1 Define and explain the term human resources management and personnel management
2 With reference to practical examples, outline and explain the difference between HRM
Human Resources Management
Human resource management (HRM) is planning, developing, and administer policies and
programmes designed to make use of an organisation’s human resources. It is that part of
management which is concerned with the people at work and with their relationship within an
The major functional areas in human resource management are:
3. Employee development, and
4. Employee maintenance.
These four areas and their related functions share the common objective of an adequate number
of competent employees with the skills, abilities, knowledge, and experience needed for further
organizational goals. Although each human resource function can be assigned to one of the four
areas of personnel responsibility, some functions serve a variety of purposes, (Johnason. P,
2009). For example, performance appraisal measures serve to stimulate and guide employee
development as well as salary administration purposes. The compensation function facilitates
retention of employees and also serves to attract potential employees to the organisation.
Personnel management is that field of management which has to do with planning, organizing,
and controlling various operative activities of procuring, developing, maintaining and utilizing a
labour force in order that the objectives and interest for which the company is established are
attained as effectively and economically as possible and the objectives and interest of all levels
of personnel and community are served to the highest degree,
(http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/personnel-manager). Functions of Personnel
Management are as follows:
a) Manpower Planning
d) Training and Development
HRM and personnel management focus on workers or employees’ management, but when
critically examined there are municipal differences between them that arise when making
mention about the nature of relations, leadership and management role, contract of employment
and pay policies and job design and others aspects
Traditional personnel management tended to be narrow-minded which means it is little old in
handling employees at work place, striving to influence line managers and to manage people in
the organization, whereas HRM is a more modern and more specific approach of managing
human resources at a workplace and is integrated into the role of line managers and managing
people and their strengths in the organization with a strong proactive stance and a bias towards
business, (Marchington et al, 1992; Storey, 1992; Legge, 1989, 1995), for example a business
can buy a software (Performance Appraisal System) which can help HR to manage employees
and reward them accordingly, hence performance can increase.
Leadership and management role
The leadership style adopted by personnel management is very transactional. Transactional style
sees the leader as a task-focused individual. The leadership style focuses on procedures that must
be carried out castigation is often the result from non-compliance of rules and regulations and
task accomplishment. Human factors such as personal bonding, interpersonal relationship, trust,
understanding, tolerance and care are actually not really taking into high consideration as much
as the task at hand or in the distance future.
Transformational leaders are created by HRM. This style encourages business objectives to be
divided by both employees and management. Workers-orientation is the key coupled with shared
vision, corporate culture and mission, and trust and flexibility replaces the crude approach of
procedures, rules and regulations (Yukl G. et al, 1992). This approach to or style of leadership
and managing the employment relationship influences strategies and organizational objectives.
Among large Zimbabwean companies, this style might be found in such companies as Econet.
Pay policies and job design
Pay policies in personnel management is mostly based on skills and knowledge required for the
perspective jobs only. The value is based on the ability to perform the task and duties as per the
employment contract requirement only. It does not encourage value-added incentives to be paid
out. This is also because the job design is very functional, where the functions are more
departmentalized in which each job falls into one functional department. This is merely known
as division on labour based on job needs and skill possessions and requirement,
(http://managementstudyguide.com/training-of-employees.htm). Human Resources Management
(HRM), on the contrary, encourages organizations to look beyond pay for functional duties.
Here, the pay is designed to encourage continuous job performance and improvement which is
linked to value-added incentives such as gain sharing schemes, group profit sharing, overtime
and individual incentive plans. For example government workers doctors, nurses can actually get
paid overtime incentive this is done to improve and achieve better health standards through
continuous job performance. The job design is no more functional based but teamwork and
cyclical based. HRM creates a new approach towards job design such as job rotation which is
inter and intra-departmental based and job enlargement which encourages one potential and
capable individual to take on more tasks to add value to his/her job and in return enjoy added
incentives and benefits. For instance, at Catholic University a lecturer can be good at a specific
course but due to increased demand of lecturers, the same lecturer can take on two or more
courses which is increasing scope of duties to be taken.
Contract of employment
In personnel management, employees’ contract of employment is clearly written and employees
must observe strictly the agreed employment contract. The contract is so rigid that there is no
room for changes and modifications, Johnason, P. (2009). There is no compromise in written
contracts that stipulates rules, regulations, job and obligations. This is commonly in government
once you get employed all the standards have been set already. This becomes boring and less
challenging to employees because the contract is so rigid.
