Challenges an HRM Professional Faces in the Workplace Thesis

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¶ … HRM professional faces in the workplace

The increasing complexity of the business environment to which globalization, workforce demographics, focus on profitability through growth and fast technological advancement forced organizations to gradually consider their human resources (HR) as a set of unique and intangible assets that are a key element to drive competitive advantage.

Nowadays, a HR department, which is focused on administrative activities, rather than being strategically integrated in the organization, is likely to fail to provide the competitive advantage needed for its survival. Instead organizations should integrate this department deeper in their core strategy, thus evolving from a simple HR department to human resource management. This paper argues the roles and competencies or HR professionals and the market trends and opportunities.

The role of the HRM professional in human capital management (HCM)

HRM has become an increasingly important approach to people management worldwide. The term HRM is very broad, having a large number of definitions, leading Watson to conclude (2002: p.369) a "rather messy situation currently exist weather by the terms HRM used in a confusing variety of ways."

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HRM is the term used to describe just about any means of managing employees. Boxall & Purcell (2003) described HRM as the set of "all those activities associated with the management of employment relationships in the firm." The role of HRM is to add value to organizational performance. This part of organizational management entails: recruitment & selection, training & development, appraisal, performance management & rewards for appropriate performance, skills & knowledge development to meet business objectives, computerized HR systems, payroll, legal issues, management development, and administrative functions.

Thesis on Challenges an HRM Professional Faces in the Workplace Assignment

Kingsmill (2003) referred to HCM as "a strategic approach to people management that focuses on the issues that are critical to an organization's success," while Edvinsson (1997) described it as "the possession of knowledge, applied experience, organizational technology, customer relationships and professional skills that provides [a company] with a competitive edge in the market." Put in simple words, the HCM's role is to manage the component part of a given company's "intellectual capital," known as human capital, which, along with other components, contributes to the difference between market value and book value of a company (Hartley & Robey, 2005).

The growing body of literature to link the organizational performance with the development of human capital emphasizes the role of human capital management in leveraging the skills and capabilities of the organization's employees by stimulating individual and organizational learning, while fostering an environment in which knowledge can be shared and applied.

Key competencies of the current HRM professional role in human capital management

HR professionals have to demonstrate broader competencies and adjust their roles to the changing organizational and demand changes. A number of studies targeted the competencies of HR professionals, including here the IPMA competency model, the emotional competence framework and the integrative model of HR competencies.

Fig. 1 -- IPMA competency model

Source: International Public Management Association of HR

Fig. 2 -- Emotional competence framework

Fig. 3 -- Integrative model of HR competencies

The 3 models presented in this section emphasize the HR professionals' ability to adjust to the ever changing environment and organizational change, which require different competencies all the time. While in the past, HR professionals were required to focus on administrative tasks, the present is more demanding. HR professionals have to be on top of everything that happens in an organization from the human capital point-of-view to be able to get the most of this valuable resource.

Business trends, issues, and opportunities identified

Some of the most important trends with impact on HRM include:

1. Linking HR strategy to business strategy. This action requires HR strategic planning. People-related strategies should be correlated to the organization's goals and objectives.

2. The automation of HR processes. HR professionals should spend more time of tasks with high value and delegate the rest of the activities to users (wherever possible).

3. Outsourcing HR activities. Small HR tasks can be delegated to external companies, while internal HR departments are kept smaller, but for core activities (e.g. consultants, HR strategists).

4. Measuring the results of HR processes. Create systems to measure HR performance and quantify the results (e.g. quantify $ benefits).

Market and organizational dynamics maintain the environment in a permanent change that can be seen as a major source of challenges and opportunities. Thus, the organization's changing needs asks for an evaluation of existing skills and development of future ones; a permanent selection of the human capital stimulates the retention of true talent; the increasing diversity of workforce increases sensitivity to diversity, on one hand, and expands the talent pool, on another hand; and the rapid changes of the environment force HR professionals to select flexible individuals that are more likely to adapt to changes.

While in the past, creating competitive advantage was seen as a characteristic for elites, in the present this is a prerequisite of market survival. Organizations nowadays have to permanently learn how to be better, build competencies and acquire talent to keep themselves on top of the competition.

Learning is essential to achieve organizational competitive advantage. According to Edmonson & Moingeon (1998: p.9) 'to remain viable in an environment characterized by uncertainty and change, organizations and individuals alike depend upon an ability to learn'. The organizational learning is based on individual and collective learning process in the organization. Poper & Lipshitz (1998) defined the organizational learning mechanism's role 'to collect, analyze, store, disseminate and use systematically information that is relevant to their and their member performance'. Learning should have an impact on organizational performance when an individual's learning has an impact on and interconnects with others, that way the organization's members learn together and progressively begin the change process. This should change mutual behavior, which increases collective competencies.

Additionally, knowledge represents the greatest part of intangible assist within the organization and it's embedded in the organization's employees. It is viewed as a critical organizational resource, which provides competitive advantage. Capturing this knowledge, distributing it within the organization, building on it and taking steps towards advancing the knowledge level has been prompted as an essential part of developing employees. According to Stredwick (2005) organization relies on people as a resource to convert information into knowledge.

The synchronization of HRM with the organization's strategy and the stimulation of a learning & knowledge environment have been taken under consideration as key drivers for organizational performance. It is the role of HR professionals to leverage the human capital to achieve competitive advantage, by defining the framework and tools necessary for learning and knowledge transfers within the organization.

Set of future competencies an HRM professional

HRM professionals not only have to manage human talent, but also to lead it. They have to be role models for employees. Additionally, they have to possess business acumen and knowledge of HR practice to be able to build a framework and tools that enable human talent to be transformed in competitive advantage for the organization.

HR professionals have to understand the importance of synchronizing the HR policies and structures to the organizational strategies, so that the human capital performance works entirely to achieve organizational goals. They serve as a liaison between results and human resources.

Reference list:

Boxall, P. & Purcell, J. 2003. Strategy and human resource management, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Edmonson, a. & Moingeon, B. 1998. From organisational learning to the learning organization. Management Learning, vol.29: pp.5-20.

Goleman, D. 2000. Working with Emotional Intelligence. Bantam Books: New York.

Goleman, D. 1995. Emotional Intelligence. Bantam Books: New York.

Hartley, V. & Robey, D. 2005. Reporting on Human Capital Management. Report 423 - Institute for Employment Studies:

International Public Management Association of HR, accessed Feb 2010; available at:

Kingsmill, D. 2003. Accounting for people: report. London: Task Force on Human Capital Management. Available at:


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