Assessment: Reflective Essay

Introduction

The human resource department is confronted with various responsibilities concerning the management of human resources in an efficient and effective manner. The responsibilities concerning the salary and wages, employee layoff are some pertinent issues that need to be taken care in this regard. My profession as the Salary and Wages administrator of The Sydney Royale hotel encompassed such decision making on periodic basis. The present essay examines the various challenges and the issues related to the human resources that are involved in this decision making with the help of a simulated exercise conducted at the Sydney Royale Hotel. The discussion would involve the subjects of role and responsibilities of the different people in the team of human resource department. It would then delve on the practices adopted for managing the wages and salaries of the employees and their impact on the hotel’s performance. As the hotel management used the quarterly period to review and revise these decisions hence the statements that I would be making will represent the interpretation of quarterly reviews of data. The essay would arrive at the conclusion by highlighting the excerpts of the first year’s assessment and the explanation behind the special decisions taken by the management with respect to the concerns of ethics and sustainability.

Simulation Exercise

The results of the simulation exercise included in the appendix section summarize the quarterly data for the decisions pertaining to the management of wages and salaries in the organization. The first four tables summarize the quarterly results presenting the comparative assessment of the company along with its competitors on various parameters to judge the effectiveness of its HR function. As evident from the tables it can be seen that during the commencement of its operations on commercial basis, the Sydney Royale Hotel started at the seventh ranking with respect to the parameters like absenteeism, accident rate, percentage of female employees, number of grievance cases, percentage of minority groups, employee morale, productivity, quality index,             turnover and unit labor cost. The company depicted significant improvement in its performance with respect to the human resource issues and made a drastic leap to the first rank by the end of first quarter and continued the journey in the next quarter as well. However the company could not continue its journey further and the results of the next quarter were disappointing as the company fell to the third rank from its first position for the consecutive two previous quarters. Hence it is important to review its first year’s performance and identify the issues along with the plausible solutions to decide the future HR strategies.

HRM: A Strategic Function

As the strategy is interpreted as a planned action for attaining a favorable competitive position, HRM strategy can be interpreted as an agenda for managing the employees efficiently (Tyson, 1995). According to Lengnick-Hall et al., (2009) strategic HRM comprises the strategic HR actions which attempt to control the performance of the organization. The HR practices that are prevalent in the organization play an extremely critical role as a strategic tool in the hands of the HR manager for manipulating its workforce-efficiency (Stewart, 2009). The positive impact of application of appropriate intervention methods for tackling with different organizational challenges pertaining to HRM are evident from the results of the four quarters, as shown in the following table.

Table 1: Summary of four quarterly results for Sydney Royale Hotel

Company Weighted Score Rank Unit Labor Cost Quality Index Turnover Morale Accident Rate Grievances Productivity Absenteeism Minority % Female %
Quarter 1 75 7 60.76 51 9.8 49 461 42 198 437 8.3 13.4
Quarter 2 93 1 60.87 55 7.9 61 396 27 201 364 10.4 15.9
Quarter 3 96 1 59.46 60 6.0 66 325 22 208 337 12.5 18.2
Quarter 4 89 3 57.19 64 7.1 60 258 16 216 333 14.9 21.0

As a part of the HR team of the hotel, I was entrusted to take care of the salary and wages of the employees and looking after the grievances. The distribution of the other human resources responsibilities included Joint Director HR (Training) responsible for training and development of the employees, boosting employee morale, time management issues; Manager HR responsible for issues pertaining to absenteeism, turnover, discipline among staff, safety concerns regarding the operations and the head of the department, Director HR responsible for budget issues, workforce compositions, staffing issues and overall human resource department’s supervision. The team worked with a common goal of optimizing workforce efficiency through regular meetings to plan, follow up and take feedback of the activities.

Absenteeism

The absenteeism is the observed high count of a worker abstaining from his/her assigned workplace responsibilities or the workplace for long periods of time. In addition to this, it is observed that these periods of long absences are not justified with any excusable reasons. We observed that absenteeism is a practice that needs to be curbed for keeping the employees motivated towards their job hence our team collective made efforts to curtail the absenteeism rate down over the year through necessary disciplinary action and enhancing motivation of employees. The policies of HR team of the hotel depict that the HR department has done a significant job in this regard. The study by Robbins & Judge (2012) suggests that absenteeism is often an outcome of poor employee satisfaction from his/her job hence it implies that the hotel is doing well in improving the employees’ satisfaction level and checking  their lack of will or motivation to conduct their responsibilities.

Accident Rate

The most of the accidents in the workplaces occur during operational activities and mostly include hazards due to chemicals, fire explosions and confined spaces hence the contemporary organizations need to adhere to occupational health and safety standards. The hotel has ample arrangements to prevent hazards due to chemicals and fire by ensuring that it has fire extinguishers at every floor, keeps regular checks on its electricity and water heating appliances and has properly ventilated rooms and other facilities. The problems pertaining to confined spaces are taken care of by having a separate storage space, a room for maintaining the underground utility repairs and other replacements, some areas for excavation and keeping other infrastructure for management. Through the implementation of such practices, the hotel has effectively handled the accident rate which has reduced significantly over the year and has reduced costs for hotel to cover employee insurances.

