Research Paper: Human Resources Management

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[. . .] They showed the same video every year, featuring a man at the front desk talking on the phone to a friend about their plans for the evening while guests stood patiently waiting to register. His back to the just arrived guests, he turned for a moment and said, "I'll be right with you," but from his conversation it was obvious he was talking to a friend about a party they would go to.

The HR person put the video on pause; "What's wrong in this picture?" she asked. Someone always immediately pointed out that front desk employee was unprofessional. But I always raised my hand and said, "The real problem is not the employee, but who hired him and who was responsible for training him?" Anyone hired for a position like that has to be closely monitored even after training to be certain guests are treated rudely.

To answer the question -- "How do you believe that the HRM role can be optimized for shaping organizational and employee behavior?" -- a point needs to be raised regarding HR recruitment and selection: are the hiring and interviewing staff members sending the right messages -- messages that reflect the company's true values? Moreover, Vielhaber makes an extremely valid point when she notes that many HR managers "are deficient in their ability to accurately measure someone's ability to perform their job" (43). And further, too many HR managers spend time in interviews "selling candidates" on the company rather than "measuring" applicant's skills (Vielhaber, 43). No matter whether it is a McDonald's, a 7/11, IBM or Apple, when HR people suddenly need to hire talent, will they be ready to see the hiring process as a "strategic component in an integrated performance management process"? (Vielhaber, 45).

A better workplace requires smarter tactics. I have seen shoddy hiring processes in the hotel where I worked, but luckily, after I was hired full time I had the authority to interview, hire and train my bar and restaurant staff -- subject to the approval of the HR person who only took interest after I had done the recruiting, interviewing, and introduced him to the prospective employee I recruited. A better world, a better home environment, a better neighborhood and a better community requires applying some of the same values and policies that HR managers are expected to embrace.

Employee and Labor Relations

The role of unions in the American labor force has diminished in recent years, for a number of reasons, several of which will be explained in the paper. What is important is that while unions have a legal right to recruit employees -- and HRM professionals should know full what the rules are -- the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) is not providing the guidance and resources that it was designed to do. Indeed, the NLRA's certification regime is "ineffective and permits pressures that inhibit employees from expressing their real desires" as to whether or not they wish to be represented by a union (Livingston, 2011, p. 219). According to Livingston, writing in the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, in the 1950s some thirty-five percent of the workforce was unionized; and in 1975 the number just twenty-five percent of the American workforce was unionized; and in 2011, "less than seven percent of the private sector workforce is represented by unions" (Livingston, 219).

Part of the reason for the decline is that the Act "unfairly prejudices unions" and the sanctions used by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) have failed to "deter employers from committing unfair labor practices that hinder unions' effort to organize workplaces" (Livingston, 222). Moreover, Livingston explains that the NLRB as a whole allows employers "…far too much legal latitude throughout the organizing process and even after a union is certified" (222). The main point of this peer-reviewed article is that the seventy-five-year-old NLRA needs to be reformed. No doubt Livingston can find a hefty number of politicians from both parties to agree with the need for reform within the NLRA and its functioning board, the NLRB.

On that subject, what has been learned in the course and outside of the course are the current political moves by Republican governors and GOP-led legislatures to basically take away the power of collective bargaining -- an attack on existing unions unlike any that has been seen in a long while, perhaps ever. Basically governors in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana have declared war on unions. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker -- and his GOP majority in the legislature -- passed legislation in 2011 taking away collective bargaining rights for unions representing state workers. There is currently a recall movement underway in Wisconsin to replace Walker as governor, and already several Republican legislators have been recalled in the response to Walker's actions. It has often been the goal of Republican politicians to crush the union movement, and given the recent success of the "Tea Party" governors apparently have seen a chance to seize the moment and push the union movement off the main page of the American workforce.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senate Republicans had vowed to block any new appointments of the NLRB prior to President Obama's appointment of three new members while the Senate was in recess for the holidays. The NLRB cannot function without sufficient numbers and so Obama said he was giving the board three new members so it can once again function and protect the rights of workers. "The Supreme Court has ruled that the board needs at least three members to operate" (Johnson, 2012).

So on the one hand, Livingston argues that the NLRA / NLRB needs serious reform, and on the other hand the conservatives and anti-labor politicians in the Republican party would like to simply block the NLRB from having any power to intervene on behalf of unions or workers. Added to those dynamics is Obama in the midst of an election year with virtually all Republican candidates for the presidency calling him out for making the appointments to the NLRB.

In conclusion, a good question to be asked is, how does the average union worker feel about these events? I was in a union, the United Auto Workers, and the very idea of a governor or any politician taking away collective bargaining rights from any union is an anathema to worker's rights and to democracy. This is the year when students should use what they learned in their business and HRM courses and add to that knowledge by staying close in touch with national events that will have an enormous impact on the workplace of the future. There is always linkage between classroom lectures, text books and outside readings -- and the real political and social world outside the comfort zone of a college or university.

Works Cited

Archibold, Randal C. (2010). Arizona Enacts Stringent Law on Immigration. The New York

Times. Retrieved January 11, 2012, from http://www.nytimes.com.

Burns, Prue, and Schapper, Jan. (2008). The Ethical Case for Affirmative Action. Journal of Business Ethics, 83(3), 369-379.

Ceasar, Stephen. (2012). Chicano studies classes vanish. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 12, 2012, from http://www.latimes.com.

Johnson, Stephon. (2012). Obama appoints new members to NLRB, meets opposition.

Amsterdam News Staff. Retrieved January 12, 2011, from http://www.amsterdamnews.com.

Livingston, Amy. (2011). Employee Free Choice: Amplifying Employee Voice Without

Silencing Employers -- A Proposal for Reforming the National Labor Relations Act.

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, 45(1), 219-259.

Rosen, James. (2012). Republican candidates remain firmly behind tough immigration laws.

The Kansas City Star. Retrieved January 11, 2011, from http://www.kansascity.com.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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