Strategic Human Resources Management

Strategic human resources management recognizes the role that employees play in contributing to an organization's success. It becomes part of the strategic planning and policy development process guiding and supporting agency efforts as attempts are made to meet the demands imposed upon it from its external and internal environments. SHRM is driven by an organization's strategy instead of its functional or administrative activities (Perry, 1993a).

However, asserting HRM into the strategic planning process involves compromise. HRM professionals should be sensitive to the fact that an HRM seat at the planning table might mean new seats at the HRM table, which is okay. They should be partners in the design of staffing requirements, identifying employee development needs and career opportunities, developing benefit packages and evaluation instruments. HRM specialists need to be connected to and knowledgeable about organizational objectives and be perceived as credible by line managers.

Public sector organizations often have a crisis orientation rather than a strategic focus. Public agencies often cope with changes rather than plan for them. Human resource planning is a way to develop a strategic approach to prevent problems. Agencies need to anticipate their personnel requirements so that they are prepared to deal with changing situations. Strategic human resource management forces managers to identify future organizational needs, review the supply and demand of skills readily available in the organization and workforce; and can assist in the development of programs. An immediate outcome in strategic human resource planning could be a shift from reactive to assertive organizations. A critical component of SHRM is human resource planning. Human resource planning is the process of analyzing and identifying the need for and availability of the human resources required for the agency to meet its objectives. Forecasting is used to assess past trends, evaluate the present situation and project future events. Forecasting and planning complement one another because forecasts identify the best available expectations while plans establish future goals and objectives.

Agencies must consider the allocation of people to jobs over long periods of time. Attempts must be made to anticipate any expansions or reductions in programs or changes that may affect the organization. Based on the analyses, plans can be made for the recruitment and selection of new employees, shifting employees to different programs or units, or retraining incumbent employees. Forecasting human resource requirements involves determining the number and types of employees needed by skill level. To be able to forecast the supply and demand of human resources, agencies need to audit the skills of incumbent employees and determine their capabilities and weaknesses. Positions must also be audited. In most organizations there are likely to be jobs that are vulnerable, ready to be replaced by technology or reengineering. Job analyses must be conducted to provide information on existing jobs. The basic requirements of a job should be defined and converted to job specifications that specify the minimum KSAOCs necessary for effective performance. The skill requirements of positions do change, any changes that occur must be monitored and reflected in the job specifications.

It is not enough to monitor changes in positions, organizations must also keep abreast of the skills that their employees possess. Human resource planning uses data inventories to integrate the planning and utilization functions of SHRM. Data inventories compile summary information such as the characteristics of employees, the distribution of employees by position, employee performance and career objectives. Specific data that are typically catalogued include age, education, career path., current skills, work experience, aspirations, performance evaluations, years with organization, and jobs qualified for. Expected vacancies due to retirement, promotion, transfers, sick leave, relocation, or terminations are also monitored. Using a computerized human resource information system (HRIS) to compile this data makes the retrieval of this information readily available for forecasting human resource needs.

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