BUS301 Study Guide

Unit 2: Strategic Human Resource Planning and Staffing

2a. Define strategic human resource planning

  • Explain the difference between personnel management and human resource management.
  • Define cost center.
  • Define the five main areas of HRM according to the Ulrich HR model.
    1. Strategic partner;
    2. Change agent;
    3. Administrative expert and functional expert;
    4. Human capital developer;
    5. Employee advocate.
  • Describe four aspects David Ulrich (1953– ), the American management consultant, recommends HRM consider when creating a strategic plan.
    1. Make it applicable;
    2. Be a strategic partner;
    3. Involve people;
    4. Understand how to use technology.
  • Define SWOT analysis.
  • How can HRM use a SWOT analysis to identify gaps that exist between the HRM and the company's overall strategic plan?
  • Define the following six areas the HRM department should address when conducting a strategic analysis.
  • What role do these HRM responsibilities play in the overall strategic plan of the organization?
    1. Staffing (chapters 4, 5, and 6);
    2. Basic workplace policies (addressed throughout the book);
    3. Compensation and benefits (chapters 6 and 7);
    4. Retention (chapters 7, 9, 10 and 11);
    5. Training and development (chapter 9);
    6. Regulatory issues and worker safety (chapters 12 and 13).

As discussed in Unit 1, in the past, a company's HR or personnel department was simply responsible for hiring and firing employees, responding to grievances and safety concerns, and keeping track of relevant laws, rules and regulations. Today, HRM also plays a significant role in helping a company achieve its strategic goals.

For example, HRM may integrate training programs across the business to promote its overall mission and values, rather than create stand-alone programs to help a small group of employees complete a specific task.

HRM is involved in employee development and contributes to the overall profit objectives of the organization – it is no longer strictly a cost center or department that costs money to operate without contributing cash inflow. HRM is expected to help companies save money by hiring and helping retain the right people for a job and anticipating future growth needs.

According to the Ulrich HR model, HRM should partner with every department of the business, such as by aligning potential and available human capital to fulfill the organization's needs. HRM can be a change agent by anticipating and responding to changes in the outside industry, not simply in terms of its HR function, but by serving the company as a whole.

As an administrative and functional expert, HRM must understand and implement policies, procedures, and processes that relate to the overall strategic plan. As a developer of human capital, HRM helps develop the talent the company will need in the future. As an employee advocate, HRM works on behalf of the employees within the organization.

A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool managers use to identify an organization's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. HRM can create a SWOT analysis to identify gaps in the company's overall strategic plan. For example, HRM can encourage the company to adopt or continue funding a program that is a departmental strength. It can also recommend revising a policy that is an organizational weakness.

Review HRM vs. Personnel Management. See Table 2.1 for examples of differences between personnel management focus and HRM focus. Also, review Identify Strategic HR Issues and Six Roles HRM Responsibilities Play in Strategic Planning.


2b. Identify why effective planning is vital in human resource management

  • Define organizational life cycle.
  • How do companies benefit when HRM is involved in strategic planning.
  • Define an intended strategy, an emergent strategy, and a realized strategy.

Analysts study how businesses typically progress through an organizational life cycle or phases, such as its introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. Each life cycle stage entails new challenges HRM must recognize and address to ensure their strategic plan is relevant and applicable.

HRM demonstrates its value to the organization when its strategic plan aligns with its goals and objectives. For example, this plan may estimate how many employees the business needs to hire and what skills are needed to accomplish certain goals and objectives. HRM should communicate frequently with other managers and supervisors to ensure their goals and objectives reflect accurate and applicable recruitment and training targets.

Henry Mintzberg (1939– ), a Canadian academic and business management author, discussed the differences among three business concepts: intended strategy, emergent strategy, and realized strategy.

Business managers may need to adjust their strategies to align with their stated plans. Top management, which formulates the intended strategy, may decide not to implement their objectives as they initially conceived. Their realized strategy describes the one that actually gets implemented and is influenced by changing factors, such as competitors, environmental changes. When businesses employ an emergent strategy, the plans that emerge and incorporated into new or revised strategies.

HRM should support the organization by developing relevant strategic plans to help the business meet its goals and objectives.

To create an effective strategy, business leaders need to answer the following four questions:

    1. Where do we compete?
    2. What unique value do we bring to the marketplace?
    3. What resources and capabilities do we use?
    4. How do we sustain our value?

Review Strategic Planning, What is Strategy?, and Video Introduction.


2c. Define and explain how to conduct a job analysis, and discuss the validity of an analysis in support of other key human capital functions

  • Define a job analysis and its purpose.
  • Define job design.
  • Describe the six-step process of writing a job analysis. (see Figure 4.1 below)
  • Explain the difference between task-based job analysis and competency-based or skills-based job analysis. Provide an example of each type of analysis.
  • Define a job description.
  • Describe the four primary components of a job description: Job functionKnowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs), required education and experience, and physical requirements of the job.

