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Human Resource Strategy in Operations Management

Human resources management (HRM) and operations management (OM) are immensely closely related. The critical functions of human resources are to search for appropriate candidates for vacant positions in an organization, train staff members, and communicate with them. Operations management, in its turn, bears responsibility for controlling the process of production of goods and services, depending on a company’s specialization. This type of management’s most significant task is to ensure that a company does not excessively use resources. At the same time, the number of resources used should be efficient to meet customers needs and requirements. In other words, operations managers create strategies to optimize the budget, maintain equipment, buy materials, and deliver final products or services to potential customers.

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As it has been previously mentioned, human resource strategy plays a significant role in OM. The most apparent effect of HRM on OM is that the strategies that are chosen by the HR department affect the overall operational performance of a business. Hence, HR managers should cooperate with operations managers to ensure that their actions maximize a company’s profits. The study conducted by Ahmad and Schroeder (2003) reveals that “HRM practices impact operational performance indirectly through organizational commitment” (p.36). From this, it could be inferred that operations managers should employ strategies that would enhance employees’ commitment to a company (Ahmad and Schroeder, 2003). This, in turn, would help to improve the operational performance of an organization. The previously mentioned strategies include clear goal setting, rewarding employees, training them, and creating a friendly atmosphere in the team.

A range of scholars, including Boudreau, Hopp, McClain, and Thomas (2003) and Ahmad and Schroeder (2003), argue that HRM is strongly dependent on OM and vice versa. Nevertheless, there are reasons to doubt if human resource strategies should be used for OM. The first reason for concern is that OM is not about employees per se; it is about the operational performance of a firm. Therefore, OM ignores the complexity of human behavior. For OM staff members are not an end in itself, it is a tool to reach such end as an organization’s decent and smooth performance. HRM, on the contrary, focuses on people more than on the “operations context in which people work” (Boudreau et al., 2003, p. 35). More precisely, HR managers think of motivating, training, and uniting employees to make their working process comfortable and effective. They do not think about their external environment, including, for example, the quality of equipment with which employees work on a daily basis. Therefore, it could be concluded that HRM and OM should not interfere in each other affairs since each has fundamentally different goals.

Simultaneously, it could be counter-argued that even though HRM targets employees while OM – the process of production of goods and services, these two types of management still have something in common. Most importantly, both HRM and OM undertake strategies that affect the prosperity of a company. Besides, in order to create an integrated HRM – OM framework, it is possible to mitigate the weak points described above. While thinking about strategies, HR managers should pay attention to the context of the operations of employees. Operations managers could also conduct some research to discover how staff members’ behavior and mood influence the manufacturing process of a firm. This way, it becomes clear that the representatives of both fields of management could cooperate and teach from each other.

To sum up, the inclusion of human resources strategies into OM has more benefits than adverse outcomes. The major benefit is that HR strategies help operation managers treat employees not as machines that unconsciously perform some functions but as actors who could indeed affect the well-being of a company. The most basic HR strategies include the provision of workers with competitive salaries and a comfortable and safe working place, rewarding of employees, developing their skills, and considering points that make them worried through communication. OM strategies are comprised of monitoring of market conditions and competitors, improvements of the supply chain, reduction of costs, and maximization of profit through rational and efficient usage of resources. From the two lists of strategies, it becomes evident that OM lacks strategies that target staff directly.

The final decision and the conclusion of the paper is that the inclusion of HR strategies in OM would make a company better off. Operations managers should think of establishing communication between them and employees. That is necessary because the latter could suggest how to improve this or that aspect of their work. This, in turn, would lead to a better performance of a company. In some cases, operations managers might be unaware of some minor, from the first view, details that could significantly affect the process of production. Even though HRM and OM are distinct fields, the link between them could not be denied. Consequently, it is possible to suggest that if OM takes into consideration strategies of HRM, this will not harm a business and, instead, will be beneficial.

References

Ahmad, S., & Schroeder, R. G. (2003). The impact of human resource management practices on operational performance: recognizing country and industry differences. Journal of operations Management, 21(1), 19-43.

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Boudreau, J., Hopp, W., McClain, J. O., & Thomas, L. J. (2003). On the interface between operations and human resources management. Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 5(3), 179-202.

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