IMPORTANT INSIGHT BERMAN & SELDEN

Berman et al. (2010) and Selden (2009) were excellent complimentary books on how human resources management (hrm) has evolved throughout the years.  It noted the important employment laws, different approaches to recruitment, training and development, ethics in the workplace, motivating the workforce, compensation strategies, employee friendly policies and my personal favorite unions and collective bargaining agreements. 

Throughout the years the public sector workforce has seen a shift with baby boomers retiring and fewer members of the generation x to replace them, and although the millennial generation is entering the workforce their work ethic is completely different from what’s existed.   With declining budgets and lack of government confidence human resources management has had to deal with new ways to retain employees in the workplace and find creative ways to employ individuals.  Government has shifted to privatization, part-time and contract employment to fill the gaps that exist in today’s climate. 

Recruitment and the process of selecting candidates has also changed and will continue to do so for years to come.  Although some governments still require that jobs listings be posted in the newspaper it isn’t the only mechanism to advertise openings.  Governments now post jobs via the internet either on their own respective website or the many job websites available to the public (www.monster.com, www.indeed.com, www.theladders.com).  This mechanism allows the organization to reach a larger audience of qualified candidates.  The web has also allowed doing away with the traditional paper application and now allows the candidate to apply online and take any tests necessary online that is needed for the position.  In turn this technology allows the human resources specialist to streamline the hiring process and extract the candidates that are eligible for the position.   

Technology has also facilitated training and development.  Employees can now be trained virtually in order to retain new skills.  This type of training and development has allowed organizations the ability to reduce training cost and increase productivity in order to meet the demands of today’s world, while providing leadership development.  These types of opportunities for employees provide professional growth, which is important to the organization and the overall mission. 

Human resources professional also have to adhere to a variety of employment laws in order to function on a day-to-day basis.  Violation of any of these laws (Civil Rights Act of 1964, Age Discrimination In Employment Act, Americans With Disabilities Act, Consumer Protection Act, Employee Polygraph Act, Employee Retirement Income Security Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, Family and Medical Leave Act…) could lead to a multitude of lawsuits which would be very costly to the organization.  It is imperative that the organization constantly be up to date with any new employment laws and that they implement training courses for those who deal with the workforce. 

Human resources management must also deal with compensation strategies and employment friendly policies in order to retain its workforce and retain new talent.  While budgets are declining and compensation resources are shrinking human resources professionals must find creative ways to compensate their workforce for productivity.  It has been found that people need to feel appreciated.  Managers need to find alternative ways to acknowledge workers, such as through extra time off, new equipment, small cash rewards or gift certificates.  Although a small token of appreciation, it allows the workforce to feel appreciated which in turn drives motivation throughout.  Employee friendly policies in the workforce are just as important.  For example at my present job every Friday at the office the staff is allowed to dress down or casual to work (jeans).  This simple jester allows employees to decompress from a busy work week and it mentality prepares the office for the weekend. 

Government has faced many challenges throughout the years but none bigger than unions and their respective collective bargaining agreements.  In the past couple of years governments have faced smaller operating budgets with the decline of available revenue (property taxes) and those most affected are government labor unions.  Many contracts have had to be renegotiated in order to balance the books and in turn have created havoc and low morale amongst these workers.  The City of Miami recently declared a state of financial emergency which allows the City to renegotiate all union contracts in order to balance its books.

The future of human resources will be ever-changing and every year will present new challenges for those charged with recruitment and development.  Although the last couple of years have proven to be difficult for the public sector it has shown that implementing new strategies is key to success and productivity.

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