Human Resource Management: Articles Review

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This document will concentrate on the literature review and critique of two articles: “Are we there yet? What’s next for HR?” (Topic 4) and “Effective talent retention approaches” (Topic 6) analysing how they relate to Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM) and in particular, in a privately-owned correctional facility. It will demonstrate how SHRM can be applied to this facility and the implications of the articles to this facility.

An overview of the privately-owned correctional facility

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The role of the facility is focussed on the traditional areas of human resource management and carries out transactional activities and some traditional activities such as recruitment and selection, training and development and performance management. The human resource management services provided by the small human resource team to senior management have been operational in nature.

Summary of Topic

Outside/inside Approach to Hrm

To achieve an outside/inside approach, HR needs to create value. HR’s value creation has always been around employees but this value needs to be taken outside organisations by aligning its work to the customers, investors and the community. Creating value here does not refer to what HR does, but the outcome of HR’s activities to the external stakeholders.

Outside/inside approach requires HR professionals be conversant with the business strategy in order to add value. They should turn outside business trends and stakeholder expectations into internal actions, focus on business outcomes and talent improvement.

Review and Critique

Article 1 – Topic 4 – Are We There Yet? What’s Next for Hr?

Introduction and Summary of Article

In the article “Are we there yet? What’s next for HR?” the authors describe how HR has transformed over the years to becoming a core business function and a strategic business partner. Due to this transformation, the question arises as to whether HR has reached its final destination? . To answer this, they propose that HR practitioners adopt an outside/inside approach for increased and sustainable value. This consists of adding value to targets for HR work (individual, organisational and leadership) and areas for HR investments (HR function, practices, people and analytics). A number of propositions have been put forward that researchers and practitioners could use in guiding future HR research and practice.

Based on these criteria, the authors conclude that adding value is the main message for HR to follow in future. The outside/inside approach connects HR to the ten criteria mentioned. While the authors raise an important issue regarding the outside/inside approach and why it is ideal for organisations and their ability to continue adding value, they fail to identify whether these criteria have been applied to organisations, whether they have been successful and, whether these criteria are applicable to all organisations.

Article’s Strengths

The article provides a sound historical perspective on the emergence and transformation of HR, which shapes the reader/HR practitioner into implementing what the authors suggest: adding value so that the organisation benefits. This is important as it provides an in-depth lead in to what the article is about and sets out to achieve. The traditional approach of HR functions is long gone and the authors have communicated this well.

There is good use of graphical representation of HR transformation which enhances the explanation of how an organisation moves its HR function forward to a more strategic level and, initially an ‘inside/outside’ perspective, before asking the ‘so that’ question, which promotes the outside/inside approach.

The article provides detailed explanation of key areas HR needs to focus on in terms of business relationships and context factors. This includes highlighting what the authors consider to be key stakeholders and their relationship to HR. This, in addition to Figure 2, provides an excellent snapshot of the importance of building and maintaining HR professional’s understanding of business context and relationships with these stakeholders.

The authors articulate 8 propositions they argue provide the foundations and guidance for future HR to ‘add value’ and have an outside/inside approach. They provide sound direction, reasoning and likely or expected results if implemented. These appear to provide an innovative approach for HR professionals to consider and encourage them to take a much broader perspective when considering how they will add value to their organisation and what that will achieve in order to improve an organisation’s functioning.

Article’s Weaknesses

The authors do not indicate whether their proposals have been applied to any particular organisation(s) and so cannot conclude that these criteria if implemented by HR, will succeed.

There is no discussion of any disadvantages or bottlenecks that could be experienced by organisations when following the proposed criteria. Therefore, this might suggest that their criteria will work at face value on all occasions.

Throughout the article the authors have mentioned some figures in percentages regarding different proposals. However, there is no evidence of any survey having been carried out on any of their proposals so the question arises as to how accurate these figures are. These cannot be relied upon by researchers and might mislead the reader.

At some point the authors have drifted from the main point of the article and have focused on explaining the difference between functional, holding and diversified allied businesses, which did not add value to the discussion on how HR can adopt the criteria to achieve results from the outside/inside approach.

The authors have not discussed any methodology they used to formulate the proposals in their article such as who they consulted or any organisational studies they have carried out.

Conflicts and generalisations

The impression the article gives regarding the proposals is that they can be applied to any organisation. However, the authors do state that “generally, start-ups and small companies have little or no HR staff” (Ulrich & Dulebohn, 2015 p. 197). Additionally, holding companies have little or no HR at corporate level. Therefore , there seems to be a conflict as the authors have not indicated whether these proposals can be applied to these types of organisations.

Having discussed outside/inside approach in his article, (Marchington, 2015 p. 183) states that HRM has been too busy concentrating on satisfying short term goals to notice where it is heading in the longer term. Additionally, he states that other stakeholders have been neglected due to HR focusing primarily on the strategic business partner role and that HRM is not sufficiently embedded within organisations, and the HR role has been outsourced or become the responsibility of line managers. This is in conflict with the authors’ view who state that the future HR function should focus more on external stakeholders and should influence the work that HR does.

