Chapter 1: The Role of Human Resource Management

1.4 Cases and Problems

Chapter Summary

Human resource management (HRM) is the process of employing people, training them, compensating them, developing policies relating to the workplace, and developing strategies to retain employees. Three certification exams, which are offered by the Human Resource Certification Institute, can be taken to demonstrate HRM skills and become more marketable.

HRM involves seven main areas: (1) staffing, (2) workplace policies, (3) benefits and compensation, (4) retention, (5) training, (6) employment laws, and (7) employee protection.

Human resource (HR) managers need many different types of skills. Some skills are general, such as being able to organize, multi-task, and communicate effectively. Others are job-specific skills, such as how to run a particular computer program. In addition, a sense of fairness and ethics is crucial to a successful career in HRM.

There are many contemporary challenges associated with HRM. First, it is up to everyone in the organization to contain costs. HR managers need to look at their own departments and demonstrate the value of what they contribute to the organization. HR managers can also help contain costs by managing benefits plans and compensation and providing training.

The fast-changing nature of technology is also a challenge in HRM. As new technologies are developed, employees may be able to implement innovative ways of working such as flextime. HR managers are also responsible for developing policies dealing with cyberloafing and other workplace time wasters revolving around technology. Employee stress and lack of work-life balance are also greatly influenced by technology.

Being aware of the changes in the economy allows HR managers to adequately plan for reductions and additions to the workforce.

The aging and changing workforce is our final factor. As baby boomers retire, there likely will not be enough people to replace them, and many of the skills the baby boomers have may be lost. In addition, having to work with multiple generations at once can create challenges, as different expectations and needs arise from multi-generational workforces.

Chapter Case: Changes, Changes

Jennifer, the owner and manager of a company with 10 employees, has hired you to take over HRM so she can focus on other areas of her business. During your first two weeks, you find out that the company has been greatly affected by the up economy and its revenue is expected to grow by 10% over the next three years, with some quarters seeing growth as high as 30%. However, five of the ten workers are expected to retire within three years. These workers have been with the organization since the beginning and have a unique historical perspective of the company. The other five workers are of diverse ages.

In addition to these changes, Jennifer believes they may be able to save costs by allowing employees to telecommute one to two days per week. While she has some concerns about productivity if she allows employees to work from home, she has even considered closing down the physical office and making her company a virtual organization. She wonders how such a major change will affect their ability to communicate and worker motivation.

Jennifer shares her thoughts on the cost of health care for the organization. She has considered cutting benefits entirely and having her employees work for her on a contract basis, instead of being full-time employees. She isn’t sure if this would be a good choice.

Jennifer schedules a meeting with you to discuss some of her thoughts. To prepare for the meeting, you research the issues so you can impress your new boss with recommendations on the challenges presented.


Based on the Chapter Case you just read, answer the following questions:

  1. Point out which changes are occurring in the business that affect HRM.
  2. What are some considerations the company and HR should be aware of when making changes related to this case study?
  3. What would the initial steps be to start planning for these changes?
  4. What would your role be in implementing these changes? What would Jennifer’s role be?

Team Activities

  1. In a group of two to three people, research possible career paths in HRM and prepare a PowerPoint presentation to discuss your findings.
  2. Interview an HR manager and discuss his or her career path, skills, and daily tasks. Present your findings to your class.


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Introduction to Human Resource Management - First Canadian Edition Copyright © 2017 by Zelda Craig and College of New Caledonia is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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