ADDRESSING HUMAN RESOURCE CHALLENGES IN NIGERIAN ORGANISATIONS A STUDY OF SELECTED PRIVATE SECTOR ORGANISATIONS IN RIVERS STATE.
1.1 OVERVIEW OF HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
In recent years, there has been growing awareness among organizations, of the need to effectively manage their human resources, which is a critical factor in the success or otherwise of any business. In Nigeria, both the public and private sectors have embarked on programmes aimed at enhancing their human resource management system for improved performance. However, the country (Nig.) being a developing economy, much work is needed in the area of human resource recruitment, deployment, reward and compensation management.
Human resources management itself on a generic level comes with all kinds of challenges – especially in Nigeria. In human resources management, what we are doing really is making sure that we have the right number, calibre and quality of people (the workforce) who together can help the organisation to achieve its set goals. When we say people, we’re looking at them right from how they are brought into the organisation which is what we call attraction, recruitment and selection, to how they are managed while they are in the organisation, how the organisation up-skill them, how they are given the right level of competency, so that they can be useful to the organisation; to how they are plugged into the various holes, i.e. the vacancies that occur; putting the right people in the right positions at the right time so that you (HR management) are always right on time in order that you can deliver the set objectives.
A look at that broad spectrum shows that HR comes with a whole lot of challenges, especially in our country because right from the point of recruitment, attraction or selection, the main challenge is how to attract the right people. One may say how can we have a problem like this when we have more than a hundred public and private universities, polytechnics, technical colleges? There is a difference between quantity and quality, so for us, the challenge is getting the right quality of people. We have had interviews over and over again where people who have been through the university appeared before you and you start wondering if they have been to secondary school. And if you are a company that will not compromise on a standard, the fact that you appeared at interviews is not automatic employment. In most private companies recruitment and selection is very fool-proof; it is watertight, you can’t influence it, no matter how big or highly-placed you are either within the company or outside it. So, people will go through those decision gates based on set criteria, and therefore, if an organisation have a thousand or more people coming and such people still don’t meet the requirements, they won’t be taken. So, that is a major challenge.
As the world approaches the next millennium, organisations are in dire need of dynamic and resourceful managers who are capable of formulating management strategies to be firmly placed ahead of competitors. This requires an appreciation and in-dept knowledge of the principles and concepts of management and the ability to act proactively to the changing business environment (Oladimeji, 1999:7).
Human resource management deals with the management of people working together to produce goods and/or services for the entire society (Nwachukwu, 2000:2). Armstrong (2001:4) defined Human Resource Management as a “strategic and coherent approach to the management of an organisations’ most valued assets; the people working there who individually and collectively contribute to the achievement of its objectives”.
Any organisation that will stand the test of time in this highly competitive economic environment must of necessity adopt a realistic human resource system, planning and utilization that could motivate as well as carry along the entire work-force in the efforts towards attaining organisational goals and objectives. It takes the effective management of human resource to enhance the survival of an organisation. Perhaps, it may interest one to hear/know that as important as human resource is to an organisation, it is the most difficult to manage. Unlike other resources, (material, money and time), human beings have the faculty for reasoning and the ability to respond to, or resist the various stimuli that may be considered intolerable. Nevertheless, human resource is considered most important of all other resources needed by an organisation because human beings make things happen either efficiently or inefficiently. With human beings, problems that may be posed by other factors of production can be overcome to achieve the desired results. Apart from being users of other resources, in ways that will yield the best result, human resources are themselves the most dynamic, complex and unpredictable. Therefore, it is not an overstatement to conclude that the survival of an organization is largely enhanced or guaranteed by the ability of effective human resource management to attract, train, retain and motivate employees.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Individual employee performance-quality production: Quality of production must be considered as part of productivity because one alternative might be to produce more but at a lower quality. At one time, American goods suffered as a result of this trade-off. Edwards W. Deming, an American quality expert, argued that getting the job done right the first time – through pride in craftsmanship, excellent training, and an unwillingness to tolerate delays, defects, and mistakes – is important to quality production. Organisations throughout the world are proceeding to the quality front in many different ways, ranging from general training of workers on improving and maintaining quality, to better engineering of products prior to manufacturing. One way in which organisations have focused on quality is by using international quality standards. A set of quality standards called ‘the ISO 9000 standards’ has been devised by the International Standards Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland. These standards cover everything from training to purchasing and are being implemented widely in European countries. Companies that meet the standards are awarded a certificate. The purpose of the ISO 9000 certification is to show that an organisation has documented its management processes and procedures and has a trained staff so that customers can be confident that organisational goods and services will be consistent in quality.
However, the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) is the sole statutory body that is vested with the responsibility of standardising and regulating the quality of all products in Nigeria. SON was originally established by the General Yakubu Gowon military regime through Act 56 in 1971. It was then called the Nigerian Standard Organisation (NSO).
