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Critique and debate key and contemporary arguments about the theory and practice of HRM and how ethical expectations are met in practice whilst assessing its contribution to the organisation.

Unit Name:  Human Resource Management   


Unit Code:  SHR018-2


Aim:     To analyse the arguments that relate to a range of issues in contemporary HRM


Learning Outcomes:

To be able to

  1. Critique and debate key and contemporary arguments about the theory and practice of HRM and how ethical expectations are met in practice whilst assessing its contribution to the organisation.
  2. Evaluate and analyse workplace scenarios relating to relevant business strategies for professional, ethical, effective and efficient HRM within current organisational contexts.


Oldbridge District Council (ODC) provides a range of local government services to a predominantly rural population of 75,000 people living in a market town and surrounding villages in the north of England. Chief responsibilities include council tax collection, refuse collection and recycling, the administration of housing benefit, planning matters and the promotion of tourism. The authority employs a total of 250 people, many of whom work on a part-time basis. There is a small HR team which consists of four people: a manager, two officers and an administrator. The HR manager, Lisa Porter, has recently taken up her position, having been promoted from her previous HR officer position.


Like all local government bodies, Oldbridge has had to make very substantial savings in recent years. Pay rises have been restricted to 1% for some years now, while strict restrictions on recruitment have been in operation. When staff leave or retire, they are not replaced unless a very strong business case can be made. The few recruits are being employed on temporary contracts. The financial situation will remain very challenging for the foreseeable future. So far redundancies have been avoided, but this may not be the case in the future as further cost savings are sought.


Soon after taking up her post, Lisa decided it was time to carry out a staff survey to establish levels of satisfaction and engagement among the staff. A confidential questionnaire was circulated with a consultant employed to analyse the results in a report. 75% of staff responded. Key metrics featured in the executive summary included the following:


  • 65% look forward to going to work in the morning;
  • 62% find their work to be rewarding, 13% enjoying it ‘greatly’;
  • 43% are satisfied with the variety of work they are required to do;
  • 80% feel valued and supported by their work colleagues, 55% by their line manager, but only 20% by senior managers;
  • 70% are satisfied with their level of responsibility;
  • 60% are satisfied with their physical work environment;
  • 21% are satisfied with their pay and benefits, but no-one says they are ‘very satisfied’

    The Chief Executive Officer at Oldbridge Council asks Lisa to draw up some responses to the surveythento present her thoughts to him and his senior management team next week. He is particularly keen that the Council should soon be able to send an e-mail to all staff headed, ‘You Said, We Listened’, summarising management perceptions of the staff survey findings and setting out what practical steps it is intended should now be taken.


    Lisa asks you for some written advice. Prepare a set of notes covering the tasks below:


    1. 1.    Which of the key findings from the survey should Lisa be most concerned about? Justify your answer, explaining why these findings are important in leading and managing people at work.


    1. 2.    Using your answers to Q1, choose THREE initiatives which Lisa should develop immediately to improve the more concerning findings. Critically evaluate these suggested initiatives. 

    1. 3.    How should Lisa approach the task of drawing up the proposed, ‘You Said, We Listened’, e-mail including her main objectives? Justify your answers and include a draft of the email that Lisa should send.

 Task 1

Key findings of major concern

Identify and explain from the range of findings, those which could cause most concern to the business, prioritising and justifying your choice. Provide brief but clear justification why these areas are problematic to the business and how they can be turned around. You may even determine that some of the statistics are connected and the findings in one area may have an impact or connection with another. Which ones should the Council be really worried about?  which ones are common and always tend to appear and therefore not as alarming or surprising?    

The best answers should not only focus on employee issues such as staff being less motivated than they might be, but should develop strong business-focused arguments which explain for example  why a lack of engagement or a propensity to look for alternative jobs carries significant risks for future service delivery. Simply discussing employee welfare is not sufficient. Credit will be given for citing relevant research findings in fields such as employee engagement, commitment and staff retention.                                       (around 1000 words)


Task 2

Three initiatives to improve findings

 This response allows for originality. The quality of the justification and the extent to which research is used as part of an effective justification is important. The suggestions must, of course, be credible and appropriate. There must be three of them and these should be clearly distinct from one another – your three suggested priority initiatives must NOT resemble one another. Your response, though expected to have an exclusive focus on HR concerns must also explain why this matters from a business perspective. Thought must also be given to the recognition of resource constraints that might be affecting the Council and expensive courses of action should not be recommended without a clear indication that a good return on investment would be achieved.

 (around  1,000 words)


Task 3

Draft email to be sent to staff

Before writing the email please advise who you would have consulted (if anyone) prior to drafting the email.

The e-mail ‘You Said, We Listened’ should be designed to be positive and forward-looking, authentic and accurately reflecting the concerns which staff have expressed through their responses to the survey. This is always a difficult balance to strike, but could be achieved if the content is honest about the environmental challenges faced by all public sector organisations at present.  There may be some positive messages in the survey results which can legitimately be given prominence to achieve a positive overall tone.

(around 300 words)


Closing statement

A final closing statement to bring your notes to a conclusion, perhaps indicating what should happen next.  (around 200 words)


Reference List

A list of the third-party sources you have consulted and which are cited directly in the text.  All these sources should be properly identified.  Harvard style (see the Learning Resources website: lrweb.beds.ac.uk/help/guide-to-ref).


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