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In today’s corporate business mode, human resources management has new and effective roles to motivate employees. The tools are no longer restricted to pay structures and financial benefits, and pay progression is only one of the many ways the manager is able to keep, motivate and reward employees. Pay progression according to competence and contribution (Armstrong 2002) includes long-term reward and development schemes. The below assignment would like to review the emerging roles of human resources management and explain the different motivational tools in detail.
The Role of Human Resource Management in Employee Reward and Development
Human resource management needs to create long term plans in order to provide the company and employees with continuous growth, development, financial and non-financial benefits. Reducing staff change and improving the level of knowledge is just as important as creating effective, just and easy to understand reward systems for both managers and employees. Today, many companies focus on lifelong learning and career development, and this is one of the most effective ways of keeping talent within the company. (Armstrong 2002)
Singh (2003) examines Khan’s blended e-learning framework, which is supporting organizations to develop, deliver, evaluate, manage and plan blended learning programs. The octagonal framework, published in Khan’ s book: Managing e-learning: design, delivery, implementation, and evaluation (2005).
Ulrich (1998 p 128) concludes that “human resources should become an agent of continuous transformation”, and this means that learning has a higher importance in an organization than ever before. One of the main driving forces of today’s organizations is the development of intellectual capital, and with the markets, customer demand and technology changes becoming more frequent, there is a need for the fast delivery of training and development programs. Development through learning and training can provide organizations with a competitive advantage. Becoming the partner of strategy execution through designing relevant employee reward, e-learning and development structures to match the organization’s long term and short term goals is important for every company. The below argument would prove that blended learning provides organizations with more flexible and more effective training opportunities than plainly classroom-based or e-learning through reviewing the related literature and research, mostly models developed by Khan.
Benefits of blended learning
E-learning and blended learning can improve the efficiency of the company, the competency level, response to changes and employee engagement. Through embed learning, companies are able to save money on travel arrangements, deliver relevant knowledge and improve the competency of their employees. Embedding blended learning programs into reward and recognition systems would be one of the main motivational forces within the organization’s human resources management system. (Khan 2005)
Blended learning, on the other hand, combines personal interactions between student and tutor and online instruction. (DeWolfe Wadill et al. 2011) Web-based workplace learning allows a faster interaction and more effective communication platform than classroom-based tuition. However, the corporation needs to ensure that the courses deliver both useful and easy to understand resources and support is provided for employees.
According to Weaver (2008), there are further benefits of e-learning and blended learning, like reach and scalability, consistency, lower cost of delivery, improved technology, leveraging existing knowledge and investments, sharing knowledge, higher acceptance of employees when creating new capabilities.
Further, blended learning and e-learning has a great importance in creating lifelong training and improving employability, empowering employees, succession planning and promoting self-managed development. According to Storey, (2001 p. 6.) the promotion of highly committed and capable workforce has an empowering effect on the organization, if the learning objectives of the courses are in line with the organizational goals. As “organizational capabilities represent the missing link between strategy and action” (Ulrich 1990 p. 7.), it is an effective method to manage change, as well.
Limitations of e-learning and blended learning
Blended learning has some limitations, as well as benefits, as highlighted by Weaver (2008). One of the main limitations is that as people are usually social learners, the limitation of interaction in person might also affect the learning experience. There is no “learning tension” created, unlike in classroom environment, and this might result in learners not taking the course serious enough. Creating an accredited course would possibly cost the organization a larger amount of money than delivering an organizational training or “upskill program”, and the lack of a skilled facilitator might create some disorganization, as well. Weaver (2008) argues that the technical background, platform creation and design might also mean extra costs for the company.
Building effective blended learning programs
Blending online and offline learning is a simple form of blended learning and it can provide all the benefits of one-on-one tuition, interactivity and community features. In this case, the off-line elements of the course would be managed by an online platform. (Khan 2005 p 203.) In case of building self-paced learning programs, employees can benefit from moderated peer-to-peer discussion, while all the materials and knowledge databases would be available online.
According to Singh (2003), blending performance support and learning practice is a good tool to increase productivity and help employees implement their knowledge in the most effective ways, and creating continuity in the development of all participants. The concept is based on continuity and change. Various companies choose to deliver their statutory training materials through the Internet, and line managers do “spot checks” of knowledge, or a written test is completed online as a team. This has various benefits, and while classroom facilities would be limited in the number of participants at the same time, uploading the course and test on the Intranet portal and delivering the training in short deadlines is now possible. Singh (2003) also talks about the cost optimization benefits of blended learning, and suggests that where there is no technological background to create high-tech platforms or software, a simple PowerPoint presentation could be used alongside with collaborative coaching sessions or questions and answers sessions.
The blend can have different elements, according to Singh and Reed, (2001), like synchronous physical formats, online formats, and self-paced asynchronous formats. There are various uses of online and blended learning within an organization; from the time when the employee starts throughout their career. Every blended learning program needs to have the right ingredients; well-chosen audience, well-structured content, financial plan and analysis for deliverability options and infrastructure for delivery.
Measuring effectiveness of a blended learning environment
Nagura and Arakawa (2003) assume that blended learning is one of the most effective management skill training methods. The authors found that management skill programs increase both effects and efficiency. (Nagura and Arakawa 2003, p. 69.) The HRM department needs to evaluate the effectiveness of the overall training program, the studying by e-learning and the quality of materials as well. Employee surveys and knowledge checks need to be completed regularly, in order to increase employee input and involvement. The main factors the authors suggest managers to measure are:
- Extent to matching needs
- Extent of program participation
- Extent of achieving purposes and goals.
However, the authors of this study would like to complete the above list with a very important success factor: how does the blended learning system benefit the company, and how does it match organizational objectives, missions and goals? Although many human resources managers implement incentives into the training, and employees are rewarded through their appraisals with line managers for participating in the program, learning can only create “knowledge asset” for the organization, if the results in effectiveness, customer satisfaction, compliance, productivity or cost-efficiency show an improvement in line with the organizational objectives. (Swart and Kinnie, 2011)
Although many authors have emphasized the fact that blended learning programs developed for long term can be more flexible and effective than simple e-learning courses, (Khan 2005, Singh 2003, Weaver 2008), there are changing needs in every industry that need to be taken into consideration. Blended learning is still agreed to be the most effective way of creating lifetime training programs. Although blended learning can save money and time in delivering skills and knowledge, continuous engagement of colleagues and discussions with the higher management of the organization need to be implemented in the planning process. Matching the content with individual employees’ needs and organizational objectives is a task that has emerged in the end of the 20th Century within human resources management, and gains more and more importance as challenges and changes occur more often. Making the learning and development program through e-learning or blended learning become a part of the rewards and recognition system, improving the diversity of skills and knowledge asset value in the organization is a synchronization task that needs careful planning and an effective evaluation system.