Frank and Taylor (2004) warn that motivating employees is highly dependent on their specific wants and needs. An accounting firm that mostly hires conservative, serious-minded employees who value efficiency above all else are not likely to be motivated by the offer of a life coach or a concierge. They would probably be much more motivated by a good 401k plan. However, that does not mean that all types of organizations cannot get creative with their benefits.
The key is to creating an effective and creative employee benefit strategy is talk to the employees and find out what they really want. According to Gajewski (2005) it is critically important to modify "the corporate culture to balance employee needs and desires with organizational objectives" (p. 4). Therefore, if companies can change the corporate culture in such as way that satisfies both management and employees, then they would be remiss not to do so.
Managing Human Resources Through Effective Leadership
A leadership strategy is not based merely on principles; it requires a carefully constructed plan of action. Strategy design is an essential part of effectively managing an organization's talent. There are numerous technical aspects to Human Resource strategizing that go beyond the standard hiring, paying and firing protocols. Unfortunately, many HR leaders are not planning their strategies as well as they need to in order to attract and keep the most talented and capable workforce, because they are not aware of all of the technical factors that strategy planning entails. Therefore, there is a strong need for organizational leaders to learn how to create a more effective process for designing their HR strategies, based on the principles of successful "management thought." According to Wren (2004) "Management thought is a both a process in and a product of its changing environment" (p. 473)
In order to improve the process of designing an effective talent management strategy, HR managers first have to understand exactly what the term 'talent management' entails. Unfortunately, there is no single, definitive definition of talent management. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management defines talent management as "A system that addresses competency gaps, particularly in mission-critical occupations, by implementing and maintaining programs to attract, acquire, develop, promote, and retain quality talent" (p. 1). Thus according to this definition, talent management is an essentially a problem-solving approach to HR management.
According to Garrow and Hirsh (2008), the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (ClPD) "defines talent management as 'the systematic attraction, identification, development, engagement/retention, and deployment of those individuals with high potential who are of particular value to an organization'" (p. 390). From this perspective, talent management is not only about recruiting and managing talented employees, but it is also about cultivating those with potential. While the definitions of talent management may vary, the overall theme of the discipline is that organizations need to make the most out of the people who work for them (Birdi et al., 2008).
Human Resource strategies are not just a bunch of ideas or policies strung together. They are specific plans that take into account all of the major stakeholders. All of these factors contribute to the notion of continuous improvement. Continuous improvement, according to Kearns (2003) is not only a strategy, but it is a philosophy; a mindset. Companies that understand that there is always room for improvement and refuse to get trapped in the snare of contentment are the ones that are the most successful. Understanding where improvements are necessary and gaining ideas for making changes requires good communication. As Kearns (2003) points out "It is very easy to communicate badly, but you can never have too much good communication" (p. 152)
HR strategy, no matter how well it is conceived, has to be communicated effectively and properly if it is to have any legitimate value. There are dozens of reasons why it is important to not only plan effective strategies but to communicate them well, but the most notable reason as that if people don't understand the strategy, then it is not possible for them to carry it out.
The only successful organizations in the future will be those that are able to increase productivity through improving the performance of their human resources (Robbins & Judge, 2007). Effective communication is an especially critical part of achieving this goal. Specifically, creating a vision and communicating the components of that vision effectively can help to create a sense of understanding in the employees of what the company hopes to achieve. Also, by making employees feel that they are a part of the decision making process will help to make it seem as if they are working as a part of a cohesive team, and this will in turn cause employees to try to make change and new initiatives succeed instead of fighting to make them fail.
Developing a successful HR management strategy can be a challenge; but it is well worth the effort (Frank & Taylor, 2004). The process is even more difficult when the business and the competition and the economy keep changing. Therefore, one of the most critical aspects of creating such a plan is an understanding of how to adapt to change.
Old HR strategies will not work anymore when these changes set in, so the HR strategy has to be flexible enough that it can keep up with new trends and patterns (Wren, 2004). It also has to be strong enough that it can not just react to change, but can actually create change. According to Kearns (2003), "one of the main aims behind most attempts at HR strategy is the need to bring about organizational change" (p. 68).
When a company does not have the exact systems in place that it needs to make sure that it is recruiting, retaining, cultivating and managing the best talent, it is the human resource department's job to incorporate new ideas to improve the current systems, and to create new and better systems. For example, when PepsiAmericas experienced a three way merger in 2000, they were faced with numerous changes and challenges. Most notably, the company had to integrate three separate companies with different organizational cultures. According to Peopleclick Authoria "The PepsiAmericas HR team played a prominent role in leading the transformation, focusing on talent management. A critical component of the plan was the creation of a human capital planning initiative centered on a comprehensive performance management process." The primary goal was to ensure that every manager received clear communication as to what his or her role and duties would entail. This simultaneously averted duplicate efforts, in-fighting and bruised egos.
While it is important to be able to react to planned change such as mergers, it is equally important to be proactive and be prepared for unplanned changes. This includes creating a foundation for these new processes, while making sure that innovation is an ongoing initiative within the organization's human resource department. Innovation can occur in a variety of ways, including: 1) brainstorming (coming up with as many ideas as possible and then choosing the best option); 2) benchmarking (looking at other similar companies and seeing what they do); or 3) developing histograms (statistical charts that show what has been done in the past).
Once a company's HR department uses these tools and determines where and what its needs are in terms of process improvement, then they need to make sure that their goals are aligned with the goals of the company as a whole. Gajewski (2005) believes that an HR strategy has to be aligned with the company's mission statement and vision statement in order to be successful. A mission statement is a formal declaration made by the company about what it hopes to accomplish overall. A vision statement is a formal declaration about how the company sees itself fitting in with the world and where it expects to go in the future. It is critical, according to Gajewski (2005) to modify "the corporate culture to balance employee needs and desires with organizational objectives" (p. 1). When designing a talent management strategy, all of these factors must be taken into consideration and made a part of the strategy design process.
There are numerous other factors that need to be taken into consideration when attempting to align the goals of the organization and its employees. These include factors such as whether or not there is a union, how much the company can afford to pay in salary and benefits, how well-managed the organization is, whether or not the company provides ongoing training for employees, and how much freedom the HR department is given to develop and install new programs (Kearns, 2003).
Many organizations have come to realize that in order to be truly successful, they need to not only attract talented workers, but they also have to be able to keep those workers happy so that they do not take their talents somewhere else. This means that…