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Recruitment and Selection
People management is a crucial aspect to all companies that are becoming really challenging in the 21st-century modernized world. As a result, many companies consider strategic human resource management a key to revealing the potential of human resources as a strategic competitive advantage. In other words, the aspect of people in an organization is seen as a point where a company losses or gains a competitive edge. For example, a company may have stable financial resources, an advantage in technological innovation, and an array of other resources. However, organizing all these resources and aligning them with a company's objectives require human resources. As a result, in case the people aspect is not properly managed, it can prevent the organization from losing its place in business. Since organizations involve themselves in business with the purpose of profit-making and delivering critical services in their market niches, recruitment and selection have gained the attention of researchers and policymakers in companies because it becomes challenging to the same extent as functioning in the global market.
Today, almost every organization finds it necessary to have a Human Resource(HR) function, which is charged with the duty of managing issues of HR planning, training, development, performance appraisal, designing a reward system, and managing industrial relations. Such a function is an effort to make human resources managed effectively in-house. However, it does not mean that the HR function or, more specifically, the recruitment and selection function cannot be managed outside a company. Indeed, several organizations outsource the recruitment and selection services either wholly or partially according to the circumstances. In any case, the recruitment and selection process remains pivotal for all organizations and is likely to impact the organizations` general performance. This paper attempts to formulate an understanding of the key aspects of the best strategies and techniques used by companies in the recruitment and selection of employees. It presents a review of the literature before discussing the proceedings from the interview with the HR manager at BBDO Worldwide Inc. Apparently, recruitment and selection techniques and strategies are dependent on the nature of organizations but remain the key to fulfilling their major objectives.
A. The Evolving Strategic Human Resource Management
Despite the tremendous number of the conducted researches, the distinction between human resource management (HRM) and strategic human resource management (SHRM) remains obscure. Strategic human resource management is a new variant of human resource management that is fast-evolving and implies a lot of complexity(Ramona & Anca, 2013). According to Ramona & Anca (2013), strategic human resource management (SHRM, here henceforth) makes human resource management a strategic partner of organizations. The evidence for this claim is the level of focus put into integrating the human resources into companies' HR policies and the adopted practices to enable incorporation and integration of the same into companies' objectives (Jain, 2014). This move is necessitated by the realization of the fact that ensuring the alignment of the workforce with the goals of an organization is crucial for meeting these objectives. Obviously, the best way to attain this is to enforce HR policies and practices that reflect on the organizational HR planning oriented towards meeting objectives (Sahoo, Das & Sundaray, 2011). At this stage, SHRM is adopted to play the role of seamless integration of HR and organizational objectives. Thus, while HRM is generally understood as the means to manage people and reinforce the good relationship between employers and their employees, SHRM, on the other hand, is targeted at aligning skills, knowledge, and expertise of the workforce with the objectives and goals of an organization.
One reason for the evolution of SHRM is the fast-changing face of the business environment that demands a different level of agility on the side of organizations. According to Boxall & Purcel (2011), recruitment and selection, as well as training and development activities, are some elements of SHRM that are crucial in achieving agility and remaining competitive in global marketing. The researchers argue that more resources(time and money) should be spent during the recruitment and selection process and in the subsequent training and development of the workforce to properly align workforce skills and knowledge with the company`s goals (Boxall & Purcel, 2011). The scientists further determine that skills, motivation, and social interaction combine and create a synergy that becomes a company's strategic and competitive advantage. These claims are supported by Cassidy-MacKenzie (2014) who supposes that, in the increasingly dynamic global marketplace, training and development of employees' skills are fundamental to remaining competitive. Besides, it is the best way to balance the interests of employers and employees because the organization reduces recruitment costs from a high retention rate while workers become more satisfied with their job. Armstrong (2014) provides a strategic human resource management model that helps to summarize the whole idea and to create an understanding of its relation to the traditional HR function. The model is as shown below:
From the model, it is clear that SHRM augments HR roles by being a strategic partner in the recruitment and selection process and in subsequent efforts to develop a competent workforce. This also substantiates the need of organizations for an HR function and considers it a strategic partner rather than a hurdle towards meeting organizational objectives.
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B. Strategic Recruitment and Selection
More and more organizations are recognizing the need to effectively manage their human resources. As a starting point, the recruitment and selection process incorporating the aspects of SHRM discussed in the foregoing is being considered. According to Sangeetha (2010), the recruitment and selection process provides an understanding of the company's view on the role of its human resource in sustaining its competitive advantage. Therefore, the more significant resources of time and money spent in the recruitment and selection process show how much emphasis a company puts on its workforce and whether or not such a company will remain competitive. The recruitment bit involves searching for and interviewing future employees of a company while the selection process entails the actual staffing process, which also involves training an employee on job specifications, roles, and responsibilities. To become competitive and thereafter sustain that competitive advantage, the company must take the recruitment and selection process seriously because this determines the future of a company (Henderson, 2011). While the process of recruiting and selecting employees may be unique for each organization, Henderson (2011) argues that some universal HRM rules can be applied to all, and the articulation of this is essential for success in hiring the best employees. Armstrong (2014) agrees with the idea of universal HRM practices, stating that superior organization performance is subject to the adoption of these practices during recruitment and selection. The author identifies some of these universal procedures citing the analysis of the strengths and the weaknesses of a recruitment process, and also the understanding of job requirements as well as the identification of sources of potential candidates, among others (Armstrong, 2014).
