I felt like Chapter 16 was a review of everything that we have read and talked about this whole semester, for the most part at least. It discussed the elements of a high performance work system, what this is, and things that can be done to try to achieve it, such as compensation, training and development, performance management, etc. The whole semester as we have discussed the different methods that a company can take to improve their work system, I have wondered why it is that more companies don't invest a little more time and/or money into trying to make things work a little smoother. I have also wondered why it is that some of the companies that I have worked for have struggled so much as they try to do so.
How can an employee help his or her employer improve this when there isn't an HR department? Or even when there is?
Chapter 15 goes over international markets and how HRM applies. When a company goes international, they have to understand the culture, and the way business is done in the other countries where they are expanding. If this is not done, there is limited success in the foreign countries. The simplest way of having employees that understand the other culture is to hire from within that company, but sometimes this can be a very complicated process, at least for hiring managers and executives.
What else do companies do to ensure they have a good knowledge of the other culture?
Chapter 12 goes over benefits that are provided by employers such as insurance benefits, paid time off, and retirement programs. The more I learn about some companies and the amounts of benefits they give to their employees, I wonder how some of them turn a profit. The only way that I can see that they will keep a profit is that when they offer these benefits, turnover plummets, and the morale of their employees is very high. With high morale the employees will be much more efficient and the low turnover rate keeps training costs low.
What do companies do to provide employees with good benefits at low cost? How can a company use benefits to keep turnover rates low?
In chapter 10 I found the answers to a lot of questions that I had about one of my former employer's firing practices. It was very interesting to read about why they would do some of the things they did, especially in an at-will employment state. The concept that I had been wondering about was why my employer wouldn't just terminate those employees that were not performing at a level that was even half of the expected performance level. It was very frustrating to watch as they tried to find some other reason to fire them, and at times the reasons they found were worse in my opinion than simply firing the person for not performing. There are many reasons that I found that told me why my employer was so careful with firing people. The biggest was fear of a lawsuit. This fear drove them to develop policies on termination that left them almost no way of keeping good employees and weeding out those who needed to be weeded out. There is so much involved in trying to keep turnover low, but is it a good decision some times to just terminate an employee and start over? To what point should an employer go to keep a high performing employee content? How can employers keep themselves safe from lawsuits and still leave themselves elbow room when terminating employees fairly?
After the guest speaker in class on Thursday I realized that training programs can be a good thing. When a company invests money in its training program, it is almost always cost effective, as long as the employees take it seriously. Training can be used to keep motivation and morale high, making the company more productive and more fun to work at. In many lines of work, a training program can keep the workplace safe, especially if taken seriously.
It seems to me that most small companies can design training systems fairly easily. They simply walk an employee through the first couple of days, and then watch him or her for a while, providing small help here and there to ensure the job is getting done correctly. In a large company, it is slightly more difficult. A large company worries more about costly mistakes that can be caused by under-training. In a company that I worked for, there was an extensive online training program, and then once every few weeks we had to go to a classroom type training program to learn more about the company's policies. Both the online program and the classroom program were very dull and hard to get through, and therefore I feel they were reasonably ineffective. Would it be cost effective for a company to invest in a more entertaining and captivating training program? Would it help drive down the cost of mistakes that are caused by employees that didn't pay attention to the training? What can a company do to stress the importance of the simple, dull training that they have in place?
Lately outsourcing has been a very hot topic, especially with the economy the way it is. The logic behind outsourcing is explained in chapter 5 and I think it is worth writing a little about. The debate is whether outsourcing is a good thing or not. There is no doubt that it is a less expensive way to do business, but it often takes money and jobs away from those in one place and send them to another, usually a different country. Though economically superior for a specific company, is outsourcing a positive or a negative thing? To what point is it acceptable to do something simply because it is less expensive?