Skip to main content
main-content
Top

About this book

The latest offering of the popular textbook from respected author team of John Bratton and Jeff Gold. Authoritatively and expertly written, the sixth edition builds on the enduring strengths of this well-established book, with important updates and revisions to bring it in line with the ever-changing business world.
While exploring the practical implementation of human resource management, the book also exposes and confronts the debates and tensions inherent in the employment relationship, encouraging the reader to reflect critically on the realities of contemporary HRM. The myriad of different theories underpinning human resource management are discussed as well as their impact on organizations, managers and workers.
The new edition will continue to be a core textbook for HRM modules on undergraduate business and management degree courses, and may also be used on some postgraduate and MBA courses.

Table of Contents

The Contemporary Human Resource Management Arena

Frontmatter

1. The Nature of Contemporary HRM

Abstract
Many managers complain that the HR department prevents them from doing what they want, such as hiring someone they ‘just know‘ is a good fit for the job. And HR professionals make them perform tasks they dislike, such as ‘playing God’, when appraising their employees’ performance. These complaints from line managers have a cyclical quality – they are driven largely by the business context. When organizations are experiencing labour problems, whether those are skill shortages, high turnover or low productivity, HR is usually seen as a valued leadership partner. When things are running efficiently, managers tend to think, ‘What’s HR doing for us, anyway?’ (Cappelli, 2015, p. 54) introduction The contemporary workplace is constantly changing against a backdrop of post-2008 economic austerity that has now reached the proportions of the Great Depression of the 1920s. The changes relate, although not exclusively, to the rise in zero-hour contracts (Brinkley, 2013), the increase of precarious work and insecurity (Standing, 2011), organizational downsizing (Datta et al., 2010), low wages (Flassbeck and Lapavitsas, 2015), the emasculation of trade union power (Hutton, 2015a) and extreme inequality in income (Stiglitz, 2015). Analyses of these labour market changes driven by neo-liberal economics vary significantly between developed capitalist countries.
John Bratton, Jeff Gold

2. Corporate Strategy and Strategic HRM

Abstract
A browse through the business section of any quality newspaper will reveal a ubiquitous use of the word ‘strategy’. When supermarket Tesco faced flattened profits to 1 per cent of turnover, newspaper columnist Paul Mason wrote that Tesco’s boss Dave Lewis was sticking to the ‘strategy’ of making Tesco stores the single ‘destination’ where customers did much or all of their shopping. In search of a new strategy, Mason suggested that Lewis should look to Tesco’s most vibrant asset: their employees. ‘Everything in the physical architecture of a big supermarket is designed to make the workforce invisible; customer interactions are fleeting; when a person on the till suddenly cracks a pleasantry or reveals some personal detail, it is – in most supermarket groups – as if an unwritten code had been broken. So I would do something that rewarded the workforce for unleashing their wit, knowledge and expertise on the actual customers’ (Mason, 2015a, p. S5, courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd). If Tesco and other supermarkets followed Mason’s advice, they would be looking to change their corporate and HR strategies, which, along with corporate strategy, is the focus of this chapter. Introduction The idea that employees’ ‘wit, knowledge and expertise’ can play a strategic role in achieving competitive goals is the essence of a field of research labelled ‘strategic’ human resource management, or SHRM. Just as the term ‘human resource management’ has been contested, so too has the notion of SHRM.
John Bratton, Jeff Gold

3. HRM Outcomes and Line Management

Abstract
Amazon and Sports Direct are well-known retail giants, with revenues increasing year on year. But the New York Times exposé on employment conditions at Amazon claimed that callous managers were guilty of cruel employment practices. In one anecdote, an employee with breast cancer was allegedly put on a ‘performance improvement plan’ (Elliott, The Guardian, 2015, p. 23). Sports Direct billionaire founder Mike Ashley, when recently cross-examined by MPs about the sexual harassment of female staff, described the accused managers as ‘sexual predators … They’re repugnant, they’re disgusting‘ (Goodley, The Guardian, 2016, p. 1). This exposé focuses on two themes we cover in this chapter: measuring business performance and the role of line managers in delivering HRM to the workforce. Introduction Establishing a strong association between strategic human resource management (HRM) and organizational performance (OP) has become a principal area of study over the past two decades. Indeed, this research agenda was once described as the ‘holy grail’ of HRM.
John Bratton, Jeff Gold