Job analysis describes the formal process of determining the tasks people perform in their jobs and the capabilities needed to perform the job well. HR can use the data the analysis generates to create relevant job descriptions and job specifications.

Job descriptions typically outline the following attributes of successful potential candidates:

  1. Job functions or tasks an employee will be required to perform. For example, working with specific computer software programs, presenting at conferences, negotiating contracts with clients and vendors, or selling products to potential customers;
  2. Knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) refer to the expertise a job candidate should have to perform the job-in-question well, such as knowledge about certain regulations or procedures, specific skill-based talents, capabilities, or personal attributes;
  3. Required educational background and experience typically refers to specific academic degrees or licensed credentials the candidate should have earned, or relevant tasks they have performed during previous work assignments; and
  4. Physical requirements refer to the physical motor-based functions the job candidate will be required to perform, such as the ability to lift a certain weight, stand for long periods of time, work at a computer desk, or see or hear certain things.

Job specifications discuss the skills and abilities an employee must have to perform their job effectively. A list of job specifications is usually included in the job description.

Job design refers to the process managers undergo to revise or modify a job description or job function to make it more effective. For example, managers may realign the employee's responsibilities or tasks to accommodate new technologies and industry innovations.


Process for Writing the Job Analysis

A task-based job analysis focuses on the tasks, duties, and responsibilities performed in a certain job. Tasks refer to work activities composed of motions, whereas duties are composed of several tasks an individual performs. Examples of task-based analysis might include compiling information to prepare reports in specific computer programs, driving a forklift, or answering phone calls.

Competency- or skills-based job analyses focus on how individuals use their knowledge, skills, and abilities on the job. Examples of this type of analysis might include using data analysis tools, working within teams, or creating a visual presentation.

Review The Recruitment Process and Writing a Job Description.


2d. Describe how to effectively manage human capital and properly assess knowledge, skills, and abilities to find valuable resources (people)

  • What is the primary purpose for including KSAs (knowledge, skills, and abilities) in a job description?
  • Explain the differences between knowledge, skills, and abilities. Provide examples of each.

Employers identify the "right" human capital they need to hire by assessing and defining all of the jobs the organization should have to perform most efficiently. A proper job analysis of all of the organization's roles helps hiring managers to identify the most effective traits of those who work in specific positions. They need to recognize that individuals may need to complement their co-workers' knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs), so the entire team has what it needs to complete its work in the best way possible.

These traits reflect the KSAs and other characteristics required to perform a job. For example, an employee's success may hinge on their capacity to learn on-the-job, accept constructive criticism, and to remain calm and work well during stressful situations.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management defines knowledge as the body of information applied directly to the performance of a function. Skill is an observable competence to perform a learned psychomotor act. Ability is the competence to perform an observable behavior that results in an observable product. Together, KSAs describe attributes required to perform a job and are generally demonstrated through qualifying service, education, or training.

Note that while the U.S. federal government commonly uses the term "KSAs" in its job descriptions, other employers may use similar words to connote personal characteristics, competencies, and proficiencies.

Some employers assign relative values or weights to each KSA by designating some qualifications as "mandatory (M)", "desirable (D)", "required", or "preferred". When they refer to certain KSAs as desirable or preferred, they suggest they are open to considering other factors when making their hiring decision, such as equivalent work experience or other competencies. The employer could signal they are open to training job candidates to perform these desirable or preferred skills they lack, but not necessarily.

  • Why does Dan Springer compare a firm's employees with income statements and balance sheets?
  • How does this concept relate to managing human capital to attract, motivate, and retain good performers?

In the video "Protecting Human Capital", Dan Springer says HRM should think about employees as assets. When businesses do not treat their valuable assets properly, the entire company suffers. Disgruntled and unproductive employees reduce the productivity of the entire business, frequently sow discontent among others, and can quit the firm altogether. Hiring and training replacements can be extremely costly and time-consuming.

Rather than focus on short-term objectives that may cause top employees to burnout or become overwhelmed, HRM should look for ways to boost motivation, provide proper training to help employees succeed, and retain good employees to help the business achieve its long-term goals.

Review Protecting Human Capital and The Recruitment Process.


Unit 2 Vocabulary

  • Administrative expert
  • Change agent
  • Competency-based job analysis
  • Cost center
  • Emergent strategy
  • Employee advocate
  • Functional expert
  • Human capital developer
  • Human resource management (HRM) strategic plan
  • Human resources (HR) plan
  • Intended strategy
  • Job analysis
  • Job description
  • Job design
  • KSAs
  • Organizational life cycle
  • Personnel management
  • Realized strategy
  • Retention
  • Skills-based job analysis
  • Staffing
  • Strategic analysis
  • Strategic partner
  • Strategic plan
  • SWOT analysis
  • Task-based job analysis