Workplace Diversity

The Director HR of the hotel has taken significant measures to ensure that there is no discrimination among its employees on the basis of gender or their ethnic and cultural backgrounds and the data for the four quarters has indicating this as the increasing percentage of women and the people from the minority groups. The workplace diversity also yields various other positive changes for the organization and that includes improvement in the recruitment, skill   optimization and talent management process, a significant reduction in the employee absenteeism, retention of best talent from the industry (Shen et. al., 2009).

Organizational Productivity

There is a direct impact of the HR practices on the productivity of the employees and also that of the organization (Kehoe & Wright, 2013). The data for the hotel suggests that as the outcome of its positive measures for the employees of the organization and high concern for the ethics and sustainability as depicted by their concern for the internal customers of the hotel that constitutes its workforce.

Quality Index

The quality index of the hotel has been exhibiting an increasing trend over the four quarters. It means that in spite of increasing the quality of services delivered to its customers the hotel has lost its first rank. This has been an indicator of the fact that the competition in the hospitality industry is increasing and hence it is not just important for any hotel or other business entities that quality is increased. But rather the demand of the time is to create differentiation among the competitors. The services sector provides limited opportunities of yielding differentiation to its customers in general but in the hotel industry the firm can differentiate itself in terms of its exclusive cuisines, exclusive ambiance, exclusive theme and various other features apart from pricing.

Unit Labor Costs

The efficiency of operations of the company is reflected clearly in the decreasing trend of the unit labor costs. The decrease in the unit labor costs suggest that the hotel is incorporating ample quality control measures for checking the quality of services. This may be an outcome of the proper training to the employees, the increase in the popularity of the hotel among the customers due to positive word of mouth.

Grievances

The past studies have indicated that the incidence rate of grievances in the hospitality industry including the hotels is extremely high and that has been found to have significant negative association with the employee outcomes that include their job performance (Knox & Walsh, 2005). The poor employee outcomes are manifested across the high turnover rates which has a significant association with the productivity and performance of the company in an adverse manner (Choo, 2007). The turnover rates in the hotel have shown a declining pattern over the last year indicating that the hotel has been able to handle the grievances in a positive manner and ensure that its internal as well as external customers both are satisfied. The results are also in conformity with the improvement in the level of employee morale over the four quarters. I have personally made special efforts in this regard by ensuring that any grievance is properly communicated to the appropriate authority and resolved as per the hotel policies. The training of the employees will also help in reducing grievances.

Staffing

One of the prominent stages in the Human Resource Life Cycle comprises the recruitment and selection of right men for appropriate job matching his/her skills and knowledge (Phillips, 2009). The quality of the organization is directly mirrored across the quality of its internal employees or its workforce, the human resource. Hence it is imperative for the firms to exercise great caution in the selection and recruitment process; choosing the right candidates for the organization is crucial for the organizational success. The importance of the recruitment phase in establishing a great relationship between employee and employer can be realized from the fact that the first introductory impression creates a long lasting impact for both the parties.

In general, the process of recruitment involves various important steps including [1] evaluation of the staffing needs that require locating the job-vacancy and the requisites expected from the person who will be entrusted with that job [2] development of the description of the required position or job [3] development of the plan for recruitment [4] selecting the search committee[5] posting the advertisements of the positions in the appropriate media [6] implementing the plan designed for recruitment[7] reviewing the applicant’s list  [8] short-listing of the candidates from this list [9] conducting the job-interviews[9] selecting and  hiring the right candidates and [10] close the recruitment after finalization (Caruth et al., 2009).

In addition to these, the HR managers can entwine the innovative techniques like HR auditing that has an innate mechanism to systematically verify the job design and evaluate the jobs along with the recruitment procedures to recruit and select the employees for the organization. It also takes care of the needs of training and development among the employees in the organization, besides determining the appropriate methods of appraising the job performance evaluation of these employees. The audit system also includes provisions for assessing the remuneration procedures, counseling and care needs of the employees along with several other activities that employees undertake so as to enable the organizations make an organized assessment of their human resource practices (Kehoe & Wright, 2013). The focus of the hotel has been on sustainable best practices that include selective hiring, ensuring security to employees and t continuous training (Enz & Siguaw, 2000).

The trends with respect to the staffing decisions suggest that the hotel’s projected resignation rate in the first two quarters exceeded the prospective new hires made by the company while in the last two quarters the trend is reversed. This can be attributed to the fact that initially as a start-up hotel the hotel was trying to fulfilling its staffing needs by hiring more people as indicated by high rate of new hires but at the same time being a new business the likelihood of the employee staying with the organization was also low. This could be because of lack of trust in the new organization. In the subsequent months as the employees gained more experience in the organization, gained trust and developed bonding with the business their likelihood of leaving the organization reduced. It is also suggested that the organization is gradually moving from a transitory phase to a phase of more organizational stability. This can be directly correlated with the positive perception of the HR policies of the organization among the employees.

