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As businesses strive to be competitive and successful, there is an increasing focus on methods that will attain this goal. Employers are realizing that their human capital is just as essential as their monetary capital. Employee contributions in terms of training, knowledge, insight and judgment add great economic value to an organization. (Noe, et al). Quality employees are crucial to the overall accomplishments, as well as the bottom line of a company. Human resource departments have an evolving, ever important job to adapt to processes that foster positive employee growth and contribute to this vision.
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As the U.S. Labor Force continues to grow in terms of racial, ethnic and generational aspects, companies look to benefit from a diverse workplace. “Diversity brings each of us strength in new ideas, new experiences and new contacts” (Dorsey, 2005, para.1). However, attempting to achieve a diverse workplace presents special challenges. Not only is there a goal to reach, but attempts at reaching that goal can be thwarted by a variety of issues. Personal beliefs, prejudices and stereotypes among existing employees are difficult to combat with traditional methods. Additionally, many employees cringe at the idea of yet another uninteresting, obligatory diversity learning session.
After Texaco had to settle a $175 million racial discrimination lawsuit, they set about to create an advanced diversity program. All Texaco employees are required to attend a two-day diversity learning experience. The learning experiences offer practical, real-world analysis of what it feels like to be excluded, to develop employee empathy, and improving communication skills to interact with diverse peers (Noe, et al). It is in an organizations best interest to create and maintain a diverse workforce that generates ideas representative of the changing population and global marketplace.
HR has also had to delve into new applications when it comes to globalization. As companies look to reach into other countries to expand their business, often they will transplant an employee -- an expatriate, to assist in training employees and ‘setting up shop’ in the other country. It is the responsibility of HR to select and prepare employees for this endeavor. The expensive cost to transplant an employee requires that HR opt for the most viable candidate after attempting to weed out potential failures through a variety of personality testing, interviews and introductory visits to the destination country to assess their adaptability (Noe, et al).
Expansion into the global marketplace also encompasses outsourcing. Outsourcing involves a third party providing services for a company. Among the most likely services outsourced is information technology, human resources, accounting, customer support and call center functions. Although opinions on outsourcing are varied, it has proven to be a cost-effective measure, especially with technological advances. Increased use and implementation of technology allow for the efficient transfer and sharing of information that contribute to its effectiveness.
Technology and E-Business
Technology performs a vital service in any competitive business. Advanced technology, or lack thereof, can be the difference between success and failure of a new business. Technology contributes greatly to HR departments by enabling them to adeptly manage information. Employee data can be easily stored and manipulated to interface with spreadsheets or statistical databases. HR departments utilize a human resource information system (HRIS), “a computer system used to acquire, store, manipulate, analyze, retrieve and distribute information related to an organizations human resources” (Noe, et al). The HR department for the organization I work for has a website for employees’ that provides easy access to our personal compensation, training and benefit information. Additionally, managers are also finding HRIS programs helpful in analyzing labor costs and productivity. Technological advances, along with increased use of the internet, are improving the efficiency of business.
The increased use of the internet has caused a surge in the e-business trade. Many companies are going online to take advantage of an increased customer pool. HR is discovering a niche especially among the dot-com companies as a means to provide balance and structure in an environment that has typically been run by young, inexperienced managers who created a free, party culture intended to foster innovation and creativity. Without that balance, those companies are vulnerable to possible legal problems. HR departments that continue to cultivate an innovative and creative setting while enforcing needed policies and procedures allow these companies to keep their unique style (Noe, et al).
The role of HR departments is much more important than simple numbers of hiring or firing. As businesses continue to grow through increased workforce populations, globalization, e-business and technology, effective HR departments are continuously needed and have a growing function.
Dorsey, T.A. (2005). Valuation insights and perspectives. Chicago: Second Quarter, Volume 10, Issue 2, Retrieved June 16, 2007, from http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=865580751&Fmt=3&clientId=2606&RQT=309&VName=PQD
Garvey, C. (2005, April). Next generation hiring metrics. HRMagazine, 50(4), 70-76. Retrieved June 19, 2007, from Business Source Complete database.
Noe, R.A., Hollenbeck, J.R., Gerhert, B. & Wright, P.M. (2004). Fundamentals of human resource management. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.