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TYPES OF HR STRATEGIES

Because all organizations are different, all HR strategies are different. There is no such thing as a set of standard characteristics. Research into HR strategy conducted by Armstrong and Long (1994) and Armstrong and Baron (2002) revealed many variations. Some strategies are simply very general declarations of intent. Others go into much more detail. But two basic types of HR strategies can be identified. These are: 1) Overarching strategies 2) Specific strategies relating to the different aspects of human resource management. Overarching HR strategies Overarching strategies describe the general intentions of the organization about how people should be managed and developed and what steps should be taken to ensure that the organization can attract and retain the people it needs and ensure so far as possible that employees are committed, motivated and engaged. They are likely to be expressed as broad-brush statements of aims and purpose, which set the scene for more specific strategies. They are concerned with overall organizational effectiveness achieving human resource advantage by, as Boxall and Purcell (2003) point out, employing better people in organizations with better process, developing high-performance work processes and generally creating a great place to work. The following are some examples of overarching HR strategy statements: AEGON Group LTD:

The Human Resources Integrated Approach aims to ensure that from whatever angle staff now look at the elements of pay management, performance, career development and reward, they are consistent and linked. The framework of strategic HRM B&Q: l Enhance employee commitment and minimize the loss of B&Qs best people. l Position B&Q as one of the best employers in the UK. GlaxoSmithKline: We want GSK to be a place where the best people do their best work. An insurance company: Without the people in this business we dont have anything to deliver. We are driven to getting the people issues right in order to deliver the strategy. To a great extent its the people that create and implement the strategy on behalf of the organization. We put people very much at the front of our strategic thought process. If we have the right people, the right training, the right qualifications and the right sort of culture then we can deliver our strategy. We cannot do it otherwise. A manufacturing company: The HR strategy is to stimulate changes on a broad front aimed ultimately at achieving competitive advantage through the efforts of our people. In an industry of fast followers, those who learn quickest will be the winners. (HR Director) A retail stores group: The biggest challenge will be to maintain [our] competitive advantage and to do that we need to maintain and continue to attract very high calibre people.

The key differentiator on anything any company does is fundamentally the people, and I think that people tend to forget that they are the most important asset. Money is easy to get hold of; good people are not. All we do in terms of training and manpower planning is directly linked to business improvement. (Managing Director) SPECIFIC HR STRATEGIES Specific HR strategies set out what the organization intends to do in areas such as: Talent Management how the organization intends to win the war for talent; Continuous Improvement providing for focused and continuous incremental innovation sustained over a period of time; Knowledge Management creating, acquiring, capturing, sharing and using knowledge to enhance learning and performance; Resourcing attracting and retaining high-quality people; Learning And Developing providing an environment in which employees are encouraged to learn and develop; Reward defining what the organization wants to do in the longer term to develop and implement reward policies, practices and processes that will further the achievement of its business goals and meet the needs of its stakeholders; Employee Relations defining the intentions of the organization about what needs to be done and what needs to be changed in the ways in employees are managed. The following are some examples of specific HR strategies: The Childrens Society:
Implement the rewards strategy of the Society to support the

corporate plan and secure the recruitment, retention and motivation of staff to deliver its business objectives.

Manage the development of the human resources information

system to secure productivity improvements in administrative processes.


Introduce improved performance management processes for

managers and staff of the Society.


Implement training and development which supports the business

objectives of the Society and improves the quality of work with children and young people. Diageo: These are the three broad strands to the Organization and People Strategy: 1. Reward and recognition: use recognition and reward programmes to stimulate outstanding team and individual performance contributions. 2. Talent management: drive the attraction, retention and professional growth of a deep pool of diverse, talented employees. 3. Organizational effectiveness: ensure that the business adapts its organization to maximize employee contribution and deliver performance goals. It provides direction to the companys talent, operational effectiveness and performance and reward agendas. The companys underlying thinking is that the people strategy is not for the human resource function to own but is the responsibility of the whole organization, hence the title Organization and People Strategy. CRITERIA FOR AN EFFECTIVE HR STRATEGY An effective HR strategy is one that works in the sense that it achieves what it sets out to achieve. In particular, it:
1. Will satisfy business needs; 2. Be founded on detailed analysis and study, not just wishful thinking; 3. Can be turned into actionable programmes that anticipate

implementation requirements and problems;


4. Is coherent and integrated, being composed of components that fit

with and support each other

5.

