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Ch 4. the labour market context of hrm

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Ch 4. the labour market context of hrm

  1. 1. The Labour Market Context of HRM Human Resource Management
  2. 2. Session Objectives • To define internal and external labour markets • To identify changing labour market conditions • To outline how labour market trends are impacting upon HRM practice • To outline the various ways that firms can respond to different labour market conditions • To outline forms of employment flexibility
  3. 3. What are Labour Markets? • Mechanism through which human labour is bought and sold as a commodity • Means by which labour demand (the number and type of available jobs) is matched with labour supply (the number and type of available workers) • Nature of interaction between organisation and labour markets reflects choice of ‘make’ or ‘buy’ strategies for employee resourcing
  4. 4. The internal labour market • An organisation’s internal supply or stock of labour • Mechanism for attribution of work roles • Device for managerial control over the workforce through stratification, division and the detailed allocation of responsibility • ‘Form’ determined by HR practices, contextual factors and organisational characteristics • Potential source of ‘positive’ employment experience • Erosion of ‘strong’ internal labour markets?
  5. 5. The external labour market • External supply of labour; the stock of available labour • Segmented labour markets – Geography, skills, educational level, etc. • Labour market ‘power’ through legitimate and illegitimate means • Shaped by a range of processes which can be both planned and directed or largely uncontrolled and unpredictable • Reflexive relationship between the supply and demand for labour
  6. 6. Labour Market Supply and Demand Labour market supply Labour market demand  Changing societal attitudes to work and education  Economic conditions (regional, national and international)  Changing demography  Government policy – Both national and international (e.g. European Union) o Employment regulation o Level and target of investment in education and training o Industrial policy o Wider social policy  Changes to the external business environment  Changes in the internal business environment  Changing communications and production technologies  Changes in the political context  Economic restructuring  Changing skills requirement  Regional, national and international economic conditions – Inflation, level of unemployment and interest rates
  7. 7. Globalisation of labour markets? • Globalisation creating significant interconnectedness of national and regional labour markets • Changes to the availability of labour in one part of the world impact on the relative demand for labour in another • Developing international division of labour • Alters the dynamic between labour supply and demand
  8. 8. Economic Change and the Labour Market • Service-dominated economy • Advent of ‘post-industrialism’/knowledge-intensive economy • ‘Type of economically advanced social order in which the centrally important resource is knowledge, service work has largely replaced manufacturing employment and knowledge- based occupations play a privileged role’. (Watson, 2008: 21) • Economic complexity and uncertainty • Bi-skill labour market changes: ‘Mcjobs’ and ‘iMac jobs’ • Importance of ‘thinking’ skills and ‘person to person’ skills
  9. 9. The restructuring of internal labour markets The flexibility of organisational structure • Contested argument that rigid bureaucratic organisational forms are inadequately adaptable • Replaced with ‘post-bureaucratic forms that are leaner, flatter and consequently more responsive, flexible and focused’ (Morris, 2004: 264). • Downsizing, rightsizing, delayering, restructuring, business process re-engineering, project working, etc. • Implications for work in terms of job content, employee motivation, job security and organisational commitment
  10. 10. The restructuring of internal labour markets The flexibility of labour • Workforce flexibility and adaptability key to an organisation’s ability to respond to change • Flexibility of labour is reflected in an employers’ ability to: – Recruit or dispose of labour as required; – Alter labour costs in line with market needs; – Allocate labour efficiently within the firm; – Fix working hours to suit business requirements (Reilly, 1998). • Cost-minimisation (‘flexploitation’) or quality enhancement? • Mutual gains?
  11. 11. Approaches to labour flexibility • Functional Flexibility • Financial (or wage) flexibility • Numerical Flexibility • Temporal flexibility • Spatial (or locational) Flexibility
  12. 12. Employer reasons given for introducing flexible working practices (IDS, 2006) • To improve staff retention • To enhance reputation as an ‘employer of choice’ • In response to requests from staff • In response to Government legislation • To improve work–life balance • To improve staff morale • To attract job applicants/widen recruitment pool • To provide adequate cover for extended opening hours • To meet seasonal fluctuations in the market • To stay competitive in the market • To improve productivity • To encourage diversity • To reduce sickness absence/help those returning from long-term sick leave • To limit overtime costs • To encourage loyalty • To address environmental/travel-to- work issues • To reduce property costs • To enable a young workforce to pursue their personal interests
  13. 13. Atkinson’s (1984) Flexible Firm Core group Primary (internal) labour market Functional flexibility Outsourcing Agency workers Sub- contracting First peripheral group Secondary (internal) labour market Numerical and functional flexibility Second peripheral group Numerical and functional flexibility e.g. part-time workers, job-sharing and temporary workers Self-employment
  14. 14. Implications of flexible working practices • ‘Employee-friendly’ and ‘employee-unfriendly’ variants • ‘Casualisation’ of employment at odds with importance of employee commitment to performance • Non-standard employment (part-time, temporary and fixed-term) increases workers’ exposure to ‘bad job’ characteristics • Multi-skilling often means multi-tasking
  15. 15. Implications of flexible working practices • Some groups are more likely to benefit than others from flexible working arrangements – Managerial, professional and clerical workers • For manual and lower-skilled workers, flexibility often means insecurity and unpredictability • Flexible working can reinforce patterns of social exclusion • Ethical debate regarding flexible working is micro version of wider political dilemma
  16. 16. Summary points • Labour markets are highly fluid and unpredictable • The supply of and demand for labour is subject to a range of pressures which form the conditions under which organisations manage their workforce • Knowledge economy has become a useful shorthand means of describing a set of processes shaping the labour market context of contemporary firms. • Bi-skill labour market changes – ‘Mcjobs’ and ‘iMac jobs’ • Increased emphasis on organisational and labour flexibility – Variable impact on workers
  17. 17. References Atkinson, J. (1984) Manpower strategies for the flexible organisation, Personnel Management, August . Income Data Services (2006) Survey of flexible working practices, HR Studies Update 834, November, London: IDS. Morris, J. (2004) The future of work: Organisational and international perspectives, International Journal of Human Resource Management, 15(2): 263–275. Reilly, P. A. (1998) Balancing Flexibility – Meeting the Interests of Employer and Employee, European Journal of Work and Organisational Psychology, 7(1): 7–22. Watson, T. J. (2008) Sociology, Work and Industry, (5th edn), London: Routledge.

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