Systematic approach to recruitment and selection,

Systematic approach to recruitment and selection, Systematic approach to recruitment and selection, and its efficacy in attracting diverse workforce within the equal opportunities employment legal framework Introduction In modern organizations, diversity management has become synonymous with fair and equal opportunities employment, even though traditional context of equal opportunities is closely related with legal aspects of treatments of potential and current employees. Today, diversity management activities are grounded in monitoring of direct and indirect discrimination and interventions to reinforce fair treatment of women, ethnic minorities, the aged and the disabled. Therefore, the fairness paradigm has become the benchmark for managing differences and must be congruent with business objectives. This paradigm emerged from the perspectives that organizations need a diverse workforce to re-think and re-define primary tasks related to strategies including organizational objectives, goals, markets, products and resource allocations (Cornelius, Gooch and Todd in Noon and Ogbonna 2001). Diversity management is different from equal opportunities, yet it is based on the same foundation. Equal opportu nities amplify policies and practices that reflect the external legal framework and offer chances for competition. In human resource management, this is usually inherent in the practices of recruitment and selection, and at times in training and development. The basic premise is to ensure that equal opportunities should be given to people who are in competition with each other for areas of employment and selection, regardless of their age, gender, race or disability. The objective is not to elicit equal outcome. When implemented within the organizational framework that follows systematic approach to human resources management, the fine line between equal opportunities and diversity management, at times, becomes blurred. Consequently, organizations are often found striving for a balance in maintaining diverse workforce within the realms of the equal opportunity laws to achieve equality and organizational strategic objectives. Given the blurring definition of diversity and equal opportunities in employment, critics find systematic approach to recruitment and selection less appealing as strategic human resource management component. Others argue that as a critical component of HRM, recruitment and selection accommodates for both external and internal environmental change. In the ensuing discussion, the researcher shall evaluate the extent of the validity of this debate, and determine how attractive systematic approach to recruitment and selection is in acquiring diverse workforce in organizatio ns, and how successful organizations have been in integrating equal opportunities practices. Critical Evaluation of Systematic Approach to Recruitment and Selection Recruitment and selection processes are essential for strategic HRM involving and including job identification, job description, interviews, selection and orientation. It involves complex techniques and skills that assist decision-makers in selecting applicants for achieving organizational objectives, as well as personifies the organizational values, culture, behaviour and discipline. Recruitment and selection processes are based on systematic evaluation of personal and professional values, interpersonal skills, problem solving ability, attitude and behaviour of candidates, and testing them whether their attributes are congruent with the organizational values and objectives. Testing the type of employees the firm is about to hire helps determine the type of personality and how to mould them to the organizational culture. Selection decision is often based on a host of factors pertaining to job match, ability, professional qualifications, personal abilities, as well as employee’s personality to match with the organization (Cornelius, Gooch and Todd in Noon and Ogbonna 2001). This traditional approach (also known as systematic approach) has evolved over the years and become refined as strategic recruitment and selection processes. Traditional approaches to recruitment and selection in earlier organizations based on psychometric models often assess applicant’s performance with job fit whereas in modern organizations the systematic approach to recruitment and selection processes is strategic in nature, even though the foundation of the system has remained congruent with traditional approach (Beardwell and Holden 2003). Experts (Beardwell and Holden 2003; Thornhill et al., 2000) believe modern systematic approach to resourcing organizations has harmoniously integrated overall organizational strategies and processes rather than merely focusing on job-specific criteria. As a result, recruitment and selection processes have strategic implications, starting from how resourcing offers competitive advantage in the short run to valuing employees as organizational assets. The processes are aimed at achieving organizational objectives aligned with long-term organizational strategic vision. Components of systematic approach to recruitment, which include job analysis, job descriptions, development of competence frameworks, identification of person specifications and accountability, as well as advertisement, executive search, and Internet recruitment provide alternatives and ease to the process of recruitment for organizational resource acquisition. Alternatively, traditional approach to selection has remained somewhat similar to the preceding methods. For example, earlier recruitment processes have heavily relied on evaluation criteria, reliability on validity of candidate information, techniques of interviews and psychometric tests. Selection has also been based on matching job types with work styles through simulated evaluation tests. Today these components of selection are conducted in the same manner but often aided by the use of information technology systems and refined