2 Manpower planning, recruitment and selection

2.1 Expansion of organization

In the business world today there are more small organizations than the large ones. In a small organization various managerial functions are performed by the same individual. A single manager may be looking after the activities of marketing, sales, general administration and human resources. A production manager may be involved in production, packaging and dispatch of goods. A finance manager may be responsible for finance as well as purchase. There are fewer problems in small organizations and are dealt with easily. But when an organization grows in size, the tasks become numerous and it is just not possible for a single manager to handle different activities, and handle them effectively. At this stage, the need arises for specialist managers in order to look after the various departments.

2.1.1 Reasons why HR manager is essential

While the employees in a small organization get used to sudden changes or interacting with a single manager for various decisions pertaining to their jobs, it becomes very difficult to maintain contact with managers of various departments for day-to-day functioning. When an organization grows into a large one, the activities increase in size and complexity. Since human resource is a common factor across all departments, the activities of the HR department are multifarious and complex. Hence it is necessary at this stage to have a full-fledged HR department headed by a competent and effective HR manager.

2.2 HR or manpower planning

The activity of ‘human resource planning’ or ‘manpower planning’ is quite complex and can be summarized as follows:

“It is a strategy for the acquisition, utilization, improvement and retention of an organization’s human resources.”

In practice, the activity of manpower planning is concerned with forecasting and estimating the future demand for labour by an organization. This activity is concerned with making policies and plans to ensure that the correct number and type of employees are available and trained as per need. We can say that it is concerned with the following:

  • Recruitment and training of adequate and suitable employees;
  • Retention of employees;
  • Effective utilization of the entire workforce;
  • Improvement of employee performance;
  • Dismissal of employees, if necessary.

There are four categories of employees that are important in manpower planning. Each requires different decisions to be made as detailed below:

Category

Decisions to be taken regarding:

Existing employees

Performance appraisal

Productivity

Deployment

Equal opportunities

Education and training

Remuneration

Promotion and career development

New employees

Recruitment – sources and methods

Selection procedure

Terms of employment

Induction

On-the-job and additional training

Potential employees

Recruitment – sources and methods

Public relations

Remuneration levels

Employee benefits

Leavers

Dismissal for inadequate performance, etc.

Retirement

Redundancy procedure

Employee turnover

HR or manpower planning is not a simple or short-term task. It is usually done for long-term such as for a period of five years. During this period several factors may affect the forecast made by the HR department. In view of this, HR executives should have the flexibility to modify their plans. The changes that might affect HR forecast may be some or all of the following:

  • The economy of the country;
  • Global economic trends;
  • Political trends and government regulations;
  • Trade union activities;
  • Population trends;
  • Immigration policy;
  • Development of technology;
  • Product range and consumer demand;
  • Management structure and policies.

The first step in manpower planning requires a study of all levels of the existing workforce. This will show where and how manpower is being used, and where there are excesses or shortfalls. This process requires the carrying out of an ‘organizational and manpower needs’ analysis based on the operational requirements taken from the corporate plan. In the next stage, a “manpower model” is produced for the estimated future needs. This model is then compared with the actual business situation. This comparison is made to identify the changes required with regard to the following:

  • Organizational development;
  • Changes in job structure;
  • Re-evaluation of jobs;
  • Recruitment needs or excesses;
  • Changes in work patterns;
  • Training and development needs;
  • Implementation;
  • Monitoring.

Based on the data obtained after this analysis, the forecasts for future expansion or otherwise can be made. Though the forecasts cannot be made with absolute certainty, reasonable estimates for future requirements can be made.

2.3 Self-regulatory manpower control

Manpower levels and costs can be regulated if employees themselves are made responsible for this activity. For this purpose, “rewards” may be offered to employees, and these rewards can be linked to departmental costs and performance levels. Under this system, rewards may be given to employees in proportion to improvement in cost and savings. This can work only when personnel concerned are allowed to participate in the cost management of a particular department. Some of the suggestions which can come from the employees could include the following:

  • Personnel inform the management about operational or work problems.
  • Jobs which are “over-budget” are voluntarily absorbed in the case of wastage or termination.
  • Personnel make suggestions about reducing costs or increasing efficiency.
  • Personnel suggest higher level training.
  • Additional work is shared by existing personnel.

