Resources Training and Development, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

The Personnel Department of yesteryear has died. It doesn’t exist anymore. No one will miss it! Its functions were limited to filling out forms, collecting identifying paperwork, and sending often unqualified employees to do boring tasks throughout the company. Insurance and assorted benefit forms were collected and stored. The Personnel Department was a typical clerical function.

Toward the last decade of the previous century the personnel Department gave way to the modern, much needed, redesigned Human Resources Department (HR) of our present time. Although HR may vary slightly from company to company, its major function is now providing training to company’s employees so that the skills demonstrated by employees at all levels of the organizational hierarchy help them to be the most qualified, skillful employees of their industry (Merchant & Stede, 2007).

Review of Related Literature

There are typically six topics of employee training.  According to Torrington, Hall, and Taylor (2004), they include:

  • Communications: There is now a huge diversity among the workforce. Good communications means employees can converse in more than one language and understand the customs of different groups of people.
  • Computer skills: The pen and the typewriter are objects of history. In order to work in the high-speed environments of today’s businesses, employees need to have highly developed word processing and mathematical skills. They also need to possess skills on the Internet and to be able to interact with employees in real-time during business hours all over the world.
  • Customer service: This is a far-reaching topic and is as diverse as the millions of people that inhabit our planet. In order to be skillful at customer service, employees need to understand the needs of their clients.
  • Diversity training: Different people have different views and perspectives. Skilled employees need to understand that and work with and sometimes through those views.
  • Ethics: Sound judgment and morality are now part of the workplace. Employees need to understand fair play and have respect for “doing unto others.” These are the characteristics of ethics.
  • Human relations: The workplace is full of stresses and in turn, these can cause misunderstandings among employees. Training can help people to get along in the workplace.
  • Quality initiatives: Benchmarking, Total Quality Management, and Quality Circles are now routine parts of the workplace. High quality conservation means producing high quality products central to company success.
  • Safety: The once skilled artisan has given way to heavy, complicated machinery and sometimes the use of hazardous chemicals. For employees to give their fair share in the workplace without having to take time off because of accidents, employees need to become, and remain, keenly aware of workplace safety.
  • Sexual harassment: The workplace is now usually a mix of both genders. Depending on the skills each person possesses, either can be the boss and either gender may be subordinate. Sexual harassment policies set goals about human relations skills on the job site.

All of the above tasks are now administered by the company’s HR Department. These tasks provide employees with increased job satisfaction and morale, increased motivation, increased efficiencies in the production processes combined with greater company and individual financial gain, increased capacity for new technologies, increased and more innovative products, reduced employee turnover, enhanced company image, and more astute risk management (Cohm, Khurana, & Reeves, 2005).

Although training is ultimately provided by HR, requests for that training usually come from the department heads to which the employee is assigned (Montana & Charnov, 2000). Measurements of performance should be done objectively and should include employee speed, accuracy, the desire to take on new tasks, and sensitivity toward customers’ needs and employee associates (Hoover, 2004). Part of employee training is the benchmarking process (Harrison, 2005; Hoover, 2004): Have employees improved in their overall performance since first taking their job? By how much have employees improved (or gotten worse) when measured alongside other employees assigned to the same position?

In recent years employers have recognized that promotion from within is preferable to promotion from without (Coens & Jenkins, 2002). It costs the company less, and adds more value to the employee’s career when he/she can start in one position and over time move up through the different ranks of the organizational hierarchy(Henry, 200&). It costs companies too much money when employees become disgruntled after a short time on the job and take their newly acquired skills with them to work for a possible competitor (Coens & Jenkins, 2002). Because of these changes in attitudes about employers valuing their employees, HR has added professional development programs to their venue (Kutilek, Gunderson, & Conklin, 2002).

