Sample Research paper on HRM Issues in Service Industry Businesses

1.0 Introduction

The purpose of this report is to assess human resource management issues in the airline industry using Easy jet airline as a case study. Easy jet is a low-cost carrier headquartered in the United Kingdom and operating mainly in the European market. The Company started in 1995 with a vision to become a client-oriented airline company that would completely change the face of air travel (Easyjet Plc., 2014, p. 1). Its first routes were from Luton to Edinburg and Glasgow. The company has since grown to become one of the largest airlines in Europe flying more than 600 routes in over 30 countries with over 200 Airbus planes. The company has approximately 8,000 employees, among them 4500 cabin crew and 2000 pilots. In 2013, the company transported in excess of 60 million passengers (Easyjet Plc., 2014, p. 1).

1.1 Analysis of the role and purpose of HRM at Easy Jet

Human resource management plays a significant role in the industry given the highly competitive nature of this industry. Easy Jet employees have to be on high alert at all times to ensure the safety of passengers at all times. The human resource division at Easy Jet has to ensure that the right employees occupy the right positions. Human resource management has to implement changes to conform to the changes in the operating environment. One of the main roles of HRM is the management of the company`s current workforce (Robbins & Tim, 2009, p. 99). The human resource department has to deal with employee concerns, which includes issues related to employee pay and benefits and the company`s policies on employee training and development.  Some of the issues related to benefits that HRM must address include paid vacations, employee insurance plans, paid leave for sick employees, employee investments and pension plans (Schuler & Susan, 1999, p. 34). The human resource department equally has a role in resolving conflicts between and among employees as a well as disagreements that may arise between managers and employees (Boyd, 2001, p. 440). Furthermore, the HRM department addresses grievances that may be filed by third parties against the company`s employees. Additional HRM functions include:

1.1.1 Recruitment

            This refers to the process through which the company discovers, develops, seeks and attracts competent persons to fill current and anticipated job openings (Robbins & Tim, 2009, p. 101). The recruitment process includes interviews, employee screening, coordination temporary employment and selecting the most qualified candidate to fill positions through promotions and transfers. The HRM department at Easy jet ensures that it identifies and recruits the most qualified candidates in a cost effective manner and in accordance with the law. The recruitment process is linked to the company`s strategic plan. Robbins & Tim (2009, p. 102) note that effective recruitment practices must be aligned with the company`s vision, strategy, and values. The recruitment objectives for Easy jet are as follows:

  • Ensure adequate supply of skills and talent
  • Support management in determining future human resource requirements
  • Attract a sufficient pool of qualified candidates from where the company can select its employees
  • Help the company communicate with potential candidates on the available job opportunities

To ensure the achievement of these objectives, Easy jet makes use of internal and external recruitment. Internal recruitment entails vetting and choosing existing employees to fill available job positions. On the other hand, external recruitment involves filling the   available positions by sourcing for personnel outside the organization. Candidates go through interviews, screening, and ultimately the most qualified candidates are selected.

1.1.2 Performance Appraisal

            This role involves measuring the adequacy of employee performance and communicating (Robbins & Tim, 2009, p. 99).Performance appraisal is an integral component of HRM as it allows a company to determine how well its employees are doing and set appropriate rewards (Stride, Wall & Catley, 2007, p. 20).

1.1.3 Training and Development

The last important role of HRM at Easy jet relates to employee training and development. These include aspects such as skills training, orientation, and productivity enhancement. These learning experiences equip the employees with the necessary skills and knowledge they require to effectively execute their current and future roles. Training is focused on present roles while development prepares employees for future assignments (Stride, Wall & Catley, 2007, p. 23).

1.2 Justification of a HR Plan for Easy Jet

            The airline industry where Easy Jet operates is highly dynamic. As a result, the human resource management must continuously adapt to the changes in the operating environment by developing new plans and activities that can enable the airline to address operational changes while taking care of the welfare of its employees. The human resource planning process entails projecting future human resource requirements and formulating strategies to ensure that the company will have the right employees in the right number, at the time and place where they are needed (Robbins & Tim, 2009, p. 103).  Developing HR plans involves various stages as discussed below:

1.2.1 Determining Easy Jet`s strategic Plans

As already noted, HRM should be aligned with the company`s strategic plans. As a result, the company`s future human resource requirements must be determined. Easy Jet`s main strategy is to continue operating as a budget airline. Given that the company continue to expand its routes, mergers or acquisitions are likely to be witnessed in the future. These strategic moves significantly affect human resource planning and must be taken into account (Beardwell, Len & Tim, 2004, p. 89).

