To compete in an ever-changing world, businesses must frequently realign themselves. Organizational development is a way to improve a company through this change process. When done effectively, organizational development focuses on the best use of the company's employees. The human resources department plays a vital role in this development by recruiting highly-skilled people who fit into the culture of the company. The HR department also manages the growth of employees through training and fills employment gaps to help secure a competitive advantage.
Strategic planning occurs at the highest levels of the organization. The chief executive officer lays out where he wants the company to be at certain points in time, like in five years. He usually seeks a team approach that includes senior managers of human resources. It's the HR executive's job to analyze where the company lacks talent, and where talent overflows. From there, the HR department implements a system to provide more balance. For example, it might suggest an attrition policy in areas where labor reductions are needed and encourage early retirement. In other cases, it might recommend layoffs, although usually as a last resort. To fill vacancies, HR might recommend passive or active recruiting efforts, depending on the goal. A passive effort includes posting a vacancy announcement. An active effort includes recruiting strong candidates from other companies.
Job Analysis and Design
During restructuring or when assessing necessary changes, HR representatives conduct job analyses of some or all positions in the company. This involves studying the duties involved in the positions and ensuring they align with the company's organizational development plans. For example, let's say the CEO wants to downsize the clerical staff, combining positions into one major administrative role. Human resources staff might review the staff's duties, interview employees and observe their performances to decide where to trim. From there, the HR manager can design a job description for the administrative professional with higher responsibilities and possibly higher pay. This is a simple example. In reality, job analyses can get quite complex and require the use of software programs, focus groups and theory developed from scholarly research.
There was a time when the human resources department was known as the personnel department, and its main duties were posting applications, referring candidates to proper departments and processing new-hire paperwork. Those days are gone. HR professionals are now tasked with finding and hiring talent. As such, they play an active role in recruiting and interviewing candidates, and helping the executive staff make decisions on whom to hire. HR professionals must know the best venues to target when marketing new jobs. They must also stay abreast of changes in employment law. The HR staff, especially managers, are often consulted on matters of hiring, termination and discipline. During the selection process, HR managers, along with hiring panels, conduct interviews to decide which candidates are the best fit for the job and company.
Assisting with organizational development means having the business savvy to understand what types of changes can enhance the company's profitability. CEOs and other managers want numbers, and they expect the HR staff to provide those numbers. HR professionals should be able to project the amount of money the organization can save by cutting some jobs, merging others and creating new ones, or how spending money on certain programs can improve the business and its bottom line.
Business owners and managers understand that an organization cannot develop to its full potential while wrangling with legal trouble. While many companies have legal departments, they often call upon HR departments to ensure operations comply with laws and regulations. Human resources staff plan and execute mandatory information sessions on topics such as sexual harassment prevention. The department also runs extensive background checks on many candidates to protect the company from negligent hiring claims.
- Forbes: HR Should Own Organizational Effectiveness
- Society for Human Resources Management: HR's Evolving Role in Organizations and Its Impact on Business Strategy
- Organization Development Network: What Is Organization Development?
- University of Delaware: Evolution of Human Resources
- Cal Tech University: Organization Development - The Management of Change
- Society for Human Resource Management: Job Analysis
- Entrepreneur: How to Write a Job Analysis and Description
- Penn State University: Organizational Development Theory
Michelle Dwyer is a U.S. Army veteran writing fiction and nonfiction since 2003. She specializes in business, careers, leadership, military affairs and organizational change and behavior. Dwyer received an MBA from Tarleton State University/Texas A&M Central Texas and an MFA in creative writing from National University in La Jolla, Calif.