Critical Aspects of HRM in the Australian Context – Competencies and HR Practices to Address Issues Identified in the Case

The case identifies various issues lacking in HR professionals in Australia. Lack of generalist management skills for instance impedes the extent to which the professionals play a strategic role in the business. In this respect, management competencies are critical in ensuring successful utilization of resources. Secondly, the need actively engage in the decision-making organs means that HR professionals require functional competencies in negotiation and communication skills. The disregard of communication skills in selection of managers in the Australian context (Bambacas & Patrickson 2009), may thus be counterproductive.

In terms of HR practices, the case highlights the need to have strong staff recruitment and talent management practices in the organizations. Due to the aging population of the Australian workforce (Patrickson & Hartmann 1995; Patrickson & Hartmann 2001), HR practitioners in the country need to develop strategies that attract fresh talent into their organisations. Such strategies could include partnership with training institutions to develop courses relevant to the organisation’s operations and hiring services of recruitment agencies to ensure they review a high number of applicants’ competencies without affecting the strategic functioning of the HR department (CIPD 2009). With respect to talent management, practices that promise a future considering the workforce aging, include the structuring of jobs into flexible arrangement that allow employees to achieve an effective balance between work and life (Patrickson & Hartmann 1995; Rynes & Cable 2003).

3.0 Recommendations

To transform the HR department into a strategic business unit, various aspects need to be addressed. The first of these regards making the administrative and supportive functions of the HR department more effective so has to enable it to play a more strategic role of building the intellectual capita (Haines & Lafleur 2008). In this respect, adoption of technology bears the potential to free the HR managers from the substantial workload presented by the routine administrative roles, thus allowing them to participate more in strategic business activities (Haines & Lafleur 2008). Such adoption of technology could help the HR professionals to effectively play the dual roles noted to present a challenge to the advanced integration of the HR function as a strategic business unit (Fisher, Dowling & Garnham 1999, Lawler 1995). An alternative to the adoption of IT would be the outsourcing of administrative and support functions of the HR department to allow the HR professionals take a more strategic role in the organisation. Even then, as Lawler (1995) points out, the HR professionals would need to occasionally deal with such aspects to avoid their perception as a management tool to suppress the workforce thus lowering the employees’ commitment to the entity’s vision.

A second aspect that HR professionals need to address so as to play a more strategic role in the organisation is acquiring generalist management skills that enhance their active involvement in decision-making organs of the entity. Various studies (e.g. Kelly & Gennard 1996; Fisher, Dowling & Garnham 1999) have for instance noted that incorporation of HR representatives into the decision-making organs of the organisation, is not by itself the driver of HR transformation into a strategic role, but rather a means through which such representative can influence the planning process of the organisation in line with the HRM practices required for establishing a competitive advantage in the entity. In such a way, HR profession need knowledge (general knowledge on other business operations) and skills (negotiation and communication) that offer them a tool to convince other members of the decision-making team of the effectiveness of linking HRM practices to the organisation’s strategy.

Finally, organisations need to establish strategies that transform the workforce diversity into a competitive advantage rather than a challenge to achieving the strategic role of the organisation. D’Netto and Sohal (1999) for instance note the lack of sound HRM strategies in the recruitment and talent management with respect to cultural diversity in Australian workforce. Lack of such attention to cultural diversity could for instance result in the establishment of a standard system of evaluating performance in the organisation, which may not be realistic where different cultures place differing importance on aspects such as decision making processes (Seymen 2006). To realize the benefits of the multicultural population in Australia, HR thus needs to adopt approaches that identify needs of individual cultures so that such can help guide practices that lead to employee commitment to the entity’s goals, effective communication of the entity’s vision, and training and development programs that are not culture-biased (Seymen 2006). Other recruitment aspects that the HR function should explore include outsourcing some stages in hiring process to allow HR professionals concentrate on strategic issues (CIPD 2009), partnering with training institutions to build fresh talents for their organisations and offering effective flexible work arrangements that allow employees to balance between work and life (Rynes & Cable 2003). go to conclusion here.

find the cost of your paper