2.4 Problems caused by expansion of organization

When the process of expansion starts in an organization, the importance of HR manager is quite often neglected by the top management. Before the expansion, this executive might have been involved in several activities, but in the changed circumstances, it might not be possible for him/her to give full attention to HR functions. This may lead to the following problems:

  • The executive, who was earlier looking after HR functions in addition to his/her other responsibilities, may not be able to justify his/her contribution in the expanded role.
  • Expansion of the organization leads to changes in system, rules and regulations of various departments. HR department is affected most because new rules may have to be framed for a larger organization. These rules may cause dissatisfaction among the employees.

In order to overcome these problems the following steps are to be taken:

  • A full time HR manager is to be appointed.
  • The HR department is to be provided with sufficient number of staff to look after the routine work as well as the work related to long-term planning.
  • New lines of communication are to be established with various departments and all employees.
  • Consultancy groups comprising employees from various sections and departments may be set up so that employee participation may lead to greater harmony and acceptance of new rules and regulations which may be necessary to meet the changed requirements.
  • Small workgroups may be established in order to ensure that employees feel a sense of belongingness. This will ensure that initial resistance may be overcome through persuasion and confidence-building measures.

2.5 Scientific management

Before management became a profession, many workers performed a variety of tasks. This system wasted a lot of time and quite often led to inefficiency in the performance of some of the assigned tasks. In order to bring improvement in this system and to increase efficiency, skilled management started re-organizing work in such a manner that each worker performed a single task. It was found that the workers became more proficient at performing the single task assigned to them, and the time taken by each worker to perform his task was greatly reduced.

2.5.1 Division of labour

As the process of each worker performing a single task continued, it was generally known as ‘specialization of labour’ or ‘division of labour.’ A complicated task was broken down into manageable individual tasks on which individual workers or groups of workers could specialize. It has been found that as a ‘job’ of work is made up of number of ‘tasks,’ the fewer tasks a worker does in his job, the more skilled and efficient he becomes in performing these tasks. The most well-known example of this specialization is in the automobile industry where each worker attends to an individual special task, and the various parts of motor vehicles are passed along an “assembly line” of workers so that each worker can perform his/her specific task on that part before it is passed on to the next worker who performs his/her specific task. Today specialization is practised in almost every organization. To carry out this specialization, and to update it periodically, a team of experts might be engaged to perform certain studies.

2.6 Organization and Method Studies (O & MStudies)

It is a systematic examination of an organization’s structure, procedures and methods, and management and control, from the lowest to the highest. Its objective is to assess their comparative efficiency in achieving defined organizational aims.

O & M concerns itself mainly with administrative procedures and employs techniques such as operations research, work study, and systems analysis. It is basically the systematic examination of activities in order to improve the effective use of human and other material resources. Essentially it is a specialist function that has a primary objective of improving an organization’s efficiency and control. In this way, it can be seen as an essential function that should be part of the makeup of any organization. For example, O & M Study might be undertaken to simplify office work and reduce costs. It may be to reduce paper work and eliminate unnecessary activity, or eliminating duplication of time or effort. For this it may find solution in recommending the system of internal e-mail and posting of information on the organization’s network rather than sending out printed paper.

O & M Study can provide a basis for the approach to almost any project. The basic steps that have to be followed can be summarized as follows:

  • Select the area/process that requires attention.
  • Record the current situation.
  • Analyze and examine the current situation.
  • Develop, design and evaluate alternative solutions and recommend improvement opportunities.
  • Implement the chosen solution. It can be done on a pilot basis to begin with.
  • Maintain and monitor the implemented solution. This is to ensure that what was intended to be implemented has been implemented. It is also to ensure that benefits are achieved.

2.7 Recruitment

The term “recruitment” refers to the first stages in the process of filling of vacancies in an organization. These vacancies may arise on account of the following:

  • Creation of a new position: It may be necessary because of increase in the work load of existing employees or the general expansion of the organization. First, HR department will have to analyze whether it is not possible for the existing workers to share additional work.
  • Resignation/termination of an existing employee: First HR department will have to decide whether it is necessary to fill this vacancy. It may be possible to distribute the work of this employee among the existing ones. It may be an opportunity to re-design the work allotment to various existing employees.

2.8 Policy of recruitment

Recruitment process may be initiated in several ways.

