US firms maintain their competitive advantages by holding on to resources their competitors cannot obtain. What do we mean by "resources?” The term "resources” can refer to anything from rights to a certain oil field, the patent on touchscreen technology, or an exclusive contract with the government. More often than not, however, a company's most valuable resources are its employees. Often, having the "right” employees - the individuals capable of developing iPhones or finding new oil fields - separates the highly successful firms from their less successful competitors. As you begin the journey of this course, you might be saying to yourself, "My company may say I am its most valuable resource, but it really do not treat me like I am valued.” This feeling is one of many elements associated with managing human capital.
In the United States, the subfield of Human Resource Management (alternatively known as Human Capital Management) has a history that dates back almost a century, but the most strategic components of this course emerged as a result of transitions in the workforce in the late 1960s. After the passing of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, all organizations were mandated by the Federal Government to adhere to specific laws, which governed how an organization should respond to and treat their human capital. The transition of women and minorities into the workplace and their resulting contributions to business success incentivized organizations to develop a better understanding of how to integrate all employees into a culture that would reinforce and support the vision and mission of a business.
Human Resource Management refers to the practice of strategically allocating the most valuable resources - people - to the right areas of a firm. This practice involves careful strategizing, good leadership, and other solid business practices. Human Resource Management requires more than a strong human resources department; it requires smart, capable team managers working in conjunction with an HR department to carry out common goals.
The key to understanding and applying the concepts of this course revolves around learning how to become uncomfortable. What exactly does that mean? Every one of us has a core belief system shaped by our individual experiences, situations, and circumstances. This belief system informs and guides our perceptions (i.e. what we believe is or is not valid/applicable to the situation or circumstance with which we are dealing). We naturally gravitate towards those things with which we have some understanding, and we have an intrinsic bias against those things that do not make sense to us, that we perceive as unethical, or that make us uncomfortable. To effectively manage human capital, you have to learn how to step outside of your comfort zone and make strategic decisions in the best interest of the company, rather than those that make you "comfortable.”
You know the basics of managing human capital from your Principles of Management course (BUS208), but this course will introduce you to more advanced topics in the field. You will learn that identifying the best employees begins with identifying the firm's needs and carrying out a proper recruitment and selection process. Training, development, and performance evaluations can then shape the selected employee into an ideal firm resource. Finally, adequate and incentivizing compensation can keep those resources with the firm. This course will cover all these topics and more.
Though you may not be planning to pursue a career in human resource management, much of your career success will depend upon working with the right people. This course will help you appreciate and leverage this fact.