Wages

The summary of the decisions which I had taken throughout the year have been summarized in the following table:

Table 2: Wages Decisions

Wages – Quarter 1

 

Job Level 5 4 3 2 1
Initial  Wages $18,000 $14,000 $12,000 $10,000 $8,000
Quarterly Increase 1 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Quarterly Increase 2 $180 $140 $120 $100 $80
Quarterly Increase 3 $181 $141 $121 $101 $121
Quarterly Increase 4 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Current Wages $18,361 $14,281 $12,241 $10,201 $8,201

 

 

The conventional approach of management stressed more on profits rather than the value provided by the resources. This approach represents a myopic view indicating termination of the non-productive workers. The lopsided approach assumes that worth of any asset is in terms of its ability to generate profits only. In such cases it is needed that the approach is re-oriented to understand that employee retention is equally an important concern, as the departing employee carries organization’s trade secrets too along with their rich experience and a prospective loyalty bound relationship with the firm. All of these are critical factors to determine the long-term success of the organization rather than the short-term perspective that focuses on maximization of the profits alone. The organization not only needs to derive more economic value but cater to the interests of its other stakeholders too.

The trends in the wage distribution of the employees across the different job levels seem satisfactory as the wages are seemingly in confirmation with the nature of job and the expertise required in handling this job efficiently. However, the examination of the wages across the quarters suggests that the workers are given increment in the second and third quarters but no such increment is indicated at the end of the year. This decision may be explained by the fact that the company made heavy recruitments during the last quarter as per the routine recruitment cycle. Hence in order to cope up with the increased expenditures on recruitment the hotel could not enhance the wages for this quarter. The HR can communicate this to the employees to avoid any ambiguity and misunderstanding and assure them that they will get the appropriate compensation in proportion to their job performance in the coming quarters. In the second quarter I decided that initially the increment should be based on a fraction of the salary the employees in particular job level and based on the consensus it was kept at 10% of their salaries for all job levels. In the next quarter we decided to continue with the same percentage for the top four levels but to make it look bigger than the previous figure we tried psychological increment amount at $181, $141, $121 and $101 respectively. Further we felt that it will be boosting for the employees at the executive level to receive good hike in salaries for improving their involvement and productivity in job and hence they are given the increment equal to the middle level employees which is $121.

Special Decisions

The examination of the special decisions undertaken by the employees suggests that the hotel has been using new innovative methods to enhance the effectiveness of its HR practices. The use of ergonomic studies for designing the jobs indicates that the work space is fully optimized and designed as per the job requisites. This initiative has a direct positive impact on the productivity of employees. The other decision to lease employees from an outsourcing agency may be explained by the hotel’s initial concern to hold back a part of the working capital by outsourcing some employees who are more experienced and skilled. The decision helped in improving the image of the hotel with quality of services delivered to customers through these experienced employees besides saving on the current expenditure on wages of permanent staff. The decision concerning the performance appraisal using appraisal by supervisor as well as self appraisal based on standardized measurement on Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales (BARS) ensures that the appraisal is conducted in an objective manner; this ensures high employee satisfaction and promotion of the right and performing candidates.

Conclusion

To sum up, it can be said that we as a team have performed well over the first year with respect to our HRM practices, but the hotel management needs to be vigilant of the competition to maintain lead over the other hotels in the area. It would be better if the hotel makes efforts to create differentiation among its competitors by providing customers a unique service experience. In addition to this, the company needs to strengthen its bond with its employees by giving them a supportive work environment that takes complete care of their professional as well as personal needs.

References

Caruth, D., Caruth, G., and Pane, S. (2009). Staffing the Contemporary Organization: A Guide to Planning, Recruiting, and Selecting for Human Resource Professionals (3rd Ed.). Westport, CT: Praeger.

Choo, H. G. (2007). Leadership and the workforce in Singapore: evaluations by the Singapore Human Resources Institute. Notes, 800, 21.

Enz, C., &Siguaw, J. 2000, ‘Best Practices in Human Resources’ Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, vol. 41, no. 1, pp. 48-61.

Kehoe, R. R., & Wright, P. M. (2013). The impact of high-performance human resource practices on employees’ attitudes and behaviors. Journal of Management, 39(2), 366-391.

Knox, A., & Walsh, J. (2005). Organisational flexibility and HRM in the hotel industry: evidence from Australia. Human Resource Management Journal, 15(1), 57-75.

Lengnick-Hall, M. L., Lengnick-Hall, C. A., Andrade, L. S., & Drake, B. (2009). Strategic human resource management: The evolution of the field. Human Resource Management Review, 19(2), 64-85.

Phillips, J. G. (2009). Strategic Staffing. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Shen, J., D’Netto, B., & Tang, J. (2010). Effects of human resource diversity management on organizational citizen behaviour in the Chinese context. The International Journal of Human Resource Management21(12), 2156-2172.

Stewart, G. a. (2009). Human Resource Management – Linking Strategy to Practice.

Tyson, S. (1995). Human resource strategy: Towards a general theory of human resource management. London: Pitman Publishing.