As There Is No ‘all-Weather’ HRM Solution Essay Sample
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It is Always Better to Remain Flexible in Choosing HR Approach,
[Word Count: 2992]
1. Comparison between two models that attempt to link HRM in organisations to the overall strategy of that organisation.
This study chooses High-Performance Work System (HPWS) and Opportunity Creation and Exploitation (OCE)to compare and contrast, where OCE belongs to the category of life-cycle model and HPWS belongs to the category of strategic configurations, while both attempt to link HRM in organizations to their overall strategies.
Brief Description of HPWS
HPWS is a particular type of HRM system that adopts an employee-centric approach to increase employee involvement and organizational commitment. It emanated from a synthesis of Tavistock Socio-Technical Schools, and the quality of working life movement of the 1970s (Anti-Taylorist wave) and started gaining momentum in the 1970s and 1980s, when the Japanese ‘lean-production’ system started outperforming US manufacturing industry, since it appeared as the right HRM instrument for the US firms to regain their market (Boxall and Mackay, 2000; Cappelli and Neumark, 2001; Dayarathna, 2012).
HPWS began its journey with three modules, such as involvement, training, and incentives, before adding support technology as its fourth module. According to the researchers (Boxall and Macky, 2007; Godard, 2004; Gollan, 2005; Lawler, 2005), Although HPWS customises its HR practice as per the requirement of an organisation (Huselid, 1995; Wood, 1999), it basically aims to establish a positive correlation between HR systems and the organisational workforce by eliminating any mismatch between them. The generic structure of HPWS can be framed through the following diagrams:
Figures 1 & 2: HRM-performance Causal Chain in HPWS and its structure
[Adapted from the works of Appelbaum et al., 2000; Boxall and Macky (2007, 2009); Delbridge, 2007; Wright and Gardner (2003)]
According to Huselid and Becker (1996), HPWS contains both mainstream approach and the labour process approach, while Bohlander and Snell (2004) identify it as a specific combination of HR practices, work structures, and work processes, which together create a high coordination among various parts of the organisation.
Brief Description of OCE
OCE aims to create an ideal state and a happy organisational atmosphere by creating a mind-set of aligning the product with market demand across the organisation members. Accordingly, it seldom follows any predetermined, fixed course of operation. Accordingly, it identifies four generic business environments such as Deterministic, Moderately Variable, Severely Variable and Indeterminate environment to work upon with an aim to match the dynamism of a business situation with dynamic strategy. Alongside, it accommodates the possibility of any one type of the above environment heavily influencing the desired organisational outcome (Dudik, 2000, pp. 85-107).
Structurally, OCE contains four cycle of operations within the above environments:
Opportunity creation and discovery;
Opportunity recognition, breakthrough, and exploitation;
Opportunity consolidation; and
Opportunity dismantling and recycling (Dudik, 2000).
In each of its cycle, OCE tries to align the strategy with the respective environment by matching its own steps with the environment and create a situation where the environment would match its steps. According to Dudik (2000), such an approach requires generating numerous strategic hypotheses and testing them amid various environments to check their viability and modify them to obtain the desired business outcome. A generic representation of OCE can be presented as below:
Figure 3: Basic Structure of OCE
[Created from the works of Dudik (2000); Hekman, (2011)]
Altogether the essence of OCE can be found in Dudik’s (2000) own comment that strategy is a hypothesis of the if-then statement.
Comparison between HPWS and OCE
The differences between HPWS and OCE can be tabled as below:
[Created from the works of Boxall and Macky (2007); Dudik (2000); Purcell and Hutchinson (2007); Wright and Gardner (2004)]
The essence of the above comparison clearly suggests that no single model can be used in all types of business spheres, although they link HRM in organisations to their overall strategies.
2. UK Tourism Sector
This study chooses UK tourism sector to explore, since it is UK’s 5th largest industry that supports 3 million jobs and around 249,000 small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), besides contributing around £127 billion to the country’s GDP each year, when combined with domestic tourism. Currently this sector is rated 8th globally in terms of global footfalls and visitor spending and it is expected to be one of the UK’s best performing sectors in the future. Currently its contribution to the economy is growing at the rate of 3.5% per annum, which is higher than other major sectors (VisitBritain, 2015).
