The Strategic Approach of Human Resource Management vs. Personnel Management

Last Updated: 31 Mar 2023
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“(HRM is) a strategic approach to managing employment relations which emphasizes that leveraging people’s capabilities is critical to achieving sustained competitive advantage, this being achieved through a distinctive set of integrated employment policies, programmes and practices. ” (John Bratton / Jeffrey Gold; Human Resource Management Theory And Practice, 2003) Although the terms Human Resource Management and Personnel Management are commonly used interchangeably, research has shown there are substantial differences between the two.

Personnel Management focuses more on the management of employees and dealing with administrative tasks such as employment laws, contractual obligations and the payroll of the company, encompassing the range of activities to do with managing the workforce rather than resources. Human Resource Management takes a strategic approach to the overall management of not only workers, but their workplace and environment, focusing on aspects such as the safety, wellness, benefits, motivation, development and organization of employees.

It can be said that Personnel Management is workforce centered; being largely about mediating between management and employees, while Human Resource Management is resource centered; concentrating on the planning, monitoring and control aspects of resources. There are four major stages in the evolution of Personnel and Human Resource Management as we know it today; social justice human bureaucracy consent by negotiation organization and integration Social justice Social justice was the budding stage in Human Resource Management, dating back to the 19th Century, when the work of social reformers such as Lord

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Shaftesbury and Robert Owen led to the appointment of the first personnel managers. Lord Shaftesbury was the leader of the Factory Reform Movement in the House of Commons and a key contributor to the Factory Act of 1847, which minimized the working hours of woman and children in factories to 10 hours per day and made it illegal for kids under the age of 9 to be employed in textile factories. Robert Owen was a social reformer of the Industrial Revolution, who assisted the working class of England by helping ease labour hours and conditions, and the use of child labour. He also assisted in the employment standards of England.

By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, some large employers started appointing welfare officers to manage new initiatives designed to make life easier for their employees, leading to higher productivity, improved retention of the workforce, and more applicants for each job. Notable welfare initiatives promoted by employers today include employee assistance schemes, childcare facilities and health-screening programmes. Human bureaucracy The term "bureaucracy" means "rule by office". Bureaucracy is an organizational form used by sociologists and organizational professionals.

The Industrial Revolution contributed to the development of bureaucracies, and modern bureaucracy emerged around 1850. In the 1930's, German sociologist, Max Weber, studied new forms of organization being developed to manage large numbers of people in complex activities, his studies and work led to the popularization of the term. He discussed topics such as uniform principles, structure and hierarchy, merit system and specialization of job-scope. Weber described many ideal types of public administration and government in his work and many aspects of modern public administration go back to him.

His research showed that large scale organizations were similar in specific ways and shared many similar features, concluding that each was a bureaucracy. Webster described bureaucracy as being the ideal way of organizing government agencies, and key in the continuing rationalization of western society. Websters principles were used throughout public and private sectors. He noted seven major principles; specification of jobs with detailed rights, obligations, responsibilities and scope of authority, system of supervision and subordination, unity of command, xtensive use of written documents, training in job requirements and skills, application of consistent and complete rules, assign work and hire personnel based on experience Another concept found largely in Weber's theories is rationalization, a process into which a person enters and applies practical knowledge to achieve results. While Webster believed bureaucracies were well organized machines that could accomplish any goal, he also noted disadvantages, one being that power shifted to only those individuals at the top, and could result in monocracy.

Weber also discussed authority and sought to learn what gave power to an individual to be able to claim authority over another, such as man over woman. The success that bureaucracy produced during the industrial revolution and up to the late twentieth century, makes it the most relevant type of organisation for such industries. Weber's thoughts on bureaucracy have influenced modern thinking and many still hold true. The main ideas of his seven principles are still relevant to many bureaucracies that exist, making Weber a truly innovative thinker, who continues to influence society and business today. Consent by negotiation

Negotiation means bargaining between two or more parties, each with its own aims, needs and views, seeking to discover a common ground and reach an agreement to settle a matter of mutual concern or resolve a conflict. Consent by negotiation helped develop Human Resource Management between the years 1935 and 1950, when a large increase in union membership in the United States drew more emphasis on labour relations and collective bargaining within personnel management. The importance of aspects such as compensation and benefits also increase, as unions negotiate paid holidays, vacations, and insurance coverage.

HRM practices in firms are still regularly influenced by Unions. Companies which are unionized have to follow contracts which have been negotiated between the company and its union. These contracts control many HRM practices, including promotion, grievances, discipline, and overtime. Firms which aren't unionized can also be influenced by the threat of unions. For example, some companies make their Human Resource Management practices more equitable, treating workers more fairly, to avoid the chance of union representation by employees.

Organization and integration The integrated phase of human resource management dates to the early 1970's to 1980's. In this period, it was focused on changing environment, such as individual experts in organization, specific areas, recruitment and training. In the late 60's, there was a change in focus among personnel specialists, from dealing mainly with the rank-and-file worker on behalf of management, to dealing with management itself and the integration of managerial activities.

The development of career ladders and opportunities for personal growth within organizations characterised this phase. "As the 1960's and 1970's unfolded, a more personable group of managers emerged, and their interest in people and feelings influenced all facts of business, including the growth of market research, communications and public relations. This group of managers, emphasized the relationship between employers and employees, rather than scientific management. Programs to increase wages and fringe benefits continued to be developed.

New studies linked greater productivity to management philosophies that encouraged worker ideas and initiatives" (Losey, 2010, online) Opportunities for personal growth is still a concern of personnel managers to this day, with time and resources being spent on the recruitment and development of people who obtain expertise which the future of the business. Workforce planning and manpower techniques have also been developed by Personnel managers, focusing on the conceivable need for employees with various skills in the future.

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The Strategic Approach of Human Resource Management vs. Personnel Management. (2017, Jan 12). Retrieved from

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