Revision Topics for HRM

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1. Downsizing

Downsizing refers to the process through which the employees are reduced from the payroll. Under downsizing the employees are permanently downscaled and cannot be rehired. Downsizing makes the employee to seek alternative employment. The employee ends up finding a job that has better terms and conditions as compared to the old one. The employees are thus able to obtain jobs that higher pays, less working hours among other job conditions which are better than the old job.

Downsizing brings about a psychological impact on the employees. The employees become despondent as a result of being downsized. The employee feels unfavorable to the other colleagues that remain working in the firm. The employees also lose their self-assurance in their abilities and skills and think that they are inferior. In most cases the employees end up being angry at the company because of downsizing them. Therefore downsizing clearly results to severe psychological impacts on the employees, (Sears, 2008, p.5).

The employees obtain a severance pay as a result of downsizing. Most businesses in their contracts they offer severance pays in case they terminate their contracts with the employees. The employees are thus compensated with a pay when they are downsized. These lump sum payments that they receive positively impacts the employees and they can repay their accrued debts and save the rest of the money or start businesses.

Lastly, downsizing has a financial impact on the employees. The employees had a developed kind of lifestyle where they were used to constant flows of income. Downsizing them brings about a financial blow because it may take time to secure another job. Reduction in income negatively affects the consumption, saving and investment patterns of the employee. The employee is thus forced to change the lifestyle in order to house the low incomes.

The companies practice downsizing in order to attain increase their productivity and profitability but they end up not achieving these targets. Instead it leads to increased overtime wages, loss of skilled and reliable workers, decrease in customer service and increased disability claims and lawsuits. The attitudes of the employees change and they have constant absenteeism which in turn reduces the productivity. These associated results instead tend to increase costs other than profits as it was the objective of the firm.

2. Psychological Contract

A psychological contract refers to the set of expectations and obligations between the employer and the employee. It involves the expectations from both the employer and employee on how they will execute their roles. Good psychological contracts results to satisfaction of employees and hence superior performance, (Perkins & Shortland 2006, p. 74). Higher absenteeism, reduced performance and employee commitment result from poor psychological contracts which in turn lead to reduced profitability. Relational psychological contracts in turn make workers to work for long hours whether being paid or not and maintain their relationships with the employers through seeking remedies. It thus leads to career development and job security. Transactional psychological contracts end up shifting the economic risks directly from the employer towards the employees.

Organizational restructuring involves merging and acquisitions. Mergers greatly improve the efficiency within the firms which change the employment relationship pressure hence reducing the commitment of the employees. Acquisitions and mergers are generally aimed at increasing the firm’s profitability, diversification and growth. Studies show that mergers make the psychological contracts to be prone to breach and violation and also leads to decreased commitments in the organization (Anthonie and Nicole, 2011).

3. Flexible Organization

The Atkinson (1984) model describes the shifts contractual patterns. Atkinson in this model shows the displacement in employment relationships through subcontracts that are initiated by commercial relationships. The model further describes the difference that arises between peripheral, core and in the external workforces where each is held as a ring that shifts from the middle core. According to Atkinson, external workforce describes the activities that are outsourced and in conjunction with peripheral workers they can be attuned to overcome the fluctuations in the market demands. This model specifies that peripheral workers should have separable jobs, well defined tasks, and low skills, have responsibilities that are internally focused and should be obtained easily from the external labor market. The model specifies that the core employees should be hired based on regular contracts and are anticipated to show elevated flexibility (Reilly, 2001; p.48)

The common types of flexibility include, temporal, functional, financial, skills, procedural, numerical, structural and attitudinal flexibilities (Reilly, 2001, p.50). Flexibility in an organization increases efficiency and competitiveness through technological developments. It also encourages flexibility in scheduling and results to effective teambuilding. Flexibility on the other hand causes inequity, reduces career opportunities, increases insecurity in jobs, encourages administration complexity and increases the training costs.

4. Hard and soft HRM; high and low road HRM

The hard approach basically revolves around the resource side under the human resource management. It states that people within the organization are resources and should be maintained just like we do to the other resources. It further argues cheap resources should be obtained for the firm so as to cut down the costs of production and that they should be used more sparingly. The resources also should be developed and exploited in the most profitable way. On the other hand the soft approach concentrates on human side in the human resource management where people are resources that help in creating value for the firm. This approach also argues that through skills and commitment human resources can create competitive advantage in the firm. It clearly shows that this resource requires proper rewards, development and nurturing (Kirkbride, 1994, p. 57). High road approach to human resource management basically emphases on product differentiation that is achieved through innovations and quality. The low road approach to human resource management focuses on competition and achieving cost control through price leadership.

