Human Resource Management
Human Resource Management
Employees at Starbucks are vital to the company’s success. They are its public face, and every dollar of sales passes through their hands. According to Howard Schultz, they can make or break the company. If a customer has a positive interaction with an employee, the customer will come back. If an encounter is negative, the customer is probably gone for good. That’s why it’s crucial for Starbucks to recruit and hire the right people, train them properly, motivate them to do their best, and encourage them to stay with the company. Thus, the company works to provide satisfying jobs, a positive work environment, appropriate work schedules, and fair compensation and benefits. These activities are part of Starbucks’s strategy to deploy human resources in order to gain competitive advantage. The process is called human resource management (HRM), which consists of all actions that an organization takes to attract, develop, and retain quality employees. Each of these activities is complex. Attracting talented employees involves the recruitment of qualified candidates and the selection of those who best fit the organization’s needs. Development encompasses both new-employee orientation and the training and development of current workers. Retaining good employees means motivating them to excel, appraising their performance, compensating them appropriately, and doing what’s possible to keep them.
Human Resource Planning
How does Starbucks make sure that its worldwide retail locations are staffed with just the right number of committed employees? How does Norwegian Cruise Lines make certain that when the Norwegian Dawn pulls out of New York harbor, it has a complete, fully trained crew on board to feed, entertain, and care for its passengers? Managing these tasks is a matter of strategic human resource planning—the process of developing a plan for satisfying an organization’s human resources (HR) needs.
A strategic HR plan lays out the steps that an organization will take to ensure that it has the right number of employees with the right skills in the right places at the right times. HR managers begin by analyzing the company’s mission, objectives, and strategies. Starbucks’s objectives, for example, include the desire to “develop enthusiastically satisfied customers” as well as to foster an environment in which employees treat both customers and each other with respect. Thus, the firm’s HR managers look for people who are “adaptable, self-motivated, passionate, creative team members.” The main goal of Norwegian Cruise Lines—to lavish passengers with personal attention—determines not only the type of employee desired (one with exceptionally good customer-relation skills and a strong work ethic) but also the number needed (one for every two passengers on the Norwegian Dawn).
To develop an HR plan, HR managers must be knowledgeable about the jobs that the organization needs performed. They organize information about a given job by performing a job analysis to identify the tasks, responsibilities, and skills that it entails, as well as the knowledge and abilities needed to perform it. Managers also use the information collected for the job analysis to prepare two documents:
- A job description, which lists the duties and responsibilities of a position
- A job specification, which lists the qualifications—skills, knowledge, and abilities— needed to perform the job
HR Supply and Demand Forecasting
Once they’ve analyzed the jobs within the organization, HR managers must forecast future hiring (or firing) needs. This is the three-step process summarized below.
Starbucks, for instance, might find that it needs three hundred new employees to work at stores scheduled to open in the next few months. Disney might determine that it needs two thousand new cast members to handle an anticipated surge in visitors. The Norwegian Dawn might be short two dozen restaurant workers because of an unexpected increase in reservations.
After calculating the disparity between supply and future demand, HR managers must draw up plans for bringing the two numbers into balance. If the demand for labour is going to outstrip the supply, they may hire more workers, encourage current workers to put in extra hours, subcontract work to other suppliers, or introduce labour-saving initiatives. If the supply is greater than the demand, they may deal with overstaffing by not replacing workers who leave, encouraging early retirements, laying off workers, or (as a last resort) firing workers.
Recruiting Qualified Employees
Armed with information on the number of new employees to be hired and the types of positions to be filled, the HR manager then develops a strategy for recruiting potential employees. Recruiting is the process of identifying suitable candidates and encouraging them to apply for openings in the organization.
Before going any further, we should point out that in recruiting and hiring, managers must comply with anti-discrimination laws; violations can have legal consequences. Discrimination occurs when a person is treated unfairly on the basis of a characteristic unrelated to ability. Under Section 3 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, it’s illegal to discriminate on the basis of “race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.”
The Canadian Human Rights Commission and Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects and enforces a number of federal employment laws and protects each Canadian’s right to equal treatment under the law, including the following:
Equal Pay: Section 11 of the CHRA which protects male and female employees who do substantially equal work from a difference in wages.
Other Factors: Section 15(1) of the Charter protects every Canadian’s right to equal treatment with respect to employment regardless of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability
In Canada, each jurisdiction (3 territories and 10 provinces) is governed by its own Human Rights Code, or a version of it which offers its citizens an additional layer of protection against discriminatory practices. For example, in Ontario it is the Ontario Human Rights Act.
The Employment Equity Act of 1986 identifies specific populations which are protected from discrimination (women, visible minorities, indigenous peoples, and people with disabilities). Individuals who feel that they have been discriminated against can take their case to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Other legislation includes the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Labour code.
Where to Find Candidates
The first step in recruiting is to find qualified candidates. Where do you look for them, and how do you decide whether they’re qualified? Companies must assess not only the ability of a candidate to perform the duties of a job, but also whether he or she is a good “fit” for the company– i.e., how well the candidate’s values and interpersonal style match the company’s values and culture.
