Chapter One: Strategic Importance of Human Resource
Challenges Facing Canadian Organizations
Economic factors facing Canadian business today,
including global trade challenges to increase one’s
own competitiveness and productivity levels.
Surviving a Recessionary Cycle
o HR managers face challenges during recession such as
carrying out unpleasant tasks of planning,
communicating and implementing employee layoffs.
o Workforce morale is low during recessions thus,
supplementary employee counseling might be necessary
Facing Global Trade Challenges
o To attract and include highly skilled, innovated
employees, progressive human resource practices have
to be adopted
o HR now dominates corporate strategic priorities.
o The most common identified strategic priorities are HR
related: attracting and retaining skilled staff,
improving workforce performance, changing leadership
and management behaviours, and changing organization
culture and employee attitudes.
Meeting the Challenges of Productivity Improvement
The ratio of the firms output divided by the
o Productivity increases as an organization finds new
ways to use fewer resources to produce output
o Improved productivity can reduce costs, save scarce
resources, and enhance profits.
o Improved profits allows companies to provide better
pay, benefits, and enhance profits
o Thus, this results in a higher quality of work life
for the employees who are more likely to be motivated
to improve productivity further.
o HR managers contribute to improve the quality of work
life for their employees by more efficient ways to
meet their objectives.
o Employee productivity can be measured by output per
worker or output per hour o Productivity of equipment can be measured by sales or
production per dollar of investment in equipment
o One popular way to increase productivity is to cut
costs by outsourcing.
Contracting tasks to outside agencies or persons.
Assisting employees to find jobs with other
o Technology influences organizations and the way people
o A major technological change allows the
processing of cast amounts of data at great
speeds, enabling organizations to improve
efficiency responsiveness and flexibility in
o Key developments in computerizations
o Processing large volumes of information on a
They make it possible to process and prove
large amounts of data to managers
They make information available with great
o Flexible work design and telecommuting
Computers bring considerable flexibility
into when and where the work is carried out
Paid labour preformed at the
employee’s home, full or part time with
assistance of PCs, modems fax machines,
o Information sharing and knowledge management
Computers also enable organizations to
manage their operation innovatively, often
reducing costs or capitalizing on new
The automatically controlled operation of a
process, system, or equipment by mechanical or
electronic devices o Organization use automaton for various reasons.
o First is the push for speed, we improve out
manufacturing practices if we want to stay competitive.
o Second is to provide better service to the
customer to increase predictability in operations, and
to achieve higher standards of quality in production.
o Thirdly, automation allows flexibility in
o Automation, to be beneficial, should permit
elegant meshing of existing and new technologies
o A negative aspect of automation is that robots
are extremely expensive and thus unattainable for small
and medium sized organizations.
o Negative union attitudes towards mechanization
are another barrier to the introduction of robots in
o Automation may result in a smaller workforce
together with fewer opportunities for socialization on
o HR managers today must be conversant with the
emerging technologies and their implications for
organizational strategies, processes, and employee
o The demographic of the labour force describe the
composition of the workforce: the education levels,
the percentage of the population participating in the
workforce, and other population characteristics.
Changes in the demographic of the labour force,
that occurs slowly and are usually know in advance
Trend 1: Increasing Number of Women in the Workforce
o The number of woman in the labour force grew at twice
the pace of men until 2006
o More women have also left more traditional
unprofessional occupations and now work in management,
law, engineering and medical fields.
Trend 2: Shift Towards Knowledge Workers
o Today’s workforce can be divided into two main
categories: information and non-information workers.
o Information workers can be further divided into
two groups: Data workers and knowledge workers.
Data Workers: Members of occupations that use transmit or
manipulate symbolic information created by
knowledge workers.(clerical occupations)
Members of occupations generating,
processing, analyzing, or synthesizing ideas and
information. (Scientists and management
o The non-information category is composed of
person working in the manufacturing and service
Trend 3: Educational Attainment of Workers
The highest educational level attained by an
individual worker, employee group or population
o Employability skills consisting of basic academic
skills, (communications, thinking, learning) personal
skills, (positive attitudes and behaviours, ability to
accept responsibility, adaptability to new challengers)
and teamwork skills (ability to work with others,
ability to lead a team).
o These skills were considered to be the foundation
skills for employability in the future.
Trend 4: Employment of Older Workers
o One of the impending issues for HR managers is what
Maclean’s termed our Old Age Crisis:
Refers to the social (health care) and
organizational (new workplace ergonomics)
challenges caused by aging population.
o Pressure for expanded retirement benefits,
variable work schedules, coordination of government
benefits with company benefits and retraining programs
are just a few of the challenges that await HR
specialists in the future.
Trend 5: More Part-Time, Contract and Contingent Workers
o There are more Part Time Workers now than ever
Persons working fewer than required hours
for categorization as full time workers and who
are ineligible for many supplementary benefits
offered by employees.
o Part time workers are far less likely to reap the
benefits of increased demand and pay for higher skilled
jobs. o There is also an increasing trend to use Contract
(Contingent) Workers using contingent workers,
organizations can benefit from the services of trained
personnel without increasing their payroll costs in a
Freelancers who are not part of regular
workforce and are paid on a project completion
o Contract workers are of two major types:
Freelancers are employees who work for the employer
through independent contract arrangements Leased
employees, in contrast, are typically former company
employees who are members of a leasing firm and work
for the previous employer on an as need basis.
o There are three important Cultural Challenges:
Challenges facing a firms decision makers
because of cultural differences among employees or
changes in core cultural or social values
occurring at the larger societal level.
Work – Related Attitudes
o The increasing entry of women and educated young
persons into the labour force has resulted in the same
changes in employees expectations
o Attitudes Towards Work:
Variety of work related assumptions and
values including the role of work in a person’s
life and the role of women and diverse groups in
o HR departments have been confronted with requests
for longer vacations, more holidays and varied
o Many Canadians firms instituting code of ethics
for their employees
o The HR department will be a key player in this
Canadian ideal of encouraging each ethnic,
racial, and social group to maintain its own
cultural heritage, forming a national mosaic of
different cultures o It is HR department’s responsibility to maximize
the beneficial outcomes and minimize the challenges
posed by a diverse workforce.
Attitudes Towards Governments
Attitudes Towards Governments:
Basis assumptions about the role of government in
business and society, including the desirability
of a welfare state with a key interventionist
role the government
o Individuality and a kind of do it yourself
attitude seem to be supplementing faith in government
in the minds of many.
o Today’s “global village” requires major changes
in the way managers – especially HR managers – thing
Objectives of Human Resources Management
o HR management aims to improve the productive
contributions of individuals while simultaneously
attempting to attain other societal and individual
o The fields of human resources management thus focuses
on what managers – especially human resource
specialists – do and what they should do
o Role of human resources departments (HRD) shows
considerable variations across organizations, almost
all HRDs carry out several common activities including
o Assist the organization to attract the right
quality and number of employees
o Orient new employees and place them in new jobs
o Create a safe, healthy and productive work
o Establish disciplinary and counseling procedures.
o HR management in more organizations attempts to
achieve three key objectives
o HR management should help an organization to identify
the right quality, type and number of employees.
An organization’s short and long term goals tha