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Human Resource Case Study

Milltown junior school exists in a deprived area of East Lancashire, and serves children coming from families in the deprived area. Therefore, other than education, the school provides necessities to ensure that the earning environment is conducive for all children. The school manager has to ensure that the learning environment remains conducive to the learners, and manage the school’s staff to provide quality education. The school manager although having no formal training on human resource management (HRM), undertakes the role of HRM in the school. Despite the challenges to the school’s environment, the school has managed to stay off the special measures category. A budget cut necessitated by the local authority directive has led to a consideration of redundancies in the school for the first time. This single incident has had the most profound effect on the staffs increasing sick absenteeism significantly in a few months. The head teacher is also facing a difficulty of making decision, due to lack of proper HRM expertise, to address staffs complaints of bullying and harassment. Previously, the head teacher had the option of transferring staffing problems to the Town Hall, however that option is no longer available and therefore the head teacher must look into internal resources within the school to address staff shortage, improve staff motivation and overall maintain the good performance of Milltown School.
The case of Milltown School brings out the following employment related issues, lack of employee motivation evidenced by the increasing number of sick leaves. Secondly, the schools lacks a proper mechanism of dealing with staff related issues and thus suffered a lot after the withdrawal of staffing support from the Town Hall. The school does not provide staff incentives as it does to students to provide a favourable learning environment, this presents an irony expecting staff to offer their commitment under the circumstances outlined in the Milltown School case.
The question of staff relation falls under the human resource management department of any organization. In this case, of Milltown School, the headmaster handles staff relations and therefore acts as the human resource manager. To further understand the problems facing the school and be in a position to recommend solutions, this paper offers a literature review of the relevant models of human resource management to place the context of Milltown School accordingly. This analysis assumes that until the directive to cut costs became apparent, the staffs morale and performance was not a problematic issue. The issue of low staff morale stands out as the result of the budget cuts and delays in resolving complaints.
Ngambi[1] defines morale as an intangible concept referring to how individuals or a group feels positive and supportive about their organization and the special feelings that they share with others such as pride of one’s achievement. Organizations are dependent on their leadership ability to lead and good leaders earn the respect of their staffs, which recognize the importance of leadership in the organization. Leadership characteristics of the head of the organization and the leader’s ability to handle pressure and resolve conflicts while addressing staffs and organizational needs, significantly influence staff morale and performance[2].
Models of Human Resource Management
Price[3] notes that, depending on the aim of the observer and their intention, human resource is dynamic in appearance. Human resource as a concept is a moving target without a specific form when studied empirically. There are two major models formulated to explain human resource management. The hard model is concerned with the resource aspect of human resource. Therefore, it includes a cost focus based on headcount, emphasizing the role of managers to manage the workforce number to maintain efficiency in the organization, matching requirements of body and behaviour. On the other hand, soft model of HRM looks at the human side of HRM. The model concentrates on motivation and communication, emphasizing leadership over management. In this model, people are involved with the determination and realization of the objectives of the organization[4].
In all theories and models of HRM, the following key concepts emerge. First, the policies of human resource management, view employees as key assets, are integrated into the overall business plan of the organization. Secondly, the responsibility for managing people moves to the most senior managers in the organization. Thirdly, each HRM model and theory encourages movement of the discussion of employee relations from collective bargaining to the practice of direct discussion of the management and the employees. A deeper examination of soft HRM reveals that the model encourages managers provides an enabling environment in the organization that employees use to achieve their objectives. The manager may introduce new concepts and measures in the structure of the organization or eliminate obstacles to a favourable environment, as well as manage a combination of both strategies. The manager must also empower all staffs in the organization to make decisions. Therefore, devolvement of decision-making process happens to the lowest level of the organization. Finally, the managers act as facilitators for their employee productivity, encouraging and assisting them.
An organization that follows the soft model of HRM has less rigid hierarchies, and eliminates the supervision role and power distinctions from managers. One theory falling under the soft model of HRM incorporates the following policy goals. The theory aims to have employees committed to make workers identify with the overall organization strategy and be motivated to assist in organization improvement and performance for success. Therefore, the organization continually benefits from high quality of workers seeking to improve performance. In this, setting workers are flexible shifting their work responsibilities with ease. Workers have no restriction to observe defined job descriptions and working practices and instead, have the ability to make personal decisions for contributing to the organization’s goal achievement. Lastly, the theory links all HRM concepts and practices to the organization’s strategy while each individual practice interacts cohesively with other practices within the organization[5].
Soft management model is possible only when the management is totally in support and combines personnel and human resource activities into an integrated well-functioning web that fulfils the organizations objectives. To ensure that there is cohesion of the strategies involved, the theory moves from the quick fix tendency of getting a person to fill a job and instead explores consciously the merits and demerits of hiring the person. In the soft model and theories ascribed to it, the whole is most important and each event of practice undergoes scrutiny according to the place it occupies in the whole.
