In today's changing corporate environment, it is now more than ever important to develop and maintain distinct competitive advantages over rivals. While these would traditionally take the form of some type of low-cost leadership or product differentiation, or a distinctive expertise or strength over rivals, the importance of a company's human resource is now gaining relevance and significance. It is now being realized that through having a highly developed and skilled workforce, unique organizational cultures and the structure to match them, companies can develop a distinctive and sustainable competitive advantage in the marketplace. A high quality workforce enables organisations to compete on aspects such as product and service quality, differentiated products, innovations in technology and quick responsiveness to market changes and conditions. This is where Human Resource Strategy comes into the picture.
Strategic Human Resource Management can be defined as `the linking of HR with strategic goals and objectives in order to improve business performance and develop an organisational culture that fosters innovation and flexibility'. It serves to balance needs of employees with the needs of the organization by developing and implementing policies and practices that may best address these needs. The HR strategy must work closely with and supplement the business strategy of the organization to create value and grant that distinct advantage. This would mean that firms should accept the HR function as a viable strategic partner and work closely with it in formulating corporate strategies.
Human Resource Management can serve to supplement and fulfil a number of strategic roles within the organisation. It can help in scanning the external environment to identify opportunities and threats and as such would be in a position to provide valuable competitive intelligence. It can also assist in examining the company's internal situation through looking at strengths and weaknesses within its human resource. When these are done, HR professionals would then be able to identify and tailor HR practices and policies that best support the company's strategy and facilitate its execution. If done correctly a proper HR strategy helps businesses adapt more quickly to change since it would assist in formulating strategies within a shorter time period. It could also increase customer satisfaction derived from service by a high quality workforce. Finally it would aid in improving financial performance and increasing profitability through the more efficient and effective execution of business strategies.
The HR strategy may be linked to the company's strategy and performance in various ways. In smaller organizations where the business strategy is primarily reactive, a HRS may not exist at all. There is also the more common case where either the business strategy comes before the HR strategy and drives it or vice versa. The...