by integration of organizational objectives. Nevertheless, the fact remains recruitment and selection processes play critical roles in resourcing organizations and pooling of work skills. According to Beardwell and Holden (2003), HRM processes such as recruitment and selection are no longer viewed as the best-fit approach but have changed to resource-based view or best practice approach†. This makes them imperative for supporting corporate strategie s and organizational change management by acting as a lever for competitive advantage for organizations. Not only this, systematic approach to recruitment and selection has been set out to enable organizational management to establish frameworks for performance management. It is at this initial stage that managers determine roles, responsibilities, and performance outcomes to match with the most suitably skilled and motivated candidates for achieving organizational objectives. Moreover, basic principles for systematic approach to recruitment involve setting competitive framework for candidates to gauge future performance. For instance, evaluation and testing processes involve simulated tasks, psychometric tests, and validation of qualifications. It is through these simulated tests that managers gauge attitudes, behaviours, personality, and interaction with the candidates to determine job and candidate match. Selection is based on merit defined by the job specifications, individual commitment, and suitability for the positions within the company. The objectivity is to combine worker attr ibutes, skills, and abilities, and fit it within the organizational policies, procedures, and cultural frameworks, and thereby not to waste efforts and resources in conflict, power relations, subordination and normative institutional clashes in the future (Lucas 2003). In this regard, one could observe that systematic approach to recruitment, selection integrates external environmental factors like legal frameworks in policies, and procedures to ensure organizations establish a direct relationship with the candidates, job market and the legal environment. From this perspective, systematic approach to recruitment and selection processes is also said to have contributed to promoting and establishing trends for fair employment. However, critics do not have a consensus on fair distribution of representations of individuals where recruitment and selection processes are concerned. For example, Cornelius, Gooch and Todd (2001) are of the view that traditional equal-opportunity practices usually have unequal outcomes, depending on the culture of the organization, as well as the type of workforce required for the job. For example, gender and age discrimination are likely to become issues for unequal employment in industries where workers are required to be male of young age such as the logging industry. Commitment towards equal opportunity for fair representation of groups of individuals in recruitment and selection processes does not add value but rather hinders achievement of organizational objectives. Consequently, systematic approaches to recruitment and selection are not really effective in resolving strategic HRM issues pertaining to establishment of legal frameworks. Yet, one cannot deny the fact that organizations have not benefited from the systematic approach to pursue fair treatment and equal opportunities for employment. It is the essence of the systematic approach to recruitment, which takes into account of the changing environment, as well as business strategies that makes it dynamic, and thereby is effective in resolving management issues of diversity. Attraction of diverse workforce and implementation of equal opportunities employment There are many factors that are responsible for making an organization attractive for employees. Organizational reputation recognized for its fairness, culture, wage and talent pool, for example, are attraction for candidates. Similarly, job attractiveness is also dependent on the processes of recruitment and selection, and goals and ideology of the organization. In most organizations today, having a diverse workforce is no longer a luxury but a necessity and even a competitive advantage. A diverse workforce is essential in pooling skills and qualifications for achieving organizational strategic objectives in today’s complex business environment (Sims 2002). Diversity, many claim, is distinguishable from equal opportunity as it serves the self-interest of organizations rather than social justice. It involves pursuance of policies that meet the demand of labour pool, and thereby gain the best qualifications from employees. It makes the economic justification for hiring individual s valuable in terms of business requirement, and labour market supply. It takes into account of the expressed need for employee satisfaction, which would lead to quality in productivity and increasing the talent pool direly required by dynamic organizations (Noon and Ogbonna 2001). Diversity is intrinsically linked with equal opportunity, according to experts (Thornley 2003). They argue that the labour market is typically characterized by competition where individuals compete for employment based on commutative justice. Free competition is prevalent and the reward for it is employment. Candidates vie for positions in organizations through display of qualifications, academic performance, ownership of skills, attitudes, and positive behaviours. Employers, on the other hand, form benchmarks for employment based on organizational requirements, policies and procedures in recruitment and selection. Employers are also mandated to follow government policy to benchmark wages, inflation and competitiveness for fair distribution of income and wealth. The government controls fair distribution of income by implementing policies of equal employment opportunities to eliminate formal and informal discrimination based on gender, age, race and disability. In the UK, this practic e is regulated by the EOC and through legal Acts