HRM, on the other hand, does not focus on one-time life-long contract where working hours and
other terms and conditions of employment are seen as less rigid. It goes beyond the normal
contract that takes place between organizations and employees. The new flexible approach
encourages employees to choose various ways to keep contributing their skills and knowledge to
the organization, (M. Kaveri, Dr. G. Prbhakaran, 2013) For example in private sector works can
collude to bring different ideas this is because the market is dynamic hence more innovative
ideas are need and the flexibility approach is under HRM can serve its purpose. HRM, with its
new approach, has created flexi-working hours, work from home policies and not forgetting the
creation on open contract system that is currently practiced by some multinational companies
such as Coca-Cola. HRM today gives employees the opportunity and freedom to select any type
of working system that can suit them and at the same time benefit the organization as well. This
is known as win-win approach.
Difference in Application
Personnel management is an independent staff function of an organization, with little
involvement from line managers, and no linkage to the organization's core process. Human
resource management, on the other hand, remains integrated with the organization's core strategy
and functions, (Tripathi. P. C. (2002)). Although a distinct human resource department carries
out much of the human resource management tasks, human resource initiatives involve the line
management and operations staff heavily. Personnel management also strives to reconcile the
aspirations and views of the workforce with management interest by institutional means such as
collective bargaining, trade union-based negotiations and similar processes, ( Legge, Karen
(2004)). This leads to fixation of work conditions applicable for all, and not necessarily aligned
to overall corporate goals. Human Resource management gives greater thrust on dealing with
each employee independently and gives more importance to customer-focused developmental
activities and facilitating individual employees rather than negotiating with trade unions,
Training and development
Training and development refers to the imparting of specific skills, abilities and knowledge to an
employee. Under personnel management, employees are provided with less training and
development opportunities. Under human resource management, employees are provided with
more training and development opportunities, to help them and the organization grow and reach
the organizational goals. (http://accountlearning.blogspot.com/2013/01/difference-between-
personnel-management.html). For examples workers can be granted workshops, on job training
and off job training, it bring benefits to the organisation which are improves morale of
employees, less supervision, fewer accidents at workplace and increased productivity. These are
factors which HRM focus when providing training to workers which differs form PM.
Treatment of Workers
Personnel Management treats the employees like other resources that have no feelings and
special skills to perform their jobs. Multinational companies’ usual treats workers in a way that is
different from their culture for example a worker can be granted few days-off after death of a
close relative, in our culture we sympathize with that person. This is because they practice PM
which have no feelings towards workers. However in HRM employees are treated sensitively
keeping their ego, their emotions and their feelings unharmed and intact. Which means HRM
deals with workers individually and cater their needs rather than as a collective group,
The functions of personnel management are very routine. Which means things which were done
for the past fifty years will be still practiced, for instance a women can be granted maternity
leave only after working for the company for two year or more. Hence flexibility depends with
conditions is disallowed. In HRM functions are very strategic as it is based on a number of
strategies and things can change depends with environment dynamicity. There is alignment
between business goals and strategic plans which are not same old story over the past decade.
In personnel management (PM), decisions are made by the top management as per the rules and
regulation of the organization. In other words PM is more centralized in decision making which
involves lot of bureaucracy hence slow decision making. For example proposing a project to a
company let’s say Netone, it takes time for feedback because the decision go through lot of
channels. In human resource management, decisions are made collectively after considering
employee's participation, authority, decentralization, competitive environment. Company is
dominant in the market because most of the decisions are done mostly on any local Econet shop
like sim-card replacement and Major issues are transferred to the main brunch. Employees have
certain rights in decision making which make them work effectively and efficiently.
In summary, Personnel management strategies, like HRM strategies, flow from the business
strategy. Personnel management, like HRM recognizes that the line managers are responsible for
managing people. The personnel function provides the necessary advice and support services to
enable managers to carry out their responsibilities.
h) Johnason, P. (2009). HRM in changing organizational contexts. In D. G. Collings & G.
Wood (Eds.), Human resource management: A critical approach (pp. 19-37). London:
i) Legge, Karen (2004). Human Resource Management: Rhetorics and Realities
(Anniversary ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1-403-93600-5.
j) M. Kaveri and Dr. G. Prbhakaran, Benfring International Journal of Industrial
Engineering and Management Science, Vol. 3, No.1, March 2013.
k) Marchington, M., Wilkinson, A., Ackers, P. And Goodman, J. (1993) 'The Influence of
Managerial Relations on Waves of Employee Involvement', British Journal of Industrial
Relations, 31(4): 553-76.
l) Tripathi. P. C. (2002). Human Resources Development, Sultan Chand & Sons Image
Credit: flickr.com/myki roventine
m) Yukl, G. A & Latham, G.P. (1992). Interrelationships among employee participation,
individual differences, goal difficulty, goal acceptance, goal instrumentality, and
performance [online]. Personnel Psychology, 31, [Accessed 25 March 2010] pp. 305-324.
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