Companies have changed in recent years. There was a time when employees worked by old, formal standards: They did the same work, day-in and day-out, for the entire existence of the company. Cross-training, the ability to assume other employees’ tasks, was non-existent. Imagine the old days of the accountant sitting at his desk, elastic bands to keep his sleeves out of the way, green visor to shield his eyes from glaring light, clacking away on a noisy old, hand-operated adding machine. A man took a job as an accountant and, if he lasted his entire career, he left in the same position in which he started, richer only by the gold watch given to him at his final departure. Today, both companies and employees have expectations of personal growth (Lockwood, 2004). The laborer of today may be the manager, or even the company president, of tomorrow. HR is responsible for providing that training to the company’s employees. To take advantage of that kind of training, employees only have to show a modicum of interest in their personal success.  Only those employees who show no interest in personal growth become industry’s departed souls.

Succession training may also be considered part of the professional development process. It involves the organization more so than the actual employee.  As certain employees become imbued with special skills, job opportunities at their work site sometimes wane. However, considerable training as been put into these individuals and companies are anxious for them to remain with the organization. Succession training implies that as the organization grows, as new offices and/or production facilities open, these employees will be offered greater opportunities in new locations, possibly even in foreign lands (Lockwood, 2004).

Statement of the Problem

For HR to work effectively, it must be able to prepare employees for greater company roles. These roles have changed greatly in the last several years. Companies are now more global in their nature and need to be able to meet the demands of an ever-expanding market. A few decades ago, businesses were local in nature. They chose a locale in which to do business and from that locale they were able to purchase their raw materials, their labor, and target their consumers. This has changed greatly since the late 20th Century. Companies now purchase their raw materials from one locale, sometimes outsource their labor to foreign countries, and sell their products in much boarder and larger geographic areas. In order to accomplish these roles judiciously and expeditiously, labor at all levels of the organizational hierarchy must be better prepared. These training roles have become a significant part of the company’s Human Resource Department.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to measure the effectiveness of the HR Department in a local enterprise. In this case, the definition of “local” suggests that the company is physically located in close proximity to the student’s residence. However, the company is recognized as a national service provider. This company’s service-related products are purchased and consumed all across these United States.

Research Questions

  1. By what means are employees identified as needing specialized training?
  2. How is the specialized training created so that it matches the goals of both the company and the employee?
  3. How can department heads determine that the additional training has been effective and that those employees who received the training are now meeting the expectations of the company’s needs?

Significance of the Study

All across the world, the business marketplace is expanding. Too, all over the world, citizens are feeling tight economic times; the economic difficulties found in the United States are similar to the difficulties being experienced in many countries.  Economic problems are far-reaching: Name brands with which we were once familiar with  have simply disappeared. In their places, new products have been created to fill the niches vacated by those products which have ceased to exist. Like manufacturers of hard goods, service providers have disappeared, only to be replaced by new ones. HR training has been tied to both failed and new products. Perhaps those products that have failed have done so because the employees charged with their production, or delivery of services, were improperly trained. Perhaps those goods our citizens are dependent on are successful because the employees delivering them to the consumer marketplace have gone through better or more extensive training.

This study will reveal whether HR has a role in the continuing advancement of new or better products. This study will suggest ways that products can expand their life-cycles and remain longer as part of the modern-day consumer-scene.

Methods Section

Introduction

The researcher will be doing an ethnographic study of a national service located in her residential area. This particular corporation sells insurance and financial products in every state.  Although this company’s products are sold only in the United States, the holdings and investments associated with their products have far-reaching relations, including into both European and Asian countries.

Quantitative  & Qualitative Studies

Some researchers prefer to use quantitative studies to perform research. In this form of study, the researcher may not be a participant in the site being examined. However, he/she can gather materials, create control and experimental groups, and work with variables. There are two kinds of variables: dependent and independent. The first, dependent variables, will change according to the controls exerted on it. The second, an independent variable, is a control variable; it does not change. The relationships of dependent and independent variables produce a cause and effect relationship. In a service-oriented business such as one that provides consumer credit cards, the researcher asks what will happen if the card collects a small percentage for its services, or what will happen when a larger collection percentage is applied? The consumer reaction is the dependent variable while the bank charges are the independent variable. In a second example, we can look at the Bank of America recently advertise that they were going to charge a $5.00 month usage fee to debit cards. The proposed fee created the independent variable while the consumer outcry was responsible for the dependent variable. The findings produced from the relationships of the dependent and independent variables are mathematically compared, and from these calculations, statistical results are reported.

