Should HRM Be Aligned With Strategy?

Leaders in business organizations are charged with the responsibility of delivery on the goals of the organization. Efforts by most of these executives are focused on other ventures, leaving one of the most important aspects which is the development of human capital. This is in a way surprising, while top management staffs fail to realize the importance of Human Resource to the achievement of organizational goals. This lack of knowledge, of the importance of the Human Resource department, and its alliance with the organizational strategy, accounts for the reason while most organizations find it difficult to thrive. It is thus imperative that for an organization to succeed at the implementation of its organizational strategy, the Human Resource Management department must be carried along.

This essay is aimed at discussing in details what Human Resource Management is all about and to establish the need for the alignment of Human Resource Management and organizational strategy. The essay has also discussed the various problems hindering the implementation of the alignment of Human Resource Management, and organizational strategies, and solutions to this problems proffered. Further discussions on the derived advantages of linking or aligning Human Resource Management, and organizational strategy are discussed. How to go about the alignment, as well as the role of the Human Resource Management in positioning the department strategically, so as to be involved in strategic decision making initiatives are contained in the study. And as such answering the question of whether Human Resource Management should be aligned with strategy in the affirmative.

Should HRM be aligned with Strategy?

Introduction

The Human Resource Management (HRM) role in an organization has to do with a lot of activities, and one of the basic functions of Human Resource Management is to take decisions as regards the organizational need for personnel. And to decide on either, to bring in adhoc workers on a contract basis or arrangement to fill the need, or employ workers directly. Another important function or role played by the Human resource Management department is the recruiting of the best set of workers for the organization and ensuring that they are appropriately trained. The subsequent performance of the employees is handled by the Human Resource Management department. They also handle all the issues that are related to the compensation of the workers. Monitoring is carried out to ensure that the workers practices are in line with the general organizational objective. Note should be taken of the fact that a difference e exist between Human Resource Management, which is a basic management activity and Human Resource development, which is a profession. The organization can include Human Resource Management in Human resource development, giving reasons that Human Resource development; carry a wider range of practices to improve the workers in a business organization. The Human Resource Management department has grown over the past twenty years, previously the functions that are now been performed by Human Resource Management were carried out by the Personnel department. This has changed considerably over the years.

Most business organizations today see the Human Resource (HR) unit in their organizations as an administrative job and overlook the importance of aligning it with the organizational strategic plans. In situations where Human Resource is contained in the strategy of an establishment, its function is usually that of forecasting, But in the true sense, Human Resource Management, involves far more than just the task of forecasting. One of the basic reasons while Human Resource is not aligned with the organizational strategic plans is because during organizational strategic planning session’s Human resource is not involved or considered as a vital tool in the development of the organization. The nature of Human Resource makes it to be left out of the organizational strategic plans. Human Resource is centered on the people, and this forms the basis on which organizations exist. And therefore leaving Human Resource Management out of the organizational strategic plans is forgetting one of the most important reasons while the organization exists.

It is thus believed that anything that can be measured can be done or in other words, anything that can be measured gets the authorities attention to add to the strategy of the organization. Human Resource is seen as the organizations “cop”, making sure that workers are dully paid and employing and lying off is handled accordingly. In contrast to Human Resource administrative duties, strategic Human Resource activities are concepts that are modern-day. However, most establishments hardly expect strategic Human Resource Activities to contribute significantly to the organizational business results. Freedman (2003) “defined strategic Human Resource management as the design and implementation of a set of internally consistent practices that ensure that an organizations human capital contributes to the achievement of its business objectives”. Luter (2004) on the other hand defined Human Resource Management “as the organizational function that deals with issues related to people such as compensation, hiring, performance management, organization development, safety, wellness, benefits, employee motivation, and communication”.