1.2.2 Formulating the Resourcing Strategy

            This entails building intellectual capital that permits the company to attain a competitive e edge in the European airline industry. The main function of the resourcing strategy is to allow Easy Jet to increase the productivity of its workforce while reducing operational costs to support its strategy as a budget carrier (Robbins & Tim, 2009, p. 100).

1.2.3 Scenario Planning

            This entails making changes to the HRM strategy to accommodate changes in the industry. Industry changes may present both opportunities and challenges to Easy jet. As a result, there is need to plan its human resources effectively to fully take advantage of the opportunities while neutralizing the challenges (Armstrong & Michael, 2009, p. 371).

1.2.4 Demand-Supply Forecasting 

The company must be able to project its future manpower requirements not only in terms of employee numbers, but also in terms of the skills needed. For Easy Jet, this involves taking inventory of its present employees in terms of their number and skill set and examining the job market to see if there is sufficient supply of relevant skills such as pilots and cabin crews necessary to meet the company`s future requirements. Similarly, the company has to determine if the available supply is excess or insufficient taking into account the industry demand (Armstrong & Michael, 2009, p. 371).

1.2.5 Resourcing

Based on the supply and demand estimates, the company formulates and implements a HRM plan to ensure the company attracts, recruits, develops, and retains the needed labour force in the right numbers. Similarly, to be successful, the company should distinguish its HRM practices from competitors in the industry by positioning itself as the best employer in the industry by offering competitive packages and employee benefits (Armstrong & Michael, 2009, p. 370).

2.1 Assessing the Present State of Employment Relations

            In the European Union where Easy Jet operates, many countries have various trade unions that represent employees in the airline industry because of the diverse functions in the sector (Armstrong, 2008, p. 111). As a result, company employees, for example, cabin crew, administrative staff and ground staff are organized under various unions (Broughton, 2005, p. 1). In most cases, general trade unions represent not only employees, but also employees from other sectors. Similarly, many countries have separate trade unions for pilots, which reflect the specific nature of this profession (Broughton, 2005, p. 1). In terms of the number of trade unions, the density of these unions in the airline industry is moderately high, especially in the case of pilots. Similarly, trade unions for cabin crews are equally high. The large number of unions in the airline industry is explained by the fact that in the past, many airlines operated as national carriers in Europe. In Europe, only Ryanair airline does not allow its employees to belong to unions (Broughton, 2005, p. 1). In the United Kingdom, Unions are largely recognized even by budget airlines, except for BMI that has been accused in the past for preventing its cabin crew from joining trade unions. A number of countries in Europe including the United Kingdom lack sectorial employers` organization for the airline industry. The situation is similar in other countries such as Germany, Hungary, Finland, Netherlands, and Ireland (Broughton, 2005, p. 1). As a result, airlines can belong to general employers` organizations (Broughton, 2005, p. 1).

2.2 How Employment Law Affects the Management of Human Resources

            As a company that operates in different EU countries, Easy jet faces different regulatory regimes in the different countries where it operates. As a result, the company`s human resource division must be up to date with changes in employment law and ensure that the company fully complies with the set regulations in its HRM practices (Cascio, 1986, p. 234).  The employment laws that have a direct effect both on Easy Jet`s HRM include:

2.2.1 Antidiscrimination legislation

This includes laws that ban discrimination in the workplace and discrimination based on ethnicity or race. Under these laws, companies in the airline industry must follow the set rules when employing. Companies are banned from discriminating against their employees based on their religious beliefs, age, sexual orientation, and disability (Turner, 2013, p. 59).

2.2.2 Equal Treatment of All Genders in the Workplace

            The UK has a number of legislations in this regard. These include: the Equal Pay Act 1970; the Sex Discrimination Act 1975; and the Equal Pay (Amendment) Regulations 1983 (Thewlis, Miller & Neathey, 2004, p. 98). Under these laws, Easy jet is barred from paying different wages for the same work done based on sex. It requires that companies use similar procedures in determining pay for both men and women without discrimination (Thewlis, Miller & Neathey, 2004, p. 98). Similarly, employees from all genders should be entitled to equal working conditions and equal opportunities for training and development. For example, Easy jet cannot dismiss a woman on grounds that she is pregnant.

2.2.3 Laws Relating to Part-Time and Fixed Work

Under Directive 2003/88/EC of the EU, employees are entitled to:

  • Not less than 11 consecutive hours of rest each day
  • A rest breaks if the work day is more than six hours
  • At least one rest day in a week
  • A maximum of 48 working hours per week including overtime
  • Four weeks of paid leave annually
  • Normal working hours should not exceed 8 hours on average for any give 24-hour period (Turner, 2013, p. 65).

Other regulations that have direct impacts on HRM practices include maternity rights and parent leave. All these laws have far reaching consequences on HRM. Failure to follow any of these regulations can result in legal suits and penalties from regulators.

