Soft Versus Hard HRM

Established in 1964 under STO group, with its subsidiaries, JVs and associates, is a national leader in business. It has significant and focused interests in petroleum, cooking gas, construction materials (including cement and roofing material), medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, home appliances, electronic items, supermarket products and insurance. The company is geographically diverse with operations and developments throughout Maldives and operations in Singapore.

The employees of the company should focus on the following aspects of the company;

The company treats employees as valued assets and a source of competitive advantage through their commitment, adaptability, high quality skill and performance.

If an employee gets late for the work, the employee will get a warning of not to repeat that, if the employee still does so, the company takes an action upon that employee, such as reducing salary or termination.

The company has combination of both autocratic and democratic leadership styles.

The company has a competitive pay structure, with appropriate performance related reward such as profit share.

The company focuses on identifying the training and other employee development needs through appraisal systems.

Practical application on Guest’s model of hard-Soft, Loose-Tight dimensions of HRM

Soft versus hard HRM

Storey (1989) labeled two approaches of hard HRM and soft HRM. The ‘hard’ approach, rooted in manpower planning is concerned with aligning human resource strategy with business strategy, while the ‘soft’ approach is rooted in the human relations school, has concern for workers’ outcomes and encourages commitment to the organisation by focusing on workers’ concerns.

Soft HRM

HRM and personnel/IR Practices with compares to 27 dimensions of Story’s definitions

Distinguishing between HRM and Personnel Management

Personnel management is viewed as workforce centred and more operational in focus. Personnel managers recruit, select and carry out administrative procedures in accordance with management’s requirements. They act as a bridge between the employer and the employee. As a result, personnel managers were seen as functional specialists rather than strategic managers and often had little power or status in the organisation. The personnel manager needed to understand the needs of the manager and the employee, and articulate those needs to both sides.

HRM approach is in the management of people which can be seen as a radical new approach linked to strategy and viewing people as assets who need to be actively managed as part of the long-term interests of the organisation.

HRM can be viewed as a radical integrated approach to the management of people in an organization and, as such, can be seen as a general management function. Where personnel managers can be viewed as specialists, HRM can be seen as the responsibility of all managers, particularly senior managers, and as such is proactive rather than reactive. Guest (1987) identifies the differences in his model

The differences between personnel and human resource management Source: Guest (1987).

Guest (1987) shows a model of HRM that is commitment based, which is distinct from compliance-based personnel management. According to Guest, HRM is:

Linked to the strategic management of an organisation

Seeks commitment to organisational goals

Focuses on the individual needs rather than the collective workforce

Enables organisations to devolve power and become more flexible

Emphasizes people as an asset to be positively utilised by the organisation.


Personnel and IR


Beliefs and assumptions

1 Contract

Careful delineation of written contracts

Aim to go ‘beyond contract’

2 Rules

Importance of devising clear rules/ mutuality

‘Can- do’ outlook; impatience with ‘rule’

3 Guide to management Action


‘Business need’

4 Behavior referent

Norms/ custom and practice


5 Managerial Task vis-à-vis labor



6 Nature of relations



7 Conflict



Strategic aspects

8 Key relations

Labor management


9 Initiatives



10 Corporate plan

Marginal to

Central to

11 Speed of decision



Line Management

12 Management role


Transformational leader

13 Key managers

Personnel/ IR specialists

General/business/line managers

14 Communication



15 Standardization

High (e.g. ‘parity’ an issue)

Low (e.g. ‘parity’ not seen as relevant

16 Prized management skill



Key levers

17 Selection

Separate, marginal task

Integrated, key-task

18 Pay

Job evaluation (fixed grades)


19 Conditions

Separately negotiated


20 Labor management

Collective bargaining contracts

Towards individual contracts

Thrust of relations

with stewards

Regularized through facilities and training

Marginalized (exception of some bargaining for change models)

22 Job categories and grade



23 Communication

Restricted flow

Increased flow

24 Job design

Division of labor


25 Conflict handling

Reach temporary truces

Manage climate and culture

26 Training & development

Controlled access to courses

Learning companies

Foci of attention for


Personnel procedures

Wide ranging cultural structural and personnel strategies

STO follows HRM process for their employees. The differences are as follows;

The jobs were design according to the team work instead of Division of labour.