According to the latest report (Gov.UK, 2014; TourismAlliance, 2014), this sector has created a record in 2013 by attracting 32.8 million overseas visitors, who spent £21.01 billion in their sojourn in this country. Altogether this industry accounts for 3.4% of global international tourism receipts and there is a strong increase in the number of visitors from several countries. These features also make this sector as the seventh largest international tourism destination in terms of visitor expenditure. The current situation of this industry stands as below:
Figure 4: Estimated Total Revenue from Tourists in 2013
[Source: TourismAlliance (2014)]
Altogether UK tourism offers six types of tourism, such as rural tourism, adventure tourism, cultural tourism, business and congress/convention travel, language/study tours, and cruising (EC, 2014). Altogether there 13 industries within this sector, which easily reaffirms its potential as job-maker and money earner for the nation.
It has been found that the preferences of Europeans towards tourism has been playing as a major factor in continuously increasing the revenue. According to Foresight, a report published by VisitBritain in March 2015, 74% of EU citizens made at least one overnight trip, while one-in-seven made a single trip and slightly fewer than that took two trips. Not only that, around 45% of them took three or more overnight trips during the year 2014. Not only that, close to 40% of Britons were found preferring various tourist destinations of home country (Foresight, 2015).
The researchers have found that the greatest opportunity for tourism lies in various tourist destinations in the country itself. This was consolidated by the fact that most of such places, such as historic towns and cities, seaside destinations, country sides, 10 national parks and over 5,000 miles coastline, all have kept their respective charms, while the vitality of UK’s largest cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool have increased due to a unique mix of heritage and modern globalism (england, 2015).
Alongside, the appeal of UK’s tourist destinations has increased due to the addition of various attractions across the country. The regeneration and facelift of towns and cities have increased the number of attractive destinations, while meticulously designed cultural programmes, world-class theatres, and modern amenities with special emphasis on health and wellness programmes spread at every nook and corner of the country have considerably increased their appeal to local as well as global visitors. In addition, traditional food and beverages also remain an added attraction to the visitors, along with the ease of financial transaction and multiple transportation options (england, 2015).
The recently held London 2012 Olympic and Paralolympic Games, Cultural Olympiad etc. have also successfully showcased UK as a worthwhile tourist destination. Altogether the current situation clearly prompts that this sector is now brimming with possibilities (england, 2015). The current value of tourism in UK stands as below:
Figure 5: Value of Tourism in UK as Estimated in 2013
[Source: VisitBritain (2015a)]
According to recent research, areas such as competitive approach, perceptions and understanding of visitor economy, standards of professionalism, product, and performance, and transport infrastructure need further development. For example, this sector needs to maximise the strength of the tourism offer to improve its competitiveness, while responding more cohesively to dynamic market forces. Similarly, it is required to develop clear understanding and perception regarding visitor economy, as issues such as high VAT, high cost of visas and Air Passenger Duty in comparison with competing countries may create roadblocks to the promotion of tourism. Alongside, improvement in the standards of professionalism, product, and performance and further development in the infrastructure of transport would contribute to the promotion of tourism, consider the researchers (england, 2015).
3. Details of the Organisation Chosen from UK Tourism Sector
This study selects Virgin Holidays Limited to explore how it attempts to differentiate itself from the competition. This organization was incorporated in 21/12/1984 with its registered office at West Sussex and currently its annual turnover stands at £505,203,000.00 with an annual profit recorded in 2013 as £24,141,000.00. It has 866 employees as per 2013 audit and it spends £23,646,000.00 on its wages. Alongside, there is no registered union as per record (Huxley, 2012; Worksmart, 2015).
Vision and Mission Statements
The vision statement of this company states that it “believes in going extra mile to make sure the customers get exactly what they want, the way they want, while it records its mission statement as “To provide worry-free guarantee to the customers, protect their holiday, providing excellent customer service.” Alongside, it also declares that it pursues the following three goals:
Secure a commitment from our suppliers to no longer take or receive animals caught from the wild after February 2014; and
According to their press release, the above missions generated a Virgin Pledge, which is a commitment by facilities to no longer take receipt of cetacea which have been taken from the wild after 14th February 2014. Alongside, it focuses on one specific issue, such as ending the demand for the capture of cetaceans from the oceans, before declaring the following:
“We, and the entire Virgin Group, strongly oppose the capture and killing of wild dolphins and whales. We see the Virgin Pledge as an important first step in what we consider to be a long-term industry engagement, a sentiment shared by a number of the stakeholders who have contributed.”
Some of the other statements of this company also provides some clues regarding how it attempts to differentiate itself from the competition. For example, it states,
“We're determined to move beyond the idea that responsible holidays need be difficult or boring. With our history of innovation, we're uniquely placed to help people enjoy adventures that are good for local communities, low impact on our planet, and more fun for everyone” (Virgin Holidays, 2015).
