Highly effective organizations understand a clear interplay between linkages and principles in its human resource management (HRM) system. Linkages deal with interconnections or relationships among the diverse parts of a HRM system. Jørgensen et al (2009) state that an HRM system ensures support, alignment, and interplay towards the organizational goals under the guide of the principles which all components are based on. HRM is a primary means through which an organization sends information of various roles throughout its, structure supports outcomes that are desirable and conducts the evaluation of performance. Thus, according to Swanson and Holton (2008), a HRM system is effective if and when it communicates expectations that are internally consistent and conducts performance evaluation of various roles in a manner that is congruent to the system’s behavioral demands.
It is a common statement in the annual reports that people are the most important assets in any given corporation. It is worth stressing that the challenge of the 21st century to a manager is not a lack of technology, but inability to attract and retain human personnel. People related to costs constitute a higher percentage of costs in the major organizations. Organizations must go ahead and align its various aspects of human resource management in a manner that they support one another.
This paper focuses on Safaricom Kenya, a telecommunication company and a subsidiary of Vodacom. The company is the biggest mobile service provider with over 18 million subscribers mainly offering communication, data services, and money transfer services. The company has an ideology of pursuing workforce excellence as the ultimate goal of its HRM program. The company has been facing stiff competition from multinational entrants; it does not only threaten its market share and leadership position, but its workers’ abilities, as well. This has made it imperative for the company to improve its human resource management and to shift from its previously predominantly administrative approach to developing worker-efficiency, productive and effective programs.
Safaricom and Human Resource Fit
Human Resource (HR) fit refers to the concept that defines the effects of an individual HR practice to be dependent on other HR parts within a HR system (internal fit) and contextual factors (external fit), such as broader business strategies. Safaricom has laid much emphasis on the internal fit, which is also known as Horizontal fit. To improve its effectiveness, Safaricom understands that focusing on a single aspect/part in its HR system will have little effect. Society of Human Resource Management (2011) guideline states that the effects on an individual HR aspect offer little addition to a firm’s effectiveness. This knowledge underscores the mutual complimentarity of various parts of a HR system; this calls for a need for alignment and support. Additionally, firms that adopt clusters of complimentary HR policies and align them in a manner that supports each other reap higher increases in productivity; these underscore the justification of alignment and support in a HR system.
The component of job design under HRM falls under the broader category of organizational design. Organizational design originates from a company’s human resource strategies and its mission; it is the process through which the creation of plans and programs takes place, and implementation is undertaken to fulfill organizational aims. Job design is as such a sub-element of organizational design together with human resource planning under which, responsibilities of workload distribution, improvement in creativity, morale, and productivity efficiency among others are handled. It involves systematic organization of duties, tasks, and responsibilities into a single work unit that meets certain objectives.
Job design pertains to decisions on job content with regard to duties and responsibilities, techniques of performing the job such as procedures and systems, and nature of relationships between superior employees, colleagues, and the job holders. These aspects of job design must be taken care of in the HR system as all matters improve the overall welfare of the organization and the individual. According to Zheng et al, (2007), job design deals with aspects of organization of work, such as replacing and re-arranging duties, addition of responsibilities and job rotation; job structuring, such as diving roles among the various levels, granting employees autonomy and facilitating self-organization in duties and time; location or setting schedules.
Studies by Barret and Jones (2011) indicate that organizations with excelling HR system seek to find out the factors that motivate people, job characteristics that are important, identification of alternative job designs and implementation of changes in job design. Consequently, these organizations within their job design aspect of HRM proceed to offer desirable job characteristics. These significant characteristics include introduction of autonomy, thus eliminating the mechanical appearance of jobs; introduction of programs that require the use of employee capacity, hence reducing shallow mental attention and minimum skill requirements; prioritizing on the career path aspects of employee, thus ensuring continuous learning (training part of HR system), growth in competence, and desirable future outcomes; ensuring socially and intrinsically meaningful work; fostering interactions; propagating a culture of responsibility; and instituting a knowledge-results system.
Safaricom integrates its aspect of job design with other parts of the HR system through a web of synergy. It begins with their core understanding that a job design is influenced by environmental and organizational factors. In assessing the environmental factors, the company seeks support from the selection team since major aspects, such as employee abilities and availability, are assessed at that stage. For instance, availability is critical in the company’s customer care desks where a response to the customer queries should be immediate at any time of either the day or night. Thus, officers in job design require employees from the selection team who are available in case of such a job design.
Safaricom also lays emphasis on the environmental aspect of cultural and social orientations of workers. It designs jobs that consider these inclinations. Behavioral aspects also play a critical role in the job design, such as feedback to the employee on his / her performance, considerable autonomy in performing the tasks and a structure that allows utilization of all capabilities. On the other hand, Barrett & Mayson (2007) consider that organizational factors influence job design processes in a considerable manner; the organizational aspects include workflow, which highly depends on the nature of the company’s products; characteristics of tasks in which different tasks are assembled into a single job group or various others. Ergonomics is another organizational aspect dealing with designing of jobs to fit an employee’s physical ability. Majorly, Safaricom considers this as key in departments requiring language proficiency among the others. Finally, there is immense emphasis on the work practices in job designing, which are training activities and supervisory of actual job within Safaricom.