2.8.1 Internal recruitment

A vacancy may be filled by a person who is already working in the organization in another position, section, or department. This may provide an opportunity for transfer or promotion to an existing employee who might be interested in this position. The advantages of such internal transfer or promotion are:

  • Employees are aware that hard work may be rewarded through promotion. This leads to greater job satisfaction among the employees.
  • The skills and potential of internal candidates are already known to the manager, and so it may be easy to transfer/promote such an employee without going through the whole process of recruitment.
  • Employees who have already been promoted have a good knowledge about the work and the organization. Hence the induction and training period for such employees may be shorter than for new comers.

However, there might be certain disadvantages of internal recruitment such as:

  • The organization will lose the opportunity of getting employees –particularly at managerial level – who might bring with them new ideas and innovations.
  • Other employees – who are not considered – may develop feelings of jealousy and resentment and may not cooperate with this employee.

In order to overcome these disadvantages the management must ensure that:

  • Details of vacancies are circulated to all;
  • Selection is to be made in a fair and impartial way;
  • Selection should be based on merit and performance.

2.8.2 External recruitment

This involves the filling of a vacancy from a source outside the organization. These sources may include the following:

  • Local schools
  • Colleges, technical colleges and universities
  • Employment agencies
  • Recruitment consultants
  • Advertisements in newspapers
  • Posting on recruitment websites

2.8.3 Introduction by existing employees

This is a mixture of internal and external sources. The existing employees may be asked to recommend their friends and relatives who could be suitable for a specific job. However, care should be taken that this process is followed in a fair manner so that no employee feels resentment.

2.9 Recruitment process

Before a decision about recruitment is made, it is necessary to ensure that the various aspects of a potential recruitment have been considered. For this purpose, various steps will have to be taken.

2.9.1 Job analysis

Job analysis is the process by means of which a description is developed of the present methods and procedures of doing a job, physical conditions in which the job is done, relation of the job to other jobs and other conditions of employment. Job analysis is intended to reveal what is actually done as opposed to what should be done. Therefore, if an employee is found doing some activity not required of that job, it should still form part of the job analysis.

The nature of job changes over a period of time. New developments take place. New personnel are employed. All this necessitates that jobs are reviewed and analyzed to suit the changed circumstances.

Any job comprises a number of tasks. Some of these require special skill, knowledge, and training. Other tasks might be easier. In order to describe a job it is necessary first to analyze it. This is done to find out the following things about the job:

  • What different tasks are to be performed – whether it is single task or a small number of multiple tasks.
  • How the different tasks are to be performed. It means the procedures to perform these tasks in the best possible way.
  • What qualifications (education, training, skills etc.) and personal qualities (good eyesight, good hearing, pleasant voice etc.) should be possessed by the candidate.
  • For what and to whom the candidate will be responsible.

The purpose of job analysis is not to describe an ideal but show the management how at the moment the constituent parts of its business are being carried out. Job analysis enables the HR department to compare different jobs. This will provide information about the status of various jobs as well as for job evaluation and in training. The information concerning the job can be obtained from a number of sources such as observation of workers, interviews, questionnaire responses, bulletins etc., knowledge of the materials of work and actual performance of work. It has been found that questionnaire is well suited for clerical workers and interviewing is suited for shop-floor workers. Working conditions and hazards are better described when viewed by the analyst.

2.9.2 Job descriptions

The results of job analysis are set down in job description. It defines a particular job. Writing job descriptions for production workers, clerical people and first line supervisors is a fairly established practice. The two types of job descriptions differ from each other in the following manner:

  • The lower level job descriptions are generally written by the HR department, but the managerial job descriptions are written by the incumbent executive himself and/or his superior.
  • The lower level job descriptions are written for wage and salary administration and so centre directly on tangible duties and day-to-day assignments i.e. the tasks to be performed. On the other hand, descriptions for higher level jobs are more closely related to organization planning and so naturally are descriptions of intangible relationships, overall responsibilities and lines of authority i.e. the results to be achieved by the person.

A job description describes a particular job. It states the purpose of a job and its relation with other jobs and people. A job description contains the following:

  • Job title, section or department, and details of the workgroup.
  • Objectives of the job, for example, for the post of supervisor of customer service section: “To ensure that the complaints and queries of customers are promptly attended to.”
  • List of duties
  • Responsibilities – for what and to whom the person will be responsible.
  • Information about the relationship with people connected with the job –both inside and outside the organization.
  • Information about the work environment – private office or open-plan office.
  • Details about hours of work, paid holidays, sick leave etc.
  • Details about salary, overtime, bonus, and such other benefits.

