lundi 10 octobre 2011

Human resources management of seasonal workers

It is the Human relations movement, which for the first time at the beginning of the twentieth century took into account the human factor as a productivity instrument.  Although precursors, these new ideas were not really taken into account during this period, which was dominated by Taylorism. It’s only from the end of the 2nd World War and because of the evolution of the economic, social and demographic context that companies started to reassess the human resources contribution. Indeed, they became aware of the fact that an appropriate human resources management is a significant competitive asset which has a part in the company success.

In the company, ‘staff department’, and the semantic is important, had been switched into ’department of human resources management’. One stares  the human being as an invaluable resource which has to be managed in the best way in order to optimize its performance. The human resources management is meaningful since the company’s profitability comes into play, and the strategy it shows off has to be appropriate to its environment and its activity sector.

We will see through different articles, that HR management has also to be applied to the workers managed. We will explain in this first article how to manage seasonal workers.

In order to do so, we will point out in a first place to what extent seasonal staff is a specific labor.

Where do we find seasonal workers?

These workers are mainly found in touristic companies. This kind of company is a provider of services with a strong added value. That is why, the employees make up the “main work tool”. The product’s quality, so its competitive positioning, is directly relative to the labor quality. We are able to say then, that the labor is into the performance’s center.

What are their work conditions?

They are often really difficult: tourists request submitted all leisure’s day long, from breakfast to dinner. The changeableness of the demand forces them to be pretty flexible because the workload fluctuates according to hours, days or periods of the season. We can also add that the work interest is often low and the tasks are physically testing. Moreover, they face the company pressure since clientele waits for an irreproachable service. In other words, the service quality rests mainly on employees’ shoulders.  At last, jobs of the tourism sector are often under qualified and despite of the employment market’s tension, wages stay below other sector’s one.

The specifities of the seasonal employment lead companies’ managers to involve to particular methods of staff management.  Indeed, it is the whole companies’ organization which has to be fitted to this type of atypical workers. From the recruitment to the end of the seasonal staff’s contract, the HR department tries to set up fitted policies, playing on their assets to recruit and motivate employees, devoting to their well-being to have a positive impact on workers’ performance.

What are the characteristics of this kind of management?

These types of companies do not usually provide competitive wages, rather low, really closed of the minimum wage. They have to find compensations in kind to make themselves attractive in the eyes of the employees.

In order to do so, companies are forced to adopt an appropriate corporate culture. Indeed, most of the workers are young and do this job not only for the professional experience but also for the social one. The work’s atmosphere is in this way, relaxer than within a company hiring only qualified staff. Moreover, hierarchical relations are not formal. For example, the superior has, for sure the job of checking the works of his subalterns, but also of helping them. He carries out most of his time the same tasks than them. This closeness between superior and subaltern introduces a convivial atmosphere, is confidence driving and contributes to the job interest too.

We can also point out that most of these firms favored a functional structure of the company. Organizing by function means first, parsing horizontally a flow integrated in operational, specialized, coherent units as regards the knowledge set up. The functional organization permits that the hierarchic is ‘technically’ skillful in the function he manages; contrary to a divisional organization where the hierarchic is responsible for several trades. It is almost impossible for him to be skilled in each of them. This functional structure seems to be the most effective to a company employing seasonal staff: superiors supervising employees -who are low trained and low experienced-have to be able to bring their help concerning the knowledge. This organization is ‘centralist’ and gives a strong power to the most high-ranking manager of the hierarchy. This limits the seasonal positions leeway, which only execute orders. The absence of decision-making in the tasks they carry out permits to the company to make his recruitment easier because it field of research is broader. Indeed, it does not need anymore to recruit seasonal staff who have management capacities. Moreover, this decreases considerably the training period when the employee arrives in the company. It is in reality almost nil, seasonal staff only having to take execution tasks in. This kind of organization is certainly the easiest organization to set up and the most economical one.  On the contrary, if these firms had used a matrix organization it would have had to plan more supervision. It would have needed a training staff to help seasonal workers to learn their job, and a supervisory staff to manage their activity.

To conclude, the biggest stake for the HR department is to succeed in giving birth to the affiliation feeling for these staff. And according to E.Mayo, it is the job of the hierarchy to favor the appearance of this feeling and to stimulate the initiative taken by the subordinates in the tasks relatives to standard management. This step permits to make the strove toward objectives become integrated objectives everywhere. We can also add that a good work environment encourage the employee fulfillment and permits him to integrate himself in a better way within the company. The seasonal staff has to feel concerned about the company’s matter even if they stay in for a limited period. The HR managers have to be able to find out eccentric methods of management to create rapidly and efficiently this feeling.

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