Internal Versus External Recruiting
Where do you find people who satisfy so many criteria? Basically, you can look in two places: inside and outside your own organization. Both options have pluses and minuses. Hiring internally sends a positive signal to employees that they can move up in the company—a strong motivation tool and a reward for good performance. In addition, because an internal candidate is a known quantity, it’s easier to predict his or her success in a new position. Finally, it’s cheaper to recruit internally. On the other hand, you’ll probably have to fill the promoted employee’s position. Going outside gives you an opportunity to bring fresh ideas and skills into the company. In any case, it’s often the only alternative, especially if no one inside the company has just the right combination of skills and experiences. Entry-level jobs are usually filled from the outside.
How to Find Candidates
Whether you search inside or outside the organization, you need to publicize the opening. If you’re looking internally in a small organization, you can alert employees informally. In larger organizations, HR managers generally post openings on bulletin boards (often online) or announce them in newsletters. They can also seek direct recommendations from various supervisors.
Recruiting people from outside is more complicated. It’s a lot like marketing a product to buyers: in effect, you’re marketing the virtues of working for your company. Starbucks uses the following outlets to advertise openings:
- A dedicated section of the corporate web site (“Job Centre,” which lists openings, provides information about the Starbucks experience, and facilitates the submission of online applications)
- College and university campus recruiting (holding on-campus interviews and information sessions and participating in career fairs)
- Internships designed to identify future talent among college students
- Announcements on employment web sites like LinkedIn, Workopolis, Indeed, LeapOut, JobBank, Eluta.
- Social Media
- Local job fairs
- In-store recruiting posters
- Informative “business cards” for distribution to customers
When asked what it takes to attract the best people, Starbucks’s senior executive Dave Olsen replied, “Everything matters.” Everything Starbucks does as a company bears on its ability to attract talent. Accordingly, everyone is responsible for recruiting, not just HR specialists. In fact, the best source of quality applicants is often the company’s own labour force.
The Selection Process
Recruiting gets people to apply for positions, but once you’ve received applications, you still have to select the best candidate—another complicated process.
The selection process entails gathering information on candidates, evaluating their qualifications, and choosing the right one. At the very least, the process can be time-consuming—particularly when you’re filling a high-level position—and often involves several members of an organization.
Let’s examine the selection process more closely by describing the steps that you’d take to work for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service . Most business students don’t generally aspire to become CSIS agents, but CSIS is quite interested in business graduates—especially if you have a major in accounting or finance. With one of these backgrounds, you’ll be given priority in hiring. Why?
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of white-collar crime that needs to be investigated, and people who know how to follow the money are well suited for the task.
Though most people prefer to hold permanent, full-time positions, there’s a growing number of individuals who work at temporary or part-time jobs, either by choice or as the only available option. Many of these are contingent workers hired to supplement a company’s permanent workforce. Most of them are independent contractors, consultants, or freelancers who are paid by the firms that hire them. Others are on-call workers who work only when needed, such as substitute teachers. Still others are temporary workers (or “temps”) who are employed and paid by outside agencies or contract firms that charge fees to client companies.
Rise of the “gig economy”: Take 8 minutes to learn more about the likely future of work:
The Positives and Negatives of Temp Work
The use of contingent workers provides companies with a number of benefits. Because they can be hired and fired easily, employers can better control labour costs. When things are busy, they can add temps, and when business is slow, they can release unneeded workers. Temps are often cheaper than permanent workers, particularly because they rarely receive costly benefits. Employers can also bring in people with specialized skills and talents to work on special projects without entering into long-term employment relationships. Finally, companies can “try out” temps: if someone does well, the company can offer permanent employment; if the fit is less than perfect, the employer can easily terminate the relationship. There are downsides to the use of contingent workers, including increased training costs and decreased loyalty to the company. Also, many employers believe that because temps are usually less committed to company goals than permanent workers, productivity suffers.
- Schultz, H. & Yang, D., J. (1997). Pour Your Heart into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time. New York, NY: Hyperion. p. 125. ↵
- Starbucks (2016). “Working at Starbucks.” Retrieved from: http://www.starbucks.com/careers/working-at-starbucks ↵
- Fortune (2007). “100 Top MBA Employers.” Retrieved from: http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/mba100/2007/full_list/index.html ↵
- Cruise International (n.d.). “The Norwegian Dawn.” Retrieved from: http://www.cruise-international.com/cruise-search/ShpDetailsQuery?nShp=290&nLine=18&nOperator=Norwegian+Cruise+Line ↵
- Carolyn B. Thompson (n.d.). “In Focus: Target Your Recruitment Market,” Retrieved from: http://www.net-temps.com/recruiters/infocus/article.htm?op=view&id=662#axzz4BVFt5rJY ↵
- Lee, D. (2006). “Your First Task As A Recruiter: Recruit Senior Management Onto Your Team.” Retrieved from: https://web.archive.org/web/20130529204750/http://www.humannatureatwork.com/Recruiting-Employees.htm ↵
- The information in this section comes from two sources: https://www.canada.ca/en/security-intelligence-service/corporate/csis-jobs/job-requirements.html and https://www.canada.ca/en/security-intelligence-service/corporate/csis-jobs/available-jobs/intelligence-officer.html ↵