Takes account of the needs of line managers and employees generally as well as those of the organization and its other stakeholders.

Key considerations to be put in place to ensure that an organisation has capability to execute its strategic intentions. For an organisation to ensure it is able to successfully carry its strategic intentions, there are certain fundamental questions it needs to answer in relation to the following issues;
1. Shared mindset: To what extent does our company have the right culture to achieve our goals? 2. Competence: To what extent does our company have the required knowledge, skills and abilities? 3. Consequence: To what extent does our company have the appropriate measures, rewards and incentives? 4. Governance: To what extent does our company have the right organization structure, communication systems and policies? 5. Capacity for change: To what extent does our company have the ability to improve work processes, to change and to learn? 6. Leadership: To what extent does our company have the leadership to achieve its goals?

Key considerations in HR strategy formulation The strategy formation process is complex, and excessively rationalistic models that advocate formalistic linkages between strategic planning and HR planning are not particularly helpful to our understanding of it. Business strategy may be an important influence on HR strategy but it is only one of several factors. Implicit (if not explicit) in the mix of factors that influence the shape of HR strategies is a set of historical compromises and trade-offs from stakeholders. A methodology for formulating HR strategies A methodology for formulating HR strategies was developed by Dyer and Holder (1988) as follows: 1. Assess feasibility from an HR point of view, feasibility depends on whether the numbers and types of key people required to make the

proposal succeed can be obtained on a timely basis and at a reasonable cost, and whether the behavioural expectations assumed by the strategy are realistic (eg retention rates and productivity levels). 2. Determine desirability examine the implications of strategy in terms of sacrosanct HR policies (eg a strategy of rapid retrenchment would have to be called into question by a company with a full employment policy). 3. Determine goals these indicate the main issues to be worked on and they derive primarily from the content of the business strategy. For example, a strategy to become a lower-cost producer would require the reduction of labour costs. This in turn translates into two types of HR goals: higher performance standards (contribution) and reduced headcounts (composition). 4. Decide means of achieving goals the general rule is that the closer the external and internal fit, the better the strategy, consistent with the need to adapt flexibly to change. External fit refers to the degree of consistency between HR goals on the one hand and the exigencies of the underlying business strategy and relevant environmental conditions on the other. Internal fit measures the extent to which HR means follow from the HR goals and other relevant environmental conditions, as well as the degree of coherency or synergy among the various HR means. THE STRATEGIC ROLE OF HR SPECIALISTS It is Ulrichs (1998) view that HR executives, to be fully fledged strategic partners with senior management, should impel and guide serious discussion of how the company should be organized to carry out its strategy. HR must take stock of its own work and set clear priorities. At any given moment, the HR staff might have a dozen initiatives in its sights, such as

pay for- performance, global teamwork and action-learning development experiences. But to be truly tied to business outcomes, HR needs to join forces with operating managers to assess systematically the impact and importance of each one of these initiatives. Which ones are really aligned with strategy implementation? Which ones should receive immediate attention and which ones can wait? Which ones, in short, are really linked to business results? The answers must be obtained to six questions: 1. Shared mindset: To what extent does our company have the right culture to achieve our goals? 2. Competence: To what extent does our company have the required knowledge, skills and abilities? 3. Consequence: To what extent does our company have the appropriate measures, rewards and incentives? 4. Governance: To what extent does our company have the right organization structure, communication systems and policies? 5. Capacity for change: To what extent does our company have the ability to improve work processes, to change and to learn? 6. Leadership: To what extent does our company have the leadership to achieve its goals? The new mandate for HR According to Ulrich (1998), HR should not be defined by what it does but by what it delivers results that enrich the organizations value to customers, investors and employees. Ulrich believes that for HR to deliver excellence it should:
1. Become a partner with senior and line managers in strategy

execution, helping to improve planning from the conference room to the marketplace;
2. Become an expert in the way work is organized and executed,

delivering administrative efficiency to ensure that costs are reduced while quality is maintained;