Employee Resourcing

Frontmatter

4. Workforce Planning and Diversity

Abstract
Meseret Kumulchew was working as a supervisor for Starbucks at Clapham Junction in London. She was responsible for recording the temperature of fridges and water at particular times. However, the company accused her of faking the records when the wrong information was entered. Meseret explained that she was dyslexic and had difficulties with reading, writing and telling the time. In the UK, under the Equality Act 2010, an employer needs to take account of an employee’s disability and ensure that ‘provisions, criteria or practices’ do not put a disabled employee at a disadvantage compared with other employees. A company must take reasonable steps to avoid any disadvantage. The company is responsible for assessing needs and making adjustments. For dyslexia, although it is not automatically seen as a disability, there is still a need to assess and to seek more expert opinion from occupational health professionals on what an employee can and cannot do. When Meseret described her dyslexia, the company regarded this explanation as unlikely and accused her of making up the data, as a result of which she was disciplined. As a result, her responsibilities were downgraded and she was told to retrain, both of which left her feeling extremely distressed and suicidal. Eventually, Meseret took Starbucks to an employment tribunal, which found in her favour. The tribunal discovered that even though Starbucks had a policy for diversity, which included provisions to remove discrimination, this was not in practice working sufficiently.
John Bratton, Jeff Gold

5. Recruitment, Selection and Talent Management

Abstract
The inquiry into the deaths of six people caused by a refuse lorry in Glasgow, Scotland, in December 2014 has heard that the driver had no references on his file and had been suspended from his former job. Harry Clarke, who had been suspended from the First Bus company in December 2010, was at the wheel of the bin lorry when it killed six pedestrians in Glasgow city centre. During a cross-examination at the fatal accident inquiry by Mr Conway, a solicitor acting for one of the families, it emerged that there were no references on Mr Clarke’s employment record with Glasgow City Council. This led to the lawyer stating that ‘Someone has blundered at Glasgow City Council carrying out a grossly incompetent employment process.’ Ms Ham, an HR manager with Glasgow City Council, told the fatal accident inquiry that ‘Sometimes documents are misfiled.’ Following the inquiry, Glasgow City Council reviewed its recruitment and selection procedures. Much of the mainstream HR literature discusses the recruitment of ‘talented’ people, but this tragic accident illustrates the importance of effective recruitment and selection processes. Introduction If you are approaching the end of your studies or are completing further studies to improve your prospects, what is your understanding of the job market? Do you have confidence in finding work that matches your talent? And how do you expect your talent to be managed and developed?
John Bratton, Jeff Gold

Employee Performance and Development

Frontmatter

6. Performance Management and Appraisal

Abstract
Axis Bank is India’s third largest private sector lender. Traditionally, its approach to performance management and appraisal has been based on what is called the bell curve system. This is a forced ranking approach to judging performance that rates everyone’s performance and ranks them into categories of top performers (possibly the top 10 per cent), medium performers (the next 80 per cent) and then the poor performers (the bottom 10 per cent). The ranking forces managers to make judgements about performance by comparing staff with each other and fitting them into the categories. In some cases, those in the bottom category might be removed or referred elsewhere. In this way, the system provides a warning for those already in or close to the poor performance category. Senior managers at Axis decided that this approach was divisive and over-focused on top performers. Instead, the bank has moved towards a system based on integrated performance management and capability development for all staff. This would also allow Axis to focus more on learning and development as part of performance management, which would help the bank to retain staff who might otherwise be poached by other finance organizations. Introduction Ever since you arrived at university or college, you knew that there would at some point be an assessment of your work performance. Whether in the form of examinations, assignments, group activities and so on, you have had the chance to demonstrate your capabilities and develop your potential.
John Bratton, Jeff Gold