The reason for Human Resource in organization is strategic. When Human Resource is properly aligned with strategy, it contributes significantly to an effective strategy and helps attract profits to the organization. Human Resource, need to have a constant administrative support, so as to enhance its consideration during strategic planning discussions. To be included fully in the strategic development of an organization, it is important that Human Resource will recognize its present function, and that which it will get involved in other to enhance organizational development. As soon as this gap is taken note of, the department will need to evaluate itself so as to provide the guide need by it, and show that it is an indispensible section or unit of the strategic unit. Constant examination and evaluation of the Human Resource strategic role will establish itself to be important or needless in the organization. Human Resource is seen as the peoples department. The people who operate in an organization are the determinants of the success of strategic development. A strategic plan that is in alignment with Human Resources makes sure that establishments workers, and abilities add to the accomplishment of organizational goals. And thus it is a point of necessity to align Human Resource Management and the strategy of the organization.

The Challenges of Aligning HR with Strategy

Excessive Emphasis on Administrative Work

Two main functions of Human Resource are identified. One of the functions of Human Resource is that of strategic effectiveness, which has to do with the workers in an organization to enhance the achievement of the organizational goals. However, most Human Resource units in most organization expend their energies on the second function of Human Resource unit which is the effectiveness of the administration. These administrative practices are those that are traditionally connected to Human Resource, for example, the recruitment of new workers, employees training, evaluation of employee’s performance etc.

Human Resource, need to recognize that strategic functions as well as administrative functions are very important in the success of the organization. The administrative roles of Human Resource are the foundations that maintain order with the roles of Human Resource and, when carried out the way it is supposed to be carried out, a certain degree of credibility is kept within the organization. This credibility enhances or increases the chances of success of the organization. And not just that business within the organization is carried out or performed at a higher level of co-ordination.

Incompetent HRM personnel

Human Resource struggling status is well deserved, in most organizations, it will be observed that often times it is highly ineffective, and the personnel are incompetent. In order to improve Human Resource activities in an organization, the Human Resource personnel need to alter their thought process and the way they take their decisions and actions. It also has to do with a change in behavior on the part of management; this can be achieved by lowering the management’s expectation for the Human Resource department. This does not in any way imply that a lower standard or quality of work is expected from the Human Resource department. For the Human Resource department to be considered important, the authorities must shoe that they trust the Human Resource unit to play a strategic function that is veritable to the organizational development, beyond performing administrative functions. Furthermore, the personnel in the Human Resource department most make deliberate efforts to improve on the quality of services rendered. Organizations need Human Resource workers who understand what function or role they are expected to play, have the ability to influence organizational decisions and contribute positively to the changes taking place within the organization. To make contributions that will have any impact, Human Resource department has to be respected within the organization. HR must take stock of its effectiveness, in terms of effective business competition. To be regarded as a strategic activity, Human Resource must rebrand its identity as an incompetent unit with incompetent workers.

Human Resource is not measured in Cash

Human Resource cannot be accounted for in most organizations because; little or no attention is paid to it. The existing perception of Human Resource is that it is a collection of clerks giving out employee benefit forms. Beside these administrative roles been performed without hindrance, There is no accountability strategically. The Human Resource Department in organizations will not be seen as important unless it proves that it can bring about or add value to the organization and enhance its chances of making profit. Usually, the value added by Human Resource is measured in terms of the cost that is saved in the course of caring out Human resource functions, and not on what Human Resource brings to the organization from a particular business transaction. It has been observed from studies that during round table discussion in taking or making strategic decisions, Human Resource executive contribute little or nothing. This now contribute to the conclusion that Human Resource lacks the basic tools to evaluate the value of their role. If efforts are not made by organizations to quantify Human Resource strategic contribution, then it will be difficult for organist ions to manage Human Resource as a Strategic asset.Becker and Huselid (2001 ) suggested that the following ways should be used to evaluate Human Resource process one, “how much does it cost? How long does it take? How much was accomplished? How many errors occurred in the process? How did employees respond?” These techniques of evaluation might be strange to Human Resource, but they are not at all to the evaluation of business processes. To gain respect as an important tool in adding value to the organizational returns on investment, then it must take stock of itself in a business manner.

