Human resource management 1
Human resource management
Human Resource Management (HRM, HR) is the management of an organization's employees. While human
resource management is sometimes referred to as a "soft" management skill, effective practice within an organization
requires a strategic focus to ensure that people resources can facilitate the achievement of organizational goals.
Effective human resource management also contains an element of risk management for an organization which, as a
minimum, ensures legislative compliance.
Fundamentally, human resource management is based on the assumption that employees are individuals with varying
goals and needs. Human resources should not be categorized with basic business resources (trucks, filing cabinets,
Practicing good human resource management (HRM) enables managers of an enterprise to express their goals with
specificity, increasing worker comprehension of goals, and provide the necessary resources to promote successfully
accomplishment of said goals. When HRM is properly employed members of the workforce are expressive of the
goals and operating practices of the firm.
HRM is seen by practitioners in the field as a more innovative view of workplace management than the traditional
approach. Its techniques force the managers of an enterprise to express their goals with specificity so that they can be
understood and undertaken by the workforce, and to provide the resources needed for them to successfully
accomplish their assignments. As such, HRM techniques, when properly practiced, are expressive of the goals and
operating practices of the enterprise overall. HRM is also seen by many to have a key role in risk reduction within
Synonyms such as personnel management are often used in a more restricted sense to describe activities that are
necessary in the recruiting of a workforce, providing its members with payroll and benefits, and administrating their
work-life needs. Torrington and Hall (1987) define personnel management as being:
“a series of activities which: first enable working people and their employing organisations to agree about the
objectives and nature of their working relationship and, secondly, ensures that the agreement is fulfilled" (p. 49).
While Miller (1987) suggests that HRM relates to:
".......those decisions and actions which concern the management of employees at all levels in the business and which
are related to the implementation of strategies directed towards creating and sustaining competitive advantage"
Human resource management is sometimes referred to as:
• Organizational management
• Personnel administration
• Manpower management
• Human capital management
• Industrial management 
Research in the area of HRM has much to contribute to the organizational practice of HRM. For the last 20 years,
empirical work has paid particular attention to the link between the practice of HRM and organizational
performance, evident in improved employee commitment, lower levels of absenteeism and turnover, higher levels of
skills and therefore higher productivity, enhanced quality and efficiency. This area of work is sometimes referred
to as 'Strategic HRM' or SHRM (not to be confused with the Society for Human Resource Management).
Human resource management 2
Within SHRM three strands of work can be observed : Best practice, Best Fit and the Resource Based View
The notion of best practice – sometimes called 'high commitment' HRM – proposes that the adoption of certain best
practices in HRM will result in better organizational performance. Perhaps the most popular work in this area is that
of Pfeffer  who argued that there were seven best practices for achieving competitive advantage through people
and 'building profits by putting people first'. These practices included: providing employment security, selective
hiring, extensive training, sharing information, self-managed teams, high pay based on company performance and
the reduction of status differentials. However, there is a huge number of studies which provide evidence of best
practices, usually implemented in coherent bundles, and therefore it is difficult to draw generalized conclusions
about which is the 'best' way (For a comparison of different sets of best practices see Becker and Gerhart, 1996 
Best fit, or the contingency approach to HRM, argues that HRM improves performance where there is a close
vertical fit between the HRM practices and the company's strategy. This link ensures close coherence between the
HR people processes and policies and the external market or business strategy. There are a range of theories about
the nature of this vertical integration. For example, a set of 'life cycle' models argue that HR policies and practices
can be mapped onto the stage of an organization's development or life cycle. Competitive advantage models take
Porter's (1985) ideas about strategic choice and map a range of HR practices onto the organization's choice of
competitive strategy. Finally 'configuration models'  provide a more sophisticated approach which advocates a
close examination of the organisation's strategy in order to determine the appropriate HR policies and practices.
However, this approach assumes that the strategy of the organisation can be identified – many organisations exist in
a state of flux and development.