3.1 Job Description and Person Specification for a Customer Service Agent

 

Company: Easy jet

Department: Customer Service

Job Title: Customer Service Agent

Job Summary

The customer service agent will be responsible for ensuring that clients have satisfactory travel plans. They handle customer inquiries about flight information, luggage lost, reservations among others.

Main Responsibilities

  • Check guests, sell tickets and book new reservations at the terminal
  • Check luggage and locate lost luggage
  • Provide assistance to passengers, assign seats and boarding passes

Personal Specification

  • Aged 18 and above
  • Holder of a high school diploma/GED
  • One year experience in customer service
  • Successful candidates have to pass a medical test and complete a background check before taking the employment offer.

Dimensions

Where – Call Centre, terminal

How- Use of reservation system, telephone, and computer

 

3.2 Comparison of the Selection Process

The selection process generally follows the following procedures: interviews, presentations, tests, and psychometric tests. Different positions call for different selection methods. At Easy Jet flight engineers and pilots require more competencies to perform their roles. As a result, all the listed techniques may be employed in selecting pilots and flight engineers. However, flights attendants perform more of a public relations job and may not need more competencies to execute their functions (Boyd, 2001, p. 442).  Consequently, this category of workers may be selected using only interviews. The selection procedures vary from one industry to another. Moreover, even within the services industry, different companies adopt different approaches. For example, the selection process used by companies in the restaurant industry differs from those used by airlines. Unlike other service sectors, airlines require employees that have particular skills, attitudes and knowledge (Boyd, 2001, p. 442). Employees such as air traffic controllers, flight engineers, cabin crews and pilots require particular competencies to execute their roles, and these competences are unique to the airline industry.

4.1 The Contribution of Training and Development to Easy Jet

            Training and development is central to achieving organizational effectiveness because it directly influences major aspects of an organization that include employee productivity, workplace health and safety and personnel development. At Easy jet, training and development provides the following contributions:

Productivity– through training and development, the company is able to enhance the productivity of its workforce, which helps in the achievement of the company’s long-term goals in terms of keeping costly low and supporting its business model as a budget airline.

Development of the needed skills among employees– through training and development, the employees’ skills and knowledge about their roles is significantly improved across all levels in the organization. These employees are able to take on more demanding roles within the organization, which further enriches the company.

Bottom-lineemployee training and development contributes to the profitability of the business and enables the employees to have a more positive view toward the company`s profit orientation.

Contributions to organizational culture- through training and development, Easy jet is able to foster an environment that cherishes the growth, diversity, and development of its workforce. This in turn creates a learning culture within the organization (Truss, David & Clare, 2012, p. 64).

Organization Culture – Training and Development create, promote and foster an organizational environment that values development, diversity and growth opportunities for all employees. It inculcates a learning culture within the company (Snell & George, 2013, p. 70).

Promoting teamwork- training and development sessions often provide an opportunity for employees from different divisions, and in some cases from different companies to meet and share their ideas and experiences. This promotes teamwork and team spirit among employees, which ultimately results in a positive work environment.

In conclusion, human resource management plays a significant role within the airline service industry. It is the role of HRM to motivate employees, ensure job satisfaction, manage informal groups within the company, resolve conflicts, ensure individual employees develop and build teamwork. For an airline company such as Easy Jet, these functions translate into better service delivery and happy customers.  Ensuring customer satisfaction is core to Easy jet`s business. As a budget carrier, it cannot sustain its business model without high customer traffic. This explains why the company has realigned its human resource practices to match its corporate strategy.

 

 

 

References

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Broughton, A, 2005. Industrial relations in the airline sector. Eurofound.europa.eu. [Online] Available at: <http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/eiro/2005/08/study/tn0508101s.htm> [Accessed 7 Oct. 2014]

Cascio, W.F, 1986. Managing human resources, New York: McGraw-Hill.

Easyjet Plc., 2014. About us. [Online] Available at: <http://corporate.easyjet.com/about-easyjet.aspx?sc_lang=en> [Accessed 7 Oct. 2014]

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Snell, S. & George, B, 2013. Managing human resources, Mason, Ohio: South-Western.

Stride, C., Wall, T. D. & Catley, N, 2007. Measures of job satisfaction, organisational commitment, mental health, and job-related well-being, John Wiley and Sons.

Thewlis, M., Miller, L. & Neathey, F, 2004. Advancing women in the workplace statistical analysis, EOC Working Paper Series no. 12 and Manchester: Equal Opportunities Commission.

Truss, C., David, M. & Clare, K, 2012. Strategic human resource management, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Turner, C, 2013. Unlocking Employment Law, Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.