The second kind of study is qualitative. This kind of study requires the researcher to visit the job site and to seek employees’ opinions about certain events which may affect their employment. A set of questions is prepared by the researcher; usually these questions are open-ended, meaning they cannot be answered in simple yes/no responses. Participants in the study are selected randomly and everybody is asked the same set of questions. The researcher should not rely only upon his/her notes and the actual questionnaire. A better method is to tape-record the interviews and then afterward transcribe the notes. Following the transcriptions the researcher can then begin codifying the participants’ responses—in major topics, sub-topics, and even sub-sub-topics. Using these notes the researcher can begin completing the study’s analysis. This analysis will consist of observations, materials gathered from notes, and charts and graphs explaining the study’s findings.

It should be noted that in quantitative studies, researcher can be extraneous to the job site. All of the analysis is based on cause and effect, in other words, dependent and independent variables. In qualitative research the investigator needs to either a part of the job site or a visitor to the job site. The materials analyzed are gathered first-hand by the researcher.

Survey Instruments

A questionnaire is being prepared and will be directed toward randomly selected participants. The questions will be open-ended and will permit discussion. The results from the questionnaires will be codified into topics, sub-topics, and in a few instances, into sub-sub-topics. It is hoped that this material will examine the HR function at this manufacturer and will answer questions about:

  1. How are employees identified for training?
  2. How is training accomplished and by whom?
  3. What methods are used to determine if the additional training produces satisfactory results on employees’ subsequent performance evaluations?

Conclusions and Recommendations

The analysis and recommendations from this study will be completed using an ethnographic study. The student will visit the job site, interview employees from various levels of the company’s hierarchy, gather responses to interviews, and codify the results of the gathered materials. From this point, using deductive reasoning, the results of the study will be presented in easy-to-understand mathematical graphs and charts.

Usually researchers doing studies of this kind have many participants, sometimes spread over several different job sites. This single study will use as many participants as possible, but only from a single job site. Because of its small size, the results of the study may not be able to offer any new insights regarding employee training by HR. However, regardless of the outcomes, the study should be able to be added to the already prevailing body of literature.

Based upon her personal research, the student believes that qualitative analysis is preferable to quantitative analysis. Qualitative studies permit the researcher to “get up close and personal.” It gives her an opportunity to find out more about a particular service organization than most other students. The student’s recommendation to other future researchers includes, like the student, to have a desire to do studies on a personal level. Walk away with the feeling that, “I know because I’ve been there.” Too, give yourself plenty of time; work in a timeframe that is not rushed and where you can spend work leisurely, keeping yourself in the background while learning firsthand all that you possibly can about the enterprise  you chose for your research. Stake (2006) discussed case study research in which he observed researchers “getting lost” at the site of the case study for years-on-end. The student’s advice to future researchers is “Don’t get lost!” but do give yourself enough time that your case study can serve the next generation of researchers beyond your own work and the work you produce can be generalized to larger target populations.

References

Coens, T., & Jenkins, M. (2002). Abolishing performance appraisals: Why they fail and what to do next? Berkley, CA: Publishers Group West.

Cohm, J., Khurana, R., & Reeves, L. (October, 2005). Growing talent as if your business depended on it. Harvard Business Review 83(10): 62-70.

Harrison, R. (2005). Learning and development. CIPD Publishing: p. 5.

Henry, S.  (2007). Just ask: Integrating accessibility through design. Madison, WI: Lawton.

Hoover, J. (2004). How to work for an idiot and survive without killing your boss. Plimpton Plains, NJ: Career Press.

Kutilek, L., Gunderson, G. & Conklin, N. (April, 2002). A systems approach: Maximizing individual career potential and organizational success. Journal of Extension.

Lockwood, N. (December, 2004). Leadership: The key factor in strategic management. Society for Human Resources Management.

Montana, P. & Charnov, B. (2000). Training and development. Management: Barron’s Educational Series: p. 225

Merchant, K. & Stede, W. Management control systems: Performance measurement, evaluation, and incentives (2nd ed). New York: Prentice Hall.

Stake, R. (2006). The art of case study research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Torrington, D., Hall, L., & Taylor, S. (2004). Human resource management. New York: Pearson.

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