Social Issues in Human Resource Management


In the business world, human resource managers constantly strive to overcome the challenges relating to interpersonal conflict and to balance the needs of individuals with differing points of view. An important fact of human nature that human resource specialists need to monitor and adapt to is that individuals have unique lenses through which they view the world, affecting how they react to certain situations. These individual outlooks find their origin in personal histories relating to socioeconomic status, education level and religious/moral backgrounds.

Interpersonal Conflicts at Work

Interpersonal conflict is a reality of virtually all large businesses. People with contrasting personalities or social views can sometimes agitate one other. A common mistake when managing interpersonal conflict is assuming that the interpersonal conflict is a no-fault scenario. Interpersonal conflicts need to be investigated in a case-by-case method in order to determine whether they are merely a clash of personalities or if someone has actually taken part in inappropriate behavior. In situations that cannot be resolved through staff interviews, hiring an outside investigator to determine the facts of the situation might be helpful. Interpersonal conflicts need to be taken seriously and disciplined when necessary because an overlooked interpersonal conflict can sometimes boil over into a lawsuit, a common outcome in sexual harassment situations. Taking every interpersonal conflict seriously and conducting a thorough investigation is as important as internal discipline, but in some cases criminal charges are necessary because the consequences of attempting to cover up a discretion constituting a violation of the law can be rather steep, both in terms of public relations and financial losses. Companies that are too small to have a built-in legal department should have a legal contact for their human resource departments for particularly troubling situations.

Social Issues Relating to Education and American Business

Changes in the general level of education required to compete as a worker since the 1970s have left some workers who cannot afford post secondary education behind. Companies willing to offer education incentives to workers that benefit both the worker and the company can use their human resources department to tap into this underutilized population segment, finding a potential source of a highly loyal staff. As of 2011, the quality of primary and secondary education and its capability to prepare American youth for the modern workplace is a real social issue in the United States. Manufacturing industries in general have been in a severe downturn since the 1970s, which saw the shutdown of many of the world-famous steel mills in the Chicago area, for instance. The effect of the American steel industry's slowdown had a resonating effect through the entire American industrial manufacturing industry, forever changing the outlook for high school graduates looking to immediately join the workforce. The current situation has many youth struggling to financially establish themselves early in their lives. Ultimately, this is a result of necessitating university degrees for virtually all areas of professional employment, and an unintended consequence of creating animosity between those who can afford university educations and those who cannot. Companies can turn this negative situation to their own favor by giving workers from a less favorable economic background a second chance at education in areas that benefit the company itself, secured with a contract that upon graduation the worker will stay with the company for a period of time.

Creating a Business Climate of Social Responsibility

Employees, even unskilled ones, are the lifeblood of business and are the most valuable asset any business can obtain. When looking at employees and assets, HR departments should consider methods by which they can improve the value of these assets. The first way to make use of average, unskilled employees is to put them straight to work, although given the fact that they do not have advanced skills in any department, they might not earn a particularly high revenue for the company. As an alternative, companies should consider offering employees educational incentives such as internal training courses and company subsidized education. In exchange for offering employees education, companies should add a proviso that subsidized education only applies to training that can benefit the company, and that candidates sign a contract to provide services for a specified length of time upon completion to protect the company's financial investment. Investing in employees rather than exploiting them is not the only aspect of a socially responsible human resources model; equal treatment and pay for all employees regardless of ethnicity and gender for doing the same task is also a vital element to portray a positive social community image.

How a Smart HR Department Improves Profitability

A smart HR department, as opposed to a traditional HR department, plays a greater role in developing the skills of all employees as a fundamental part of day-to-day business operations. Cultivating skill growth within currently existing employees often provides a superior alternative for growing a company than hiring outside additions, who will need to be acclimated to the specific practices of the organization. Smart HR departments also play a large role in employee retention and skill testing. One way to look at it is that traditional HR serves only basic functions, such as recruiting, payroll and periodic performance reviews; by comparison, a smart HR department places far more emphasis on testing the basic skills of new recruits and designing a career path for them, similar to a school guidance counselor.

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