5. Understand learning in HRD

Human Resource Development (HRD) refers to the process of training employees so that they can develop knowledge, skills and abilities that are required by the organization. The employees after being hired they are provided with opportunities where they are able to learn new skills that will help them in execution of their tasks and various developmental activities. The approaches to human resource development include:

Educational approach: this approach teaches people how to think strategically.

Top-down approach: the human resource development offerings are determined by organizational strategies.

Career planning approach: in this approach individuals are trained about the future in respect of the strategic plan of the firm through the efforts of the human resource development.

Market driven approach: in this approach the future learning needs that are required by the changing market conditions are determined by the human resource development department.

Future approach: it assists the managers in the top levels of the organization in formulating the strategy of the firm. Decision makers are able to foresee the future direction of the organization and identify its competitive strategies.

Interpersonal approach: it helps strategists and professionals to come together to determine the visions and beliefs for the future of the organization. Other approaches include rifle, performance diagnosis, pulse taking and artificial experience approaches (Rothwell, 1998 p.7).

Under Kolb’s learning cycle, learning basically involves the movement between any opposite modes. Kolb argues that the mode of learning is highly influenced by the experience of the individual choices. He further suggests that learning modes combinations yield to strategies in learning. The learning modes include concrete experience, reflexive observation, abstract conceptualization and the active experimentation. High learning levels are produced by combination of the four key learning modes.

6. Toolkit for Manpower Planning

Manpower planning involves identification of gaps in the prevailing workforce, the type of workforce the firm requires in future and how to solve the gaps. Planning for the manpower will require the following:

Determining whether there is need to train or recruit new employees: manpower planning is done so as to cope with the changing business and environmental requirements. It ensures that the firm is able to recruit new workers only when required overcoming the problem of unproductive manpower in the organization. When there is a gap in the current and future requirements of workforce then recruitments for the future are necessary.

Skills, knowledge and capabilities requirements: planning for the manpower will entail developing the type of competencies that are required in future. Training the existing workforce and new recruits usually depend on these required competencies.

Manpower planning also involves identification of the future requirements of the business. On the other hand human resource training is a process of obtaining the right qualified staff at the right time for the organization. The process involves forecasting on the human resource demand and supply in the organization, carrying out human resource inventories and understanding the changes in the environment and the strategic plan of the firm. It also aims at protecting the weaker society sections, determines future requirements in skills and carrying out career planning for the employees.

7. Part-time Work

The part time work helps employees to work for fewer hours and while obtaining adequate salaries. Part time work saves the company the payroll, taxes on the social securities and costs that may arise from tax consultations. Part time work also helps the company in reducing the expenses that it incurs in benefits provision such as compensations for the workers, vacation payments and health insurances. Most part timers find other jobs which help in supplementing their incomes. This shows that with part time jobs the workers are able to moonlight cash. In general part time work leads to reduced benefit costs, better work schedules, reduction in the overtime costs, improved coverage in the workplace, reduction in the costs of labor and increased productivity. On the other hand part time work leads to higher turnover, difficult in supervision and also reduces the productivity of the workers.


A good performance system ensures that there is increased performance motivation and development of opportunities by the employees. A good PM ensures that there is team work that aims at increasing productivity, better feedbacks and knowledge within the managers. Good performance management helps the company in communicating its goals and strategies and in planning for the manpower. Bad performance system arises as a result of the following factors. They include lack of commitment in the executive which results to lack of accountability by the subordinate managers and a developed acuity that there is no seriousness in the performance management. Bad performance management may also be caused by the desire for uniformity, bureaucratic processes and lack of incentives. Bureaucratization in the process clearly shows that performance management actually becomes an empty paper. This results when the employees and the managers do not fill the form correctly as a result of misunderstanding.

The most common measurement approaches include economic value added and the business balanced scorecard.  Other approaches include comparative, behavioral and attribute approach. The performance approaches encourages growth to the employees and creates customer values. They also lead to increased revenues, reduced capital costs, minimum operating expenses and help the firm to invest in the projects that are only productive. The approaches are easy to develop and mangers are able to record their activities. The approaches may also lack specificity in issues concerning feedbacks. The approaches may happen to be vague as a result of differing interpretations.

