An person with several probably contentious issues has a career in human resources. The essence of human resource decision-making makes it difficult to execute many strategic strategies (Berman et al. 28). This is because the human resources profession requires handling human assets that have different characteristics from any other resource in the organisation. The performance and behavior of human resources are extremely difficult to predict, and therefore it becomes problematic to make a strong argument that a particular investment in the workforce such as a new training program or pay plan can lead to some specific improvements in performance (Bratton et al. 36). This paper purposes on looking at three controversial issues that are likely to be faced within the human resource career choice. It will look at sexual harassment, firing of employees as well as flexible work options and how the impact the human resource career.
Workplace sexual harassment is defined by the US Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) as any unwelcome act of sexual advances or conduct which is likely to interfere with the job performance of another work or leads to the creation of an intimidating, offensive and hostile work environment (McDonald 2). Some of the characteristics of sexual harassment include inappropriate touching, persistent sexual jokes that are offensive to other workers as well as posting offensive sexual material on public workplace property. Sexual harassment is a serious and controversial issue in the workplace that affects both men and women (Walsh 39). Taking a career in human resources implies that one needs to be ready to tackle this issue of sexual harassment by developing and managing policies for handling any allegations that might come along. In the United States, sexual harassment is denoted as a form of discrimination which violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964, specifically Title VII (McDonald 11).
The sexual harassment topic should be taken seriously by the human resources because it significant consequences to the organization if it is not handled properly. One thing the HR professionals should know is that a majority of employees are not aware of what exactly constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace and this escalates the problem. The HR professionals should, therefore, take a leading role in investigating complaints and coming up with policies that emphasize on zero tolerance (Walsh 48). The policies should also incorporate an effective procedure to be adopted in handling investigations of sexual harassment. The HR professionals should be alert to undertake an immediate investigation immediately a complaint is filed on sexual harassment. The investigations should be handled and spearheaded by the HR staff who needs to ensure that the victim and the accused are fully aware of the seriousness of the issue at hand (McDonald 16). Another critical point that the HR professionals needs to know is that the sexual harassment complaints need to be treated with utmost confidentiality and any information regarding the issue should only be revealed on a need to know basis.
The role of the HR professionals in firing employees is also a controversial topic in the human resource career. The human resources are responsible for many aspects regarding the employee relations including hiring, recruitment, and termination. Firing or termination of employees is very unpopular yet mandatory role that the HR professionals must play in the organization (Bratton et al. 22). Big and small organizations at some point in time have to terminate an employee because of various reasons. Some of the most common reasons why the HR professionals needs to exercise their role of termination include poor performance and low productivity, unethical behavior, and indiscipline as well as non-conformance with the rules and policies of the organization. The HR professionals need to be cautious when firing employees by ensuring there is compliance with employment and labor laws and protection of the rights of the workers during the termination process.
There are many employment and labor laws which prohibit termination based on some characteristics that are legally protected (Berman et al. 67). The HR professionals, therefore, needs to ensure proper interpretation of these laws to protect the employer from intentionally or unintentionally violating the rights of the employees. The presence of laws such as the anti-discrimination law and the Americans with Disabilities Act does not allow termination of employees based on certain characteristics which are protected under the law such as sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, nationality or any disability. The HR professional has a critical role in reviewing the reasons for termination and to ensure there is proper compliance with such laws. Another controversial issue in the HR career relating to employee termination is on the last paycheck and the ability of the terminated worker to continue enjoying some employer-sponsored benefits (Bratton et al. 96). The HR department is involved with the management of the payroll, and during termination, there needs to be proper calculation and issuance of the final paycheck as well as solving any disputes that might arise as a result of the payment.
Flexible work options
The flexible work options is a common practice in the modern workplace, and this has been a controversial topic for most individuals in an HR career. The HR professionals face a huge challenge in properly implementing flexible work options to meet the organization’s strategic goals effectively. The key issues that the HR professionals face in this area relate to trust and supervision, achieving fairness for all employees, effective communication between employees who work at different times and meet less frequently as well as the integration of the part-time employees with the job sharers (Brescoll et al. 378). The concept of flexible work options makes the HR career challenging whether it is working from home, telecommuting, remote locations or flexi-hours (Timms et al. 89). The controversy with this issue is getting the policies right and putting trust in the employees that they can complete tasks without being physically in the office.
It is also the role of the HR professionals to convince the management that the employees need flexible work options and the organization is likely to achieve various strategic benefits from adopting such an initiative. Once there is approval of the flexibility programs, the HR professionals also must take up a role in ensuring that there is proper implementation governed by policies and procedures (Timms et al. 101). One of the greatest impediment that is likely to make the implementation of the flexible programs controversial is likely to come from the employees themselves and their supervisors (Brescoll et al. 381). Those employees who prefer to show up to work every day on a timely basis are likely to resent those employees who telecommute. Supervisors may also view the flexible arrangements as an endeavor that is likely to hinder productivity. The HR professionals, therefore, need to be very keen in managing the flexible work arrangements and be ready to solve any issues that may arise.
In summary, a career in human resource management requires dedication and the ability to handle various controversial issues that may arise. Some of the common topics that are highly controversial in the modern workplace which present HR professionals with great challenges are in the management of sexual harassment, firing employees and management of flexible work options. All these topics have various consequences to the organization and the employer if they are not handled properly because they might lead to costly lawsuits and hinder an organization from achieving strategic goals.
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Brescoll, Victoria L., Jennifer Glass, and Alexandra Sedlovskaya. “Ask and ye shall receive? The dynamics of employer‐provided flexible work options and the need for public policy.” Journal of Social Issues 69.2 (2013): 367-388.
McDonald, Paula. “Workplace sexual harassment 30 years on: a review of the literature.” International Journal of Management Reviews 14.1 (2012): 1-17.
Timms, Carolyn, et al. “Flexible work arrangements, work engagement, turnover intentions and psychological health.” Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources 53.1 (2015): 83-103.
Walsh, David J. Employment law for human resource practice. Nelson Education, 2015.