Strategic Human Resource Management

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SHRM or Strategic human resource management is a branch of HRM or Human resource management. SHRM is a rather new field, which has emerged out of the parent discipline HRM. A substantial part of the early or so called traditional HRM literature treated the concept of strategy superficially, as a purely operational matter, the results of which cascade down throughout the organisation. In management literature and practice there was a kind of unmentioned but evident division of territory between people-centred values and the harder business values, where corporate strategies really belonged.


Definition of SHRM

Strategic human resource management could be defined as the linking of human resources with strategic goals and objectives of an organization in order to improve business performance and develop organisational culture that foster innovation, flexibility and competitive advantage. In an organisation SHRM means accepting and involving the HR function as a strategic partner in the formulation and implementation of the company’s strategies through HR activities such as recruiting, selecting, training and rewarding personnel.


How SHRM differs from HRM

Starting from the early nineties there has been an increasing awareness that HR functions were like an island unto itself laden with softer people-centred values and positioned far away from the hard world of real business. Many writers in the late 1980s, started clamouring for a more strategic approach to the management of people than the standard practices of traditional management of people or industrial relations models. In order to justify its own existence HR functions had to be seen as more intimately connected with the strategy and day to day running of the business side of the enterprise.

Strategic human resource management focuses on human resource programs with long-term objectives. Instead of focusing on internal human resource issues, the focus is on addressing and solving problems that effect people management programs in the long run and often globally. Therefore the primary goal of strategic human resources is to increase employee productivity by focusing on business obstacles that occur outside of human resources. The primary actions of a strategic human resource manager are to identify key HR areas where strategies can be implemented in the long run to improve the overall employee motivation and productivity. Communication between HR and top management of the company is vital as without active participation no cooperation is possible.


Key Features of Strategic Human Resource Management

The key features of SHRM are

  • There is an explicit linkage of some kind between HR policy and practices and overall organisational strategic aims and the organisational environment
  • There is some organizing schema linking individual HR interventions so that they are mutually supportive
  • Much of the responsibility for the management of human resources is devolved down the line


Trends in Strategic Human Resource Management

Human Resource Management professionals are increasingly faced with the issues of employee participation, human resource flow, performance management, reward systems and high commitment work systems in the context of globalization. Older solutions and recipes that worked in a local context do not work in an international context. Cross-cultural issues play a major role here.


Major issues SHRM is grappling with in the first decade of the 21st century

  • Internationalization of market integration.
  • Increased competition.
  • Rapid technological change.
  • New concepts of line and general management.
  • Constantly changing ownership and resultant corporate climates.
  • Cross-cultural issues


References

  1. Armstrong, M (ed.) 192a) Strategies for Human Resource Management: A Total Business Approach. London:Kogan Page
  2. Beer, M and Spector,B (eds) (1985) Readings in Human Resource Management. New York: Free Press
  3. Boxall, P (1992) ‘Strategic Human Resource Management: Beginnings of a New Theoretical Sophistication?’ Human Resource Management Journal, Vol.2 No.3 Spring.
  4. Fombrun, C.J., Tichy, N,M, and Devanna, M.A. (1984) Strategic Human Resource Management. New York:Wiley
  5. Mintzberg, H, Quinn, J B, Choshal, S (198) The Strategy Process, Prentice Hall.
  6. Truss, C and Gratton, L (1994) ‘Strategic Human Resource Management: A Conceptual Approach’, International Journal of Human Resource Management, Vol.5 No.3