Communication among employees was increased flow instead of restricted flow.

Management role was transformational instead of transactional. So the decisions come from the top management.

The speed of decision is fast because the decisions are done from the top management.

Communications among line managers are direct, because of transformational hierarchy and the departments were connected through top management.

Corporate plan of STO was centralize instead of Marginal.

Training and development essential for the company, so it was based on learning companies.

Role of Line Managers

As a diversified company STO structure was made on 13 departmental managers. The main role of the departmental manager is to achieve companies’ goals. They should maintain all of things on behalf of an organisation. A line manager has become even a leader at their day to day behavior. Ensuring higher performance by the employees and finding ways to motivate the employees and make them efficient is also is a line manager’s duty now. Because of this the traditional tasks of line manages has been changed and now they have more important tasks on their hand such as,

Create a friendly environment for the employees

Advise the employees when needed

Understanding the needs of employees

Improving performance of employees and organization

There are some roles of HR manager by which they run an organisation.

Planning, resourcing and retention:

A line manager should know the number of staffs is working in the department and who are busier, and which department need more people.

For example pharmacists are very busy at Saturday and Sunday on the STO pharmacy. So managers of pharmacy need more staff for these weekend day. He will take decision for taking or recruiting people. This is the planning and resourcing role for line manager.

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Retention is a vital role for line manager. If there was a new recruited staff, the line manager have to monitor and know are they happy for their time being.

Recruitment and selection:

Recruiting a right people to the right place is a major duty of the line manager, especially the HR manager. He should follow the rules and policy of recruiting qualified people by checking their productivity and enthusiastic and good behaviour for achieving the companies’ goals.

Training and development:

In order to get the best from employees they need to be trained. Training is done to fill gap between the skills and knowledge they have at present and the skills and knowledge the organization wants them to have in order to fulfill set goals. Recruiting the right people for the STO, line manager should monitor the employees and have to check the performance in the department. According to the performance HR manager develop training programmes for the inefficient employees for achieving their goals.

Reward remuneration:

Employees work their organisation for mainly surviving their lives and interest. Manager has to pay adequate and equitable. Manger also has to manage reward system like pensions, healthcare, other financially. By introducing rewarding employee motivate and get more satisfaction to work. If employees are happier and motivated they will work hard for the company.

The human resource functions of HRM

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Task1 (Section B)

As a HR manager of State Trading Organization (STO) I would like to say that this statement was absolutely true.

Performance Management is a key building block of the human resources reform programme. It is based upon International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) performance management principles for the Civil service commission of Maldives common system, namely work planning, agreed upon objectives, ongoing feedback, a mid-point review, and an end-of-cycle appraisal. It is linked to other human resources systems and processes including staff and career development, mobility, and recruitment.

Effective performance management improves overall organizational performance by encouraging a high level of involvement and motivation, and increased staff participation in the planning and delivery of work by:

Potential benefits by using a proper performance management system (see Appendix 1)

STO was a huge public diversified company including many departments, as a HR manager I have to manage and apply different human resource practices in the workplace environment. STO have foreign staffs especially for the technical staffs, so the role of human resource manager also changes according to the technologies and growth in the global market consequently. There are some practices that can help managers changing and evolving in the workplace. STO follows the following practices to manage their workplace environment.

The impact globalization and information technology have had on each other has made work more mobile, capable of being performed in different parts of the world without the need to actually set up physical facilities in other countries.

Globalization plays an important role in human resource planning. Foe an example by recruiting and selection of employees in the organization with the latest technologies we can recruit people from other countries, so it reduces the cost and more effective and efficient. With the impact of globalization big firms apply online recruiting, online interviewing, online application for the vacant jobs and new posts. When looking for a Maldives the government provides a website called “” which is based on all the government job vacancies, so everyone knows the vacant jobs within as second. Another website called “Iulaan .mv” provides advertisements and job vacancies in the private sector, it helps the organizations and individuals to access easy and know the vacancies in the country.

