Comparison between SOFT & HARD HRM
Human resource management (HRM, or simply HR) is the management of an organization’s workforce or resource. It is responsible for the attraction, selection, training, assessment, and rewarding of employees and ensuring compliance with employment and labour laws.
|Hard HR Management||Soft HR Management|
|Treats employees simply as a resource of the business (like machinery & buildings)
Strong link with corporate business planning – what resources do we need, how do we get them and how much will they cost
|Treats employees as the most important resource in the business and a source of competitive advantage
Employees are treated as individuals and their needs are planned accordingly
|Focus of HRM: identify the workforce needs of the business and recruit & manage accordingly (hiring, moving, and firing)||Focus of HRM: concentrate on the needs of employees – their roles, rewards, motivation, etc|
|Key features: Short-term changes in employee numbers (recruitment, redundancy)
Minimal communication, from the top down
|Key features: Strategic focus on longer-term workforce planning
Strong and regular two-way communication
|Pay – enough to recruit and retain enough staff (e.g. minimum wage)||Competitive pay structure, with suitable performance-related rewards (e.g. profit share, share options)|
|Little empowerment or delegation||Employees are empowered and encouraged to seek delegation and take responsibility|
|Appraisal systems focused on making judgments (good and bad) about staff||Appraisal systems focused on identifying and addressing training and other employee development needs|
|Taller organisational structures||Flatter organisational structures|
|Suits autocratic leadership style||Suits a democratic leadership style|
|HARD Human Resource Management||SOFT Human Resource Management|
|Time Scale||HRM seen as a short-term policy: employees are hired and fired as necessary||Takes a long-term view of using the workforce are as efficient as possible to achieve long-term corporate objectives.|
|Key Features||1.Employees are Paid As Little as Possible
2.Employees have limited control over their working life.
3.Communication mainly downward in direction.
4.Judgmental Appraisals used
|1.Managers consult regularly and fully with employees. 2.Managers often give control of their working life to employees through delegation, empowerment, and delaying.
3.Emphasis on training and development
4.Employees promoted from within wherever possible – reflecting the long-term aim to develop the workforce. 5.Developmental appraisals given.
|Motivational Techniques used:||Mainly motivated by Pay, with limited use of delegation and team working.||Delegation, empowerment. Extensive use of techniques designed to give employees more power.
Hard vs Soft? The Debate
- Which approach do you think works best and why? (use knowledge of motivation)
- Does the approach use to depend on anything?
- Which approach allows the business to achieve HRM objectives?
Which of the two approaches is better?
“The answer is – it depends!”
- The “hard” approach to HR might be expected to result in a more cost-effective workforce where decision-making is quicker and focused on senior managers. However, such an approach pays relatively little attention to the needs of employees and a business adopting a genuinely “hard” approach might expect to suffer from higher absenteeism and staff turnover and less successful recruitment.
- The “soft” approach will certainly appeal to the “touchy-feely” amongst us who like to see people being treated nicely!
- And you can also make a good business case for an approach that rewards employee performance and motivates staff more effectively. However, the danger of taking too “soft” an approach is that when all the employee benefits are added up, the cost of the workforce leaves a business at a competitive disadvantage.