According to Price[6], The hard model of HRM is a formulation of the Harvard Business School and as noted earlier, the model views employees as resources that differ fundamentally from other resources in the management. This model employs the understanding that employees are stakeholders in an organization with needs and concerns just like customers and shareholders. In this model, management is the ultimate power in the organization; however, the organization structure is a compromise of the interests of every stakeholder in a trade-off. Therefore, there must be mechanisms to manage the never-ending tensions of employees’ expectations and the managers’ objectives.
The human resource policies in this model depend on situational factors outside the organization’s environment and within the organization. These include; labour market conditions, worker unions and workforce characteristics, laws and values of the society, the management philosophy, technology present and management strategies. The above factors also rely on the human resource policy to certain degrees in addition to their influence of human resource policy. Secondly, human resource policy depends on stakeholder interest. The organization exists to fulfil the objectives of its shareholders in relation to other stakeholders and the degree if this fulfilment determines the success of the organisation[7].
The hard model identifies psychological objectives of motivating people through their involvement in decision-making, the development of an organization culture structured on trust and teamwork. In the model, four key policy areas emerge; the first one is a human resource flow that deals with the management of people’s movement and performance. According to Price[8], the flow into the organization happens in recruitment and technical selection. Flow through the organization happens in job placement, appraisal and promotion of employees while flow out of the organization happens in termination and retirement of employees. Other key policies are reward systems, employee influence like controlling the levels of authority and finally work systems that offer a job definition and design to ensure a thorough combination of people, information and technology resulting in a robust production efficiently meeting organization’s goals. The overall goal of the key policies outlined above is the achievement of employee commitment to the organization’s objectives, secondly, linking the human resource objectives with the organization’s objectives. Thirdly, achieving competency in the organization and finally ensuring cost efficacy by delivering performance competitively.
Recommendations for Solving the Milltown School Case
Milltown School may fall under hard human resource management model as the headmaster handles employment related issues, places priority on managing budgetary allocations from the Local authority and prefers to postpone key decisions relating to staff complaints as long as they do not directly interfere with running costs of the school. However, the head teacher falls short when it comes to implementing an effective strategy to achieve the school’s goals of offering quality education that meets local authority standards while ensuring that the learning environment is conducive. The identification of staff remuneration as running costs of the school does not bring out the importance of managing staff as a special resource with needs and concerns for their welfare[9]. The headmaster, as the overall head of the school also fails when it comes to linking all management efforts in the school to ensure that they cohesively act to promote the realization of each other. It is a futility to concentrate on improving the student experience and neglect the teachers concerns because the teachers’ welfare is as important to the schools success as the students’ learning environment.
The school lacks a reward structure that is important in ensuring that staffs are motivated and committed to making the school successful. To remedy this and provide recognition of staffs as key stakeholders of the school, the manager should consider initiating a team-based management of the school to tap into the capabilities and knowledge base of staffs[10]. The established team should include all senior staffs and some of the junior staff with the responsibility of handling staff employment concerns. The head teacher would be creating a psychological platform of boosting staff morale by incorporating them into the management team that makes them feel responsible for the success of the school[11].
The head teacher has to consider delegating other non-essential duties like assigning rotas to a senior teaching staff to demonstrate trust in the capabilities of the school’s staff. To cope with the budget cuts from the local authority, the head teacher should maintain rhetoric reminders to staff about the overall benefits of work commitment and low absenteeism levels, which are a reduced cost of hiring extra staff to replace those on sick leave hence more funds that might be used in rewarding existing staff performance.
[1] Ngambi, H C. “The relationship between leadership and employee morale in higher education.” Africa Journal of Business Management 5, no. 3 (2011): 762-776. p.764
[2] Human Resource Management International Digest. “Good leaders need to spread the word; co-workers must understand fully the message and be prepared to participate.” Human Resource Management International Digest 19, no. 2 (2011): 27-30. p.27
[3] Price, Alan. Human Resource Management in a Business Context. 3rd. London: Thompson Learning, 2007. p.31
[4] Ibid
[5] Price, Alan. Human Resource Management in a Business Context. 3rd. London: Thompson Learning, 2007. p.32
[6] Price, Alan. Human Resource Management in a Business Context. 3rd. London: Thompson Learning, 2007. p.35.
[7] Wilson, J P. Human resource development: learning & training for individuals & organizations. 2nd. London: Kogan Page Limited, 2005, p.30.
[8] Price, Alan. Human Resource Management in a Business Context. 3rd. London: Thompson Learning, 2007, p.37
[9] Novicevic, Milorad M, Leigh Ann, Hayek, Mario Bynum, and Fang Tony. “Intergrating Barnard’s and contemporary views of indurstial relations with HRM.” Journal of Management History 17, no. 1 (2011): 126-138. p.130
[10] Dabic’, Mariah, Marta Ortiz-De-Urbina-Criado, and Martinez Ana M Romero. “Human resource management in entrepreneurial firms: a literature review.” International Journal of Manpower 32, no. 1 (2011): 14-33, p.16
[11] Kettley, P. Employee Morale during Downsizing. Report 291, Institute of Employmnet Studies, 1995, p.3.

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