Globalization has its positive side as well as its negative side. For online recruiting and selection organization recruits employees based on professional qualifications, because of that sometimes the company select the unsuitable employee for the selected jobs.

Other changes in the nature of work and workers are being brought about partly by globalization, but not entirely because of it. For instance, it is arguable whether globalization is solely responsible for the growing service sector, and it does not account for the rapid influx of women into the workforce.

Diversity is not a liberal ideological movement, to be supported or resisted. Rather, it is a reality in today’s business environment. Managed well, diversity provides benefits that increase success. STO always keep an eye on these issues, because the employees from different countries. For an organization to get its arms around the complexity of diversity culture change, HR manager needs to focus on three areas:

(1) Individual attitudes and behaviors,

The individual attitudes and behaviors component asks employees to do some intrapersonal work that involves identifying their attitudes and beliefs on a wide range of topics such as how they feel about multiple languages spoken in the workplace; attitudes toward whether coworkers can be openly gay in the workplace; conflicting union and management positions on any number of policies.

(2) Managerial skills and practices, and

The essence of this change is the recognition that one style of management does not fit all. Managerial practices must be tailored to suit a wide range of employees. Depending on one’s culture, for example, feedback about performance may be delivered very directly, or it may also be given in a much more indirect and subtle way, sometimes with the help of an intermediary or cultural interpreter.

(3) Organizational values and policies.

This area is the most complex in which to make progress, and we have seen the least success here. Adjusting the promotional system, for example, or how people are hired and recruited to create a broader talent pool and a more equitable organization, requires complex work that has many steps. For example, how do you begin the process of selecting recruiters who themselves are diverse? And if they are diverse by the internal dimensions, that does not necessarily mean they are open to differences and are themselves objective about others.

Workplace example of Religious and Spiritual Diversity in the Workplace

The Event

Areas to Reconcile

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• A newly hired Muslim receptionist in a Christian-sponsored healthcare facility was fired for refusing to remove her headscarf and sues her former employer for unlawful dismissal. (Civil Rights Act of 1964, Pub. L. No, 88-352 (Title VII).

• Dress and grooming accommodation

• Corporate culture tolerance for diverse

values and beliefs

• Hiring protocols

• A Catholic worker in a retail store sues

after being refused time off to go on a

pilgrimage to Yugoslavia during the

Christmas shopping season. (Office of High Commissioner of Human Rights. (1981). Declaration of the elimination of all forms of

Intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief. (Resolution 36/55 of 25).

• Range of tolerance for exceptions based on personal religious practice

• Cultural literacy for distinguishing core religious requirements from personal expression

• Flexible leave policy

• A Christian in a large communications firm, who wore an anti-abortion button to work, sued her company when dismissed since coworkers threaten to walk off due to the visual trauma of the pin’s graphic. (EEOC v. Presbyterian Ministries, Inc., 788 F. Supp. 1154 (W.D. Wash. 1992).

Dress, grooming, and religious discrimination and accommodation

• Religious expression standards

• Unreasonable and hostile imposition of religious belief

• After multiple requests for accommodation were refused, a Jewish professor sues her institution’s dean and department head since they consistently rearranged departmental meetings and functions on days that conflicted with her Sabbath preparation. (Arthur, J. S. (1998, June 5). Religious rights not violated, court says. Human Resource Executive, 22.

• Parameters for reasonable accommodation

• Equitable work assignment processes

• Warning and dismissal policy and


• A manager in a municipal office frequently calls a subordinate a “sinner,” demanding that the person repent and attend prayer sessions in order not to go to hell. (Wilson v. U.S. West Communications, Inc., 860 F Supp. 665 (D. Neb. 1994), aff’d, 58F.3d 1337 (8th Cir. 1995).

• Prescribed management strategies for escalating hostile work environment

• Religious expression norms

• Unreasonable and hostile imposition of religious belief

• Parameters of freedom of speech and hate


• Warning and dismissal policy and procedures

Task 2

Section A (Case study)

Audit firm’s model of flexibility

The Audit Commission is an independent body that is accountable to the office of the deputy Prime Minister (ODPM). The work of the Audit Commission is varied. An ‘audit’ has two main elements. It involves:

A formal examination of a set of accounts to see if they are true and fair

A checking of quality and efficiency

The Audit Commission is often faced with changing employment needs. Different types of contracts help the Audit Commission to deal with all of its varying needs and help it to be flexible.