The Resource Based View (RBV), argued by some to be at the foundation of modern HRM, focusses on the
internal resources of the organisation and how they contribute to competitive advantage. The uniqueness of these
resources is preferred to homogeneity and HRM has a central role in developing human resources that are valuable,
rare, difficult to copy or substitute and that are effectively organized.
Overall, the theory of HRM argues that the goal of human resource management is to help an organization to meet
strategic goals by attracting, and maintaining employees and also to manage them effectively. The key word here
perhaps is "fit", i.e. a HRM approach seeks to ensure a fit between the management of an organization's employees,
and the overall strategic direction of the company (Miller, 1989).
The basic premise of the academic theory of HRM is that humans are not machines, therefore we need to have an
interdisciplinary examination of people in the workplace. Fields such as psychology, industrial relations, industrial
engineering, sociology, economics, and critical theories: postmodernism, post-structuralism play a major role. Many
colleges and universities offer bachelor and master degrees in Human Resources Management or in Human
Resources and Industrial Relations.
One widely used scheme to describe the role of HRM, developed by Dave Ulrich, defines 4 fields for the HRM
• Strategic partner - Aligning HR and business strategy: ‘organisational diagnosis’
• Administration Expert - Reengineering organisation processes: ‘shared services’
• Employee champion - Listening and responding to employees: ‘providing resources to employees’
• Change Agent - Managing transformation and change: ‘ensuring capacity for change’.
Human resource management 3
Human resources management involves several processes. Together they are supposed to achieve the above
mentioned goal. These processes can be performed in an HR department, but some tasks can also be outsourced or
performed by line-managers or other departments. When effectively integrated they provide significant economic
benefit to the company.
• Workforce planning
• Recruitment (sometimes separated into attraction and selection)
• Induction, Orientation and Onboarding
• Skills management
• Training and development
• Personnel administration
• Compensation in wage or salary
• Time management
• Travel management (sometimes assigned to accounting rather than HRM)
• Payroll (sometimes assigned to accounting rather than HRM)
• Employee benefits administration
• Personnel cost planning
• Performance appraisal
• Labor relations
An HRM strategy pertains to the means as to how to implement the specific functions of Human Resource
Management. An organization's HR function may possess recruitment and selection policies, disciplinary
procedures, reward/recognition policies, an HR plan, or learning and development policies, however all of these
functional areas of HRM need to be aligned and correlated, in order to correspond with the overall business strategy.
An HRM strategy thus is an overall plan, concerning the implementation of specific HRM functional areas.
An HRM strategy typically consists of the following factors:-
• "Best fit" and "best practice" – meaning that there is correlation between the HRM strategy and the overall
corporate strategy. As HRM as a field seeks to manage human resources in order to achieve properly
organizational goals, an organization's HRM strategy seeks to accomplish such management by applying a firm's
personnel needs with the goals/objectives of the organisation. As an example, a firm selling cars could have a
corporate strategy of increasing car sales by 10% over a five year period. Accordingly, the HRM strategy would
seek to facilitate how exactly to manage personnel in order to achieve the 10% figure. Specific HRM functions,
such as recruitment and selection, reward/recognition, an HR plan, or learning and development policies, would
be tailored to achieve the corporate objectives.
• Close co-operation (at least in theory) between HR and the top/senior management, in the development of the
corporate strategy. Theoretically, a senior HR representative should be present when an organization's corporate
objectives are devised. This is so, since it is a firm's personnel , or provide a service. The personnel's proper
management is vital in the firm being successful, or even existing as a going concern. Thus, HR can be seen as
one of the critical departments within the functional area of an organization.
• Continual monitoring of the strategy, via employee feedback, surveys, etc.
The implementation of an HR strategy is not always required, and may depend on a number of factors, namely the
size of the firm, the organizational culture within the firm or the industry that the firm operates in and also the people
in the firm.
