HRM 1283 Introduction to HRM Donna Verity and Chris Carella
The following are the lessons for DU-HRM 1283 Principles of Human Resource
They are supplemental to the text and provide a synopsis of that material, as well
as, other information important to your studies.
This course is the introductory course in the Human Resources Management
program and is meant to prepare you for each of the specialist courses that follow.
Each lesson will introduce you to a new HRM topic and will be comprised of:
•an introduction to the lesson topic
•the required reading
•the lesson outcomes
•an application exercise (most weeks)
Throughout each lesson, we have inserted links to websites where additional
information can be found. These links are meant to lead you to some sources of HR
data where you might want to do some additional reading. This information is
supplementary to the course material and will not be tested.
A list of all websites, sorted by lesson, can be found under online resources on the
desktop. All good HR practitioners develop a network of sources that they can rely
on for information, and we invite you to add this list to your “electronic” network
and share some of your finds with others. HRM 1283 Introduction to HRM Donna Verity and Chris Carella
As you move through the curriculum for this course, you are encouraged to ask
questions to ensure that you understand the various concepts. No question is too
small. We look forward to working with you!
Donna and Chris HRM 1283 Introduction to HRM Donna Verity and Chris Carella
LESSON 1: AN INTRODUCTION TO HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT
Just imagine being thrown into a group of people - different ages, different
education - men and women from different backgrounds, religions and with
different interests. Now imagine being told that you have to work with these people
you don’t know to build a product that has to be successful, or you won’t get the
money you need to pay for your apartment, or to buy clothes or groceries. When
you think about this scenario, it seems that failure is just around the corner.
But in fact, this is what happens every day in organizations all over the world -
strangers coming together to build successful organizations and to collaborate in
meeting the same set of goals. The glue that holds it all together is Human
Resources Management. This first lesson will introduce HRM and why it is
important in organizations, and present the role of the HR practitioner.
Topics will include:
1. the definition of human resources management
2. the six major challenges to the management of human resources
3. the definition of demographics and the demographic trends affecting the
Canadian labour force
4. the ways in which cultural change have impacted the workplace
5. the four major roles and the four key competencies of HR practitioners.
At the end of this module, you will be able to:
1. Define HRM
2. Describe how the workplace has been changed by globalization, technology,
change and cost
3. State why demographics and employee attitudes are important to business
4. Identify the types of changes that have taken place in the workplace that have
results from cultural change.
5. Identify some of the key roles that HR practitioners play and the competencies
TEXT READING: Managing Human Resources (5 Ed.) [hereafter referred to
as “the Text”], “The World of Human Resources
Management”, Pages 3 - 45 HRM 1283 Introduction to HRM Donna Verity and Chris Carella HRM 1283 Introduction to HRM Donna Verity and Chris Carella
1. Human Resource Management and Competitive Advantage:
Human Resource Management is about understanding what it takes to develop and
utilize employees to reach a common goal. It is
”the process of managing human talent to achieve an organization’s objectives.”
(Text, p. 2)
Companies are said to have a “competitive advantage” through their people –
meaning that their ability to compete with other companies depends on the
knowledge, skills, and abilities of its staff.
Figure 1.2 on p. 6 shows the overall framework of human resources management
and how HRM must blend or balance competitive challenges, like globalization and
technology, with employee concerns such as age and privacy issues to help make
an organization successful.
2. The Six Most Common Trends Affecting Human Resources Management
The 6 most commons trends or pressing issues facing organizations today are:
globalization, technology, managing change, managing human capital, responding
to markets and containing costs.
•Globalization – Most companies today are affected by international competition
because of agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA), European Unification (EU), and APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation)
which are helping to establish freer trade among countries. Concerns about the
possible exploitation of people in developing economies and of the environment
have led to the new focus on corporate social responsibility or good citizenship.
One of HR’s leadership roles is to promote the development of corporate
citizenship throughout an organization. This means that we need to be able to
reconcile different cultures, laws, and business practices in areas such as staffing,
training, compensation, and labour relations. Competing in global marks has put
considerable pressure on companies; especially those in developed countries with
higher labour costs.