Lack of alignment of Human Resource with other departmental objectives

To be totally immersed in the organizational strategy, Human Resource has to be aligned with the establishment. In a research carried out, it was observed that a good percentage of Human Resource departments had a strategic planning process and the disbursement of funds with the strategy of the organization in alignment. For effective operation Human Resource has to have some degree of dependence on the other segments of the organization. Also Human Resource needs to have a deliberate plan that will align its decisions with that of the rest of the organizations strategy. As a result of the advantages that are derived as a result of the integration of Human Resource in organization policies, there is an increased or growing interest in correcting the problems of Human Resource management in organizations. Human Resource needs to be actively incorporated in the organizational strategic plans. It must as a matter of fact present the authorities with solutions to strategic issues.

Solutions to the problems of Alignment

To have an impact on the derived value of an organization, Human Resource Management as a department or unit in the organization has to expand on its administrative functions. For a proper alignment first, Human Resource need to be well structured to so that it can have an important function to perform in the organizational strategic planning process. There emphases need to be laid on the alignment of Human Resource with the organizational selected strategy.

The first and most important step in the alignment of Human Resource with organizational strategy is to see the unit and its functions as strategic assets, and not performing the normal administrative roles of acting as a cost center. This administrative function operates on efficiency and thus it can be said to be a commodity. If note is not taken of this commodity by organizations, the organization then looses the chance of letting Human resource become strategic. And it is important that those in authority should accept Human Resource management in strategic scheduling initiatives.

Human Resource alignment with organizational strategy starts with Human Resource personnel that are focused. Secondly, the Human Resource process has to establish in alignment with the strategy of the organization. It also needs to make sure that workers are focused strategically. Every aspect of Human Resource Management from employment of the workers to training has to be effectively developed to increase the human capital in the establishment.

Shifting from Administrative Functions and improving on Strategy

Creating an organization that is strategic or strategically focused does not imply that administrative functions are relegated to the back sit. Instead becoming strategic implies that, Human Resource Management as a department should identify its administrative functions and perform them effectively and also go farther than that to performing strategic roles. To run administration effectively, Human Resource credibility has to be built and maintained as a stepping stone to create a strategic influence in the establishment.

To assist Human Resource workers to direct their attention on strategic initiatives, most of the administrative functions that are routinely performed or carried out, will need to be automated. It is very clear that the Human Resource department cannot leave its administrative functions, especially the benefits that are meant for the workers, however Human Resource need to carry out its duties at both levels.

For an organization to be strategic, a projected view of Human Resource is required. In many instances the perspective of Human Resource is if focused within. For instance, it is very usual for Human Resource units in organizations to evaluate their worth to the organization based on the number of new personnel employed, the review of the performance of the workers carried out. If the Human Resource department is to perform its functions within the organizations equally with other sections or departments in the establishment’s strategic efforts, it must take in account the effective performance of its administrative roles, coupled with the ability to communicate with others at a strategic level about the role of HR in achieving strategic plans.

Improving the Skill Base of Human resource Personal

Normally, Human Resource personal is not seen as a key player in most organizations strategic plans. Human Resource has a lot to offer to the organizations achievement of its strategic plans and contributing effectively has to do with personal upgrade (Ava, 2003). Those in authority in an organization need to recognize the fact that Human Resource is an important tool in the organizations achievement of its business goals. But for human resource to get this recognition the right people have to be in position. Human Resource Managers has to clearly define the skill that is required to partake in strategic contribution. Good and effective Human Resource Personal, will have to improve daily on their business and financial skills, they will also need to be sound technologically, so that this will enhance their managerial functions strategically

HRM Cost , and Benefit Analysis

To get past the stage of Human Resource not contributing effectively to the strategy of an organization, Human Resource needs to evaluate and point out the merits of taking part actively in the strategic process. Most organizations if they are to tell the truth they will attest that Human resource plays a key role in its business achievements. It then becomes very difficult to explain why Human Resource Management people are not involved actively the organizational strategic planning. Bing able to outline the benefit of the department will assist the management with the required information that will enable it view Human Resource department as a valuable and important contributor to the organizational strategic planning process.