The Audit firms having three major types of flexibility

Numerical flexibility

In Numerical flexibility, fluctuations in demand for staff members (seasonal, cyclical, task- related and so on). It may vary according to the cases handling, so the workload will be less during off peak hours. It used for non- permanent, non- career labor: temporary staff, part time staff, short- contract staff, consultants and sub- contractors.

Functional flexibility

In functional flexibility, fluctuations in demand for particular skills- not necessarily related to staff numbers (since one person can be multi skilled). Functional flexibility reflects an organizations ability to adapt to changing conditions and requirements, and is affected by issues such as training, management, and outsourcing. This flexibility helps to developing their employee’s skills to deal with the different types of works.

Place -of -work flexibility

This Often called as Locational flexibility, opportunities presented by information and communication technology (ICT) to reduce office costs and create ‘virtual’ employees (dispersed but interconnected). It’s used in home – working, Tele- working; use of ICT to facilitate mobile working. Ex: for sales and service staff.

The Audit Commission is challenged with changing employment needs. They have developed a number of different patterns for employment needs to meet these requirements.

These include:

Full time employees

Part time employees

Job sharing arrangements

Permanent and fixed term posts

The use of temps or contractors from agencies

These different requirements help the Audit commission to deal with all of its changing needs. With the types of flexibilities like; numerical, functional and place- of- work flexibility helps the Audit Commission to be flexible.

According to the given case study the firm is implementing the correct types of flexibility to their employees. The firms believes that its ability to deal effectively with the need for flexibility strengthens its position as an employer of choice and enables the group to deliver levels of service that differentiate from its competitors.

The advantages and disadvantages of flexible working practices for the employer



Speed of work and more effective

There’s no peer influence on the employee.

Building Good relationship with the employees

employees may lose the office culture in the office environment

Recurrent expense will be less

Health and safety risks (on the work )

Efficiency rate will be high

Dealing with confidential files at home.

Frees up desk space and accommodation can be used more efficiency

Power failure or any problems with the computers will affect the work and there is a possibility of doing double work

Less absence and staff turnover in the firm

Dependence on the technology the relationships of employer and the employee become impersonal.

More effective in time management

Communication Cost will increase for communicating with others.

The advantages and disadvantages of flexible working practices for the employees



Save time instead of travelling two hours each way on the train

Concentration of the work is less if they follow homework flexibility

They can improve their work-life balance

Professionalism is less in homeworking

They can express their ideas on the work

Risk of work finishing on time

Less stress from work while their children are young

Health and safety while they were on other places (while investigating the firms)

More effective in time management

Job sharing arrangements with others

Can do part time jobs in other places

Meet New contacts and good experience

Section B (Essay)

Equal opportunities within the workplace

Today, equal opportunities management and reporting has real significance in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and socially responsible investment criteria. Internationally, business, government and non-governmental organisations acknowledge that effective monitoring of equal opportunities and diversity in the workplace is an important part of improved human capital management and equality practice. The drive for transparency and accountability for such issues including equal opportunities for women has perhaps never been stronger.

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At the beginning I would like to highlight different forms of discrimination in employment regarding the equal opportunities within the workplace in the United Kingdom. Workplace relations legislation has seen significant changes, and the Fair Work Act 2009 has introduced further significant reforms, including to the institutional arrangements for oversight of workplace relations.

The new Fair Work Act 2009 commenced on 1 July 2009 and provides a range of support and protections for women in the workplace. The Fair Work Act expands protections against workplace discrimination which were available under the Workplace Relations Act 1996.

Protections against discrimination contained in the Workplace Relations Act applied only to existing employees and were limited to termination from employment for a prohibited reason (for example, on grounds such as sex, race or family responsibilities).

The Fair Work Act provides enhanced prohibitions against discrimination by providing that an employer must not take ‘adverse action’ against an employee or a prospective employee for a range of reasons including the person’s sex, marital status, family or care’s responsibilities, or pregnancy. The Fair Work Act also includes caring responsibilities as a new ground for unlawful termination claims.

