The most important element in the effective recruitment and staff management in an organization is a well-organized and effective human resource department. This is specifically true for the aviation industry considering the high level of competition among aviation companies, and the environment within which employees must work. It is for this reason that the human resource department is important within the aviation industry. An effective human resource manager must possess requisite skills, which will enable him/her select the right candidate through an effective recruitment and selection process, design a viable human resource plan and provide training for the staff recruited into the company. The skills are additionally important given the diverse nature of employees, the constant focus on guest service and a divergent organizational structure, which collectively present special challenges for human resource managers (Hayes and Ninemeier 2009). This paper will provide an overview of the aviation industry in relation to human resource management, human resource planning, employment relations within the aviation industry, as well as influence of the law on the management of human resources in the aviation industry. Further, the paper will provide a comparison between the selection process of the aviation and banking industries, in addition to assessing the contribution of training and development in the aviation industry. The paper will largely refer to British Airways human resource practices as a company in the aviation industry.
Attempts on giving a general wholly encompassing definition of human resource management (HRM) have not been fruitful. It is under such circumstances that more than 10 definitions of HRM exist, each of which tries to capture the complexity and dynamism of HRM (Nickson 2007, p. 7). For the purpose of this paper, the HRM definition chosen defines HRM as “A convenient shorthand term that allows for the grouping together of a wholeseries of sub-disciplines that are broadly concerned with people management: such as employee relations, industrial/labour relations, personnel managementand organizational behaviour” (Nickson 2007, p. 7). HRM therefore, involves the management of employees within an organization, a process that includes recruitment, selection, training and development of the workers.
The theoretical underpinning of HRM is scientific administration of people with the goal of improving the economic efficacy of employees (Gardner & Wright 2009, p. 59). Current HRM exercises follow either the hard or the soft schools of HRM. The hard school sees HRM as an instrument in which the management strives to gain competitive advantage, minimize labor costs to the least, while maximizing control over employees, given that, according to this stance, employees are commodities like any other factors of production (Nickson 2007, p. 9). The soft stance in contrast, takes a more humane and progressive approach, and therefore undertakes HRM within the framework of managerial commitment to employees. This commitment is fashioned as a way of gaining employee trust, commitment and productivity (Hayes and Ninemeier, 2009).
Within the aviation industry, however the HRM has a diverse range of roles and purposes. One of the major roles of HRM is the employment of workers. It is indeed the role of the HR to advertise, interview, appoint and induct the new employees into the organization (Hoque 2012, p. 64). After the recruitment, it is also additionally the role of the HR to organize training of the new employees. This the HR department does by coordinating the training of the specific individuals for specific departments within which they are recruited. The HR also allocates enough time for the training, ensuring that the time, place and duration allocated for the training is congruent to the skills required for the specific department for which the recruitment is meant (Nickson 2007, p. 9). Moreover, it is the duty of the HR to record the training and evaluate the skills of the recruits after the training to ascertain their readiness in performing the tasks within their portfolios.
The HR’s role also involves the management of employment procedure; herein the HR handles matters of promotions and grievances. This role spills over to other matters concerning employees, such as disciplinary actions, termination of employment, employee benefits and retirement. This role is congruent to the HR’s purpose as the department in charge of complying with employment legislation, ensuring that the organization adheres to laid down rules on recruitment, such as age, gender, race and religion (Jones & Lewis 2003, p. 90).
Human resource planning (the process of drafting a human resources plan) is an important part of human resource management. The process connects the needs within a HR department to the strategic plan, thus ensuring sufficiency in staffing. The linking additionally ensures that the staff employed is qualified and skilled to achieve organizational objectives. HR planning has evolved to become an important ingredient for maintaining organizational competitive advantage as well as reducing employee turnover (Hanson & Fagot 2012, p. 45). In instituting a human resources plan, it is necessary that an organization take into consideration the theories of demand and supply, for the justification of human resource plan.
The theory of demand defines the concept of demand as the sum of a product for which consumers are ready to, and able to purchase at a specific price over a specific period. Additionally, the law of demand states that with everything equal, the quantity demanded rises with falling in prices and vice versa. For supply, this is the amount of goods existing for sale in the market at a given price. The law of demand states that the amount of goods available for sale rises with the rise in price of the goods and vice versa.
With this in mind, a human resource plan may involve the review and reorganization of personnel policy, development of an ongoing staffing program, as well as the implementation of a continuous employee development program (Hanson & Fagot 2012, p. 45). Moreover, the human resource plan includes the assessment of the utilization and effectiveness of management development programs within an organization in addition to developing a more productive and economical work force.
The supply and demand within the aviation industry is usually seasonal with the cold month seeing low traffic of passengers, while school breaks, holidays and summer seeing higher traffic (Carey 2012). Through the reorganized personnel policy, employees are given leaves, while temporary employees’ contracts expire during the low season, this way reducing expenses for the airline companies during the low seasons (Carey 2012). With such a plan, the employers can engage employees in development programs during this period to improve quality of service at the peak seasons.
The seasonal demand and supply of the airline industry additionally provides an assessment opportunity for managerial development programs. Thus, with better forecasting tools, managers are capable of effectively cutting their employee capacity following the supply and demand schedule (Carey 2012). With better forecasting and an ongoing recruitment and development program, employers can easily recruit more employees at the opportune time, or deploy the employees who have already undergone company training.
Employment relations is a body of work encompassing the maintenance of employer-employee relations to a point that the relationship contributes to accepted levels of productivity and employee motivation (Boxall & Purcell 2003, p. 190). In essence, the purpose of employment relations is to prevent and resolve any problems among employees and between employee and employer, which emanate from or affect the work environment.
Current employment relations in the aviation industry are because of the changing nature of the industry. In essence, the deregulation of the industry has had a great impact in employment relations, given that more players have entered the airline industry and with it lowering the cost tickets (Bussell 2010, p. 3). Thus, while unionized employees in the industry may be quick to demand better pay, benefits and working conditions, airlines are indeed struggling given the low cost of airline tickets, therefore, even lower profit margins (Bussell 2010, p.3).
With the deregulation of the industry and lower profit margins, there has been an elaborate change in the industrial relations among them concession between unions and employers as well as changes in employment contracts all aimed at restructuring airline labor costs (Hotten, 2011). This is even as a high number of airlines have experienced strikes from pilots, occasioned by long conflicts with the management. The 2011 strike of the British Airways’ cabin crew brought to front major issues between the Airline and its cabin crew including harassment and bullying allegations of the cabin crew by the management. Hence, within the airline industry, unions still, and will continue to play, a major role in the relations between the management and the employees.
Employment law acts as the arbitrator between the employer and the employee, and between the employer, trade unions and the government. The law includes terms of work, employees and employer rights as well as the role of the unions in the employment agreement.
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