As the term implies, human resource support systems are the various activities, programs, and initiatives used by organizations to assist in the development of human resources. In general, these systems, which are typically operated by an organization’s human resource department, include training and development, performance appraisal and feedback, career management, formal mentoring, and various types of employee services and assistance programs. The primary goal of these activities is to assist in the growth of the employee as a means of improving individual and organizational performance. Secondarily, these activities are intended to enhance employee work attitudes and increase employee commitment to the organization.
Training and Development
Usually viewed as the most important of the human resource support systems, training and development includes various categories of formal and informal mechanisms to create a better-performing workforce. Training programs are intended to allow employees to learn new skills or adapt to new work processes. Remedial training is designed to help employees correct deficiencies in performance. Training can be provided by an organization’s internal training staff, the employee’s departmental management, or an external training organization.
Compared with training, development programs are more future oriented, representing an organization’s long-term investment in its employees. In essence, these programs attempt to help employees “develop” the abilities that the organization will require in the future. Depending on the company, these programs could include job rotations, seminars and university-based educational programs, mentoring, behavior modeling, three-hundred-sixty-degree feedback, and individual coaching.
Performance Appraisal and Feedback
Another major category of human resource support systems is the appraisal or evaluation of each employee’s performance and the related task of discussing or “feeding back” the contents of the appraisal to the employee. The performance appraisal and feedback process serves a number of purposes within organizations. From an administrative standpoint, appraisal allows for the ranking of employees based on job performance, which then drives compensation and promotion decisions. From a developmental perspective, performance appraisal and feedback provides information to the employer and the employees regarding activities necessary to improve individual and organizational performance. These activities might include attendance at a particular training session, movement to a new job or operating department, or honing of a certain skill.
Modern organizations recognize that they have a responsibility to assist their employees in managing their careers. The basis for the provision of this career management assistance is the concept of person-environment (P-E) fit, or the idea that employees are more satisfied with their jobs, are more committed to the organization, and perform better when their job requirements and working conditions are consistent with their personalities and talents. Thus, it is incumbent on organizations to help employees manage their careers so as to optimize the potential for achieving P-E fit and ensure a ready supply of human resources to fill critical positions.
Organizations have a number of programs that can be utilized to help employees manage their careers at various stages of development. Typical career management programs can include realistic recruitment, orientation, job postings, assessment and counseling centers, mentoring, performance feedback and coaching, job rotations, and other developmental initiatives.
Research on individual career development has consistently recognized the positive benefits that mentoring programs can produce in terms of employee socialization and development. Mentoring involves an interpersonal relationship at work between an experienced organizational associate (the mentor) and a less experienced colleague (the protege). The more experienced mentor provides the protege with ongoing advice, support, and sponsorship within the organization. Research has shown that mentoring is related to a number of positive outcomes, including higher degrees of organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and compensation on the part of the protege. Employees who become mentors also experience positive outcomes, including a higher degree of engagement in the organization and greater feelings of self-worth. Given the positive outcomes, many large organizations have implemented formal mentoring programs, whereby a newer employee is paired with a senior colleague to create a formal mentor-protege relationship.
Employee Personal Services and Assistance Programs
Most large organizations provide various services to help their employees balance time between work and nonwork commitments, allow for personal development, and cope with personal issues. Personal services offered to employees can include financial and banking options, such as access to a credit union or an on-site ATM; legal assistance; an on-site or near-site child care facility; social or recreational activities, such as an on-site health club; and many other amenities, such as an on-site laundry or meal service. Beyond these employee programs, organizations often provide assistance services to help employees cope with personal problems, such as substance abuse or addictions, stress, or depression. In most cases, this type of service involves the use of a phone line that the troubled employee can call to receive counseling or a referral to a professional for treatment in a confidential fashion.
- Employee assistance programs
- Organizational career management
- Performance appraisal and feedback
- Training and development
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