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People Management: Challenges and Choices

It is claimed that the most significant resource of any business is the people it employs, its manpower or workforce. As the world adopts technology at a faster rate with more sophisticated applications and as products tend towards greater similarity there is a growing awareness that a business may differentiate itself by creating a quality, focused and well-motivated workforce. In addition, the world labor market is become more flexible with greater mobility for well-qualified staff to move between major business centers.

It is therefore of greater significance than ever before to keep good staff and to continue to attract the best recruits possible. Due to the importance of the people of the company it is equal important and difficult for the managers to manage these people. This paper will discuss the challenges faced by the management when dealing with its workforce and putting in the utmost effort to keep the employees satisfied and motivated. Furthermore, it would elaborate the alternative available to the management when making decisions on factors such as job design and flexibility. Discussion Managing people has never been easy.

In current conditions of rapid change and rising staff expectations of their experience at work, the effective management of people

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has become a major determining factor in influencing the success of business enterprises (Stimpson, 2002). The main aspects and responsibilities of managers revolve around leading, motivating, inspiring and encouraging the workforce. The management hires, fires and need to discipline and evaluate the workers from time to time. The change in the attitude towards workforce management has been great and fundamental since the early years of the twentieth century and the introduction of mass production.

There are still firms and factories that ‘hire and fire’ workers on an almost daily basis and offer no training and staff development at all. However, these are now the exception rather than the rule. Modern Human Resource Management has been developed not just in response to the legal constraints on how workers are treated but also as a recognition that a truly successful and competitive business depends on the support and co-ordination of a well trained and suitably motivated team of staff.

The Human Resource department of an organization has the central purpose of recruiting, training and utilizing a business’ personnel in the most productive manner in order to aid the organization in the achievement of its goals. (Stimpson, 2002) Among the many tasks of the Human resource department, recruiting as well as training and developing staff is of great significance. Motivating the employees and making them feel recognized and valuable is a very vital aspect.

Motivation results from the individual’s requirement to achieve objectives and to satisfy needs. The best-motivated workforce will help an organization achieve its objectives as cost effectively as possible. Motivated workers will also be trying to reach their own personal goals. Employers need to be aware of what these are because the greatest motivation will develop if the workers feel that through working towards the objectives of the organization they are also moving towards achieving their own. This points out towards the concept of Job Design.

Job design is basically the process of organization the tasks and responsibilities and the structuring of the job in a way that the job holder is more satisfied with it and hence, works more effectively. The way in which an employee’s job structure is organized has a direct impact on the person’s job satisfaction, performance and motivation. Job design is simply the process by which managers decide and lay down the individual job description, tasks and authority. When creating a job design it is important for the manager to design jobs that will be motivational for particular individual employee.

It should be constructed with bearing in mind the individuals needs, the attributes of the task and the work settings. A job design constructed with these factors would lead to better performance and satisfaction of the workers. The aim that should be considered is to design jobs through which the individuals can see what contributions they are making towards achieving the overall objectives of the organization. Job design should also enable the employees to have some extent of autonomy over their work, timings, control and the pace at which they wish to work.

In return they are accountable and responsible for their actions and results. (Baker, 2001) Job analysis is an important aspect of job design. Job analysis is the process of obtaining information about the job particularly the tasks, duties and responsibilities of the job holder. The general characteristics of a job include firstly, the job content which is the activities and tasks required to be carried out on the job. Job requirements are the personal specifications or characteristics required from the employee to carry out the tasks, for example, education and experience.

Lastly, job content is basically the environment in which the job would be performed. These three factors combine as the job description of an employee. The job description is the basic element of the job as it outlines the tasks and responsibilities of the job holder. It is one of the vital indicators of a workers job motivation and satisfaction. If the tasks are difficult, risky or tiring, the worker may feel de-motivated and agitated at some point, whilst if the tasks are achievable and rewarding, the employee would feel important and sense himself as a contributor to the organization in achieving its objectives and goals.

Job design is basically the resultant of job analysis. Through the job analysis the managers can identify the required activities and design the jobs in order to gain the optimal outcome. The three characteristics that the management is supposed to consider when designing a job include job range, job depth and job relationships. Job range is the number of tasks that the job holder will be expected to perform While job depth is basically the discretion or judgment that the job holder is allowed to have over the activities and the outcomes of the job.

Job relationships are determined through the decisions that the managers make concerning the span of control and the departmentalization. There are a number of approaches that can be followed by the management while creating a job design. While designing the job range two of the most significant aspects of jobs are recognized. These are job rotation and job enlargement. Job rotation, in simple words, is the rotation of a worker from one job to another. It brings a variety in the job content. It encourages the worker to do more than one task by switching from one job to another.

Rotation may relieve the boredom of doing one task and it can give the worker multi-skills, which makes the workforce more flexible, but it does not by itself increase empowerment or responsibility of the work being performed. In addition, it does not give the worker a complete unit of work to perform but just a series of tasks. Job enlargement on the other hand, is the term used to the attempt of increasing the scope of a job by broadening or deepening the tasks undertaken. It may include job rotation in itself.

Moreover, it refers to the increase in the ‘loading’ of tasks on existing workers, perhaps as a result of shortage of staff or redundancies. Job enlargement increases the number of tasks or the job content. It adds in more jobs of the same level rather than higher leveled tasks. Job rotation and job enlargement are considered as methods of increasing the motivation in the staff by allowing them to undertake more tasks of different natures in order for them to experiment their skills. Job rotation helps in creating a variety of tasks and helps relive the worker from monotonous and repetitive work.