Job description gives detailed information about the job, and even enables a candidate to make a decision whether he/she wants to take up the job. It also prepares him/her to perform duties with full understanding and without any doubts.

2.9.3 Employee specifications

Employee specification gives details about the personal qualities desirable for a candidate to possess. It helps the organization to decide whether a particular candidate is suitable for the job. It seeks the following details:

  • Physical qualities – age, general health etc.
  • Mental qualities – alertness, patience etc.
  • Skills – IT applications, technical knowledge etc. (as per the type of job)
  • Qualifications – education, experience, training etc.
  • Personality – reliable, honest, hardworking, pleasant etc.

Through employee specifications the HR department is able to decide whether the candidate is fit – physically, mentally, skill and qualification wise – for the job he/she has applied for. It will also show the candidate’s ability to work as a productive member of the team.

2.9.4 Attracting suitable applicants

After the relevant job analysis, job description and employee specification have been completed, the HR department is ready to take steps to attract suitable candidates to apply for the job. For this purpose, the advertisement has to be posted with all relevant details as given below:

  • Full name of the organization, its physical address, and the nature of its activities;
  • Job title and its objectives;
  • Details of important tasks involved;
  • Important personal qualities required;
  • Information on salary and other benefits;
  • Information on how to apply, and what documents are to be attached with the application.

2.9.5 Employment application forms

In most cases application forms are sent to applicants, or posted on the organization’s website for the applicants to fill in and mail to the organization. This is done to ensure that all the relevant information which the organization is looking for is provided. This enables the HR department to short-list the candidates without wasting time or effort, or sometimes rejecting some applicants for want of complete information. The application forms are designed in such a way as to elicit information in a sequential way. This helps the HR department in the selection process.

It might be necessary to design separate sets of application forms for different types of jobs. However, a standard application form has the following design to obtain information about the applicant:

  • Section-A: This includes standard information such as name, address, age, nationality, place of residence, contact details etc.
  • Section-B: This includes information about physical condition such as height, weight, any existing illness etc. It helps in ascertaining whether the candidate is physically and mentally fit.
  • Section-C: It includes information about educational and training background.
  • Section-D: It includes previous employment history in order to see what type of work experience the candidate had.
  • Section-E: It includes information about hobbies, interests etc., which helps the HR department to ascertain how the applicant utilizes his/her leisure time. This type of information is particularly important for managerial positions.
  • Section-F: It asks for references of previous employers or other professionals. Sometimes an applicant’s credibility can be ascertained by contacting the referees.
  • Section-G: Any other supplementary information, which is left out in the previous sections, may be provided by the applicant.
  • Section-H: It includes declaration by the applicant that the information provided by him/her is accurate and verifiable. It also has space for the applicant’s signature and date of application.

2.9.6 Attachments to application forms – CV or Resume

Quite often applicants are asked to attach certain documents to their completed application forms. The most commonly asked for documents are the following:

  • Recommendations or reference letters from former employers or other persons known to the applicant, and also who can write about his/her work attitude, skills and abilities.
  • Copies of certificates, degrees, or diplomas.
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV) – a brief resume of the applicant’s details.

2.10 Selection

Once the applications have been received, the information about the applicants is compared with the requirements for the position applications have been called for. The applicants who fulfill the criteria, are short-listed and invited to attend a personal interview.

