By Vina Frederick
We the people of St. Lucia and the wider Caribbean for that matter need to recognize the strategic role and purpose of Human Resource Management (HRM) as it seeks to ensure that the people employed in both the public and private sectors are treated as representing significant organisational investments. On reflection, how many business leaders actively recognize that strategic role and purpose? Hold that thought!
If our employers are really serious about productivity, profitability, and competitiveness then they have a binding duty to ensure their workers are content. In that regard, great emphasis must be placed on Human Resource Development, Health, Safety and Security, Employee-Management relations, HRM – the strategic role, HRM as a business contributor, HRM as it impacts business strategies, and HRM as it pertains to strategic planning.
Human Resource Development
As employers, managers, supervisors we must understand that Human Resource Development begins with the orientation of employees towards the vision, mission, goals and objectives of the organisation or business enterprise. Employees must see a direct relationship between their outlook on life, their career goals and the culture of the organisation. HR development also involves processes of training and retraining geared towards getting the best out of not only our workers, but equally our managers and supervisors, in terms of performance as jobs evolve and changes take place. But how does a business determine the training needs of its work force if there is an absence of a clearly defined performance appraisal system, analysis of job requirements, organizational analysis and purvey of personnel? Where we have failed is to establish the link between HRD and productivity, as well as, organizational performance.
For many cash strapped businesses budget cuts are usually made to the item that reads, ‘Training and Development’, for others there is no budget allocation. And for those businesses that actually invest in training, how then, if even, is the impact and value of that training measured? HRM professionals must be skilled enough to measure and pinpoint the influence of HRM efforts to overall productivity and performance of the business. HR departments have many responsibilities among which is to train the leaders of the next generation to ensure that they are current and innovative since the environment we are functioning in is rapidly changing. The question is, are we taking the necessary steps to ensure that we are ready?
Health, Safety and Security
The HR Department with its HRM professionals must be given a free hand to design, develop, and implement Health, Safety and Security strategies geared towards ensuring retention and inspire worker motivation. Workers love to know that their physical and mental health is of vital concern to the employer. Workers will be happy working in an environment in which a very high premium is given to eliminating accidents and injuries, and reducing any prospects for workplace violence. This is the kind of environment that enables companies to retain and sustain a competitive edge. This is the kind of environment that assures workers that the employer has their best interests at heart.
Imagine the implications of mold, termite or asbestos infested offices? – Disruptions to business operations that lead to loss of productive hours and the prospects of litigation (incl. other costs to the company).
Other health and safety issues include a hostile working environment, issues of bullying, harassment and victimization. If left unchecked, can lead to physical and psychological implications for employees such as job stress, anxiety, less commitment to the company, reduced productivity, increased use of sick leave, absenteeism and negative publicity, among others.
Employers must remember at all times that the health and safety of workers are essential to their business. As employers it is their job to keep employees as safe and healthy as possible.
A well-oiled Human Resource Management Division will be suitably equipped to engender and indeed foster good relations between managers and employers in the interest of enabling the Government department or business enterprise to achieve the targets it has set itself. However, the promotion of that harmonious relationship must never be done at the expense of sacrificing fundamental employee rights and privileges as enshrined in the St. Lucia Labour Code. It is high time we desist from relegating our trained HR professionals to being a bunch of administrative officers and paper pushers. These are the people who should be allowed to design and develop HR policies, job descriptions, performance standards, and performance measurements which they in turn will communicate to managers and employers. In this way, managers and employees alike will know what is expected of them.
It is high time business and government leaders desist from restricting HR professionals to functioning as administrative officers.
To conclude, managers, business leaders, heads of government departments get things done through people. The organisation, the company, the business enterprise is a consciously coordinated unit that functions through and because of people.
“None of us are as good alone as we are with an amazing team of people.”
Next: Part 2 – Human Resource Management – Its strategic role, as a business contributor, how it impacts business strategies and how it works in strategic planning.
About the author
Vina Frederick is a former print and broadcast journalist. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Ming Chuan University (MCU), Taiwan, and a Masters in Business Administration from the Australian Institute of Business (AIB). She is currently employed as a Human Resources Manager and believes that proper Human Resource practices are valuable in transforming any business.