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How do HR responsibilities assist in organization change?

Introduction
As organizations continue to work with minimized resources, organizational change has become an important factor in minimizing the cost of operation in organizations. Economic pressures are forcing organizations to implement cost cutting measures while at the same time being cautious not to compromise customer service quality. Organizational change requires a continuous restructuring of organization. Organizational restructuring involves a change in organizational culture which is quite demanding for an organization. It requires full action and continued intervention of the human resource department of the organization. Organizational change programs are quiet fragile at the initial stages thence need to be handled with caution (Ulrich, Younger & Brockbank, 2008).
Overview of the case problem
The healthcare industry is one of the industries that have operated under a single culture for a long time. However, institutions that fall under the healthcare industry are realizing the need to change their way of working in order to gain more benefits or profits. Healthcare institutions for instance hospitals have well furnished human resource management department which help in overseeing work roles. Therefore when organizational change becomes a critical need just as it is in the modern management era, the se departments become crucial in structuring and effecting the needed change. However, this is not a simple task because the healthcare market is very volatile and requires more proactive activities in effecting change. In embracing organizational change in the healthcare institution which deals with customers who are fragile, a new culture has to be developed (Anson, 2000). The roles and responsibilities that go with the new culture must also be clearly defined and embraced by the organization. This helps in hastening adaptation to the new culture and system of functioning in the organization (Tyagi & Sawhney, 2010).
Therefore the major problem facing the world class Cardiac Center Hospital in New York metropolitan area is the need for effecting cost – cutting measurers in the hospital which will help in improving its general performance. These changes were necessitated by the shifting in the reimbursement scheme in healthcare thereby piling pressure on hospitals which forced hospitals to come up with cost cutting measures. These needed organizational change which had not been previously incorporated in the healthcare industry. The hospital needed to develop a culture that is adaptive which would help in maintenance of a strong growth in spite of the challenges in the marketplace. Prior to the upheaval in the marketplace, the hospital enjoyed stability in financial transactions which denoted financial success. The financial success was linked to higher customer service scores. As a result of the changes in the healthcare market, the human resource department of the hospital had to develop collaborative efforts with the top management of the hospital. A strategic plan needed to be developed with urgency to aid in mitigating the effects of the changes that were forthcoming in the healthcare industry. The human resource can also resort to technology in enforcing change (Anson, 2000).
The major threat to the healthcare marketplace was the sharp dropping trend in medical reimbursements and the rising penetration of managed care. The objective of the strategic plan was to slash down the costs of operating while maintain the quality of healthcare services to the customers or the patients. The plan included the re-staffing of the hospital and restructuring of the delivery of patient care services in the hospital (Anson, 2000).
This plan was very important to the organization because it would help the organization in adjusting its expenditure on staff remuneration and direct patient care services. Organizations must be sensitive and receptive to the changes in the environment in which they operate. Changes in the operational environment of organizations often call for a change in the internal structure of organization. Failure to respond can aggravate the impact on organizations making then attain higher losses. Organizational change is often implemented in cases where there are significant changes in the external environment with the potential of disrupting the normal operations of an organization. It is easy to implement change in organizations that are used to restructuring exercises. Therefore the plan for the hospital entailed a full reengineering of the structure of the hospital. In such scenarios, the organization needs to respond as a hole in order to deal with the challenge in a holistic way. Every body in the organization must be notified of the factors necessitating change and be included in the plan (Anson, 2000).
Organizational change is often dependent on the scale or expanse of the problem that faces the organization. Understanding the scale of the organization is important for people responsible for formulating change strategies in an organization (Bell, Lee & Yeung, 2006). After understanding the problem, the organization can go ahead and convince all organizational members why it is important to implement change in the organization. The top management has to lead in change management in the organization. In this case, the approach of the human resource organization to approach the top leadership of the company was a sound approach (Ulrich, Younger & Brockbank, 2008).