3. Become a champion for employees, vigorously representing their

concerns to senior management and at the same time working to increase employee contribution, that is, employees commitment to the organization and their ability to deliver results;
4. Become an agent of continuous transformation, shaping processes

and a culture that together improve an organizations capacity for change;


5. Communicate the importance of the soft, people-centred issues; 6. 7.

Define HR deliverables and be accountable for them; Invest in innovative HR practices.

The specific strategic roles of HR The four specific strategic roles of HR as discussed below are(Proposed by Ulrich (1998). 1. Business Partner working alongside business colleagues to align HR and business strategy and manage human resources strategically; 2. Innovator developing integrated HR strategies; 3. Change Agent the management of transformation and change; 4. Implementer getting strategies into action. BUSINESS PARTNER HR practitioners as business partners share responsibility with their line management colleagues for the success of the enterprise. As described by Tyson (1985), they have the capacity to identify business opportunities, to see the broad picture and to see how their HR role can help to achieve the companys business objectives. They integrate their activities closely with top management and ensure that they serve a long-term strategic purpose. As business partners, HR practitioners are aware of business strategies and the opportunities and threats facing the organization. They are capable of analysing organizational strengths and weaknesses, and diagnosing the issues facing the enterprise (PESTLE analysis) and their

human resource implications. They know about the critical success factors that will create competitive advantage and they can draw up a convincing business case for innovations that will add value. But in acting as a business partner, HR must still deliver effective services. THE INNOVATION ROLE A strategic approach to HRM will mean that HR specialists will innovate they introduce new processes and procedures that they believe will increase organizational effectiveness. The need for innovation should be established by processes of analysis and diagnosis that identify the business need and the issues to be addressed. Benchmarking can take place to identify best practice as adopted by other organizations. But in the interests of achieving best fit the innovation should meet the particular needs of the business, which are likely to differ from those of other best practice organizations. It has to be demonstrable that the innovation is appropriate, beneficial and practical in the circumstances and can be implemented without too much difficulty in the shape of opposition from those affected by it or the unjustifiable use of resources financial and the time of those involved. THE CHANGE MANAGER ROLE Johnson and Scholes (1993) in their classic book on strategy suggest that organizations that successfully manage change are those that have integrated their human resource management policies with their strategies and the strategic change process. Strategies involve change, and failures to implement strategies often arise because the changes involved have not been managed effectively. HR practitioners can play a major part in developing and implementing organizational change. They must pay particular attention to managing change when implementing HR initiatives. This means considering:
Who will be affected by the change How they will react to it

Barriers to implementation (eg resistance or indifference to change)

and how they will be overcome


Resource requirements for implementing change (these resources

include the commitment and skill of those involved in the change as well as people, time and money)
Who is available to champion the change How line managers and others will be involved in the change

process, including the formulation as well as the implementation of changed policies


How the purpose and impact of change will be communicated to all

concerned.
What different skills and behaviours will be required and how they

are to be developed
How the change process will be monitored How the effectiveness of the change will be measured What steps will be taken to evaluate the impact of change.

THE IMPLEMENTER ROLE HR strategists have to decide where they want to go and how they mean to get there. They are in the delivery business making things happen, getting things done. They are thinking performers they have to think carefully about what they are planning in the context of their organization and within the business environment. HIGH PERFORMANCE Organisations can ensure they achieve high performance of their employees by using the following strategies
1. Careful and extensive systems for recruitment, selection and

training 2. Formal systems for sharing information with the individuals who work in the organization;
3. Clear job design 4. High-level participation processes

5. Monitoring of attitudes 6. Performance appraisals 7. Properly functioning grievance procedures

8. Promotion and compensation schemes that provide for the recognition and financial rewarding of the high-performing members of the workforce.