Implications of the article to SHRM

The article proposes ways of adding value to organisations through outside/inside approach. One is leadership, which is a future HR targeted outcome and is needed to support strategy and add value. According to the authors, . if organisations invest more on leadership development, then organisations are likely to achieve their goals and objectives. Having the right people in leadership development and positions of leadership will determine the direction of an organisation and its ability to create a culture of growth and development (Aguilera, 2006 p. 42).

If HR professionals learn about their organisations and what factors affect them such as political factors, environmental, social, demographic and technological trends, then the strategic approach to HRM will be successful. (Tichy, Fombrun & Devanna, 1982) state it is important to keep the strategy and human resource dimensions of an organisation in direct alignment to enable better understanding.

The authors state that teamwork is better than individual work. (Condia and Sadri, 2015 p. 14-15) state that teams should be supported by their organisations and their systems and strategies should align with the organisation. To achieve this, HR professionals need to work with teams and back them up with resources they require.

The article supports the point that individuals need to be talented through competence, commitment and contribution in order to support the business strategy. If HR professionals in organisations ensure their staff are well trained and developed, then SHRM will be successful. (Towler, Watson & A. Surface, 2014 p. 832), argue one important HR function is training and development which provides employees with the knowledge, skills and abilities required to perform effectively

HR analytics has become an important business function. If organisations keep track of its investments in HR, they will have a clear picture of what is required and this will help make decisions. Shrivastava, Nagdev & Rajesh (2018) state that “organizations today have realized the potential of analytics in the domain of HR to make decision-making more data driven, quantified and objective.” (p. 2). However, HR analytics will only become relevant when it takes an outside/in approach and is integrated in existing business analytics (Rasmussen & Ulrich, 2015 p. 236).

How the article has added to my understanding of SHRM

The article has explained in detail the transformation of HR and it has helped me understand that the future of HR is to add value to organisations in a strategic context rather than focusing on short term goals and internal stakeholders .


The SHRM outside/inside approach would be ideal for the correctional facility. The HR professionals ought to know the core functions of the business and what factors affect it and its stakeholders in order to help senior management formulate business strategies as well as implement and achieve them. By doing this, the HR function will become strategic in nature focusing on long term rather than short term outcomes.

Additionally, HR can work towards identifying the individual, organisational and leadership requirements by identifying any gaps that exist. They can devise solutions such as training and development relating to employees, work on the organisation culture, roles and policies with senior management to help engage and retain employees and steer the organisation towards the right direction. They should work on leadership development to ensure that the facility has leaders who are focused on improving it.

By investing in the HR department, practices, people and analytics the facility would improve its HR functions and align these activities with the overall strategy of the facility. However, being a small firm, management needs to consider the cost issue and what the facility is willing to spend on investing in the four domains.

Summary of Topic

Retaining Quality Staff Through Employee Engagement

Retention of staff is an effort by organisations to maintain a working environment which supports its staff in remaining with the company. For companies to maintain their competitive advantage, they need to engage in activities that will retain their talent. (Johennesse & Chou, 2017, p. 48) state that this can be done by incorporating steps that motivate and encourage employees to remain and function, optimally in the organization for a long time.

This retention leads to employee engagement which is the relationship of the employees with their work as well as the organisation they work for (Truss, Delbridge, Alfes, Shantz & Soane, 2014). Engagement entails commitment, passion, involvement, enthusiasm and focused effort by employees which are attitudinal and behavioural components leading to organisational effectiveness (Macey & Schneider, 2008, p. 3).

Review and Critique

Article 2 – Topic 6 – “effective Talent Retention Approaches”

Introduction and Summary of Article

The intent of the article is to focus on an apparent “global talent shortage,” the reasons this may be occurring and proposed strategies that could be used to retain talent. It defines talent and outlines four main strategies to retain it; develop a solid organisational culture and strong values; provide applicable and dynamic training opportunities; foster an engaging work environment; and, offer clear and suitable opportunities for career advancement.

The four practical ways to effectively improve talent retention demonstrate that retaining talent requires more than just a competitive salary package. Talent want to work for and stay at an organization that has similar values, provides training opportunities, fosters engagement and offers career advancement.

While the authors raise important points on approaches to talent retention, they conclude that the strategies proposed are not all-encompassing solutions and that there are a number of variables that need to be considered in order to ensure maximum possible retention of talent within an organisation.

Article’s Strengths

The authors have outlined why talent retention is important by pointing out that there is a ‘war for talent’ and have given the financial impact as a result of talent shortage and why retention is inevitable.

They have outlined why talent leave and the need for organisations to look beyond competitive compensation and monetary reward systems to retain staff and the need to balance a diverse group of workers, leading HR professionals to think of the big picture and long term goals.

The authors propose four strategies for improving retention. These strategies may be considered strengths to the overall intent of the article. For example, the final strategy refers to providing clear and suitable opportunities for career advancement. This point is a strong one indicating that talented employees want more than a job – they want a career.

