styles, history and religion to norms, values, symbolism and ways of being, culture is everywhere.

In domestic and global workplace settings people in organizations reflect their respective cultures. As shifting demographics bring together people of many cultural backgrounds, human resource management must be thoughtfully examined and sometimes altered to support organizational goals. Special Expertise Panel members point out that for sustainability, organizational leaders must expand their perspectives from a local to a worldly view.

HR professionals experienced in workplace diversity and cross cultural communication are well positioned to develop and implement culturally appropriate HRM strategies, policies and practices. While not exhaustive this Research Quarterly focuses on selected cross cultural factors in HRM in today’s workplace and provides insights for HR to better serve the needs of the organization.

Business Case for Cross Cultural HRM

With the advent of globalization, research on cross cultural organizational behavior has become a pathway to understand the dynamics of multicultural domestic and international workplaces. In fact successful organizations of the 21st century require leaders who understand culturally diverse work environments and can work effectively with different cultures that have varying work ethics, norms and business protocols. Yet diverse cultures create HRM challenges.

Gaining cross cultural competence takes time, education, experience, openness and sensitivity. When people lack intercultural skills miscommunications can damage business relationships deadlines can be missed projects may fail and talented people will go to the competition. Key HR responsibilities are to understand how cross cultural factors interact with HR, be the conduit for organizational learning for cross cultural intelligence and foster cross cultural communication throughout the organization.

Cultural Value Dimensions

Cross cultural intelligence is the ability to switch ethnic or national contexts and quickly learn new patterns of social interaction with appropriate behavioral responses. This competence is essential to work effectively in multicultural environments. Thus linking future career paths and global business success with cultural competence is important for HR to emphasize, with the goal that managers are motivated to acquire new behaviors and skills and understand the benefits of learning from different cultures.

Task 02

Section A- Case Study

Explain the Audit Firms model of flexibility.

The concept of a “flexible firm” recognizes that organizations will requires enhanced flexibility to meet ever evolving market and competitive pressures. The “flexible firm” model suggests that we can design our workforces to proactively meet our business needs through flexible staffing arrangements. In other words it is a concept of simply integrating flexible conditions into the administration an organizations functional operations, in order o meet the demands of a highly competitive market and attain its strategic aims and goals. Flexibility is a calculated risk utilized by organization to survive and gain strategic competitive advantage.

Therefor this case study, shows how they has developed and implemented flexible work practices improve its services and meet the changing needs of its staff. According to the contracts help the Audit commission to cope with all of its changing needs. They also help it to be flexible. There are three main types of flexibility they practice.

Numerical Flexibility

Functional Flexibility

Place- of- work flexibility

The Audit Commission is constantly face with peaks and troughs in the workload that cannot be met simply by having its employees on full time contracts. There are situations where they need either more staff or fewer staff. By increasing or reduce staff in their situation the Audit Commission has developed numerical flexibility.

The Audit Commission has also developed flexibility through developing the skills of its employees to deal with a wider variety of work. This means that when the nature and type of work changes, employees are comfortable undertaking different tasks. This is known as functional flexibility.

Homeworking is an example of place-of-work flexibility. The Audit Commission uses this way to respond to the challenges within their business environment. This method of working has helped it to meet more closely the needs of its staff. As part of its flexible working arrangements, homeworking has helped to transform the ways in which many people work and improve their work-life-balance.

Briefly explain the need for flexibility. According to this firm do you believe that they are implementing the correct types of flexibility? Explain your answer.

Employers have always wanted workers to be as flexible as possible. In the past this has mean paying overtime for extra hours worked, or higher rates for shift work. Faced with competition, businesses attempt to use their existing employees more effectively. Sometimes this could benefit employee. Working flexible hours could mean an employee may take time off for personal reasons and still work their required number of hours a week.

The need for flexibility is increasing due to demographic and social changes the number of people in the paid work force with caring responsibilities is set to increase. In turn this will increase the demand for flexibility in the workplace. Moreover, increasing competition has placed emphasis on quality, innovation and reducing the unit cost of production: job design and the organization of work must both mobilize employees’ energies for quality innovation and reliable productivity. In addition to this Technological change, particularly in the automation and computerization of work process and information flows, has eroded traditional demarcation boundaries between jobs: job design and the organization of work must fit the new technology in order to secure its benefits for efficiency. Increasing market uncertainty means that organizations need to be more adaptable to changes in demand: able to vary the size and deployment of their workforces to meet demand as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Yes I do believe that they are practicing the correct types of flexibility. The benefits they are getting form those types are more and it will lead to build effective flexible working system. Flexibility is not about integration of the different spheres of life to reduce conflict or to harmonizing paid work with other parts of life; rather flexibility is about how self-managing employees constitute synthesis of work life and home life as distinct parts of one and the same life. If Audit Commission is very much concerned about their flexibility in the work place those types they are currently practicing is totally suitable. By regular homeworking helps an organization to develop family-friendly policies that improve the work-life balance of its staff. For the organization, homeworking assists in recruiting individuals who are attracted to this style of working and this enables the Audit Commission to retain a diverse workforce.

Evaluate the advantages and dis advantages of flexible working practices from both of the employee and employer perspective relate with this firm.

For Employee


It reduces the transport cost for the employee and by reducing the transportation it is good for environment.

Regular homeworking helps an organization to develop family-friendly policies that improve the work-life balance of its staff especially in Audit Commission.

Employers have great freedom to organize their work to finish on time.

By implementing flexible working system employers can improve morale and reducing absence and lateness.

