This paper discusses different HR concepts, processes and practices for instance the roles and responsibilities of HR, the affirmative actions, how does affirmative action lead to reverse discrimination and it also discusses the outsourcing of HR and trends prevailing in HR outsourcing. The paper also sheds light on the steps in selection process and how do the self-managing teams work effectively.

Q1: List five important responsibilities of HR, briefly describing the specific activities associated with each?

The five important responsibilities of HR are 1) Recruitment and selection, 2) Orientation, 3) Maintaining good working conditions, 4) Developing and Managing Employee relations, and 5) Training and development. Strandberg (2009) discuss the role of HR in recruiting new talent and introducing new skilled individuals in the organization.  The activities associated with recruitment are planning work force, analyzing work force needs, finding gap in needed work force and current work force and strategizing whether to recruit employees internally or externally. In selection, some activities are application, screening, tests, interviews, medical tests and job offer or job denial. While orienting new employees, the HR representative introduces new employee to team, to his role, to his office/place and to the organization. The new employee is briefly told what are expectations from him and what are the norms, values and general polices of the work place. In order to maintain good working conditions, the HR clearly explains through emails or face to face communication to all employees about harassment, bullying, unfair treatment etc. Some of the employee relation activities are deciding meeting formats, promotion criteria, explaining the team hierarchy and explaining layoff, retirement and resignation policies and procedures. These HR responsibilities ensure that employees are present in sufficient number and work to achieve organizational goals.

Q2: What is outsourcing? What are the trends in human resource (HR) outsourcing?

In general terms, outsourcing means when an organization asks another organization, party or entity to carry out a task, process on its behalf. For example, a car manufacturing organization can outsource the production of engine to another organization. Sometimes the organizations want to focus on their core business e.g. manufacturing, fast food etc. so they outsource the recruitment and selection and training of its employees. Presently, the organizations outsourcing their HR processes are mainly outsourcing functions like advertising for job, taking interviews, shortlisting employees, training employees and deciding their compensation. These third party recruiters also conduct market analysis to decide the market salary rates. Cooke et al (2005) say that subcontracting allows organizations to save time and costs in developing a skill i.e. HRM which is not important. The trend of HR outsourcing is benefiting organizations not only in attracting, recruiting and then selecting new staff, but also in employee communication, policy compliance, compensation and performance management. Partial HR outsourcing is more common than complete HR outsourcing so that companies only save time in recruiting and selecting new employees, and internally perform the HR tasks of compensation and performance management. 
Q3: What is affirmative action? Do you think this will lead to reverse discrimination? Explain your answer.

Employees often face discrimination and in order to protect them against discrimination, affirmative action ensures that employees will not be denied work opportunity if their disability is not related to work skills. Crosby et al (2006) discuss that affirmative action is a controversial policy and it is not easily understood that is why it is often called reverse-discrimination. Crosby et al state that affirmative action is needed to fight discrimination and introduce diversity at the workplace however, I believe that somehow it leads to reverse discrimination. The majority race is often at risk under the affirmative action because through affirmative action many job posts could have been occupied by the majority race people if these were not given to the minority race individuals under AA. In a work place where affirmative action is not practiced, most of the employees will be White in White dominant society, brown in brown dominant society etc. However, the workforce will be mixed if the affirmative action is in practice so many people of dominant ethnicity will lose a job opportunity. I believe that the job should be offered on the basis of skills and competence rather on the basis of ethnicity, pregnancy, gender and disability.
Q4: Describe self-managing work teams. Suggest steps to make such teams more effective.

The self-managing work teams are self-organized, semi-autonomous groups of people within organizations where the team members determine, plan, and manage their day-to-day activities and duties and they have less or almost no supervision. These are often known as self-directed teams. Goodman and Haran (2009) describe some of the hallmarks of the self-managing teams which include setting group goals, setting interdependent tasks, coordinating tasks, and making decisions internally. Goodman and Haran (2009) suggested some actions to make such teams more autonomous and these suggestions are narrated here in the form of steps. First step is to make these teams autonomous. If the members of these teams have high level of autonomy, they will become more responsible and careful. The second step is to increase coordination among these teams because in this way there will be fewer or no clashes and the employees’ performance will be enhanced. Third step is to give decision making power to these teams and let them know that they will be answerable for the consequences of their decisions. Fourth step is to mediate the group tasks frequently so that the group or the team remains disciplined. Finally, in the fifth step, there should be frequent meetings between the team and the executives to see if the team is fulfilling expectations from it or not.
Q5: What is the primary reason organizations choose to downsize? How do they meet this objective?

Almost all businesses are run with the intention to make profits and almost all the initiatives of downsizing are financial in nature. When the organization finds unnecessary costs or faces losses, it often decides to reduce the manpower so that the workforce expenses are controlled. Another reasons for downsizing might be the influx of technology due to which many jobs previously done by humans are now taken over by the machines so the organization downsizes. Deepak et al (2010) say that these reasons are the cause that downsizing is becoming common now a day. The objective of cost reduction, which is behind most of the downsizing, is achieved by identifying the least productive employees so that when these are reduced, the overall performance is not affected. While downsizing, the organizations try to fire employees from those posts which will be eliminated completely, because if needed to be filled again, there will be additional cost of recruitment. The companies that downsize might often end certain departments and sites completely too. In this way, the most productive units are kept and rest of them are ended so that the costs that are sustained produce highest benefits only. The high cost and low benefit projects are ended or reduced in size.

Q6: Describe the steps involved in a selection process

Cleaver (n.d.) describes the selection process at a glance which contains steps like i) developing criteria for selection, ii) accepting applications and reviewing resumes, iii) conducting interviews, iv) conducting tests, v) selecting candidate and vi) making the offer. The HR function is to develop criteria after understanding knowledge, skills and abilities associated with the job and the objectives that should be fulfilled. The selection process also plans earlier that what type of interviews should be conducted i.e. whether these interviews will be structured or unstructured and what will be sequence of interviews. The final offer is made after negotiating the compensation and employment duration.




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