Article’s Weaknesses

The authors’ definition of talent is quite individual-centric and suggest that talent is a person with specialist skills and high potential, which may raise the question what precisely is “talent” . Does it refer to persons who possess specialist qualifications/skills in a niche area or people who are simply highly motivated, energetic and keen to learn? These appear to make assumptions without providing evidence to support the claim, particularly with reference to the assertion that such individuals perform “far better than others…” The definition is vague and should provide a more robust and evidence-based definition if such assumptions are to give weight to the authors overall strategies..

The article outlines a number of reasons why talent leave. However, the greater part of this section discusses current situations facing many organisations, such as economic and environmental changes, instability and job market uncertainty rather than providing reasons that would prompt an individual to leave an organisation.

It also suggests that organisations now have to balance “the needs of a diverse group of workers” (Ott, Tolentino & Michailova, 2018 p.16), and that this may cause talent to leave. This seems to be a general, almost vague use of limited information, which may suggest the authors are indicating that talent leaves because of a diverse workforce. Therefore, the question has not been answered.

The first strategy offers a broad general statement concerning employee interest in organisation culture, citing Linkedin 2016 in New Zealand. While this platform may contain information and opinions about the subject, it is suggested that it would carry very little weight (if any) in supporting an academic proposal to address talent retention issues and improvement.

The second strategy refers to developing skills in talented individuals that are less transferrable to other organisations, so that an individual is more inclined to stay. This suggests only providing on-the-job training is the most effective way to retain employees and that employees will be discouraged or even prevented from undertaking formal or tertiary courses. This could lead to more questions about how this strategy would work.

The third strategy refers to fostering an engaging work environment. It is not conclusive as to what this really means. The strategy has outlined some methods that organisations can use to keep employees engaged but they have not indicated what employee engagement really is.

Conflicts and generalisations

The authors have somewhat saved themselves with their “caveat” of indicating the article does not “constitute a silver bullet.” It does include some strong points that indicate the importance of talent retention and that approaches are to be tailored according to the organisation’s needs.

Additionally, they state that talent retention should not be left to HR Managers. However, two dot points are mystifying: “an individual who thrives in one environment may not be as effective in another environment” and “making the most of talent while they are part of the organisation is what matters, as the talent will inevitably leave.” The former seems to state an obvious notion, while the latter is almost self-defeating to what the article is supposed to be about – how to better retain talent. The section appears confusing and almost dismissive of the very strategies it proposes.

Implications of the article to SHRM

This article appears to suggest that it is about “effective talent retention approaches.” Unfortunately, it seems to fail to do so due to a lack of evidence of key points, confusing statements, statements that are general in nature and not sufficiently supported by academic writings and in the overall strategic space, of little value to an HR professional as some of the proposed strategies (if not all) are already well understood and implemented in organisations.

The implications of this article on SHRM would be minimal – there are no definitive solutions that are not already well known and the strategies proposed do little to assist HR professionals in gaining a deeper understanding on the importance of talent retention.

It is suggested that more value could be obtained if the article discussed the importance of overall retention of employees, rather than singling out “talented” individuals and giving more ways of talent retention. As stated by (Kyndt, Dochy, Michielsen & Moeyaert, 2009 p. 200), companies should not only focus on high achievers, but also on those with potential to become high performers in the future.

In addition e, organisations should consider strategies like leadership, communication and extrinsic and intrinsic rewards. According to Letchmiah & Thomas (2017), “leadership is fundamental to the retention of high-potential employees” (p. 3). They should possess integrity in order to build trust and working relationships with employees. They state that open and honest communication can contribute to employee commitment hence promoting retention.

In conclusion, the article may have sparked some interest in talent retention discussions, but appears to be little more than a “viewpoint” or more simply, “an opinion”, which might engender further debate

How the article has added to my understanding of SHRM

I learned that retention of employees is an ongoing practise and not a one-off exercise. Additionally, the strategies suggested in the article are important but not conclusive. There is no “one size fits all” and the approaches taken for talent retention depend on the needs and goals of an organisation.


The suggestions in the article could assist HR professionals in the facility in developing retention strategies that will increase the commitment of talent, and also assist the facility in retaining this talent.

An organisation’s culture and values are important in retention of its talent. The HR professionals in the facility should work together with senior management to identify its values and build on its culture in order to retain its current talent as well as attract new ones.

Identifying what training employees need would be a good starting point for the facility. This will enable provision of training in skills that will be needed today and, in the future, hence encouraging employees to stay in the facility.

The facility needs to identify suitable ways of engaging its employees in order to retain them. The article has suggested some methods, but the facility may not find all these methods suitable. As stated by (Matthews, 2018 p. 152), organisations should set expectations about what engagement activities are meant to deliver and what resources are needed. By doing this correctly, the facility will be able to retain its talent.

Lastly, by offering career advancement opportunities to its employees, the facility will be able to retain its talent as they will feel valued and will make them more loyal.


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