TABLES OF CONTENTS
2. A GENERAL DEFINITION
3. THE CZECH REPUBLIC
3.1 HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
3.2 EMPLOYEE ASSESSMENT
5. THE PUBLIC SERVICE
5.1 HUMAN RESOURCE PLANNING
5.1.1. ASSESSMENT OF NEW EMPLOYEES
5.1.2. ASSESSING EXISTING HUMAN RESOURCE CAPACITY
5.3 PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT AND TRAINING
8. LIST OF REFERENCES
“Human resource professionals are often treated as if they were the lowest form of managerial life” (E.P. Lazear, 1998). Usually, personnel skills are perceived as too soft and are thus not valued as an essential tool for managing a company efficiently. Moreover, personnel people had to get used to receive little respect from their colleagues in the last century. Human resource managers were viewed as the “company police”, who created unnecessary stepping-stones for others. This impssion has reasoning. Until recently, there existed no systematic guide, on which human resource decisions could be based. In fact, personnel matters were regarded as too soft and too human to be treated rigorously. One of the main reasons is the fact that in the past as well as today most managers are technical experts. Sequentially, this led to the conclusion that human resource management indeed does not matter. However, today’s managers perceive human resource management as an important tool in order to run a company smoothly, effectively and cost-efficient. Indeed, human resource management determines how the company’s resources are managed. Human resource planning is essential in order to ensure that an organization’s human resources are capable of meeting the firm’s operational objectives. Thus, the following problem statement arises: Does the way of managing human resources diverge in different cultures and institutions?
In the following paper, the relative importance of human resource management between different cultures will be evaluated. Special attention will be given to the Czech Republic, Asia und the public service sector in the USA. First, a general definition of human resource management will be provided heavily influenced by U.S.-originating thoughts. Afterwards, the different cultures with respect to personnel matters will be explained and compared. Of special importance are the areas assessing, hiring and training of new employees. Finally, a conclusion will be provided, including an answer to the above stated question.
2 A GENERAL DEFINITION
Human resource management has to focus on several aspects concerning personnel-based decisions. The first and most obvious task is the recruitment and hiring of new personnel. Firms must decide on the type of workers to hire and, specially, on the amount of skills necessary for each job. Secondly, the turnover rate must be taken into account. This task mainly focuses on the decision whether it is profitable for workers to leave or stay within the company and when is turnover detrimental to profits. The turnover factor also influences the decision of whether to give employees the possibility of firm specific training. Additionally, the downsizing aspect has to be considered and in particular the economic conditions which make it necessary to lay off workers. As a forth aspect, workers have to be motivated. This must be done in order to achieve a constant and a principally high level of productivity. Thus, employee’s outcomes must be regularly assessed and rewarded by incentives. Furthermore, considerations of work-life, especially the fact that junior workers are more productive than senior ones, have to be taken into account. The following sections are focused on the aspects of recruiting, training and assessing employees. Those tasks will be explained in more detail in the next paragraphs, with emphasis on cultural differences concerning the Czech Republic, Asia and the public sector in the United States.
3 THE CZECH REPUBLIC
3.1 HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
In the Czech Republic, human resource management has lost its importance. Nowadays, it is not perceived as having a strong influence on organizational behavior, but mainly seen as an administrative act, required by the Labor Code. Apparently, it is understood as an unnecessary organizational tool. Nevertheless, human resource management is applied, but its main focus in the Czech Republic is on keeping records of the employees and their personal and socio-demographic background.
3.2 EMPLOYEE ASSESSMENT
In general, human resource management covers many aspects. Aspects, if applied efficiently, which should improve a company’s functioning and lead to a healthy and fluently operating business. Human resource management is not only an administrative act, but also contains the use of extrinsic motivational factors such as employee motivation programs, performance evaluations and financial reward systems. A combination of several of those stimulators can, under certain circumstances, lead to a competitive advantage. Nevertheless, each evaluation and reward program must be taken seriously and be supported by the top management. In the Czech Republic instead, superiors rarely link employee evaluations to a company’s systematic judgment. The assessment of subordinate’s behavior is rather biased, indirectly through the personal influence and subjective measures of managers. Furthermore, evaluations of subordinates are not linked to non-financial motivational programs. In here, one recognizes the realization of one of the “six myths about compensation” developed by J. Pfeffer (1998). Pfeffer states that people do not work for money but for a meaning in their lives. Thus, the company will pay the price of ignoring non-financial rewards, such as social care, in a lack of loyalty and commitment. The only form of stimulation in use in the Czech Republic is financial remuneration. One disadvantage of financial remuneration is, that it rarely influences employee behavior as it is mostly not suitably designed or often based as a rule only on a fixed wage. Moreover, rewarding certain behaviors based on financial means leads to the so-called “rigid bureaucratic behavior” (N. Gupta, 1998). This phenomenon “reflects a tendency for people to follow the reward system strictly, doing those and only those things that are rewarded” (N. Gupta, 1998). Thus, the efficient functioning of employees in the interest of the organization is not supported.
