Managing human capital. HR professionals and the task of facilitating organisational change

Scientific Essay, 2016

17 Pages, Grade: 64



1. Abstract

2. Introduction

3. Review of Literature
3.1 HR as Change Agent
3.2 HR as a Strategic Partner
3.3 The role of the Human Resource Department
3.3.1 HRM in the International Organisation
3.3.2 HRD and Flexible High Performance Organisations
3.4 Facilitator of Organiser
3.5 HR as an Outsourced Facility

4.0 Conclusion

1. Abstract

It has become evident that the impact of globalisation and the liberalisation of economies throughout the globe have had a tremendous effect on organisations. The various business units that an organisation is made up of were required to adapt to the changes that followed in order to remain competitive, maintain their strategic interfaces which include standards of practice which were critical to the success of the organisation. Managing these changes and adaptations were primarily assigned to the Human Resource Department as these ‘change elements’ involved ‘human elements’ as much as they involved technological advancements and market dynamics. As the fundamental constructs of labour structures began to transcend, organisations eventually became more complex and knowledge based which required the HR unit to assume more complex roles by going beyond basic processes and understanding more critical aspects such as work dynamics, work force composition, managing diversity, the mind set of employees and their perspective on career learning, work-life balance, the synchronisation between organisation and employee and even social mobility. This paper examines the HRD Domain and the various roles that this particular business component manages, the future challenges that it will be presented within the context of the human resource development domain that are vital towards subsequent generation reforms within the HR domain.

2. Introduction

Using a qualitative research approach anchored on secondary data, the objective of this paper is to assess the various roles of HR professionals that are unique to every organisation according to the demands of the organisations that are usually based upon the business objectives of the firm. HR professionals are placed with the task of facilitating the changes that are necessary for achieving organisational change that are vital to the success of the firm. This paper will scrutinise various literature related to HR Roles and provide undisputable facts that reveal the true nature of the functional sphere of the HR professional who often have a misconstrued perception of their true role as indicated by (Sharma, 2012) and (Schroeder, 2012).

This casual research paper will primarily examine multitude secondary data that provide insight into the role of the HR professional coupled with empirical evidence based on observations and surveys conducted by previous researchers over the last three decades on how organisations have relied on HRD as a champion of change that requires them to draw attention to the needs of the organisation and formulate practical and applicable methods towards meeting these changes with the least amount of resistance. The subsequent review of literature that will be presented will start with a review of Collins and the emphasis placed on HR management concepts and approaches that are developed based on organisational structures which are in turn bounded to cultural elements and how these are streamlined with business objectives which further contribute to the complexity of the entire organisational framework. The review of literature will also contain examples of organisations that owe success not only to their products, but also the innovative HR approach that enabled these companies to attract and retain the best of talents within their industry that gave them the competitive advantage over their rivals.

The review will subsequently move into the arena of the fundamental strategic roles of the Human Resource Department from the perspective of International Organisations as well as Flexible High Performance organisations such as Google in order to gain a better understanding of how HR may be considered a strategic business unit that is pivotal to bottom lines. The review will also assess the role of HRD with regards to their ‘Facilitator or Organiser’ position within a firm before finally scrutinising the expectation of establishing HR as an outsourced facility.

These reviews intend to clarify and separate myth and facts that revolve around the HR dimension. It has become essential for organisations to be able to place their HR unit strategically in order for them to function optimally and deliver results that support the ultimate business goals of the organisation via the management of an organisation’s most valuable assets – its human capital.

3. Review of Literature

From a conventional perspective the function of the human resource department has been attached to mainly administrative processes that in essence focus on the individual aspects of the individual employee their specific job functions and their unique requirements as reflected by (Chen & Huang, 2009), (Siddique, 2004) and (Wamuuru & Jamleck, 2016). These primary functions are still maintained by HR currently, but the evolution of organisations due to globalisation and liberalisation of economies required the HR function to play a bigger and more significant role with regards to the continuity and prosperity of the firm which transformed the HR unit into a strategic business unit that was vital in ensuring overall performance (Wamuuru & Jamleck, 2016) and (Torrington et al., 2009). This overall performance according to (Torrington et al., 2009) is highly dependent on HR practices and their innovative methods towards managing human capital related issues such as individual performance, training and development, job satisfaction, absenteeism, employee turnover, retaining talent, recruitment and selection, development of competitive compensation and benefit packages within the limitations of budgets and their approach towards managing diversity.