The discussion of the case in relation to literature
Organizational change is built around the entire organization since it involves the shift in the roles of the staffs of the organization. It entails re-staffing of employees as well as the change or addition of responsibilities or duties to the employees in the organization. Therefore, the human resource department becomes very essential in bringing about the desired change in the organization. This is the same case with the hospitals which intended to merge some functions and increase the roles of its staffs so as to cover for the staff positions which were to be scrapped in order to bring about change in the organization. The strategic plan set must have a vision which will help track change implementation in the organization. The vision for change is the guiding tool for change. It is referred to in the course of implementing planned activities in the change programs. The new programs require a deviation from the normal or routine operations of the organization. This is where culture change comes in (Ulrich, Younger & Brockbank, 2008).
There is a lot of literature on organizational change and how it can affect the culture of the organization. The culture of an often rooted in the way an organization carries out its activities. This includes the way an organization makes its work schedules, the way the manner in which the duties are assigned to employees and the way compensation is carried out. Organizational culture is also visible in the way the organization treats its customers. Therefore, any change that is significant in an organization cannot be implemented without affecting the structure of the organization. The culture of an organization determines the kind of relationship that will prevail between the organization and its staffs as well the clients. This then ends up determining the financial performance of the organization. Research of various organizations in the healthcare as well as other industrial sectors emphasizes on the role of culture in organizational change (Ulrich, Younger & Brockbank, 2008).
Culture drives high magnitude change in the organization. This kind of change is more sustainable. Change in the organization is highly dependent on culture adjustments in the organization. Even though they might be better structured and set for implementation, they will seldom succeed if at all they don’t pay attention to the culture of the organization. These include organizational behaviors, values and individual and organizational competencies. These form the basis of changing the organization. Organizational change does not so much involve with implementing the new initiatives in the strategy but changing the mindset of the organization. The mindset of an organization is embedded in the culture of the organization. The change in the mindset of an organization is best done by gradual change in the normalized operations in the organization (Cawsey, Deszca & Ingols, 2012).
There is an agreement among many scholars of organizational change management that effective organizational change is achieved by smart cultural management. However, the scholars concur on the point that human resource as a discipline has failed in implementing this common view. Human resource has failed in managing culture as a reference tool for change in the organization. Therefore relying on the human resource in the organization to bring about total change in the organization is quite challenging. However, in cases where the human resource is working closely with the top management of an organization, it becomes easy to achieve the function. This is visible in the case under study.
Managing culture change can best be done by lying down and hiding to a number of steps in implementing the change. The steps include building a case which is a pointer on how the aspired change will bring about customer satisfaction. The second thing is the definition of the prevailing culture of the organization. This has to be proceeded by the definition of the new culture to be adopted and how it can be used to bring competitive advantage. A comparison of the new and the old culture is then done to ascertain the existing gaps. The culture change action plans are then prepared and implemented and the results measured. These steps can also be best utilized in implementing strategic change which is broader in the organization. This could have been followed in the implementation of the strategic change in the hospital. Well, some aspects of strategic change management were adhered to (Cawsey, Deszca & Ingols, 2012).
Extra caution must be taken when implementing organizational change programs. The ultimate goal of organizational management is to maintain or even improve the quality of services to the customers. Therefore a lot of attention has to be paid to customers while introducing the cost cutting measures as it is in this case.
The change that was being implemented in the organization was very comprehensive as it was going to involve all the over 2000 staffs of the organization. As proposed in the strategic plan for change, the plan entailed the merging of roles of staffs in the hospital. Most staffs were assigner more tasks as opposed to what prevailed before this change. Also, a number of operational duties in the organization were scrapped off and integrated into other roles. Therefore the involvement of human resource expertize here was a wise decision made by the hospital management. A comprehensive restructuring was set by the hospital top management in collaboration with the human resource. A lot of training was needed because of the assumption of more duties by the staffs. Some staffs were to assume managerial and supervisory functions to some capacity something they were not used to (Anson, 2000).
The training of employees is a mastery exercise that lies squarely with the human resource departments of organizations. Therefore, these staffs were to be offered managerial training to equip them with skills of management which befits the new roles and duties (Mattson, 2000). The competencies of employees are very important and can easily be compromised in such a tight strategic change strategy as was implemented by the hospital. Employee competencies determine the level of satisfaction of the customers in the organization. Considering that that the hospital is dealing with fragile customers and a lot of technical specification by staffs is needed, it is hard to implement change rapidly. Rather than implementing the proposed changes in the entire organization, the human resource decided to implement change through a pilot program within the hospital (Anson, 2000).