Czech Companies put little emphasis on analyzing work processes in order to define the requirements of specific jobs. But, “people are our most important assets” (E.P. Lazear, 1998), and in having the right workers is an important ingredient to the success of an organization. Nevertheless, Czech companies have a tendency to not assess the personal and professional qualifications of its employees appropriately; even though the personal background of each individual has a strong impact on group behavior and thus on the organization as a whole. Their main focus is on the technical expertise. As a result, the importance of human resource management and its impact on organizational functioning is lost. Furthermore, in hiring new employees the focus is on the labor market and not on school leavers. Although the ability to obtain a credential is highly correlated with one’s performance on the job (E.P. Lazear, 1998), Czech Companies still search for new employees on the labor market. Sometimes, firms even do not know what kind of people they need.
A common problem in recruiting new staff is that Czech companies tend to select usually “between applicants” and do not focus on a “selection for work” (Internet). This fact might be partly due to an insufficient provision of skilled workers by the Czech labor market. Summing up, Czech companies pfer the so-called “hard skills” in recruiting new employees and put less emphasis on “soft skills”. This is mainly the reason why Czech companies lack personnel whose educational background is a combination of hard and soft skills.
Specific job related training in Czech companies is provided by in-house systems. The system is based on comphensive trainings within the company. This is the reason why they mostly rely on practical training provided by schools, consultancy firms, educational firms and agencies rather than on externally run courses. The focus of those trainings is mostly on the development of staff’s social skills concerning services, trade and managerial posts. A common problem is that of appntice training. Czech companies rarely provide those kinds of education and even worse; it does not fall under the official education system. This leads to an extensive need of job specific training later on. Workers thus only experience a general education and must, in entering a new job, be provided with firm specific knowledge. This is expensive and time consuming.
In the past, Asian companies did not value the task of human resource management as a company asset. Instead it was perceived as unimportant. Nevertheless, human resource manager existed but their role was dual. Their typical function was that of an administration manager with a minor focus on personnel matters (www.polity.org.za/govdocs/white_papers/pservicedec.html). Their organizational position was at the lower end of the hierarchy. Apparently, their position was seen as a dead-end position and normally given to managers who failed in other, more important business areas. This fact lowered even more the perceived usefulness of human resource management in the eyes of Asian employers. This phenomenon has its roots in the Asian education system. Due to a lack of appropriate educational background, in that the Asian government failed to offer any psychology-oriented courses at all, the so-called soft-sciences were permanently ignored.
Furthermore, the government permanently intervened in the staffing process of Asian companies. In fact, it solely determined the staffing decision. Also, it supported family controlled businesses. Family run businesses had the main disadvantage to be biased toward their own family members especially concerning promotions. As a result, promotions were given based on a subjectively rated performance evaluation. Thus, objective evaluations systems were not perceived as important, and rejected, although they are central for employee motivation programs. Financial incentives were the only reward given, non-financial ones were completely ignored. In sum, due to the facts mentioned above, opportunities for professional development, training and knowledge acquirement were only of significant meaning (www.polity.org.za/govdocs/white_papers/pservicedec.html)
The bubble economy decade further supported the attitude toward human resource management. Despite the level of incompetence concerning human resource management, the decade assured ongoing profits and growth for Asian companies. Any investment in training or development was wasted, since workers left the company instantly for every dollar they could earn extra. Nevertheless, a few firms stumbled during this period. This fact led to an increased interest in efficient human resource management. Indeed the clear advantages of training, correct recruitment procedures and the assessment of employees became visible. Thus, researchers are now seriously looking for ways how human resource management can substantially improve a company’ functioning.