Performance management is time consuming. It takes a lot of time writing performance appraisals by the managers. Performance management results to discouragements to the staff if the process is not seemingly pleasant. It also leads to inconsistent messages especially when managers do not keep accurate records and notes. This makes them to struggle in memorizing the required information which may end up relying inconsistent messages. Performance management in most cases it is biased. On the other hand it leads to conversations that are based on performance where the manager discusses issues about the organization with their employees. It also encourages the staff, identifies and eliminates underperformers in the organization, gives room for employee’s growth, documents the employee’s performance history and it also rewards the goods jobs to the staff

Job analysis refers to the process of determining the contents of a job. These contents include the required attributes in performing the job and it will be realized that through job analysis the major job requirements are identified. According to researches several types of bias arise during job analysis, (Cook, 2009 p.63). They include;

Gender: during job analysis and description there arises gender discrimination. There arise to be jobs that strictly require men thus discouraging women from seeking such jobs. Some jobs might require a lot of commitment hence will rule the women out more especially those that have young children.

Personality: studies clearly show that the job analysis can be totally biased by personality where people may think certain jobs require attention or leadership skills. Those that think they do not have some of these skills but are able to execute the jobs but are avoided.

Ability: job analysis may tend to be biased in the abilities that they require from the employees.

Work attitudes: the role of involvement in the job as explained in the job analysis is most a time biased. Those that are more involved in their job are in most a times preferred especially when collecting data for the job analysis.

Wording: in job analysis the choice of wording creates a big difference where if the job is described in terms of the abilities people end up claiming activities that are nonexistent.

Coaching helps in developing the employees. Through coaching staff you provide them with a great opportunity to grow, help in mentoring and counseling them, and also help in getting the optimal performance from them. Coaching generally involves the following steps: developing a degree of trust with the staff, open a meeting for coaching, getting the employees to realize that issues that concern performance exist,  encouraging employees to come up with contingent solutions to performance issues and help the employees to choose the best alternative.

Observation of the employees provides a permanent record this is because most of the behavior that the analyst may which to obtain from the employees is clearly transient. The data obtained from observing the employees is flexible, diverse and applicable since the analyst can obtain both qualitative and quantitative data about the employees. Finally observing the employees actually provides a direct access to phenomena about social issues of the employees. There are also disadvantages that are associated with employee observations which include bias results from the observer, the observer may also influence the employee’s behavior and that it takes a lot of time and resources to keep constant observations on the behavior of the employees.

The determinants of performance depend on the willingness to perform where increased willingness leads to high standards. It is also determined by the capacity to perform. The level of performance will lie around the set standards if the employees posses the required capacity which entails the skills and abilities of the employees. Opportunity to perform is also another determinant of performance where the challenging tasks are provided with favorable opportunities that enable their performances to be realized. On the other hand the dimensions of performance involve knowledge base, independence, fluency and the range in which the employees can carry out tasks. Dimensions of performance show how the employees can fluently perform their duties through the effort that is required of them. Independence involves how the employees can work independently and the amount of help they require from other clients in the organization.

The components of an appraisal form include the following, (Grote, 1996 p. 174).

The key performance areas: in this part, the key areas are identified and the relevant objectives are set.

Self-appraisal:  the employees appraise themselves at the end of the appraisal period.

Performance analysis: in this part the managers base their interest on the employee performance and the relevant factors that affect smooth performance.

Identifying the training needs: this aims at the development of employees so as to execute their duties more efficiently.

Qualities identification: in this part the supervisors establish the future and current tasks requirements. They also access the capabilities of the employees that are needed in performing the job.  

Performance measurements usually tend to encourage behaviors to the employees that are rigid. It also result loss of creativity within the organization where employees are unable to come up with innovative solutions. Performance measures also greatly encourage behaviors that are unethical to crop up within the employees. On the other hand performance measures may have some advantages such as increased customer loyalty and satisfaction. Performance measures may either be quantitative or qualitative which help to in providing a clear indication that shows how firms survive and perform in the long run towards achieving their goals and objectives. Long term revenues can also be obtained from the increased customer satisfaction because they are willing to purchase large quantities of goods and services.

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