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A re-examination of the role of HRM in career management
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Traditional perceptions of careers are slowly being replaced by new views. Career management was once considered as a role for employers. Job security was a reality, and careers were associated with jobs. However, these factors are no longer true today; off-shoring, mergers & acquisitions and downsizing are new buzz words. Employees are well aware that they can lose job at any moment. On the other hand, companies are dealing with highly competitive human resource markets. It has become increasingly difficult to retain employees. Given these diverse changes in careers, it is imperative to re-examine the role of human resource management in career management. The report will first start with changes taken place in this sphere. Then, it will look at possible roles for human resource management and, finally, give suggestions on how the two can work together for improving career management.
Jobs are no longer permanent as they were some years ago. Corporations are more interested in furthering their profit making interests than safeguarding the needs of their employees (Noe, 1996). In fact, if companies adopt strategies that restructure their organisation, then employees will often be the first casualties (Gallagher et. al., 2009). Because of such circumstances, employees need to manage their careers since they are basically on their own.
In fact, career management is now characterised by individual rather than corporate responsibility. External trends affect these decisions because opportunities that have been unavailable few decades ago now are very plausible career options. Therefore, one must decide where one really wants to go as an employee. Giving this increasing need for personal / individual responsibility in career management, employees have realised that job means more than sources of income. It is now seen as an opportunity to acquire new skills. Employees are willing to forego minor drawbacks presented in certain jobs just so that they can acquire necessary skills and hence develop their careers. Employees now play an important role in determining how long they will last in certain jobs or how they can enrich their experiences. Many take into account things in retrospect, assessing the future of their careers based on prevailing trends. In fact, others are willing to let go of isolated jobs if they are not in line with their career aspirations (Sollivan, 2000). Also, employees build networks in their industries so they can always be on the lookout for great new ideas or openings. Most employees know that when they leave their organisations, most of them will obtain something new and fresh. Some even have an exit strategy as a part of their career planning (Stahl et. al., 2009).
Human resource managers have a very unique challenge in such an environment because employee’s loyalty is no longer as important as it has been formerly. Nonetheless, if an employee can find the solution to his/ her career goals in a certain organisation, then there is no need for him/her to leave (Baruch, 2004). Therefore, HR managers have the challenge of meeting employees own needs as well as the organisation’s ones. Employee’s loyalty is likely to result only when there is an alignment between career aspirations of employees and business goals. Hence, the challenge is matching those two critical factors.
The haphazard job alterations that characterise career management present another additional challenge to HR representatives. These frequent departures of employees upset organisational culture because human resources must look for replacements from outside the organisation when leadership gaps take place (Bridgstock, 2009). The traditional approach to career development which was characterised by employee’s loyalty ensured that smooth transitions occurred naturally. Leaders were selected from within the existent employee pool. However, such smooth transitions do not occur anymore as they did previously. Human resources need to take this role and ensure that transitions are smooth enough even when employees leave for external career opportunities (Conway et. al., 2002).
Human resource managers have the difficult task of managing expectations. Since employee career aspirations are becoming more ambitious, it is crucial for the HRM function to clarify all possibilities early enough. Some employees may harbour ambitions of hierarchical growth, yet these may not be plausible for an enterprise that is more inclined towards mergers and acquisitions or other similar growth strategies. HR is to make sure that employees fully understand their career possibilities in the organisation (Sullivan, 2009). This means that now, business environment demands greater transparency from human resources than it was earlier. Currently, employees require information from HR managers on possible directions that business will be heading to.
Business environment also changes in terms of the need for synergy in career management. Traditionally, the HR function was seen as an amorphous entity, which possessed different roles that could be handled in different ways. However, now, the environment requires for more coordinated and organised approach to career management. Now, decisions about careers need to be done after collecting all the sufficient information needed in order to alter an employee’s career path.
For companies, these shifty job offerings should compel them to transfer their attention away from offering their employees’ permanent employment for creating permanently employable employees. Unless companies can support their employees to plan their careers or guide them in the right direction, then they will not cushion themselves against high turnover (Huiwen, 2009). However, firms need to ensure the fact that they support employees’ careers because the results of that support will affect the company positively. In other words, HRM should still participate for being involved in career management, but this should be done with a focus on the employee (Coy, 2011). If human resource managers do not carry this out proactively, then they are likely to lose their best employees to aggressive competitors in the same industry. In fact, it has been shown that employees with the greatest skills and talents are the ones who are most likely to leave an organisation for another more promising position when they do not get support from their firm. HRM should not take a back burner; it just needs to be redefined for being able to answer the employees’ needs (Baruch & Peiperi, 2000).