Creating the bond to a Strategic Plan

Putting great emphasis on the need to align Human Resource Management and strategy develops an understanding of the vital function Human Resource plays in the development of spirited advantage. A connection thus is available between Human resource Management and strategy. The more the connection the two is built, the better for the organization. Different approaches are required in the implementation of different strategies and as such different skills will be needed. It will therefore be necessary for organizations that are attempting to implement different strategies to seek for personnel with the appropriate skill to help achieve this goal; this is where it will be necessary to align Human Resource Management with organizational strategy. The deliberate attempt at the deployment of Human Resources, is aimed at assisting the organization attain its dream of strategic HRM. To put in other words, the organizational goals are more easily achieved when the management of Human Resources is connected to organizational strategy. Saater (2004 ) stated that ” the need to match strategy and Human Resource Management has implication for both the recruitment of workers and the performance of an organization”. Or to put in another way, when the management of Human Resource in an organization is Strategic and it is connected to the overall performance of the establishment, it contributes effectively to organizational success.

Evaluating the important Human Resource Management contributors to organizational strategy , implementation, which the basic role of Human Resource Management, is converted to the development of value for the establishment. Frangos (2002) stated that ,” Measuring the basic or key Human Resource Management issues in strategy provide the alignment between Human Resource Management and business process and ultimately, what can be used to link or connect to financial business outcomes”.

Conclusion

The alignment of Human Resource Management with strategic goals is very vital in an organization. Studies show an interesting support for Human Resource and strategy alliance and thus indicate the potential function Human Resource can perform in the execution of strategy. Human Resource managers can take responsibility of the formation of the alignment activities. Human Resource Managers will also need to shift slightly from administrative role, to assist in the planning and the execution of Human Resource alignment with organizational strategy. Increasing the skill base of Human Resource personal, will improve significantly the units credibility in any organization.

Human Resource manager’s evaluation of its performances from a business outlook, and by the value it attracts to the establishment, will make those in authority have a rethink over the alignment of Human Resource Management with organizational strategies. Human Resource department’s initiatives will be highly welcomed, since those in authority or management will have a good understanding of how HR will contribute to the achievement of the organizational goes. In general, the people working in an organization and their respective talents or skills, contributes significantly to the determination of the success of the execution of organizational strategic plans. Thus it will be right to categorically state that for an organization to operate successfully and effectively, Human resource Management has to be aligned with the organizational strategic objectives or goals. This can be achieved by the proper training of the Human Resource personnel. The Human Resource workers on the other hand, will have to position themselves in such a way as to be involved in the strategic decision making procedures of the organization. In fact bulk of the work that is needed to be done in order to achieve the alignment of Human Resource Management with the strategic organizational objectives lies in the hands of the Human Resource Management personnel.

References

Ava, A., 2003. The Basics of HRM.1 st ed. New York: Terian.

Becker, B. and Huselid, M., 2001. The Strategic Impact Of HR. Harvard Business School Publishing, Balanced Scorecard.

Charles, M., 2005. Strategic Human Resource Management. 4th ed. Kaduna: Doom.

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De Cieri, H., & Kramar, R., 2003. (Adapted from Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart & Wright). Human Resource Management in Australia: Strategy, People, And Performance, Sydney: McGraw-Hill Australia.

Frangos, C.,2002. Aligning Human Capital with Business Strategy: Perspective from Thought Leaders. Harvard Business School, Balanced Scorecard.

Freedman, A., 2003. Staffing Up. Human Resource Executive, December, 2003.In Peter Boxall , John Purcell.Strategy and Human Resource Management (Management, Work and Organizations)

Luter, A., 2004. Human Resource Management Approaches. Abuja: Sandra.

Mick, G., 2005. Human Resource Management at Work.4 th ed. Jos: Olando.

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Patience, A., 2003. Strategic Organization. 3rd ed. Minna: Sanba.

Saater, M.,2004. An Effective Approach to Human Resource Management.2 nd ed. Cape Town: Shilo.

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