Q.1 Labor and Management: Considerations for Today and the Future (200 words)
Consider the evolving nature of labor and management in our organizations today.
· How is it possible for human resources, management, and an organization’s leadership to serve as strategic business partners?
· How is it possible to advance the interests of workers and employees under such conditions and constraints?
· What initiatives should be considered to redefine labor as capital? Is it reasonable to take such an approach with people in an organization? Why? Why not?
Q.2 Write a reply for (Monica, 100 words)
I believe the idea of labor as capital may have been concentrated on human capital at the individual level; and that construct has merit at the unit level (team, organization, or even country). Individuals are at the center of the economic approach to human capital and obviously, that individual labor possesses human capital (Wright, et al., 2011). In order to serve as a strategic business partner with human resources, management, and an organization’s leadership, the leadership would need to define the agenda that will support and drive the goals of the company. Then the management facilitates the execution of the steps needed to fulfill the goals, and finally, human resources assists in closing the gap between the people and their transferrable skills and what the company is aiming to do with those skills. This helps to advance the interests of the employees and the organization. Identifying and implementing “best practices” to promote organizational and individual performance and well-being while capitalizing on that labor would be a focus of human resources management in this partnership (Braga et al., 2021).
In my experience, it is difficult to determine what components are at play in a given situation and how they reinforce or undermine each other, so evaluating each entity’s role and strategically aligning them would be crucial. Also, knowing what is involved in labor helps to redefine it. The initiatives to fully encompass this redefined labor would be to provide high-performance coaching, leadership development, and the creation of diverse workforces to involve in the collaboration. I think since humans are involved, knowledge capital, social capital, and emotional capital are all components of labor and should absolutely be considered with the people in an organization.
Braga, B. M., de Camargo Oliva, E., de Miranda Kubo, Edson Keyso, McKenna, S., Richardson, J., & Wales, T. (2021). An institutional approach to ethical human resource management practice: Comparing brazil, Colombia and the UK. Journal of Business Ethics, 169(1), 57-76.
Wright, P. M., & McMahan, G. C. (2011). Exploring human capital: Putting ‘human’ back into strategic human resource management. Human Resource Management Journal, 21(2), 93-104.
It could be argued that it is possible for human resources, management, and an organization’s leadership to serve as strategic business partners. However, it could also be argued that it could only be possible if human resources totally abandons their historical role as an employee advocate. Thus in many organizations in today’s business environment there has been a marked shift in the focus of HRM functions from employee relations responsibilities toward strategic responsibilities benefiting the achievement of organizational goals with profits in mind (Van Buren et al., 2011, as cited in Mello, 2019).
However, there HRM has tried to thread the needle by developing training programs and incentives with the intention of influencing employees’ behaviors in a way that leads to greater operational efficiencies and profits for the organization (Beaty & Schneier, 1997; Godard, 2014; as cited in Mello, 2019). Furthermore, it is understood by HR managers that any training programs and incentives are expected to enhance the organization’s performance which basically aligns HR’s roles as both a strategic partner and employee advocate. In other words, in this evolution HRM functions could best be referred to as agents of capital (Brown et al., as cited in Mello, 2019).
It could be argued that the superior Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) of employees within an organization ought to translate into some form of competitive advantage; thus redefining labor as human capital (Dierickx & Cool, 1989; Peffer, 1994; Bush et el., 2011; Boudreau & Randstad, 2005; as cited in Mello, 2019). However, it could also be argued that simply creating the term “Human Capital” as a way to change employees’ behaviors in a way that leads to more profits for the company, actually also created more power for the company and less power for the actual employees whose efforts are directly responsible for the company’s profits. For example, when it comes to a work contract, most employees don’t have a say or input about the contract; they can either accept or reject the employer’s contract term. This is because the employer has the power advantage in this transaction. This lends to asking is this fair for the employee? (Van Buren et al., 2011, as cited in Mello, 2019). Maybe the term “Human Capital” does not work in favor of employees, as it clearly is a term that heavily favors the employers goals rather that the employees fair and equitable treatment within the workplace.
Mello, J. (2019). Strategic human resource management. (5th ed.). Cengage Publishing.
In my experience, the functional areas in a business need strong higher leadership to unite the functions in cooperating on strategic matters. There is a tendency for individual functional areas to look only at their own narrow interests. This leads to a lack of cooperation with other departments when there is need for other departments’ cooperation on strategic matters.
If I can give a case in point, one of the elements of my past job descriptions at a university was to engage in scholarly work. The prime scholarly work, to professors, is research and publishing. One challenge when doing research is finding an appropriate site at which to do the research. After I found my research question and hypotheses, I approach the HR department through our Institution Review Board about disseminating an anonymous, confidential and voluntary, 10-15 minute survey on employees personality, job design and overall engagement with their work.
HR declined the survey indicating they already survey employees 4 times a year on engagement, and didn’t want to over-survey people. They also said the research wouldn’t benefit HR since they don’t have access to the results, and felt the employees would expect HR to act on the results of the survey. I then responded with a revised topic avoiding employee engagement, as well as disclaimer in the recruiting email to employees. This disclaimer indicated this was for professional research and was not sponsored by our HR department. Therefore respondents should not expect our HR department to act on the results of the survey.
I received a further rejection from HR. This time they said they didn’t want to be bothering our employees with unnecessary email and to “consider the matter closed”. Our Academics department heard about this, and although they were sympathetic, they indicated there was nothing they could do since HR was not their area. Their solution was for me to engage in what they called “non-traditional” research that didn’t require the cooperation of other departments.
This, to me, represents the kind of insular attitudes that develop in individual departments when it is time to cooperate.
The solution could have been be to make research a strategic priority with a white paper on it. This would be initiated by our president with input and buy-in from all departments. Job descriptions would need to be expanded to include support for research, with a percent of performance reviews addressing the extent to which non-Academic departments support research at the university site.