7. Learning and Human Resource Development

Abstract
Sofaworks was a UK-based retail business for all kinds of sofa – leather, fabric, corner and recliners. Previously operating as a family-owned business that sold its own products, from 2002 it switched to sourcing products from all over the world at lower cost. From February 2016, the company rebranded to become Sofology, seeking to differentiate itself from the competition by moving towards a ‘coaching style’ to sales that focused on customer requirements. This contrasted with a commissioned-based approach. This new approach included the use of an iPad for taking orders. The rebranding also involved the use of a mascot, Neal the sloth. The change of strategy followed a review based on customer feedback that suggested a lack of differentiation from other furniture retailers. In response to the change of business strategy, the learning and development strategy had to change too. This involved retraining around 500 retail staff to develop coaching behaviours with the customer, based on how interactions with customers reduced the pressure for a sale but allowed them to ‘enjoy’ the experience of making a choice about a sofa. The coaching approach to selling is more open and empowering for the customer. As customers leave the store, they score the service, and this affects the level of team bonus in the store. The results suggest improved sales, higher staff engagement and the employment of more female staff.
John Bratton, Jeff Gold

Employment Relations

Frontmatter

8. Reward Management and Inequality

Abstract
When Britain’s then-Chancellor George Osborne announced the new compulsory Living Wage during his 2015 budget speech, many political pundits applauded him. Eighteen years after passing the UK’s National Minimum Wage Act 1998, tens of thousands of care workers are still being paid below the national minimum wage despite new regulations designed to ensure they are paid fairly (Merrill, 2016). In a damning government report, the billionaire owner of Sports Direct Mike Ashley was found to have broken the law by failing to pay staff the minimum wage (Goodley, 2016). Indeed, 70 per cent of households in Britain saw their incomes fall or remain stagnant in the decade after the financial and economic crisis that began in 2008 (Elliott, 2016). Yet CEOs’ pay has been steadily rising, being, in 2016, 183 times the average UK employee, up from 160 times just six years before. This has prompted widespread reaction, including the Institute of Directors urging BP shareholders to think twice before supporting a decision to award £14 million to CEO Bob Dudley in a year when the oil company suffered its worst ever losses (Macalister, 2016). The debates around low pay and income inequality alongside exorbitant CEO executive pay are a reminder that HRM operates in an arena of continuous tension that is inherent in the generation of added value, and of society’s moral values related to employment and disquiet about growing inequality.
John Bratton, Jeff Gold

9. Labour Relations and Collective Bargaining

Abstract
Junior doctors in NHS England in 2016 gave public notice that they would walk out on strike as part of the long-running contract dispute (Cooper, 2016). In August 2015, members of four rail unions took part in strike action causing the entire London underground to close. London’s then-Major, Boris Johnson, urged the unions to put the latest ‘incredibly generous’ offer from management to their members. The train drivers’ leader, Mick Whelan, said, ‘Our members have ejected the latest offer from the company because they are forcing through new rosters without agreement and offer no firm commitments on work–life balance for trainers’ (Press Association, The Guardian, 2015). Despite the fact that the number of days lost to strikes is currently running at its lowest since records began in 1893, there has, unsurprisingly, been much public criticism of the strikes. Context, however, is paramount. As one senior trade union official acutely put it: ‘no strike in our country could inflict the sort of economic damage which the banks and finance houses have’ (Kenny, The Guardian, 2011, p. 30). In terms of the general public’s perception of unions, less well-known perhaps, is the joint statement by then Prime Minister David Cameron and Brendan Barber former general secretary of the TUC urging workers to vote to remain in the European Union referendum (Cameron and Barber, 2016) or the presence of union ‘Disability Champions’ and ‘Green Reps’ in workplaces.
John Bratton, Jeff Gold

10. Employee Relations and Voice

Abstract
DMW, an IT consulting company, was awarded first position in the 2015 Best Workplaces Programme in the small business category. Chris Dean, DMW’s managing director, attributed the success to the company’s ‘people-centred ethos and commitment to effective communication’ and ‘high workplace engagement’. ‘When we treat our staff with respect and give them an equal voice in helping to set the direction of DMW I have been continuously surprised at the innovation that they show,’ he said (Great Place to Work Institute, 2015, p. 14). Less positive, reports in 2016 exposed the ‘workhouse or gulag’ conditions at Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, which included a ‘six strikes and you’re out’ policy that sees workers dismissed for six infringements within 6 months (Goodley, The Guardian, 2016, p. 1) and highlighted the problems of working mothers – 20 per cent of working mothers said they experienced harassment or negative comments related to their pregnancy or flexible working from their employer or colleagues (Gallagher, 2016). These reports highlight the importance of three themes we examine in this chapter: communications, employee voice and individual legal rights that protect employees against inequitable treatment in the workplace. As explained in the introductory chapter, the employment relationship can be created in three ways: unilaterally, bilaterally and trilaterally (the employer, unions and statutes).
John Bratton, Jeff Gold