While the expanded anti-discrimination protections in the Fair Work Act are intended to provide comprehensive protection from discrimination in the workplace, they also preserve the operation of Commonwealth, state and territory anti-discrimination laws.

The main types of discrimination legislation are as direct, indirect discriminations and the regulations regarding the discriminations are highlighted as bellows.

Firstly Direct discrimination (Regulation 3) Where an employer treats an employee less favourably than other persons on the basis of his/her age or his/her apparent age, unless that treatment can be objectively justified. ( CMS Cameron McKenna LLP (03/06).

Indirect discrimination (Regulation 3) Where an employer applies a provision, criterion or practice, which the employer applies equally to other persons and that provision, criterion or practice puts an employee’s age group (or apparent age group) at a particular disadvantage and that employee suffers that disadvantage, unless the employer can objectively justify the use of that provision, criterion or practice. ( CMS Cameron McKenna LLP (03/06).

Victimisation (Regulation 4) An employer treats an employee less favourably than it treats or would treat other persons by virtue of something done by that employee

Instructions to discriminate (Regulation 5) If an employer treats an employee less favourably than he treats or would treat other persons in the same circumstances.

Harassment (Regulation 6) Having regard to the circumstances (including the employee’s perception), an employer engages in unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating the employee’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the employee.

Vicarious liability, Other than direct acts by the employer, an employer can also be responsible for acts of its employees which contravene the Regulations unless the employer can demonstrate that the employer took such steps as were reasonably practicable to prevent the employee from doing the discriminatory act, or from doing in the course of his/her employment acts of that description.

Equal opportunities policies are often used within workplaces to guard against discriminatory practices and formalise what is acceptable in terms of the treatment of members of minority groups, or other groups which have been historically associated with discriminatory practice. The named classes may reflect current equal opportunities legislation covering sex, race and disability, or move beyond this to include additional categories. Two-thirds (67 per cent) of all workplaces in Great Britain with 10 or more employees had some form of equal opportunities (EO) policy in 1998.

In some organizations, policies are also passed down the organizational hierarchy. The overall incidence of EO policies among workplaces that form part of multi-site organizations is 86 per cent. EO policies are almost universal among the 75 percent of these workplaces which say that they must follow EO policies/procedures that are set at a higher level in the organisation (92 per cent have an EO policy). But among the 25 per cent that don’t have to follow higher-level policies or procedures, the incidence is appreciably lower at 68 per cent.

The factors considered when making a recruitment decision can be numerous and may be of varying importance. Employers may also be interested in age if it is believed to have some bearing, rightly or wrongly, on the ability of an individual to do a job. For many vacancies, placing importance on the age of an applicant can be unfairly discriminatory. One may expect that workplaces which show an awareness of equal opportunities and discrimination to be less likely to view age as a recruitment factor.

Workforce concentration which includes ethnic minority concentration and concentration of younger workers are important factors in equal opportunities practices in the workplace. Concentrations of ethnic minority workers were much more common in larger than in smaller workplaces. In 12 per cent of the largest workplaces (500 or more employees) at least a fifth of employees were from ethnic minorities. There were no clear differences between private and public sector. Individual industries, however, did show clear differences.

High concentrations of ethnic minority employees were particularly common in ‘other business services’ and health, while they were notably absent in construction, in electricity, gas and water and in ‘other community services’. There was no association between ethnic minority concentration and the presence of recognised trade unions.

Workplace well-being reflects the level of contentment of the workforce. The treatment of employees at work is a contributory factor and can affect employees’ desire to remain in their job, their workplace behaviours and their health. Consequently the relative levels of absenteeism, injury and illness and numbers of dismissals, resignations and employment tribunal cases may be used to examine workplace well-being.


Prof R S S Mani (2006) ‘impact of globalization’ allexperts [online] retrieved from [accessed on 20-10-2012]

State trading organization( 2012) ‘about us’ Stomaldives [online] retrieved from [ accessed on 20-10-2012]

All Answers Ltd ( 2012) ‘management’ degree essays [online] retrieved from approaches.php [ accessed on 25-10-2012]

Appendix 1

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