C. Selection Methods and HR Planning
The conducted studies show that the methods of selection vary according to the job types and companies' HR policies, procedures, and practices (Armstrong, 2014; Chanda, Bansal, & Chanda, 2010; Henderson, 2011). As Chanda, Bansal & Chanda (2010) state, the consistency in adopting a method of selection is crucial for any type of job. The authors point to several methods of selection including interviews, application forms, advertising, conducting formal tests, and usage of assessment centers (Chanda, Bansal, & Chanda, 2010). Amrstrong (2014), on the other hand, specifies that a well-structured HR plan helps an organization to reduce employee turnover, which in turn improves the financial performance of a business. As such, the studies consider accurate HR planning the starting point towards translating an organization's strategic objectives and incorporating them into the HR policies and practices(Armstrong, 2014; Chanda, Bansal, & Chanda, 2010; Sangeetha, 2010). Without this proper HR planning, it is less likely that a company will reach its recruitment and selection goals, translating into poor performance and the inability to sustain a competitive advantage. Based on the understanding of the critical role employee recruitment and selection play in their success, most Fortune 500 companies remain competitive in today's harsh business environment because they innovate employee management strategies and have strong HR planning adopted (Armstrong, 2014). Thus, the success of companies lies in the implementation of human resource planning alongside business strategy so that the two aspects of management are in harmony and reflect a shared vision.
D. Talent Management
Talent management is viewed as an important aspect of strategic human resource management. However, there is no agreement on the definition of the term. Some studies attempt to define it while others do not pay attention to it in general. For instance, Muntean (2014) avoids defining the term "talent management" arguing that there is no concise definition that would be suitable for all its applications (p.301). Amidst this confusion, Armstrong (2014) tries to define talent management as "the process of ensuring that an organization has talented people it needs to attain its goals" (p.264). Putting this parallel to the recruitment and selection process, it goes without saying that talent management necessitates recruiting and selecting only those employees that match the needs of an organization. This implies involving the "proper" people into the organization's workforce to ensure that the goals of a company are met in their logical conclusion (Muntean, 2014; Site Staff, 2015). An important avenue in the recruitment and selection process to facilitate talent management is "job analysis" which is concerned with choosing the best fit for a given job role (Muntean, 2014). Conducting the job analysis, organizations show their interest in attracting candidates with skills and competencies suitable for their future jobs (Takulder, 2014; Site Staff, 2015). In summary of the findings, the recruitment and selection process is as crucial as the talent management process that should accompany it.
From the foregoing literature review, it is obvious that recruitment and selection have been given much focus because of the significant role they play in getting the proper workforce in place. Recruitment is understood as the aspect of sourcing for and interviewing future employees while selection involves actually staffing and training employees on specific roles. Moreover, HR and SHRM are two different aspects of people management where SHRM is the recent evolution that aims to make companies more competitive through recruiting and selecting the right people for different jobs. Despite this general understanding, talent management has not been fully defined or is mentioned only about recruitment and selection.
Interview Discussion: Recruitment and Selection at BBDO Worldwide Inc.
A. Company Profile
BBDO Worldwide Inc. is a US-based network of advertising agencies operating the Media Industry's Communications segment. The private firm was established in 1891 as Batten Company by Goerge Batten. Later, Battens would merge with Barton, Durstine & Osborn (BDO) in 1928 to form the current BBDO offering advertising and marketing services in the US and across the globe. Headquartered in Avenue of the Americas in New York City, BBDO operates several agencies of the world. These agencies offer brand management, direct marketing, design, campaign strategy, and interactive marketing services to a wide base of customers (BBDO Worldwide Inc: Company Profile, n.d). BBDO recorded an estimated revenue of $5.6 billion in 2016, which makes it the largest of Omnicom's three global networks. The other two are DDB and TBWA. Its close competitor and major rival in the US market is J. Walter Thompson Worldwide. Most importantly, however, with such a wide footprint and the level of competition in the communications sector of the Media industry, the recruitment and selection process forms a core managerial activity at the company as discovered in an interview(available in the appendix) with Kerri Stewart, Talent Manager at IMPACT. BBDO employs over 15,000 workers in its network of 289 offices found across 81 countries (BBDO Company Profile, n.d).
The company's philosophy is simple: The Work, The Work, and The Work to deliver "the world's most compelling commercial content" (BBDO: Philosophy & Competitive Advantages, n.d). The company is large but prefers operating in the manner of a small one in each of its locations so that it addresses the needs of its clients through innovation. What matters to the firm is the behavior change, which forms the part of its organizational culture, and keeps it ahead of the competition. To make creative content that touches consumers, becomes famous among consumers, and reinforces brand loyalty, BBDO needs equally creative and innovative staff. This makes recruitment and selection a more relevant theme to the company and the HR function as discovered in an interview, which is discussed in the next subsection.