Human resource management 4
A HRM strategy can be divided, in general, into two facets – the people strategy and the HR functional strategy. The
people strategy pertains to the point listed in the first paragraph, namely the careful correlation of HRM
policies/actions to attain the goals laid down in the corporate strategy. The HR functional strategy relates to the
policies employed within the HR functional area itself, regarding the management of persons internal to it, to ensure
its own departmental goals are met.HRM strategies can also be depicted in the form of models. The best fit strategies
relate to Hard HRM model and people centric strategies relate to Soft HRM strategies.
The Hard human resource management model or strategic fit model is a model with an epitome of utilizing the
people working in the organization as any other resource of the organization.  This model emphasizes the usage
of the people working in the organization in the same manner as any other resources are used. It enunciates the
concept that people should be hired cheaply and must be brewed and made to work as fully as possible. The essence
of the hard model approach is the synergy between the organizational strategies and human resource management.
People are visualized as a submissive resource and are managed and controlled by a logical approach to assure the
optimal utilization of the people for the attainment of the competitive advantage.
The epitome of the soft model of human resource management is the creation of a strategic relationship between the
employees and the organization.The soft model emphasizes on the interests of distinctive organization’s stakeholders
and the mapping of organization’s goals with the stakeholders’ interests. The theme of soft human resource
management model is that people are intangible assets as this valuable resource can not be transacted in terms of
selling and buying and their value is beyond the traditional financial codes.People working in the organization are
treated in a unique manner as compare to the other resources in the organization. Soft human resource
management essence is the mutual admiration between organization and employees.  Soft human resource
management concentrates on the humanist side of human resource management which has an epitome of people
motivation by buying their inputs on vital decisions and encouraging the team work within the organization.
Careers and education
Further information: Graduate degree programs in human resources management
Several universities offer programs of study pertaining to HRM and broader
fields. Cornell University created the world's first school for college-level study
in HRM (ILR School). University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign also now
has a school dedicated to the study of HRM, while several business schools also
house a center or department dedicated to such studies; e.g., University of
Wisconsin-Madison, University of Minnesota, Michigan State University, Ohio
State University, Roosevelt University, Lindenwood University, and Purdue
There are both generalist and specialist HRM jobs. There are careers involved
with employment, recruitment and placement and these are usually conducted by
interviewers, EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) specialists or college
recruiters. Training and development specialism is often conducted by trainers Cornell University's School of
Industrial and Labor Relations was
and orientation specialists. Compensation and benefits tasks are handled by
the world's first school for
compensation analysts, salary administrators, and benefits administrators. college-level study in HRM
Human resource management 5
The main Professional organizations in HRM include the Society for Human Resource Management, the Australian
Human Resources Institute (AHRI), the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD.
The Human Resources Management (HRM) function includes a variety of activities, and key among them is
deciding the staffing needs of an organization and whether to use independent contractors or hire employees to fill
these needs, recruiting and training the best employees, ensuring they are high performers, dealing with performance
issues, and ensuring your personnel and management practices conform to various regulations. Activities also
include managing your approach to employee benefits and compensation, employee records and personnel policies.
Usually small businesses (for-profit or nonprofit) have to carry out these activities themselves because they can't yet
afford part- or full-time help. However, they should always ensure that employees have—and are aware
of—personnel policies which conform to current regulations. These policies are often in the form of employee
manuals, which all employees have.
Note that some people distinguish a difference between HRM (a major management activity) and HRD (Human
Resource Development, a profession). Those people might include HRM in HRD, explaining that HRD includes the
broader range of activities to develop personnel inside of organizations, including, e.g., career development, training,
organization development, etc.
There is a long-standing argument about where HR-related functions should be organized into large organizations,
e.g., "should HR be in the Organization Development department or the other way around?"
The HRM function and HRD profession have undergone major changes over the past 20–30 years. Many years ago,
large organizations looked to the "Personnel Department," mostly to manage the paperwork around hiring and
paying people. More recently, organizations consider the "HR Department" as playing an important role in staffing,
training and helping to manage people so that people and the organization are performing at maximum capability in
a highly fulfilling manner.
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Article Sources and Contributors 7
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