It seems like a no brainer to invest in training and employee benefits so your staff will work well and stay with your company longer, but the reality is far from simple. Human resource management devotes resources toward bringing out the best in your employees, but it can create a separate set of issues, especially if done ineffectively.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
The weaknesses of human resource management include cumbersome and expensive programs and lack of understanding about what employees really need.
What Is Human Resource Management?
Human resource management is the field devoted to orienting, training and taking care of employees. It includes:
- Hiring and firing. Managers of specific departments will naturally be in charge of assessing whether a particular candidate is qualified and suitable, but the human resources department is often responsible for making the first contact and setting up an initial interview. Similarly, managers who work directly with an employee may make the decision to terminate that worker, but human resources personnel may communicate the decision and take care of logistics such as severance pay.
- New hire onboarding. When your company hires new employees, their introduction to the company goes well beyond simply learning their job responsibilities. Human resources is responsible for collecting necessary information such as income tax status and insurance paperwork and also communicating company policies and expectations.
- Employee relations. If your business is having issues with an employee or if an employee is having issues with your business, the human resources department is responsible for addressing these issues. Even when managers and staff deal directly with their mutual concerns, human resources is responsible for documenting these interactions for future reference.
- Training. If your business takes an interest in building the skills and knowledge of its employees over time, this may involve further education and training. While human resources usually won't be qualified to perform these specialized trainings, they can take care of the details of scheduling, registration and evaluating whether these efforts have been useful.
Disadvantages of Personnel Management
- Lack of adaptability. Personnel systems generally follow plans and protocols to standardize the ways your business manages its people. However, humans aren't machines or pieces of data, and an approach that works for one individual may be ineffective for someone else.
- Expense. Human resource systems cost money and don't always yield short-term returns. The money you invest in personnel management may be necessary cash that your company could better use for inventory or equipment upgrades.
- Time. Hours spent training and orienting personnel are hours that aren't spent on business activities that directly bring in revenue. If you are short staffed or have urgent business matters to resolve, a human resources program may divert your staff when you need them most.
- Unpredictability. There is no guarantee that the staff you train will stay with your company. Investing in a human resources program is risky because you may devote resources toward improving the skills of personnel who don't stay with your company long enough for you to recoup your outlay.
Making the Most of Human Resources
Although some aspects of human resource management present challenges for your company, the pros and cons of human resource management often hinge on the ways these responsibilities are executed rather than the processes themselves.
The time and expense of training and effective communication can be mitigated by coordinating proactively with scheduling staff and communicating with managers about when personnel are urgently needed for other tasks. Lack of flexibility can be addressed by building personalized elements into your systems and steering away from cookie-cutter approaches.
It is important to remember that your human resources personnel themselves can benefit from effective human resource management. Invest in building their skills as well to turn the weaknesses of human resource management into strengths.
Devra Gartenstein founded her first food business in 1987. In 2013 she transformed her most recent venture, a farmers market concession and catering company, into a worker-owned cooperative. She does one-on-one mentoring and consulting focused on entrepreneurship and practical business skills.