Another statement attempts to portray a nature-friendly and humanistic stance of the company, which speaks of a programme such as The Human Nature Collection that has been launched to make it easier for the customers to choose destinations that would maximise the benefits to local communities and the environment. The same can be said about its another statement, where it states, “We are working hard to address our own direct impacts. These are mainly water, energy use and waste disposal..” (Virgin Holidays, 2015).
Apart from that, its documented CSR activities also creates an assumption that this company attempts to differentiate itself from its competitors by through its actions regarding conservation of biodiversity and contributing to resolve social problems, besides promising quality services to its customers (Virgin Holidays, 2015).
4. Virgin Holiday’s Approach to HR and the Extent to which that supports its Overall Strategy
The activities of Virgin Holidays provide many clues to their approach to HR in general and in specific situations. This study segments such areas that provide the above clues:
Virgin Holidays is a trans-Atlantic tour operator, where it entirely deals with dynamic situations and therefore, its success depends on how well it can make the most of the situations and thus it cannot do without having a systematic HRM system that would equip its workforce to the specific demands of specific jobs. For example, a client’s scheduled flight may get cancelled and result into rescheduling of several jobs within the folds of the company, which in turn may command proficiency from several company personnel to manage that situation within a very short time. The above state of affairs thus strongly suggests that Virgin Holiday has a support system similar to HPWS, which provides internal fits to the organisation through recruitment, training, and aligning the company vision with employee mission.
This study takes into account the relation-building activities of Virgin Holiday as its external operations, since their self-portrayal contains more of such activities. For example, it showcases at least five activities that can be put into this category – Helping Youth Shine, Our Charity Partners, Our Human Nature Promise, Your Human Nature, and Recognising Excellence. Accordingly, a brief review of them provides clues regarding whether there is a relationship between this company’s HR strategy or HR approach and those activities.
Helping Youth Shine: It refers to a project of this company that began in 2011 and involves providing support to Caribbean nationals to develop their start-up businesses (Virgin Holidays, 2015a). This approach of Virgin Holidays can be linked with OCE for the reason that the company is mostly supporting tourism-related business, and therefore it stands to gain from word-of-mouth campaign as well as recommendations from Caribbean people at least within the lifespan of this project. Here OCE is working within deterministic environment, as it is implied that there will be a synergy between the company and the Caribbeans doing travel-related business with company’s support.
Making Charity Partners: The company has made Crawley, its home town, its charity partner, where this town has a high teen pregnancy rate coupled with low rate of education, employment, or training ((Virgin Holidays, 2015b). This approach too can be linked to OCE, as the company stands to gain from word-of-mouth campaign as well as recommendations from UK citizens in and around that area at least within the lifespan of this project. Here too OCE is operating within deterministic environment, as it is implied that the immediate surrounding will render its support to the company in lieu of direct benefits.
Human Nature Promise: This project (Virgin Holidays, 2015c) refers to the company’s endeavour in addressing its direct impacts on water, energy use, and waste disposal. Here it emphasises on fair practice in business and encouraging its business partners to be more sustainable. In the process it also maintains schemes of rewarding and encouraging its partners. This too can be linked with OCE, as it stands to gain from post-travel feedback in the social media, at least within the lifespan of this project. Here OCE is acting in moderately variable environment, as some of the partners may not follow company’s line of thinking .
Recognising Excellence: It refers to the project of awarding travel organisations as well individuals from tourism industry for showing excellence in practicing responsible tourism, where the winners are nominated by tourists (Virgin Holidays, 2015e). Here also one can link OCE with this project, as the company stands to gain tourists’ good impression by virtue of being the sponsor of the event, besides earning mileage from media. Here OCE is working within moderately variable environment, as there is always the chance of its competitors adopting counter strategies to steal the show.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The review of the two models of HRM such as HPWS and OCE that attempt to link HRM in organisations to the overall strategy of that organisation and subsequently a compare and contrast study of them clearly highlighted the fact that no single model can be used in all types of business spheres. After that the spread of UK tourism sector also consolidated the above view by highlighting the diversity among the industries operating within it. Later, the analysis of Virgin Holiday regarding its attempt to differentiate itself from the competition showed that this company is practically following two distinct paths, such as maintaining an efficient and committed workforce and building relationship with all spheres of the global society. Finally, the analyses of the Virgin Holiday’s generic and specific approach to HR strongly suggested that it is exploiting HPWS in maintaining its workforce, while exploiting OCE in building relationship with the global society. Such findings thus prompt this study to infer that it is always better to remain flexible in choosing HR approach, as there is no ‘all-weather’ HRM solution.
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