Job depth is mainly concerned with the concept job enrichment. Job enrichment is the vertical extension of jobs which involves the principle of organizing work so that employees are encouraged and allowed to use their full abilities and not just the physical effort. The process often involves the slackening of direct supervision as workers take more responsibility for their own work and are allowed some degree of decision making authority. The basis of the principle of job enrichment was formed by the findings of Herzberg who is also the founder of the two factor theory, a renowned theory on worker motivation (Stimpson, 2002).

The three key features of job enrichment are first of, offering the worker to make complete unit of work (i. e. from start to finish) so that the contribution of the worker can be identified and more challenging work offered. Secondly, provide feedback from time to time so that the worker is aware of the progress being made. Lastly, it is important that challenging tasks are offered as apart of the activities, some of which are beyond the workers recent experience.

These three features are not always easy to implement in practice by the management and they may face challenges when analyzing and designing the jobs that contain the required depth and enrichment that the employees can handle. Job depth also includes the conception of self managed teams. These teams are given the autonomy to redesign their jobs to some extent. They are group of people formed in teams who are empowered to make decisions to perform certain activities based on a collaborative verdict without any outside intervention or direction. Flexibility is a vital characteristic that makes a job more interesting and satisfying.

In today’s world of works, the concept of leisure time is almost diminished. People are overburdened with work and find minimal time for other activities. Flexibility is important in a job design as it allows the employees to alter their work arrangement according to their needs. Management often finds it difficult to take flexibility into account. One of the major off shoots of flexibility at work is the availability of alternative work arrangements. Work place flexibility is generally referred to the autonomy, choice or control that the employees and the supervisors have over when, where and how work gets done.

Flexible work options can take many forms and there are many alternatives available to workers to help them reduce their work load. These options not only benefit the workers, but they also have effects over the employers, businesses and the government on a large scale as the performance of the employees is what matters and these flexible work practices have an impact over the attitudes, morale and the overall quality of work by the employees, thus, it holds a rather essential spot in the success of the organization.

The management is challenged if the flexibility in the work options causes a rather relaxed approach by the workers which delays work and makes them become careless. It can cause an interference with the corporate culture of the organization. Employees that work for fewer hours may feel distant from the company and may not have the same level of loyalty that they would otherwise. Also, employees that work different hours may not have any social interaction with each other which could lead to considerable amount of de motivation.

Some of the common flexible work options include compressed work week, which is the scheduling of work that allows a full time job to be accomplished in less than the pre standard time. Flexi time gives the employees a daily choice in their work commitment timings. It is an agreement between the employee and the manager to allow the employees to vary their starting, ending and meal break times while still upholding the total number of hours that are worked over a period. Another form of flexible working options is job sharing which is when two or more persons divide the work of their full times jobs according to agreed upon hours.

Telecommuting, another alternative work option, is when work is done while being at home or being in a remote location via use of technology such as computers and advanced communication linkage with a main office or other employment locations. It offers the employees the flexibility in working locations and hours. Along with these there are numerous other options that make the work more flexible. Management considers these approaches when designing the jobs and try to design jobs that can comprehend and take into account the element of flexibility.

It is often argued that the management puts more stress on the workers than they can handle. The management is accused of putting a large amount of workload on the workers when designing their job. Management is faced with the dilemma of making an efficient job design against making sure that the workers get the amount of work that they can handle and provide them with reasonable time for their families and leisure activities. However, this challenged is faced by the management by designing jobs so that the employees of the organization can make tradeoffs between their incomes and leisure times.

The Flexible working options mentioned earlier can facilitate this. There are two types corporate cultures, some firms are those in which work is tightly linked and tends to be less flexible and some organizations give their employees to work on their own. The former are likely to use dynamics such as profit sharing, bonuses, vacations, or other fringe benefits, while the latter allow their employees to be much more flexible with their working hours. In general, managers may be faced with the constraints of providing flexible hours, regardless of their desire to.

These constraints could more commonly include the process of production, the scheduling of the workforce and the necessity of teamwork and communication. These constraints further depend upon the factors of the production process, the nature of the products, the competition and the business environment. (Murphy & Pyke) The management faces a challenge when designing work that would maintain a balance between being challenging enough to uphold the feeling of self actualization in the employees and being achievable without being too stressful and threatening.

The work that is challenging and helps the workers in exercising their capacity for invention, and the work that develops mental and manual skills contribute significantly to the well being of the worker as apposed to the work that does not being in challenges and does not require real skills, will weaken the minds of the workers and lead to dissatisfaction from work. Managers normally undervalue work by creating job designs that require many workers to execute monotonous and repetitive tasks that are conceptualized by others.

This kind of practice causes the cognitive and moral capacities of the employees to deteriorate and worsen. The jobs should provide the workers with the prospects of self-realization and rewards for carrying out complex tasks through job enrichment. Conclusion In the end it is essential to understand that the human resource or the people involved in the production and distribution of goods and services are the most important resources of all organizations.

Studies have revealed that there is a link between the Human resource management policies and practices and the performance of the organization and that the role of HRM policies and practices have an impact over the overall performance of the organization. Job design is a vital element of the roles of the management in regard to the employees. It is often underrated and the importance of job design is neglected resulting in lower worker morale and job satisfaction. Management is faced with a number of challenges and alternative when it comes to job designs and the process of creating a job description is a comprehensive and lengthy procedure.

But if this procedure is carried out with full consideration and flexibility, it can lead to a greater employee motivation, and a better performance leading to the benefit for the organization as a whole. References Baker, M. J (2001). Marketing: critical perspective on business and management. Taylor and Francis. Murphy, J. B & D. F Pyke The two-sided challenge of Job design. Retrieved 14. 01. 2009, from http://mba. tuck. dartmouth. edu/pages/faculty/dave. pyke/downloads/jobdesign. pdf Stimpson, P (2002). Business studies. Cambridge University Press

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