Pilot programs help in identifying the strengths of a change process as well as the weaknesses thereby corrections to the change process can be can easily be made before it is extended to the entire organization. In such scenarios, the human resource department plays a more participatory role and cannot just act as a partner to the process. However, they must acquire more specialized support in order to reduce the risks which are inherent in such organizational change processes (Phillips & Gully, 2012).
The nature of roles being carried by employees in the hospital is specialized hence they all required to be included in the piloting cases so as to familiarize with the shifting roles. The determinants of adaptable changes in an organization are determined by the reaction of the customers to change. When the employees are satisfied when change is being implemented, it will denote that the change is favorable and is productive for the organization. At the initial stages of change introduction in the hospital, there were complains from the patients. These complaints arose from the fact that the duties of the staffs had been interchanged hence the patients on therapy were not comfortable with the change of staffs (Cawsey, Deszca & Ingols, 2012).
It has been noted in human resource management that organizational change is likely to result in disruptions to service. This is irrespective of how much organizations attempt to draw away the disruptions. The adaptability period for change is thus inevitable. What an organization should do is to try and explain the changes that will be taking place and the possible disruptions which will come with change. Customers are more comfortable to adjust to the disruptions in the changing environment when they are aware of these disruptions. In our case, the hospital management failed to notify the clients of the forthcoming change. This was an error in management which can result in the loss of customer confidence in the services of the organizations.
Recommended change strategies
As mentioned earlier, whenever a managerial or any other problem arises from within the environment, an organization has to assess the problem. The assessment of the problem will help identify the likely disruptions that can be caused by the problem. Organizations can even hire management consultancy firms to help them in devising the necessary response mechanisms to the problem. As a consultant for the hospital, I would have taken a number of actions regarding the problem that was facing the organization. My response actions would be based on human resource theories and practices.
The fist step would be to assess the impacts of the problem in terms of the effect it has on the productivity of the organization. This would be followed by the identification of human resource best practices which can best be applied to the case. Organizational change can be much effective when it is incorporated into the organization by involving the employees of the organization. The cost cutting measures would then be implemented. In consultation with the human resource of the organization, we would develop strategies that can be used in minimizing operational costs in the organization. This would come after convening staffs and informing them of the situation facing the organization and the need for changes in organizational functions. The staffs must be aware that these changes will affect them directly. The staffs must be made to understand the benefits of these changes to both them and the organization – hospital. The organization has to lay down mechanisms of communicating change to the clients. This is what was missed out in the organizational change plan that was done in the hospital. The communication plan should lay down the proposed changes and how they will affect the clients as in the operations of the organization (Lewis, 2011).
Each act of change in the organization must be clearly identified and the actions surrounding it clearly explained. This is critical in avoiding inconveniences that may come up during the implementation phase. Training has to be given a high priority more so because the hospital is a technical organization dealing with technical operations. Here, the human resource has to be a key player in identifying the training needs for the proposed changes and ensuring that the employees acquire the desirable knowledge. Without proper training and clear explanation of the shifting roles to the staffs, leakages will be more prevalent in organizational change process (Lewis, 2011).
Training has to be consistent with the proposed changes in the strategic plan. Training helps organizational staffs to understand change and letting the aspects of change to sink deep in the organization. In organizational change, as in this case, roles seem to be integrated thence they become much more complicated for the employees. The training must also focus on redefining the roles as set out in the change strategies. The employees often take time to get used to the changing roles in organizational change implementation. Proper training on change however results in the minimization of the time taken by employees to adopt to change in roles and duties (Lewis, 2011).
Conclusion
Organizational change is an important process in organizations. The major aim of organizational change is to maintain or enhance the productivity of organizations. Organizational change often involves the change or adjustment in the culture of an organization. All these aspects strongly touch on the employees in the organization. This therefore means that human resource is better placed in enforcing change in organizations. This is evident in this case where the human resource department was in the fore front in strategizing change in the Hospital. Organizational change involves the restructuring of organization staffing which is accompanied by training and re-training activities. These activities are better handled by human resource experts.

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