Contemporary Issues: HRM in a Global World

Frontmatter

11. HRM and Ethics

Abstract
More than four decades after the Equal Pay Act 1970 was introduced, the gender pay gap in Britain is still £5732, or 24 per cent (Allen, 2016b). Is this right? Is the payment of at least a minimum wage a human right? Although there is nothing illegal about outsourcing labour, should managers or society be concerned if that outsourced work takes place in an unhealthy and unsafe worksite or is undertaken by workers paid a fraction of the wage rate paid to workers in developed countries? What should we do if we see one of our co-workers harassing another employee, mentally, sexually or physically? Do we ‘turn the other cheek’ because we may worry that we’ll be labelled a troublemaker? It is easy to see how the ‘unwritten’ rules we have been taught affect the decisions we make as individuals. For example, social mores compel us to tell the truth rather than lie to our friends. But what guides decision-making by managers? Organizations are compelled to make decisions within the framework of a business model, but consumers, governments and civil society are now increasingly placing corporate decision-making in the moral spotlight. This chapter focuses on the belief that managers’ behaviour is not above being the subject of standards of right and wrong. Shareholders, business owners, managers, employees and consumers of products and services are affected by the ethical conduct of businesses on a daily basis.
John Bratton, Jeff Gold

12. Employee Health, Safety and Wellness

Abstract
When TV audiences around the world watched the dramatic rescue of 33 trapped Chilean miners in October 2010, they may have found the news uplifting, but for occupational health and safety activists, it was a reminder that work can be a life and death experience. Most mornings, we turn the door handle and set off to work in offices, banks, schools, hospitals, universities, construction sites and other workplaces. Most of us assume that we will return home safely at the end of the working day, but many workers unfortunately will not. In 2014–15, 142 British workers lost their lives through a workplace fatality, and a further 629,000 employees suffered a reportable work-related injury (Health and Safety Executive, 2015). At a different level, unsocial working hours can impact negatively on workers’ health. For example, the Rail, Maritime and Transport union said the Eurostar dispute, which began on 12th August 2016, had been caused by the company’s failure to honour a 2008 agreement to ensure that train managers could expect a good work–life balance in terms of unsocial hours and duty rosters (Topham, 2016). These data and the Eurostar reported dispute underscore two important realities about work: first, it can be an unhealthy, even deadly, experience; and, second, health and safety in the workplace is all too often mismanaged.
John Bratton, Jeff Gold

13. HRM and High-Performance Workplaces

Abstract
Workplaces that are perceived to have a change-quality, technology-driven culture and are characterized by support for creativity, open communications, effective knowledge management and the core values of respect and integrity have strong effects on talent attraction and retention and are also highly conducive to the development of high- commitment and motivating work systems (Kontoghiorghes, 2015). These characteristics are often associated with a trend in workplace design called high-performance work systems. The focus on contemporary work designs in debt-choked post-2008 economies can, however, easily distract us from more persistent trends and features of the workplace: work intensification, heightened managerial control and consequential work-related stress. The way work is organized in the workplace is, therefore, inseparable from the study of the management of the people doing the work. The way work is organized is a critical internal contingency affecting both micro and strategic human resource management (HRM). Management is the architect of job and work design, and different strategies have created a myriad of contrasting types of jobs and work systems. For example, there are jobs that provide employees with no variation in the tasks performed, their work activities being closely supervised.
John Bratton, Jeff Gold

14. Leadership and Management Development

Abstract
How much do you trust people with the title ‘leader’? Certainly, in the popular media there has been scathing criticism of some corporate leaders. In 2016 alone, Sir Philip Green, ex-owner of the retail giant British Home Stores, was severely criticized by MPs for putting 11,000 jobs at risk and leaving BHS with a £571m pension deficit (Butler and Ruddick, The Guardian, 2016). So too was Mike Ashley, the boss of Sports Direct. His behaviours were described as ‘unacceptable’, and contributed to employment conditions at the company’s warehouse in Shirebrook, Derbyshire described as ‘more like those in a workhouse or gulag’ (Goodley, The Guardian, 2016). In academic journals, leaders have been considered blameworthy for various failings. Board (2010), for example, suggested that leaders helped to cause the global financial crisis of 2008 and will probably contribute to the next one too. Collinson (2012) argued that leaders in particular have been too ‘positive’, which leaves them unprepared for unexpected events or to listen to others who can see the problems. The work–life balance discourse can illustrate that the different ways in which we experience work are shaped by a form of hegemony, and by what we believe, what we value and what we see as legitimate (Kärreman and Alvesson, 2009; Schneider, 2000). These intangible informal structures or ‘ways of doing’ work can be thought of as ‘organizational culture’ (Ashkanasy et al., 2011).
John Bratton, Jeff Gold