often tends to constrain organizations for implementing fair employment. Despite critical objections to the efficacy and strategic nature of systematic approach to recruitment and selection, management of organizations cannot deny the fact that HRM processes have integrated diversity and equal opportunities policies and procedures to avoid adverse effects of the law. The EOC has formulated laws such as the Employment Act 1989/2002, Sex Discrimination Act, Equal Pay Act, Disability Discrimination Act 1995, Race Relations Act 1976, Employment Relations Act 1999 and the Employment Equality Regulations 2003 to curb discrimination of applicants for employment based on their gender, race, age and disability. To ensure that these laws are implemented within organizations, organizations have started to invest heavily in HRM processes congruent with the prescribed legal frameworks set by the EOC and the government. For most organizations, investment in these processes are necessary for compliance, while for others it is the long-term objective-achievement efforts as they view making their organization attractive to potential talents a strategic activity in itself. Consequently, HRM processes have been devised based on objective testing of candidates. Recruitment and selection models used for evaluating job performance, personality tests, cognitive ability tests, as well as testing of job knowledge take into account of achievement and skill proficiency. Organizations no longer depend on individual interviewer impressions to select and match candidates based on qualifications matching with job criteria. Instead, candidates are being tested for their abilities, skills and knowledge correlating with job performance regardless of their sex, age, race or disability (Hough and Oswald 2000). Furthermore, organizations are also using integrity tests and self-reports to check reliability and validity of counterproductive work behaviours. These systematic methods of recruitment and selection are based on the premise that effective recruitment leads to smooth functioning of organizations and successful recruitment and selection is based on finding the right person with the right skills, expertise and qualifications for achieving organizational objectives and contributing towards organizational values. For this purpose, a fair and consistent system of recruitment helps lessen the burden of employee conflict, turnover, absenteeism and dismissals. According to the Workforce Development Plan (2004) in the UK, for organizations to develop leadership capacity in their respective industry, they must develop skills and capacity of workforce, organizational performance management framework, pay and rewards system and, most importantly, ensure that equal opportunity and diversity practices are aligned with the entire recruitment and selection processes. The focus on abilities and aptitudes, and not stereotypes, would help lead to fair judgements about individuals based on their merits rather than their gender, age, race or disability (EOC 2006). Conclusion From the above discussion, one can conclude that the strategic nature of the systematic approach to recruitment and selection has made it the ideal tool for today’s organizations to gain a competitive advantage in acquisition of skills and a diverse workforce. Strategic HRM requires that processes be in line with internal and external factors affecting organizational dynamics. For this purpose, these processes have to be flexible to accommodate change in the business environment. Two of the main factors that have been affecting modern organizations are equal employment opportunities and diversity. Self-interest for competitive advantage, as well as legal mandates have motivated organizations to invest in HRM processes and techniques to promote diversity and equal opportunities employment. These are evident in the various techniques used in recruitment and selection tests, as well as policies for hiring candidates. The practice is not isolated but rather has become the benchmark for organizations to attract a diverse workforce and remain aligned with the legal framework. Despite critics’ arguments, one could conclude that the traditional approach to recruitment and selection in today’s organizations is objective in providing the required competitive advantage and strategic edge for competing in the highly dynamic business environment. References Beardwell, I. Holden, L. and Claydon (2003) Human Resource Management A Contemporary Approach. Fourth Edition. FT Prentice Hall. Employers Organization for Local Government (2004) Workforce Development Planning Guidance Document – May 2004. Employers Organization for Local Government, Online accessed on 12 January 2007 from: Equal Opportunities Commission (2006) Recruiting Staff Guidance for Managers and Supervisors, May 2006. Equal Opportunities Commission. Hough, L. M. and Oswald, F. L. (2000) Personnel Selection: Looking toward the Future-Remembering the Past. Annual Review of Psychology. pp. 631. Lucas, R. E. (2003) Employment Relations in the Hospitality and Tourism Industries. Routledge: New York. pp. 84 Millmore, M. (2003) Just How Extensive is the Practice of Strategic Recruitment and Selection? Journal of Management pp. 87 Noon, M. and Ogbonna, E. (eds) (2001) Equality, Diversity and Disadvantage in Employment. Palgrave: Basingstoke, England. pp. 32. Sims, R. R. (2002) Organizational Success through Effective Human Resources Management. Quorum Books: Westport, CT. Publication Year: pp. 107 Storey, J. (1992) Developments in the Management of Human Resources, Oxford: Blackwell. Thornhill, A., Lewis, P., Millmore, M. and Saunders, M. (2000) Managing Change: A Human Resource Strategy Approach, Harlow: Financial Times, Prentice Hall. Thornley, C. (2003) Labour market policy and inequality in the UK in Industrial and Labour Market Policy and Performance: Issues and Perspectives (eds) Cofey, D and Thornley, C., Routledge: New York. pp. 83

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