By Dr. Amr Sadik
“Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible for anyone to accomplish.”— Marcus Aurelius
The Human Resources Management has several dimensions as it supports the entire organization in its growth and competitiveness. Based on practical experience and studying the common HR practices in successful organizations, several dimensions can be easily identified. The HR Function has to design processes, policies and procedures in all dimensions; the non-presence in any of the dimensions makes the organization weak.
Unfortunately, with the current work turbulences organizations must cope with various unknowns. The management of HR functionsis enormously complicated by the need to adapt HR policies and practices to different challenges, situations, and taking the right decisions. That is why decision-making is perhaps one of the most frequent tasks HR professionals face each day. They have to decide for themselves as well as advise their superiors on specific HR issues on a constant basis.
HR management must consider the potential impact of those work climate differences on human resources.Differences may include politics; law, culture, economics, labor/ management relations systems, leadership and other factorscomplicate the task of human resource management.
Political and Legal Dimension
The nature and stability of political and legal systems vary throughoutthe countries, but to certain extent organizations enjoy a relatively stable political and legal system. Organizations may be subject to dictatorial rule, rigid laws andcorruption, which can substantially alter the business environment as well as the legal environment.Legal systems can also become unstable, with contracts suddenly becoming unenforceable because ofinternal politics.
The HRM political influences are useful in justifying possible competing interests of employees, including potential discussions over the decision criteria of candidates for performance evaluation systems, and compensation methods.
Moreover, in addition, to easing the various competing interests and views that occur in an organization, the HRM should expand its abilities to focus on they can contribute to the firm’s reputation.
Formerly, HRM has faced barriers when it comes to having an influence on this issue because, in the past, HR practitioners have been left out of helping to make major strategic decisions. Another problem is that, previously it was viewed that HRM only made its decisions based on perception. Thus, in order for the firm to better benefit from the HRM influence, the traditional role of the HRM image must change from the narrow, technical administration of standards to an image of being a proactive political power and effective, strategic force.
Another potentially significant contribution that could improve a firm’s reputation and competitiveness could be achieved by enhancing the HRM ability to influence leadership; beginning with finding a way to attract, retain and develop a good mix of candidates.
In effect, a large part of the success of HRM political influence relies on its ability to maintain a good flow of communication between all the members of the organization and to minimize politics as much as possible in order to avoid possible law suits.
Understanding cultural traits and designing policies and rules that take them into account can help organizations to address important human resources issues, particularly if the organization is having multi-nationalities.
Culture generally refers to the knowledge, behavior, and belief system that have permeated the lives of a people for generations. Culture includes a way of thinking, behavior, and life and takes shape in a particular geographical area under specific political, economic, and historical conditions.
Cultural differences vary from country to country with corresponding differencesin HR practices. Thus, HR practices must be adapted to local cultural norms. Human Resources are usually considered as one of the most valuable assets in an organization, but only few organizations generate real benefit out of this resource.
In my early career in 1980th at the Personnel department, we used to adopt a communication system of recruitment when hiring expatriates. All selected foreign candidates usually receive at their home-country a welcome pack that include their employment offer/contract, a copy of the visa slip, air-ticket copy, sample adopted local policy and procedures and most imperative is a concise information about the new culture in which they are going to live for a year or two.
Such practice clear many of ambiguity in the mind of the new recruit and eliminate numerous of questions that HR is going to face when the candidate arrives to the new country, and most important create early embracement to the new culture by the expatriates. The information contains many of the local norms, believes, traditions, important laws and most imperative do’s and don’ts.
Thus, cultures have an important impact on approaches to managing people, so the cultural differences call for differences in management practices.
In culture with high power distance, loyalty and obedience to superior is required. In some Arab countries high respect is emphasized particularly when the CEO’s or top management are walking around. Employees have to stand up till the boss leaves, otherwise it may be considered disrespect or an offence that may lead to employee’ termination.
Thefore, employees understand and internalizedthe organzationanl and/country culture which can be said as the way things are done around here, it will enable them to choose strategy, and behavior that fit with their personality as well as with the main routines of organization activities.
Differences in economic systems must also be thoroughly investigated. Theimpact of economic factors on pending global operations must be fully understood and accountedfor prior to developing HR policies and practices. Probably one of the greatest economic factors isthe difference in labor costs.
A CEO of an Egyptian organization operating in different countries was under the impression that labor costs in Syria are by far less expensive than Egypt. When confronted with the facts and figures, an adjustment to the entire budget by 50% was made.
A crisis situation demands crisis management, a process that might lead to a rapid and flexible organizational adaptation to the specific conditions of this period. The organizations can handle any crises more easily if they adopt a proactive behavior instead of a reactive one.
Human resources management becomes essential in view of the decisions that must take into consideration both the organization‘s interests but also those of its employees. In the context of economic crisis the HR Practitioners‘ situation is a delicate one, he being in between the two sides – between employers and employees, each of them expecting measures that would be if not favorable to them, than at least tolerable for them.
It also has to solve problems without damaging the long-term interests of the company, to restructure the staff list and reduce salary and benefit expenses without loosing valuable employees, to act firmly without destroying the trust and loyalty of the employees.
This individual is facing new situations and duties like: conflict management, the improvement of the social climate, the improvement of communication, overcoming the employees‘ despondency and other situations rising from the particular situation of each company.
Other example of economic dimension impact of HR is when HR policy allows transfer of vacation balance into next year and permit working during days off.
As newly appointed HR practitioner in late 1996 at a red sea resort, I was keen to go through each and every individual file to take some notes if any, particularly the vacation balance.
When tourism crisis hit Egypt in late 1997/1998, occupancy dropped drastically to extreme extent, and management had to revisit their policies and practices to minimize the financial loss.
Reviewing vacation balance of all employees including top management, it was quite shocking to note that high number of employees, top management, have earned between 120 to 300 days of paid vacation in addition to their normal annual vacation. That was due to wrong HR policies of allowing employees to work on days-off thus earning one and half day extra, or to work on official holidays and earning double the days.
Finally, HR practitioners should review their practices, policies and procedures in order to avoid financial implications, lawsuits and/or building the wrong reputation. They have to move around their traditional role and look for better practices to improve their image front of the top management, employees as well as the public. Most important they don’t have to entertain all members, as that is not the role of HR.2015-11-26
September 16, 2017
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