Thesis: Strengths and Weaknesses of Human Resources

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Human Resource Department: Strengths and Weaknesses

Every company has a Human Resources (HR) department, but what does it really do? It can be hard to say, because quite a few companies do not talk openly about their HR departments. If someone has a company, though, an HR department is needed -- with small companies and sole-proprietorships being the exception to the rule in a lot of cases. The Human Resource department is the one that is designed to take care of hiring, firing and other employee functions. It also handles job applications and requests for vacation time, as well as other issues like discrimination complaints and problems. Most employees do not even give it a second thought unless they need something from it at that time. Then they run to the HR department for help.

Often, the Human Resource department is a behind-the-scenes area of the company, and that is true of any kind of business. Most people do not think of the HR department when they talk about the company that they are working for. Since that is generally the case, anyone who works in HR goes overlooked a lot of the time. This can make it difficult to coordinate anything with that department and other departments around the company. Many other departments and the people who work in them do not realize the importance of what the HR people do and how much it can affect their lives at work if things in the HR department do not run properly. HR people are some of the most important players in any company setting. They keep all kinds of things moving smoothly, but they rarely get credit for the actions they take to make the lives of the employees better.

Going Global -- Changing HR Functions

Now that companies are going global and there are such important advances in technology and other kinds of areas, the face of Human Resources is changing. There is a lot more work to do in today's business world, and so do the people in the HR department are facing increasing pressure to continue to perform above and beyond expectations. Advances in technology have worked to make things easier, but at the same time they have also made things much more complex and also prone to errors that are not always that easily caught and clarified or corrected (Frederickson and Walling, 1999).

Human Resource personnel find that they have to work harder in order to keep up with the changing times. They affect so many people in the company and need to be paying close attention on a daily basis in order to make sure they are keeping up with laws, regulations, and desires of those who lead the company. Since the Human Resource department generally makes or, at the very least enforces, the rules, it needs to be sure the rules that it is following are the most current, and that the local, state, and federal laws are being followed in the proper way each and every time.

In addition to all the issues and duties that still belong to the HR department, the business environment is becoming much more global. This is raising new and larger concerns as well as new ideas for those people who work in human resources, and almost all companies are affected by this. That means much more work and coordination required in the HR department as well as other departments around the company -- and also around the world. Because many companies are linked up through the Internet, there is a lot more for an HR person to do in today's company than there was even just a few short years ago.

Dealing with cultures, ideas, ethnicities, religions, and other personal issues can be very problematic, and a lot of HR personnel do not have a very clear understanding of the issues which surround these types of concerns. In other words, an employee could easily be offended by something that took place in the Human Resources department, and the people who work in that department would not realize what they had said or done to offend that person. It is very hard to work together well when these types of things are taking place. Cultural competence and cultural tolerance are both important and significant issues for any person who is going to continue to work in human resources in today's society.

What types of people work in the HR department and what opinions they hold about global issues and tolerance will affect the way they react to issues in the company, and this will, in turn, affect the employees. In a less direct way, whoever works in the HR department will also affect the employer, as some of the decisions made by human resources can affect the people who work at the company as employees. This could, in turn, affect that plans that are made by employers. Allowing the Human Resource department to have too much power is a problem, but yet the department must be able to hold quite a lot of power if it is to be entrusted with the enforcement of rules that everyone in the company has to abide by. This is becoming a more important issue as globalization continues, and there seems to be no end in sight (Frederickson and Walling, 1999).

In the face of recent scandals and problems with some large U.S. companies, Human Resource management has been required to make some changes. It was brought to light that many companies had serious problems of an ethical nature, and the companies that escaped these problems were fortunate -- or perhaps just better prepared and/or more ethical. Human Resource personnel are being forced to navigate areas that have become increasingly political, too, and that can make things confusing and difficult. They also have to decide what kind of ethical philosophy they are going to employ. The entire company should have a code of conduct and a code of ethics that both must be followed by all employees. Because of that, the departments work together much more easily than they otherwise would. This is important, because it ensures there will not be nearly as much infighting and other problems when rules are either changed or implemented.

HR and Planning for the Future

The direction the Human Resource department takes on all kinds of matters affects employees and employers in a lot of different ways. Whether people are comfortable when they come to HR and whether they feel they can speak out regarding any problems they see in the company will generally be affected by the kind of impression they have of the Human Resource personnel and the department as a whole (Gennard & Judge, 2005). This can be very difficult when there is a global component to the equation, because there are so many cultural and ethnic differences among those people who work in HR and the employees in the rest of the company. These differences make the Human Resources department seem like a very unapproachable place to a lot of employees, but that opinion can also be changed with some work and a little bit of understanding.

Human Resource departments in various areas of the world report that employee productivity has been on the rise, and that long-term demographics show that the mix of employees in companies today, along with the needs of those employees, will change in the future (Chuvala, 2002). This is something that most people who work in HR, especially in big companies, are well aware of where the future is concerned. Because of that information, Human Resource departments have to begin looking at things that should be done in order to ensure they are ready for the changing future, no matter what it has to offer to them.

The new loyalty to the company that a lot of employees are showing today, and the new work ethics that they are displaying, are great for companies. Unfortunately, most of what is being seen in those two areas is not being done from a sense of ethical duty or moral obligation to the employer (Chuvala, 2002). These things are being done because people really need to keep their jobs, so they are doing what they have to in an effort to ensure that they can.

Anyone who addresses this issue knows that the HR department is very valuable in any type of organization, and that it has a lot to offer. They also realize that HR often gets overlooked as having any real importance and/or it is seen as being intimidating, so most people ignore it or try to avoid spending any time with the people who belong to it. With that in mind, it can be difficult for everyone to work together properly. Some companies are doing very well with their codes of ethics and conduct, but there are still a lot of places where there are gaps in the 'rules' as to how people and departments are… [END OF PREVIEW]

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