Critical Aspects of HRM in the Australian Context – Current Practice in HRM

The HR practice has changed over the years as organisation attempt to develop efficiencies that better their competitive advantage. The value added HR case study for instance identifies various critical aspects that affect HRM in Australia in the modern day. Firstly, the case identifies the shortage of generalist skills among the HR professionals that would allow them to lead the HR department into a more strategic role in the organisation. Lack of these skills has led to the replacement of the HR professionals at the head of the HR department with generalist management professionals who have an in-depth understanding of other business functions. As business demand that various departments establish their contribution to the business value, the HR department has been challenged to transition from a paper-handling function to a function that develops and creates value in one of the critical resources of the entity – the human capital (Kane & Palmer 1995; Haines & Lafleur 2008). Arguing for such a shift Fisher, Dowling & Garnham (1999), note that  individuals involved in the HR profession must “start to think more like general managers” for their integration into decision-making arenas of the organisation to result into positive outcomes (p. 508). But despite this clamour to integrate generalist management skills in the HR department, there is also need to ensure that the people-aspect of the HR function is provided the due attention it deserves. It is from this perspective that Kramar (as quoted in the case study) notes that the new individuals taking leadership in the HR department take the position with a misinformed perspective focused more on immediate business outcomes rather than developing resources that would enhance the organisation’s competitiveness in the long-term.

Arising from the disconnect that arises with replacement of HR professionals with generalist managers, has been the clamour for HRM strategy to be linked into the business strategy. In the case, this perspective is brought about by the increased incidence of senior HR professionals being integrated into the decision-making levels of the entity. Such inclusion of HR representatives in the decision-making arenas has been argued to allow their adequate involvement in the planning process of the business thus help generate a higher integration of the HRM strategy with an organisation’s strategy (Caldwell 2011; Lawler 1995; Sisson 1995; Shipton & McAuley 1993). This however does not arise by the mere incorporation of HR representatives into the decision-making organs of the entity, but rather by other factors such as the standing of these representatives with the other members of the decision-making organs (Kelly & Gennard 1996; Fisher, Dowling & Garnham 1999). Integration of the HRM strategy into the business strategy in respect to entities resident in Australia has for instance been associated with better outcomes for “just-in-time” environments; environments that attempt to achieve maximum cost efficiency by constant improvement of an entities practices and techniques (Power & Sohal 2000). Factors that are important in ensuring such integration are thus a core concern of this paper.

Another issue that the case implies for HRM management practices in Australia regards attracting, recruitment and retention of best talents that ensure an organisation maintains its competitive advantage. The case study for instance establishes that the new HR managers being appointed in Australia are required to develop the employees’ knowledge quickly to meet the organisation’s goals. Such requirements mean that the managers must find the right people, and develop these talents while providing adequate motivation to keep them committed to their work and avoid high turnover. In the case of Australia the challenge of getting the right talent, as is the case for many OECD countries, is amplified by the ageing workforce (Patrickson & Hartmann 1995; Patrickson & Hartmann 2001). In motivating employees so that they can remain in the organisation, HR managers in Australia also require to come up with appropriate strategies to manage the cultural diversity effectively (D’Netto & Sohal 1999). Similarly appropriate training for developing the human resources the organisation so that it can compete effectively is critical (Smith & Smith 2007). go to part 4 here.

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