Definition of Human Resource Management

Gary Dessler (1997) defines human resource management as the policies and practices that you need to carry out the “people” or personnel aspects of your management job.

These aspects include:

  • Conducting job analyses (determining the nature of each employee’s job)
  • Planning labour needs and recruiting job candidates.
  • Selecting job candidates
  • Orienting and training new employees
  • Managing wages and salaries (how to compensate employees)
  • Providing incentives and benefits.
  • Appraising performance
  • Communicating (interviewing, counseling, disciplining) and safety policy.
  • Implementing the organizations safety policy
  • Training and developing
  • Planning and developing
  • Planning for the effects of change on staff.
  • Building employee commitment and creating conditions for high morale.
  • Implementing grievance and disciplinary machinery
  • Negotiating with employee representatives.

A more detailed definition of human resource management is presented by Edwin Flippo (1984), and we will use that definition to present an outline of this entire module. In the first place, we are dealing with two categories of functions, managerial and operative.
A manager is one who exercises authority and leadership over other personnel; the president of a firm is certainly a manager, and so also is the department head or supervisor. On the other hand, an operative is one who has no authority over others but has been given a specific task or duty to perform under managerial supervision. Thus, the human resource manager is a manager and as such must perform the basic function. Yet a comprehensive definition of human resource management much include also the operative functions in the field. In outline form, the definition would appear as follow:

Management and Operative Functions:

1. Management functions

  • Planning
  • Organizing
  • Directing
  • Controlling

2. Operative functions

  • Procurement
  • Development
  • Integration
  • Maintenance
  • Separation

Human resource management therefore can be defined as the planning, organizing, directing and controlling of the procurement, development, compensation, maintenance and separation of human resources to the end that individual, organizational and societal objectives are accomplished. A brief elaboration of the component parts of this definition follows.

Planning: Effective managers realize that a substantial portion of their time should be devoted to planning. For the human resource manager, planning means the determination in advance of a human resource program that will contribute to goals establishment will involve the active and enlightened participation of the human resource manager, with his or her expertise in the area of human resources.

Organizing: After a course of action has been determined, an organization must be established to carry it out. An organization is a means to an end. Once it has been determined that certain human resource functions contribute toward the firm’s objectives, the human resource manager must form an organization by designing the structure of relationships among jobs, human resource and physical and physical factors. One must be aware of the complex relationship that exists between the specialized unit and the rest of the organization. Because of increasing expertise in this function, much top management are looking to the human resource manager for advice in the general organization of the enterprise.

Directing: At least in theory, we now have a plan and an organization to execute that plan. It might appear that the next logical function would be that of operation, doing the job. But it has been found that a “starter” function is becoming increasingly necessary. In our above definition this function was labeled “direction”, but it may be called by other names, such as “motivation”, “actuation”, or “command”. At any rate a considerable number of difficulties are involved in getting people to go to work willingly and effectively.

Controlling: Now, at last, the human resource functions are being performed. But what is the management duty at this point? It is logical that its functions should be that of control that is the observation of action and its comparison with plans and the correction of any deviations that may occur, or at times, the realignment of plans and their adjustment to unchangeable deviations. Control is the managerial function concerned with regulating activities in accordance with the personnel plan, which in turn was formulated on the basis of an analysis of fundamental organization goals.

Procurement: This first operative function of human resource management is concerned with obtaining of the proper kind and number of personnel necessary to accomplish organization goals. It deals specifically with such subjects as the determination of human resources requirements and their recruitment, selection and placements. The determination of human resource required must rest upon a prior design of job duties, a decision that is increasingly being affected by the human resource manager’s objective of meeting human society’s requirements often affects procurement programs in the forms of affirmative action and equal opportunity. The actual hiring process entails a multitude of activities designed to screen personnel, such as reviewing application forms, psychological testing, checking references and conducting interviews.

Development: After personnel have been obtained, they must be to some degree developed. Development has to do with the increase of skill, through training, that is necessary for proper job performance. This is an activity of very great importance and will continue to grow because of the changes in technology, the realignment of jobs and the increasing complexity of the managerial task.

Compensation: This function is defined as the adequate and equitable remuneration of personnel for their contributions to organization objectives. Though some recent morale surveys have tended to minimize the importance of monetary income to employees, we nevertheless contend that compensation is one of the most important resource management. In dealing with this subject, we shall only economic compensation. Psychic income is classified elsewhere. The basic elements of a compensation program have emphasis upon such subjects as job evaluation, wage policies, wages systems and come of the recently devised extra compensation plans.

Integration: With the employee procured, developed and reasonably compensated, there follows one of the most difficult and frustrating challenges to management. The definition labels this problem “integration”. It is concerned with the attempt to effect a reasonable reconciliation of individual, societal and organizational interest. It rests upon a foundation of belief that significant overlapping of interests so exist in our society. Consequently, we must deal with the feelings and attitudes of personnel in conjunction with the principles and policies of organizations.

Maintenance: If we have executed the foregoing functions well, we now have a wiling and able work force. Maintenance is concerned with the perpetuation of this state. The maintenance of willingness is heavily affected by communications with employees. The physical condition of the employees should also be maintained.

Separation: If the first function of human resource management is to secure the employee, it is logical that the last should be the separation and return of that person to society. Most people so not die on the job. The organization is responsible for meeting certain requirements of due process in separation, as well as assuring that the returned citizen is in good shape as possible.

Types of separation are as retirement, layoff, out-placement and discharge.

The purpose of all the activity outlined above, both managerial and operative, is to assist in the accomplishment of basic objectives. Consequently, the starting point of human resource management, as of all management, must be a specification of those objectives and a determination of the sub-objectives of the human resource function. The expenditure of all funds in the personnel area can be justified only insofar as there is a net contribution toward basic goals. For the most part these are goals of the particular organization concerned. But as suggested earlier, society is tending to impose human goals upon the private business enterprise, goals that may or may not make an immediate contribution to an organization’s particular objective.

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