HR practices vary from one company, or organization, to another. This happens for many reasons such as tradition, not understanding strategic HR, being ok with the status quo, and the lack of time, money, or personnel to change the organizational paradigm. Whatever the reason, one can usually see the differences between companies who have progressive HR practices and companies who do not. Here, we will compare and contrast the HR Practices of REI, Inc. and the Charlotte Fire Department (CFD). I have chosen a local government entity since I work in the fire service myself. Traditional public agencies, like a fire department, often differ greatly in the ability to provide certain policies and initiatives as compared to a private organization. A noticeable distinction of HR Practices exist between REI and the CFD, and HR practices such as Analyses of work design, HR planning, Recruiting, Selection, Training and development, Compensation, Performance management, become pivotal dimensions to evaluating differences between the two organizations.
A public service organization such as a fire department does not have competition when providing services. A fire department has a specific jurisdictional area that no one else can operate within unless the fire department requests mutual aid. Unlike REI, who competes with other sports equipment outfitters who also sell outdoor equipment, a fire department only competes for tax revenue to run the business. REI sells a product to gain revenue, and a fire department provides a service sustained by a tax base. As REI is accountable to its coop and the customers and members it serves, a fire department is also accountable for their actions, but to the citizens and customers who expect a quality service for their tax dollars. As Noe et al. explains, “competitiveness is related to company effectiveness, which is determined by whether the company satisfies the needs of stakeholders” (4). The interesting thing about both organizations as it relates to competitiveness is that they both have stakeholders for which they are responsible.
The human resources role in the CFD remains more traditional in nature concentrating more on compensation, benefits, testing, record keeping, performance review, and discipline. The CFD is just now working on putting a uniformed mid-level manager in an HR role instead of relying totally on civilians who have never been in firefighting operations. This addition will be a great benefit, both internally and externally, if the CFD can keep the position filled with a uniformed member. Right now, the position is temporary in a trial phase. The CFD operates a functional organizational structure with centralized decision-making, including those decisions that can be strategic in nature.
REI recruits employees from the community in which they serve and uses recruiters to find employees that share the same values. Just like many organizations, REI also has online applications where...