15. Organizational Culture and HRM

Abstract
In 2015, credit card company Capital One scooped the award for ‘Best Workplaces – Large Category’ – for the third consecutive year. ‘Capital One is a unique place to work that is fun, values-based and every bit committed to customer care. It is a place where employees feel empowered to make a difference. Where communication forms one of a set of values that underpin the company’s vision, which is designed to transform and develop a culture built around responsible lending, customer care and support’, explains Karen Bowes, VP International HR and Sustainability (Great Place to Work Institute, 2015, p. 21). An organization’s ‘culture’ refers to an amorphous collection of interrelated values, understandings and behaviours that is shared by its workforce. For some, it ‘smacks of a lack of communication, or at least trust’ (Ambasna-Jones, The Guardian, 2016, p. 25). Academic research, however, reports on workplace cultures that are far less stimulating than Capital One’s. Workplaces with a ‘binge-working culture’ (Campbell, 2010), a ‘long-hours culture’ in which employees regard long working days as ‘a badge of honour’ (Chatzitheochari and Arber, 2009), work that is not fun but centrally driven by a ‘tick-box culture’ (Travis, The Guardian, 2011) and an absence of diversity perpetuating ‘pinstripes and braces’ and the ‘laddish’ culture (Dunkley, 2015, p. 4).
John Bratton, Jeff Gold

16. Green HRM and Environmental Sustainability

Abstract
The Paris accord on climate change was hailed as historic, with nearly 200 nations agreeing to limit warming to 1.5°C, measured in relation to pre-industrial temperatures. However, 8 months after the target was set, leading climate scientists have warned that the Earth is perilously close to breaking through the 1.5°C limit (McKie, 2016). The environmentalist George Monbiot argues that, on current trends, with 15 of the 16 warmest years occurring in the twenty-first century, humanity already faces an ‘existential crisis’ (Monbiot, The Guardian, 2016, p. 29). The world’s fight against unmanaged climate change demands real commitments from individual governments, multinational corporations, communities and consumers to wean themselves off fossil fuels. Work organizations are significant contributors to climate change, and they have the potential to positively affect it through the actions of their managers and employees. The scientific evidence is clear: human action has already exceeded Earth’s regenerative capacity, and economic activity is responsible for the degradation of the environment (Ones and Dilchert, 2012). The world’s leading climate scientists report that more than half of the global carbon dioxide allowance has been used up, and, unless checked, the accumulation of carbon in the atmosphere will warm the planet by more than 2°C by 2045.
John Bratton, Jeff Gold

17. International HRM and Global Capitalism

Abstract
European Union member states and most economies have enacted laws setting out acceptable workplace practices that often reflect International Labour Organization (ILO) standards. News of fatal accidents and the appalling living conditions of migrants construction workers in Qatar building football stadiums (Rajouria, 2015), and alleged abuses, including erratic or reduced payment of wages, passport confiscation, intimidation and debt bondage. Pattisson (2016, p. 14), offers an alarming insight into what happens when there are no state-enforced employment rules presenting what can be called a ‘dark’ side of international HR management. The reality of managing people in a global environment is also concerned with the challenges connected with regional wars and terrorism (Bader and Berg, 2014). This contemporary issue is illustrated, for example, with the mass evacuation of European workers in Libya in 2011. As antigovernment protests spread to Tripoli, oil companies, such as Royal Dutch Shell PLC and BP, organized flights to evacuate their expat workers or their families from the country (Winfield, 2011). The success of global business strategies, observes Lasserre (2012, p. 335, emphasis in original) relies on the ‘quality of the people’ who are in charge of its implementation. The field of international human resource management (IHRM) refers to all human resources (HR) practices used to manage people in companies operating in more than one country.
John Bratton, Jeff Gold
Additional information