Human Resource Management Case Study

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SAMPLE EXCERPT . . .

The identity is one that is split between the work identity and the personal identity (Tracy, 2000). The question that can be applied in this case study is whether or not transforming full-time employment into part-time employment, the organization apply too much pressure towards balancing the individual's identify more towards the life side of things and lose thus their partial influence on the work side.

This is not necessarily a matter of whether the employee will give the same productivity performance when he is at home against when he is the office, although a discussion can be launched as to whether the employee is potentially subjected to distractions at home that do not exist at work. It is, however, a matter of whether he will still associate himself with the organization in this part-time framework to the same degree to which he would do so when he were a full-time employee.

Certainly, technology helps to keep the connection still strong between a part-time employee and the organization that employs him. Some studies have implied that the relationship and connection between organizations and employees is no longer blurred even outside of the strict working environment, because technology control can be applied just as well as other forms of managerial control (Barker, 1993).

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A new workplace was created, one that is no longer a physical one, but a combination of virtual and physical (Boswell, 2007): the employee is occasionally at work and, at other times, he is simply connected through a variety of technological means, ranging from emails to video conferences and the cell phone/Black Berry. This type of interconnection will encourage the employee not only to retain the same levels of productivity (or the management to be able to enforce that), but will also cement his relationship with the organization, even if, as a part-time employee, he is no longer present on a full-time basis in the company offices.

TOPIC: Case Study on Human Resource Management. It a Assignment

Going back to the case study, beyond flexibility, there is an underlying presentation that some companies lay off some of the employees to reduce costs, but, at the same time, increase the work volume and working hours for the other employees, with the obvious objective of retaining the same level of output, despite a minimization of the workforce.

One of the obvious questions that arises here and to which the case study clearly alludes is whether longer working hour have a negative impact on the individual and, with that in mind, whether this negative impact can also be translated into a decreased productivity for the respective employee. It looks as if many of the studies are still split on many of these elements.

On one hand, "literature suggests that there is an association between working long hours and fatigue" (White, Beswick, 2003), but no specific association between the work performance effects and these long hours. There is also strong evidence that working long hours creates an inappropriate work-life balance, to the degree to which the line between the two becomes blurred (White, Beswick, 2003). Other studies conform the ambiguity of overall research on the negative impact of long-hour on the individual's life (Ratzel, 2009).

The actual work-life balance is based on the neoclassical theory of the individual labor supply that "considers income and leisure as the source of individual utility" (Ratzel, 2009). The theory reflects the decision making process that each individual is subjected to: more work creates more income for more consumption, but decreases time for leisure, almost in a proportional manner. The individual (and, as the case study shows, many organizations as well, as they consider the happiness of the individual as one of the elements affecting his performance) will try to create the appropriate balance between the two in order to maximize his satisfaction.

Even if its original area of study was fiscal policy and the effect of increased taxation over the amount of collected income, the Laffer Curve can also be used when discussing the relationship between working hours and performance. Most of the studies mentioned here point out that there is no clear, empirically demonstrated relationship between longer hours and decreased performance at the workplace.

However, one can assume that, similarly to the Laffer Curve, there is a certain number of hours of work during which an individual performs best. Beyond those hours, it is also reasonable to assume that his or her performance stabilizes at a certain level, only to decrease if the number of work hours becomes unreasonably high. Beyond empirical studies, it is common sense that this would happen, if one looks at how an individual generally works and operates.

In this context, the organization should give a proper analysis of the degree to which full-time work can be transformed into part-time work, with the underlying plan of actually supplementing the working hours of an individual by creating the false impression that, because he works from home, this actually improves the work-life balance in his favor.

The same principles of work-life balance should be applied even if a part-time activity means that the employee spends more time at home. This should not be mistaken with more time spent with his family, mainly because time at home while on the job is still working time, time during which the individual is involved in organizational activities.

Some studies differentiate between flexibility in the workplace and reduced time, equivalent to part-time positions. The case study appears to be referring to the latter case, while flexibility in general covers a larger area, including flexible working schedules or flexible leaves (Friedman, n.a.).

At the same time, studies cite the numerous benefits that flexibility in the workplace appears to bring to employees. Randstat's study (2008) showed that flexible hours and paid time off remained some of the most appreciated benefits by employees, almost as competitive as a competitive level of salary and health insurance. However, at this point, one should emphasize that flexible hours is not equivalent to part-time jobs and that what the case study is proposing goes beyond the simple flexibility of leaving the workplace whenever the employee needs to.

It is thus important to differentiate between imposed reduced work and preferred flexible hours and an overall flexible approach to the employee's obligations. The case study shows the situation of companies that are forced to introduce part-time positions to replace full-time positions because of challenging economic conditions. One would expect that the introduction of flexible approaches in the workplace is not necessarily something forced, but rather a new human resource policy aiming to increase productivity and efficiency in the workplace.

This discussion is also supported by arguments from the Sloan Center on Aging and Work (Pitt-Catsouphes; Matz-Costa; Besen, n.a.) define flexibility and flexible work options into five different categories: none of these refer to reduced working hours, but rather to flexible schedules, flexible place (thus, the possibility of working a full-time positon at home), or flexible options for time off, encouraging the employee to take days off whenever he or she have personal issues to solve.

The case study actually seems to be presenting the situation of a series of organizations that seemingly discovered a way of retaining personnel without paying them for a full-time job. In the beginning of this paper, we looked at the fact that the main challenge for these companies was to identify the right level of employment at which the company could lower its costs, but, at the same time, still count on the same number of employees. This would help when or if the economic environment would rebound to higher levels of demand for the company's products or services.

What occurs in these companies is, in fact, a half-way, unproductive solution that will, in the long run, cost these companies more money than if they let people go and went through another recruitment and selection process. What happens, as shown in this paper, is that companies prefer to put some of the employees on part-time positions instead of having an evaluation of the situation and simply deciding what the necessary level of employment is and who needs to be let go.

As argued in this paper, moving people to part-time positions does not mean a flexible work approach and a better balance between work and life. According to Maslow's pyramid of needs, these employees are likely to feel underappreciated and lose in terms of their self-esteem. They are also likely to feel their safety targeted, when it comes to their working place and to the position they occupy in the organization. They would not be able to cope with the challenge of having been moved from a full-time to a part-time position and would likely use some of the time on the job to look for other employment opportunities.

This paper argues that moving full-time positions to part-time ones is not the appropriate way of facilitating work-life balance during an economic downturn. The right approach would be to incorporate more and more technology in order to allow the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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