There are several things that need to be kept in mind as HRM plans careers. First of all, it needs to possess a formal approach to career planning as these actions are to be tied in with overall organisational strategy. Now, firms need to appreciate the importance of talent possession because that could be the vital differentiator of the company in its respective field. Future or even prevailing plans can not be executed when a firm possesses talent shortage, so HRM should not compromise on this element. Many organisations have not been taking positive steps towards dealing with or preventing talent shortage that costs them greatly. While strategy may involve the organisation, final decisions and choices should be employee driven. This is the second aspect that needs to be kept in mind. Organisational staff members are the ones who will be exploring various options available to them, so they need to be told about all the possibilities available to them. Unless HRM can strike a balance between these two aspects, they will lose out their vital human resource capital (Baruch, 2004). HRM needs to engage talent, at the same time offering development opportunities to workers, who need to be steered in the right career direction without compromising on their ability to self-direct their own career paths. HRM also needs to ensure that career strategies are associated with day to day operations or else they will be engaged in useless general efforts.
Human resource managers are expected to be aware of the leadership situation in their organisations as well as keep tabs on the various gaps that are prevalent in their firms. Career management provides great opportunities to deal with these leadership gaps because organisations can identify capable employees and work with them by designing their career paths together (Lockwood et. al., 2003). There is no reason for a human resource department to keep getting their leaders from the external environment, when they have capable leaders within. However, it should be noted that a traditional approach, which dwells on business needs, will not be appropriate here; emphasis must be on the career ambitions of the employee. If these aspirations clash, then HR managers need to identify other employees who have such aspirations.
This radical shift towards personal responsibility in career management does not eliminate the need for HRM. However, it does require a collaborative approach to career management. Objective career success can be attained alongside organisational objectives if the HR function works alongside career self-management initiatives by employees (Lockwood, 2003). Most employees do not expect to do this alone. They believe that their employers will help them in one way or another, so HRM is still relevant in career management. Complementary approaches towards career management need to be adopted by the employees as well as the Human resource function (Metzenbaum, 2009). Self-managing employees actually expect greater support from human resources. If the HRM department fails to step up to this role, then it stands to lose very vital employees, who may look for tangible career opportunities and greater support elsewhere.
Human resources managers can also engage in career planning in order to contribute career management. However, as mentioned earlier, individuals and organisational needs are to be merged. HRM will be responsible for career management in an organisation through collection of information, which illustrates the requirements that are prevalent within the firm (Lockwood, 2003). If this is done well, then it will be a crucial guide to determine exactly what a company needs to do in order to develop careers. As HRM carries this out, it needs to keep in mind that all the employees have their own unique needs and wants. They also possess different abilities, so not everyone will fit organisation’s requirements during the career planning process. HRM also needs to remember that workers are likely to be more responsive towards their organisation if they realise that their goals and ambitions have been catered for. With the right guidance and opportunities, employees can keep growing, and this will definitely enhance career growth prospects (Armstrong, 2009).
Young employees still require guidance, so organisations can step up and offer them mentoring opportunities. These individuals may be directed towards steering the mentees in the right direction of their careers. HRM can provide them with a framework against which they can grow their career tremendously. In this process, the company through HRM will need to allocate people who will support employees. The mentors often assist employees in the process of drawing personal development programs. Once mentees start the learning programs, mentors ought to support them during entire learning process (Karralis, 2009). They should also give them guidance concerning the skills they need in order to take on a new position within the organisation. Mentors also assist employees choosing the best administrative or technical approaches to carry out their personal responsibilities. However, in order to cover the needs of the company, HR personnel need to dwell on mentorship opportunities that illustrate the possibility of growth within present organisation. Here, the company should offer an employee the possibility and opportunity to grow through collaboration with company’s coaches or mentors. In fact, the HR representatives should encourage young employees to work on establishing long-term relationships with their mentors (Collings, 2009). That will give them a reason to remain loyal to the organisation and thus boost loyalty.
Companies need to involve employees in work designs, especially taking in account the fact that now employees are more proactive about their careers (Mackenzie & Arnold, 1999). In other words, HR managers should allow or even require their employees to change work procedures. This will contribute towards job enrichment and also boost their confidence in certain career paths.
Human resources need to design career paths with employees. Here, they can work with employees concerning possible career moves that could help them to advance their careers. Even though employees need to be the focal point of career development, HR managers should remember that employee’s performance and company’s values need to be related. If there is any synchronisation between these two aspects, then a career path can be curved out. In line with these efforts, there is the need to offer career counselling to employees (European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation, 2000). In these sessions, HR managers need to listen to the career aspirations of their employees and give feedback or input concerning these aspirations. Information found through this method can be used in subsequent times for later career development efforts.
After carrying out career counselling, individuals need to know where their careers will be headed. This involves career planning development. Since employees have been set at the centre of their career management, they need to be the point of focus during such processes. Here, employees need to determine the actions that they will need to take in order to achieve their career ambitions (Coy,.............
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