B. IMPACT BBDO Subsidiary
The greatest part of IMPACT BBDO was acquired in 2010, making it a subsidiary of OMNICOM and, thus, an important agency for BBDO Worldwide in the MENAPAK & Africa region. At IMPACT BBDO, Stewart is in charge of 750 employees recruited from the widely diverse population in the Middle Eastern region where the head office is located in Lebanon with branches in Beirut, Cairo, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Qatar, Dubai, Algeria, and Kuwait.
To create an understanding of the significance of recruitment and selection as part of strategic human resource management with the purpose to meet company objectives, the methodology used here involved a face-to-face interview using a questionnaire. There were a total of 5 open-ended questions that covered major issues related to recruitment and selection, including strategies and techniques, the significance of HR planning, talent management, and challenges and opportunities in recruitment and selection. The responses by the interviewee were tape-recorded and later transcribed. The questions with the transcribed responses are available in the appendix section. For this interview exercise, IMPACT BBDO and BBDO Worldwide Inc. were selected because of its expansive footprint and the success it has attained despite the large geographical coverage and the great number of employees. More specifically, the head of HR function at IMPACT BBDO, Kerri Stewart, was chosen for the study because she had a better understanding of the firm on matters related to recruitment and selection. Furthermore, the fact that IMPACT BBDO is the leading regional agency in the MENAPAK & Africa adds to the uniqueness of this subsidiary because it shows that the workforce of 750 is mostly transcontinental.
D. Kerri Stewart: The Interviewee
Kerri Stewart holds the position of Talent Manager at IMPACT BBDO. She positions herself as a self-motivated, driven, and reliable HR professional whose focus remains on recruiting experienced and top-level candidates and maintaining their relationships with managers and colleagues. She is an articulate and conscientious professional who can act autonomously and still perform well in teams. Based on the interview with Stewart, she possesses the necessary drive and motivation that enable her to deliver a high standard of work that demonstrates her ability to remain adaptive in meeting job requirements in the volatile modern global market.
E. Discussion of the Findings
Stewart claims that always ensures that her organization employs an adaptable approach through which it can mitigate the volatile marketplace while recruiting and selecting future employees. The importance of this, she says, is the ability of the selection panel to play the role in changes that may have occurred in the course of recruitment and selection so that the same emerging issues do not remain unnoticed. She adds that this adaptable approach is always applied even after recruitment because the training and development program for employees at IMPACT BBDO is focused on "currency". The currency here refers to the alignment of skills and competencies on demand of prevailing market dynamics. She emphasizes that her focus as the talent manager at the firm is to keep balance with changes to ensure that the workforce is equipped to meet existing client and consumer needs (Phillips, 2014). Moreover, this adaptable approach is the essence of making IMPACT BBDO agile as it is, according to Stewart.
When asked whether the company outsources recruitment and selection services or not, Stewart responds that the approach is sometimes used, especially where it would be more cost-effective and of value to the organization. She considers this kind of outsourcing as the last option because the HR function at the company has a better understanding of what keeps BBDO competitive. She states that some external factors affecting recruitment and selection such as legal conditions and politico-socio environment may necessitate outsourcing of this process because the agency has little or no control over the said factors.
Regarding recruitment and selection criteria, Stewart says that the most important thing to consider is the job type. She adds that this requires thorough job analysis, an idea that is shared by Armstrong (2014) and Takulder (2014) that was discussed in the literature review. She summarizes the company's approach to recruitment and selection in these words: "hiring for fit". She claims that the detailed job analysis and the ability to discern the qualities that fit a job description during the recruitment and selection process are vital. This explains why Armstrong (2014) and Henderson (2010) insist that the proper time should be dedicated to the process of recruitment and selection among other resources.
Concluding the interview, Stewart says that there are obstacles that make recruitment and selection particularly challenging to manage. First, she points to the increasing diversity of workplaces, which must be balanced with the need to maintain the right pool of knowledge and skills. The other challenge she considers is the fact that expatriation is both an opportunity and a challenge when it comes to internal recruitment strategy. As an opportunity, it enables proper knowledge management and maintenance of strategic competencies in-house. The challenge, however, is that it may not be easy for an expatriate to manage it in a new environment of a different culture (Talukder, 2014). As such, Stewart states that building a culturally competent workforce is the basis of remaining competitive in the current global marketplace.
In conclusion, the significance of recruitment and selection is not contested, judging by the number of researches conducted and attempts of the same studies to establish best-practice policies. Its basis is strategic human resource management(SHRM), which is a new variant of HRM but whose role deviates from the traditional application. More specifically, SHRM is becoming a strategic partner in the recruitment and selection process and the subsequent training and development programs. As evidence, IMPACT BBDO relies on talent management as the part of its HRM that enables it to involve the proper people and the strategic pool of skills to meet its objective of creating the most influencing marketing content. It all starts with adopting the most appropriate strategies and techniques for the recruitment and selection process. Despite this understanding, recruitment and selection remain a wide field for researches as it still has to be fully explored, especially because the global marketplace continues to be volatile and dynamic.