Many organisations that have made major improvements in the quality of their operations have recognized that there is need for a broad-based quality effort. Total Quality Management (TQM) is another comprehensive management process focusing on the continuous improvement of organisational activities to enhance the quality of the goods and services supplied. TQM programmes have become quite popular as organisations in western world strive to improve their productivity and quality. At the heart of TQM is the concept that it is customer focused, which means that every organisational activity should be evaluated and analyzed to determine if it contributes to meeting customers’ needs and expectations.
Another characteristic of TQM is the importance of employee involvement. Often, quality improvement teams of other group efforts are used to ensure that all employees understand the importance of quality and how their efforts affect quality. Benchmarking is another facet of TQM, in which quality efforts are measured and compared with measures both for the industry and for other organisations. It is hoped that providing measurement information on quality will help to make continuous improvements in quality a part of the organisational culture.
For some organisations, the promises of TQM have been realized; but for others, like some private organisations in Nigeria, TQM may be viewed as a short-term program that later will be dropped. However, some observers contend that quality concerns have become much more basic to the way work is done. They argue that it is a widespread philosophy caused by competitive pressures. The idea of continuous improvement has indeed been built into the approaches of many producers of goods and services. It is acknowledged that human resources (employees) play a major role in effecting worthy outputs in an organisation. Indeed no enterprise can function effectively without an effective workforce. Unfortunately however, several challenges constrain the smooth-functioning and effectiveness of Nigerian organisations’ workforce. Attainment of effective workforce for the country will require the recruitment of appropriate (potentially effective) personnel, optimizing the performance of the existing personnel, motivating and retaining them in the system.
Organisational Performance is the outcome of various efforts on: profitability, market share, technology, culture and vision based leadership, contributing team efforts, sufficient skilled work-force, required package benefits, necessary development programs, internal communication, peaceful industrial relations, grievance handling and constructive worker’s participation in management. While individual (or employee) performance has to do with how much and how well such employee is up and doing in performing that task. A worker needs a skill or important expertise for,
“low cost manufacturing capabilities, strong e-commerce expertise, technological know-how; a proven track record in defect-free manufacture, expertise in providing consistently good customer service, excellent mass merchandising skills, or unique advertising and promotional talents”.(NIM: 1st Quarter, 2011: Management in Nigeria, p.24)
An understanding of the factors which determine how individual personnel perform is a key to formulating strategies for addressing the challenges which constrain their performance. These factors include the characteristics of:
- The external environment of the work system e.g. the socio-cultural characteristics of the customers/clients being served such as the level of education, their knowledge, attitude and beliefs about a product/service; economic characteristics such as income levels, the availability of resources, etc;
- The enterprise system e.g. the allocation of organisation’s resources; the internal environment and culture of the organisation– its framework/structure, how personnel are paid, managed, supervised; leadership of the system and its programmes, etc.;
- The workers themselves such as their own socio-cultural background, knowledge, skills, experience, motivation, work ethics etc.
However, the argument is what can be done for the human resource (HR) in Nigerian organisations– private sector, to attain optimality in labour performance. By addressing the human resource challenges? This is what propelled this research study. Providing a satisfactory answer to this argument is the main focus of this study. To answer it successfully, the basic variables in Human Resource Challenges were isolated thus: qualified manpower, manpower mix, training and development, language and tribal problems, placements/selection and wage rates. These problems are what the study seeks to tackle so as to create an enabling springboard for good performance of human resource in Nigerian Organisations – to engender quality of labour outputs.
Also, the knowledge of the determinants of good performance informs the formulation of instruments or “levers” to be used in strategies for stimulating better performance of enterprise personnel. Some of these strategies are related to the job; others to the support system and others to the work environment. Collectively, these strategies may be used to address the various human resource (HR) challenges. The strategies may be directed at individual personnel, at the team, the organisation or the entire system. Organisations face a number of important competitive challenges like adapting to global business, embracing technology, managing change, responding to customers’ needs, developing intellectual capital, managing diversity, working with line managers and containing costs. To overcome these challenges and handle the critical situation they need to have a strategic vision on their Policies, Practices and developing their People. Hence the 3 Ps are very important for the organisations to move towards effectiveness in performance. We know that the best organisations go beyond simply balancing these competitive demands; they create work environment that brings out the best from employees, contribute to their needs and meet the short term and long term goals of the organisation and its members.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The objectives of any given study are to create in-depth perception of the problem under study. Thus, the primary objective of this study is to identify the challenges militating against effective utilization of human resources and how to address them in Nigerian Private Sector Organisations.
In line with this primary objective, the secondary objectives include the following:
- To find out whether lack of qualified manpower is a major challenge to human resource utilization in the private sector organisations;
- To know whether training and development are critical factors in addressing human resource challenges in private sector organisations;
- To find out whether language and tribal differences are part of the human resource challenges in private sector organisations;
- To know whether wage rate as a major challenge of human resource management play considerable influence on human resource utilization in private sector organisations?