As indicated by (Ulrich, 1997) two decades ago on how the HR unit is able to deliver organisational excellence via providing direct support to strategic executions, enhancing overall performance that contribute to reducing costs and enhancing quality and competence in all areas and as well as enhancing employee commitment that reduces attrition. These elements essentially place HR in the role of the primary ‘change agent’ for the organisation by taking up the position as a strategic partner and administrative expert that employees deem as their voice and champion.

3.1 HR as Change Agent

The only constant in the dimension of business is change and the inability to adapt to changes that stem from technological revolutions, market evolution, cultural mixing as organisation expand and industry requirements’ in general and adapting to these changes are vital to the continued success of firms. This change agent role as indicated by (Long, 2013) is undertaken by the HR faction that is tasked with ensuring the smooth transition from current to future intended platforms that are part of organisational objectives that are unavoidable to remain competitive. The role of change agent does not only revolve around business processes, but as indicated by (Raghavi & Gopinathan, 2013), also involves ensuring that the organisation also maintains a culture that supports equal opportunities in the face of rapidly changing employee diversity as firms stretch across borders and regions.

Prior studies such as (Alfes et al., 2010) suggest that the primary role of the strategic dimension of the HRD revolves around the management of change. However, there is no ‘one size suits all’ remedy based on the numerous prescriptive recommendations on how HR should manage change that suit certain conditions, but are repelled by others. Based on this fact alone, it becomes evident that HR professionals have to condition themselves to be innovative, flexible and think out of the box to not only affect change but also effectively maintain these changes as the primary ‘responsive’ change driver that is able to fuse HR Goals, Organisational Goals and Change into singular success factors (Lunenberg, 2010). It therefore becomes crucial to look at HR as a change agency that is functional and contends with micro-level change processes which stretches from the individual employee to the entire organisation.

3.2 HR as a Strategic Partner

HRD as a business component has passed through multiple phases and according to (Kautish, 2014) it is currently passing through the most critical phase since its inclusion as a major discipline in mainstream management sciences which involves the level of its receptiveness and being able to condition itself to the evolving environmental conditions of organisations in general. One of the most rudiment change factors has been globalisation which is has positioned itself as the main trend setter that impacts organisations to ‘readjust’ to elements such as:

- Cross cultural communication
- Diversity management
- Competitiveness with business value propositions

The above elements are just tips of the icebergs based on the fact that there are many issues that are needed to be taken under consideration which require HRD to use strategic options to overcome when they cross the boundaries of space, time, geography, economies, legislation and culture (Kular et al., 2008) and (Sparrow & Cooper, 2012). The issues that results from cultural clashes, working through virtual platforms, coping with bureaucracy that increases business complexities and even issues related to exploitation in countries that are bound by lesser restrictions require HR teams to carve strategic paths using analytical tools that correlate business functions, objectives, people and environment in an efficient and seamless organisational fabric that allows firms to move forwards with the least amount of restrictions and resistance to imposed changes.

3.3 The role of the Human Resource Department

The contributions of HR towards organisational performance have become evident despite the challenges that often obscure the role of the HRD to a point that it is often ignored as suggested by (Farndale & Truss, 2005). This is despite the fact that it has been acknowledged that bottom-line reflections are strongly correlated with HR policies which are imperative towards high organisational performance which dominate most discussions on HRM contributions to their respective firms. The simple yet prominent factor that most literature reveal and explain on how HRM practices impact employee behaviour which eventually affect the bottom-line of the firm attest to the importance of HRM in general (Sparrow & Cooper, 2012) and (Ulrich, 1997). Similarly (Hassan, 2016) and (Guest, 2011) have reiterated their findings that supports the fact that the policies and strategies invoked by the HRD are critical towards organisational performance and that it is more than just mere role play by individual actors as it is the function of the HRD to put policies that are critical to organisational objectives into practice.

3.3.1 HRM in the International Organisation

The HRD plays a key role in International Organisations as it manages the needs of personnel that hail from different cultural backgrounds and address them accordingly without creating ‘rifts’ between the workforce by developing a singular culture that employees become a part of (Tanase, 2015) and (Shahzad et al., 2012). The culture invoked and strategically implemented by HR condones the development of specific workplace characteristics that are critical towards how the organisation ‘learns and adapts’ to change collectively. This characteristic if developed positively will further enhance the firm to remain competitive in the face of changes in global market dynamics and the infusion of technology as well as the evolving structure of labour which as indicated earlier has become more abstract if not complex and knowledge based.


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Managing human capital. HR professionals and the task of facilitating organisational change
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Managing Human Capital, ‘Facilitator or Organizer’ position, HR Role
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Ravi Sivalingam (Author), 2016, Managing human capital. HR professionals and the task of facilitating organisational change, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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