2.10.1 Employment interviews

  • System of interviews: An interview is a face-to-face meeting and discussion between an applicant and the employer’s representative. Depending on the type of post, interview can be conducted by a single manager – usually HR manager – or HR manager and the manager of the department for which interviews are being conducted. For managerial positions there is a panel of interviewers including HR manager, Departmental manager, one of the top managers, and an internal/external interview specialist.
  • Aim of interviews: The aims of an employment interview are the following:
  • To confirm the information already provided by the applicant;
  • To enable interviewers to compare in detail each applicant’s personal characteristics with those provided in the application form;
  • To enable interviewers to assess the applicant’s behaviour, mannerisms, alertness etc.;
  • To enable the applicants to seek relevant information about the job and the organization as a whole;
  • To enable the interviewers to short-list the most suitable candidates from among those who attended the interview.
  • Conduct of employment interviews: In order to ensure that the interview process is successful, it is necessary to have proper planning and preparation for the same. The following planning and preparation helps the interviewers:
  • Each interviewer should go through the job description and employee specification before conducting the interview.
  • Each interviewer should make notes about the relevant details of the applicants, and should also make a note of the additional information he/she wants to gather. Different interviewers on the panel may have a different order of important information they would like to seek.
  • All the interviewers should decide the order of topics to be covered during the interview so that duplication of questions from different interviewers may be avoided. However, there should be scope for flexibility depending on the varying personalities and skills of candidates.
  • Conducting interviews for best results:
  • Interviewers must understand that some candidates may be shy or nervous at the beginning of the interview. They need to be made comfortable by starting the interview with general conversation such as the time taken to reach the venue of the interview, their mode of transport, their place of residence etc. As a matter of fact, this process should start from the time they report for the interview. They need to be greeted in a friendly way by the secretary or the receptionist, and if they have to wait for some time in the case of several candidates attending the interview, by offering them a glass of water or a cup of tea/coffee etc.
  • The room in which the interview is conducted should be comfortable and quiet i.e. away from computer printers, telephones ringing. This will ensure that there is no disturbance during the interview process.
  • The interviewers should greet them pleasantly by standing up and shaking hands, or by making some friendly and pleasant comments etc.
  • For best results candidates should be encouraged to talk and give information without frequent interruptions. The interviewers need to talk less. The focus should be on the candidate speaking.
  • If a candidate gives a wrong answer to a specific question, the interviewer should never point out the mistake. Rather supplementary questions may be asked, or the topic may be changed.
  • Some interviewers are in the habit of “showing off” in front of other panel members and start a lecture on a certain topic. This is absolutely unacceptable. It is the candidate who is being interviewed and not the interviewer.
  • Before the interview is brought to a close, the interviewer should be certain that all relevant questions have been asked. At this stage, the candidate should be given an opportunity to seek information about the job and the organization, and clear and precise answers are to be given.
  • Finally, the candidate should be told when he/she can expect to learn the result of the interview, and should leave the interview room in a pleasant and positive frame of mind.

2.10.2 Selection tests

For some posts certain tests might be used to supplement – but not to replace – the interview. Some tests are fairly straightforward, such as:

  • Work tests: They are designed to check if a candidate is as skillful as he/she has claimed. For example, a secretary may be asked to type a letter, or a driver is requested to drive a motor vehicle, or a fork-lift operator is required to drive and maneuver a vehicle.
  • Aptitude tests: They are designed to show skill of doing simple tasks.
  • Intelligence tests: They are designed to test reasoning ability.
  • Personality tests: They are designed to indicate the possession or lack of certain character traits.

2.10.3 Appointment

After the selection has been made, the most suitable candidate (or candidates if there are more vacancies) should preferably be informed by telephone, and then a written confirmation is to be sent. This letter should contain all the relevant details such as post, date of joining, and the official to whom the candidate should report. The appointment letter should contain, or be accompanied by particulars of the ‘terms and conditions of employment,’ such as hours of work, starting salary, other benefits, and perhaps even a copy of the relevant job description.

The decision to appoint must be communicated as early as possible because a candidate might have accepted appointment elsewhere if there is a long time gap between the interview and the offer of appointment. Moreover, if the candidate, who is number one on the list, is not available, there is time to offer the post to the candidate next on the selected list.

2.10.4 Dealing with unsuccessful candidates

Candidates who have been unsuccessful at the interview should be informed accordingly as early as possible by tactfully worded letters, which would ease disappointment and avoid upsetting the recipients.

However, although a candidate was not found the most suitable for a particular job, it might be that the person concerned could be suitable for a similar or another post in future. It is, therefore, useful to retain on the file applications (along with relevant interview notes etc.) of those candidates, so that if possibly suitable vacancies arise in the future, the relevant candidates can be contacted.

2.10.5 The trial or probationary period

It is quite common for people to be offered a post on condition that they will work an initial ‘trial period’ or ‘probationary period.’ This period might be one month, three months or even longer, depending on the seniority of the post or on the amount of training necessary so that the work can be performed to the required standard.

The probationary period allows the employer to assess whether the candidate selected is actually suitable in real-life work situation. At the same time, this period allows the new employee time in which to decide whether he/she will be happy working for the organization.

At the end of the probationary period the new employee might be called for a talk with the departmental or HR manager during which reports on progress made can be discussed. If both the parties are satisfied, the employee is ‘confirmed’ in the post, otherwise he/she needs to be informed and the employment can be terminated.