•New Technology – The fact that we can now store and retrieve unlimited amounts
of information, and that technology is used for everything from flying to the space
shuttle to making a telephone call. This has significantly changed the way we do
business. The internet is used in businesses of all sizes and keeps companies
open 24 hours per day. Virtual workers are common, but the move to more skilled
workplaces has increased the unemployment rate in young people. What used to
be called “touch labour” is now “knowledge workers” – where a lot of people are HRM 1283 Introduction to HRM Donna Verity and Chris Carella
now planning, making decisions and problem solving on a regular basis.
Technology has changed the content of existing jobs. Clerical work like managing
email accounts is often a part of higher level jobs. Technology has also created
new types of jobs that did not exist 5 to 10 years ago, and will continue to create
new jobs in the future.
In HR, technology means that we use Human Resource Information Systems
(HRIS) to automate many HR functions. The “Highlights in HRM 1.2 on p. 10
indicates that the most frequent use of automation is to handle payroll processing,
employee record keeping and administration of benefits processing. Using
technology to support “self-service” – access by management to employee records
for administrative purposes and access by employees to view and change their
benefits and other personal information – is one of the more recent trends in the
use of technology to support HR functions. Use of an effective HRIS allows HR
staff to spend less time on routine transactional work and more time on strategic
functions such as forecasting staffing needs, succession planning, etc.
•Managing Change – The best way to manage change in organization is to be
proactive, that is, to anticipate the adjustments that are needed to be successful
and to make the transformation necessary to keep your organization successful.
Total quality programs, downsizing, reengineering, outsourcing, etc. are examples
of changes in organizations, but unfortunately, they tend to happen as a reaction
to an event such as a major product shift or a decreasing stock price. Good HRM
in the form of change management programs anticipates HR issues that may
impact on the business and helps to prepare the organization to meet the
challenges before they overtake the company.
•"Human capital" is the value of knowledge, skills, and abilities of the company’s
workforce. It doesn’t show up on a balance sheet, but since people give an
organization a competitive edge, they are as important as financing in keeping an
organization viable. Recruitment, selection, training and career development all
contribute to the knowledge, skills, and experience within a workforce. To add to
this, performance management and reward systems build on this by encouraging
employees to do well and directing their skills in a way that benefits the
•Responding to Markets – Without our clients, we cease to exist and today’s clients
demand quality, innovation, variety, and responsiveness. Organizations have risen
to the challenge through the introduction of “Total-quality management” (TQM)
where the idea is to understand the customer’s needs, do things right the first
time and strive to continually improve. Re-engineering (or a radical redesign of
business processes to improve cost, quality, service and speed) is another
approach taken by some companies to improve their ability to stay competitive. A
third and newer quality approach is called “Six Sigma.” It translates a customer’s
needs into separate tasks and figures out the best way to perform each task in
partnership with each other task. As part of this, the Malcolm Baldridge National
Quality Award has provided a process for companies to rethink the way they deal
with HRM. For more information on Six Sigma and the Malcolm Baldridge Award
see: HRM 1283 Introduction to HRM Donna Verity and Chris Carella
Containing Costs – Lower costs is probably the most common theme heard in
business today. When you think of the fact that we have moved to a society of
knowledge workers, you start to understand that the greatest cost to
organizations today is the compensation paid to its staff. In some organizations, it
is not unusual to spend 85% of the operating dollar on workers, so when it comes
to containing costs, it is normal to look in this area first.
Some of the most common ways to save money these days are through the
downsizing (the planned reduction of staff),
outsourcing (hiring outside providers to do the work that has traditionally
been done internally so items like benefits are saved, and productivity is
offshoring (the controversial practice of sending jobs to other countries),
employee leasing (hiring back, on contract or through another provider, the
same people who used to do the work internally).
3. Demographic Issues Affecting the Canadian Labour Force:
Another issue, which influences an organization’s ability to recruit and retain staff,
has to do with “demographics” – the makeup of the workforce. Some demographic
issues include diversity, an aging labour force, women in the workforce,