Human resource management (HRM) is concerned with all aspects of how people are employed and managed in organizations. It covers the activities of strategic HRM, human capital management, knowledge management, corporate social responsibility, organization development, resourcing (workforce planning, recruitment and selection and talent management), learning and development, performance and reward management, employee relations, employee well-being and the provision of employee services. It also has an international dimension. As described in Chapter 3, HRM is delivered through the HR architecture of systems and structures, the HR function and, importantly, line management. The practice of referring to people as resources as if they were any other factor of production is often criticised. Osterby and Coster (1992: 31) argued that: ‘The term “human resources” reduces people to the same category of value as materials, money and technology – all resources, and resources are only valuable to the extent they can be exploited or leveraged into economic value.’ People management is sometimes preferred as an alternative, but in spite of its connotations, HRM is most commonly used.
provision of services that enhance the well-being of employees. These are based on human resource (HR) strategies that are integrated with one another and aligned to the business strategy. Some people object to the term ‘human resources’ because it implies that people can be manipulated like any other factor of production. Instead they favour ‘people management’. But HRM is the most commonly used term. Whatever term is adopted the approach should be based on the principle laid down by Schneider (1987: 450): ‘Organizations are the people in them; that people make the place.’ He went on to explain that: ‘Positive job attitudes for workers in an organization can be expected when the natural inclinations of the persons there are allowed to be reflected in their behaviours by the kinds of processes and structures that have evolved there.’ As Keegan and Francis (2010: 873) noted: HR work is now ‘largely framed as a business issue’. The emphasis is on business alignment and strategic fit. These are important requirements but focusing on them can lead HR professionals to place correspondingly less emphasis on employee needs and motivations when developing their new and altered arrangements. A simplistic view of the business imperative permits little room for considering how HR strategy should impact on individual employees. HRM indeed aims to support the achievement of business goals but, equally, it should aim to build a relationship based on trust, openness and personal fulfilment. This first part of the handbook deals with the broad areas and concerns of the practice of HRM covering its conceptual basis, the strategic framework within which HRM activities take place and the various factors that affect it, including the impact of HRM on performance, the specific functions of human capital management, knowledge management and competency-based HRM and, importantly, the ethical and social responsible considerations that need to be taken into account when practising HRM. International HRM is dealt with in Part IX.