This part of a HR system is highly integrated with selection and training parts of the system since it combines qualifications and work content that a job demands and that meets both organizational and employee’s needs. Since job design makes a job highly specialized, especially within Safaricom, the company depends highly on the support of the training team. Safaricom entrusts the selection part of its HR system to present competent employees. Additionally, the company has various departments that demand company to have specific skills such as its unique data bases, BPO centre, and customer support among others; thus, it receives immense support from the training part of the HR system that has to offer this specific knowledge for the highly specialized job. Since the majority of the employees are university graduates without prior work experience in that line of business and even those from competing companies find a completely new set of work instruments and requirements; training part of the system remains an invaluable support in the job design aspects at Safaricom.
In addition to Safaricom aligning its selection and training parts of HR system to the needs of the job design team, it also depends on training section with regard to creating an all round worker. This is because it adapts a job rotational method of job design; employees may shift from a certain area to another and especially those in the public relations department. This aspect has seen the company improve worker morale since it offers them an opportunity to learn in diverse settings. The company has a reputation of good employee morale due to this job design approach since it is under the same that it prepares employees for designation to higher and crucial positions. It is worth stating that the company considers a person’s interest as well despite the apparent advantage of enriching skills and competency. Since the majority of the job at the company is repetitive, such as responding to customers’ queries on hotline numbers, job rotation has helped Safaricom reduce monotony. Nevertheless, it would not be possible in the absence of support from the training part if the wrong candidates were picked in the selection and recruitment stages.
Zheng et al (2007) term recruitment as the starting point of a company’s employment policy, thus, essential in selecting sufficient and capable individuals who will contribute towards the achievement of the firm’s objectives. It is a critical process since selecting the best candidate is tedious; however, it is critical to identify the best since he / she will have the highest returns and productivity to him herself and the organization. This activity must ensure that an applicant’s skills match the staffing needs, assignments, tasks, and job requirements of the firm and comply with its pursuits. Recruitment involves activities undertaken so as to identify potential employees and attract them. There may be various strategies in identifying candidates. During the internal recruitment, employees’ records, ratings, performance, and job positions among others may be used. The external recruitment may rely on referrals, advertisements, and job fairs among others. Recruitment aims at creating a pool of skillful applicants.
Recruiting the right employees with requisite skills leads to better productivity. Targeting employees who will better fit in the organization improves the future match between climate and organization’s culture, aid morale through self-esteem and increase productivity among others. At Safaricom, the recruitment activity is aligned to all other HR activities since it is the key point of the entire human resource system.
The attention that recruitment and selection activities are paid to is merited given the crucial need of identifying qualified and motivated employees. Some scholars, such as Barret and Jones (2011), continue to insist on the deficiency existing in the selection and recruitment because of lack of strategic planning and poorly structured practices. However, it is worth noting that selection is closely related to recruitment, and in many instances, they are almost one and inseparable; the alignment of one to another and dependence of selection on recruitment are by default since the latter precedes the former. Selection refers to the process of deciding the applicants who are going to work for the organization (Noe et al., 2009). To achieve the most fruitful outcome, companies apply the elaborate selection procedures that will accurately and consistently evaluate an applicant’s possession (or lack) of skills, knowledge, and abilities that are in alignment to the core competencies that the organization depends on in creating its competitive advantage.
Organizations employ diverse selection methods; however, various studies indicate that almost all organizations use applications and resumes. These documents offer information that is vital in the first step of selection. Behavioral based interview ranks among popular selection practices; though, it i9s considered the best method in forecasting employee behavior if to compare with any other technique. It involves asking the applicants to offer a description of behavioral skills. Assessment and testing are believed an unpopular selection technique that is dependent on the type of job position. It involves a measure of skills and knowledge through requisition of work samples, such as writing a computer program; knowledge tests that are job-specific, and ability tests on mental, mechanical, clerical, technical or physical abilities. It asses critical competencies to higher levels and must be valid and appropriate measures of the skills, knowledge or competency, which they aim at measuring.
According to studies by Barret and Jones (2011), the selection process effectiveness depends on the selection practice that a firm adopts. Studies indicate that organizations adopting some of the best selection practices choose the best applicant for a position. Some of the best selection practices include behavioral-based interviews, motivational-fit inventories interviews based on an applicant’s behavior that enhance selection effectiveness through obtaining behavioral data that is accurate, focusing on behaviors relating to the job in question and drawing prediction of employee’s likely performance from the behavioral analysis.
Motivational fit inventories are another selection procedure-enhancing practice that seeks to look beyond the “can do” applicant to the “will do” applicant. Assessment of an applicant’s skills in performing a job is not sufficient; fitness to an organization and job motivation are critical. A candidate may possess the requisite skills, but the organizational factors related to the job or organizational values may not motivate him / her into performing. Assessment of existence of motivation by the job or firm’s values will help, and thus, the organizations select employees with the willingness to apply such skills as he / she may have. Training experience evaluation is another selection practice that enhances the quality of applicants chosen for a job. It is particularly so for jobs requiring prior experience in the same field; the assumption is that their history of performance indicates ability to do likewise in future. Another modern selection practice is the screening of resumes through the computer programs. It is time saving and effective; its richness in detail ensures that no aspect of an employee is overlooked.
Safaricom has a unique synergy between selection and other aspects since it is the entrance point that offers relevance to training, promotion, performance appraisal, and payment. Selected employees feel accomplished after emerging the best in a rigorous process. This boasts their morale, makes them feel wanted, and thus, adapt to the organization’s culture. As studies by Noe et al (2009) predict that the outline of responsibilities and duties of employees during recruitment enhances their ability to balance work and life while improving productivity since the organization’s expectations of them is outlined early enough.