The objective of strategic resourcing
Strategic resourcing aims to ensure that the organization has the people it needs to achieve its business goals. Like strategic HRM, strategic resourcing is essentially about the integration of business and employee resourcing strategies so that the latter contribute to the achievement of the former.
The concept that the strategic capability of a firm depends on its resource capability in the shape of people (the resource-based view) provides the rationale for strategic resourcing. The objective is therefore to ensure that a firm achieves competitive advantage by recruiting, retaining and developing more capable people than its rivals. The organization attracts such people by being ‘the employer of choice’. It retains them by providing better opportunities, rewards and conditions of employment than others and by developing a positive psychological contract (the set of reciprocal but unwritten expectations that exist between individual employees and their employers), which increases engagement and commitment and creates mutual trust. Furthermore, the organization deploys its people in ways that maximize the added value they supply and develops their talents and skills.
The strategic HRM approach to resourcing
The philosophy behind the strategic approach to resourcing is that it is people who implement the strategic plan. As Quinn Mills (1983) put it, the process is one of ‘planning with people in mind’.
The integration of business and resourcing strategies is based on an understanding of the direction in which the organization is going and the determination of:
- the numbers of people required to meet business needs;
- the skills and behaviour required to support the achievement of business strategies;
- the impact of organizational restructuring as a result of rationalization, decentralization, delayering, acquisitions, mergers, product or market development, or the introduction of new technology – for example, cellular manufacturing;
- plans for changing the culture of the organization in such areas as ability to deliver, performance standards, quality, customer service, teamworking and flexibility, which indicate the need for people with different attitudes, beliefs and personal characteristics.
These factors will be strongly influenced by the type of business strategies adopted by the organization and the sort of business it is in. These may be expressed in such terms as Miles and Snow’s (1978) typology of defender, prospector and analyser organizations.
Strategic HRM places more emphasis than traditional personnel management on finding people whose attitudes and behaviour are likely to fit what management believes to be appropriate and conducive to success. Townley (1989) commented that organizations are concentrating more on the attitudinal and behavioural characteristics of employees. This tendency has its dangers. Innovative and adaptive organizations need non-conformists, even mavericks, who can ‘buck the system’. If managers recruit people ‘in their own image’ there is the risk of staffing the organization with conformist clones and of perpetuating a dysfunctional culture – one that may have been successful in the past but is no longer appropriate in the face of new challenges.
The resourcing strategies that emerge from the process of strategic resourcing exist to provide the people and skills required to support the business strategy, but they should also contribute to the formulation of that strategy. HR directors have an obligation to point out to their colleagues the human resource opportunities and constraints that will affect the achievement of strategic plans. In mergers or acquisitions, for example, the ability of management within the company to handle the new situation and the quality of management in the new business will be important considerations.
Strategic fit in resourcing
Strategic resourcing places more emphasis than traditional personnel management on finding people whose attitudes and behaviour are likely to fit what management believes to be appropriate and conducive to success. As mentioned above, Townley (1989) felt that organizations are concentrating more on the attitudinal and behavioural characteristics of employees, a tendency that has its dangers.
Bundling resourcing strategies and activities
Employee resourcing is not just about recruitment and selection. It is concerned with any means available to meet the firm’s need for certain skills and behaviours. A strategy to ensure the organization has the talented people it needs (a talent management strategy) may start with recruitment and selection but would extend into learning and development to enhance abilities and skills and modify behaviours and succession planning. Performance management processes can be used to identify development needs (skills and behaviours) and motivate people to make the most effective use of their abilities. Competency frameworks and profiles can be prepared to define the skills and behaviours required and can be used in selection, employee development and employee reward processes. The aim should be to develop a reinforcing bundle of strategies along these lines.
The components of strategic employee resourcing
The overarching component of strategic resourcing is the integration of resourcing and business plans. Within this framework strategic resourcing includes specific strategies for:
- Workforce planning, alternatively called human resource planning – assessing future business needs and deciding on the numbers and types of people required.
- Developing the organization’s employee value proposition and its employer brand– the employee value proposition is what an organization offers that prospective or existing employees would value and which would help to persuade them to join or remain with the business; employer brand is the image presented by an organization as a good employer.
- Resourcing plans– preparing plans for finding people from within the organization and/or for learning and development programmes to help people learn new skills. If needs cannot be satisfied from within the organization, it involves preparing longer-term plans for ensuring that recruitment and selection processes will satisfy them.
- Retention plans– preparing plans for retaining the people the organization needs.
- Flexibility plans– planning for increased flexibility in the use of human resources to enable the organization to make the best use of people and adapt swiftly to changing circumstances.
- Talent management– ensuring that the organization has the talented people it requires to provide for management succession and meet present and future business needs.