A better work/life balance – being able to meet both work and personal commitments

Increased sense of control leading to increased sense of well-being

With the greater job satisfaction employees can make better working environment with a happier person all around.

Being able to remain in the workforce longer with greater loyalty, trust and respect towards employers


Lower salary if you work fewer hours.

Possible sense of isolation from colleagues.


Need for a dedicated work space.

Difficulty in judging performance.

Need to be self-disciplined and highly organized.

Possible obstacle to promotion.

A sense that you have been forced into it by circumstances not of your choosing.

For Employer


Happy and satisfied employees, who have a greater sense of trust and loyalty, create many business benefits:

Attracting skilled and motivated employees – Particularly those who wouldn’t normally apply. For example mature aged workers those who have Auditing experience, those with family/care responsibilities and those seeking greater balance between work and personal interests.

Keeping skilled and motivated employees – Effective flexibility can reduce unwanted staff losses by up to 25%. A huge cost saving in terms of retaining knowledge, maintaining Agent relationships and in re-training, creating awareness and administration costs.

Motivating and energizing staff – Resulting in increased productivity and greater profits, as employees focus more on business success, are more flexible to meet its needs and driven to work harder specially service organization like Audit commission.

Increasing employee satisfaction – creating a happier workplace, with greater teamwork, collaboration and sharing of knowledge.

Lower staff absences – employees are less stressed about meeting their job and outside/family commitments and have a greater sense of well-being, reducing unplanned absences.

Increasing skills and creativity of your managers – Managers are challenged to look outside the square, develop leadership skills and manage a more diverse workforce

Improving customer service and retention – More committed employees, greater employee retention and a better match between peaks and troughs in workflows and staffing will allow you to more closely meet customers’ needs

Becoming an Employer of Choice – which expands the pool of talented workers that an advertisement will attract.


Finding qualified employees who want to be part of a flexible workforce can be challenging, because people generally prefer jobs that provide a reliable and predictable income stream.

It can be difficult to retain employees in a flexible workforce. That’s because during times when business is slow and members of a flexible workforce aren’t working, they’re likely to spend their time looking for other work.

If Audit Commission is opened in non-working working hours as a result it will lead to increase the unwanted costs like electricity and heating and so on.

Section B – Essay

“Equal opportunities with in the workplace”

The term equal opportunities is a broadly used phrase which promotes the idea that everyone within an organization should have an equal chance to apply and be selected for posts, to be trained or promoted and to have their employment terminated equally. Providing equal opportunity and treating employers without prejudice is vital to achieve organizational objectives. Over the past 30 years, the workplace has changed dramatically. Women have become more empowered giving them the opportunity to seek career progression which had previously been denied to them. Disabled people who can work are being helped back to work and offered the same opportunities as able-bodied people and economic globalization of business has meant that managers must be aware of cultural and race issues. There should be no discrimination on the grounds of gender, homosexuality, age, racial origin, religious affiliation, disability or marital status. Employers can only discriminate on the grounds of ability, potential and all employment decisions taken on an individual’s ability to do a particular job.

There are two main forms of discrimination. First of all direct discrimination involves treating an individual within the workforce less favorably than others on sexual, marital, racial or disabled grounds. It occurs when interested group is treated less favorably than another. (Except for exempted cases) For example, Management decision is not to select or promote a woman because she is pregnant or because of her nationality. One act of discrimination is sufficient and must be directed at an individual for action to be taken. Second type of discrimination is indirect discrimination. Indirect discrimination describes a term or condition applicable to both sexes but where one sex has considerably less of an ability to comply with it than the other. It occurs when, an employer applies a provision, criterion practice to men and women equally, but it has the effect of putting one sex at a particular disadvantage without justification. For example, change the shift patterns to include an early morning to start, as a woman is more likely to be responsible for childcare or a condition that a candidate for a job must be of a minimum certain height.

It is unlawful to discriminate in employment on the grounds of color, race, nationality, gender, gender reassignment, marital status, and disability for all staff, regardless of their hours, or patterns of work. Within the work environment the majority of discrimination claims Centre around the recruitment and selection process. Several pieces of employment legislation exist in order to provide a framework for implementing equal opportunities within the workplace. The main legislation is Equal Pay Act, Sex Discrimination Act, Race Relations Act, Human Rights Act, Race Relations, Employment Equality in Religion or Belief and Gender Recognition Act. In developed countries there are migrants and even students who work for lesser wages than the minimum wages. The wages that they are paid is less than the national wages that is allowed by the government and not only the payment is less but there could be situations where they work for longer hours than they can in a weeks’ time. In countries such as Sri Lanka there are many places and organizations where framework is not followed and are broken with many discrimination such as sex, pay and also race but due to the fear of the influence and also the fact that they need the money to work the employees do not take necessary actions.

Organizations consist of many individuals working together to achieve organizational success. These individuals collectively bring different attitudes, perceptions and learning experiences to the workplace, as well as ethnic, gender and personality differences. When the Equal Opportunities Commission was set up, it was to tackle the issue of Gender Discrimination predominantly and to offer women the same working rights as their male complements. However, in modern day society, equal opportunities has been broadened and backed up by law to provide the same level of protection to other minority groups in the workforce. Mainly there are three types of discrimination. First type of discrimination is age discrimination. Age discrimination involves treating employee less favorably because of his age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act only forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older. It does not protect workers under the age of 40, although some states do have laws that protect younger workers from age discrimination. It is not illegal for an employer or other covered entity to favor an older worker over a younger one even if both workers are age 40 or older (The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, 2006). Second type of discrimination is sex discrimination. Sex


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