Global HR Strategies for a 21st-Century Workplace
In the past few years, Human Resources (HR) department was only charged with recruiting employees to fill available organisational vacancies. However, in the current globalized market, HR has shifted from just filling vacancies in the organization to looking for ways to gain a competitive advantage. Increased globalization has brought significant changes to the way HR functions. Cui et al. (2016) opine that the current HRM is facing complex problems that are aggravated by rapid changes in the nature of work, managing a multicultural workforce, changing customer needs, globalization, changing technology and increased competition. Therefore, HRM needs to be strategic to provide solutions to the broad range of problems facing organizations in the 21st century. Organizations attain a competitive advantage by adapting faster to changes that occur in their environment. Strategic HRM needs to develop and change based on the changes in the environment to develop competent human resource management (HRM) with the ability to enhance organizational capabilities by accommodating employees’ needs and creating an environment that influences determination, dedication, loyalty and productivity of the employees. This research task will focus on the case study of Lenovo to explore its HR situation and develop a program of HR strategies that will assist Lenovo to overcome HR challenges in the 21st century workplace. This paper proposes that Lenovo’s HR should adopt an HR program that attracts and selects the best talents and promote employee’s career development to overcome talent shortage in the global phenomenon.
Lenovo is one of the multinational corporations that operate in a globalized market that is characterized by increased competition, changes in consumer needs, changes in organizational structure, management of diverse workforce, and others. The objectives of this research are to determine
- The HR challenges facing Lenovo when operating in a globalized market.
- How Lenovo managers should be responsive to the HR changes in the 21st century.
- The HR programs that Lenovo HR should use to overcome the HR challenges they are facing.
- What are the current challenges in managing people, and how can strategic HRM assist in overcoming the challenges?
- What is the contribution of HRM in achieving organizational goals?
- What specific strategies help an organization overcome the 21st century HR challenges?
The rapid changes in the nature of work in the 21st century have a significant impact on the employees’ feelings and motivation. The strategic HRM has to create an environment that responds to employees’ needs effectively to create an environment that enhances employees’ determination, commitment, loyalty, and satisfaction. Therefore, motivation is one of the most critical factors that strategic HRM has to consider in the context of globalized 21st century to keep a highly positive and competent workforce. While there is no motivation theory that explains effectively employees’ behavior at work, this paper chooses Maslow’s hierarchy of need as the theoretical framework for this study.
The theory posits that people are motivated by in-built intrinsic motivators that are arranged in hierarchical order. At the bottom of the pyramid of needs are physiological needs, followed by safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization needs. An organization has to satisfy each level of the needs to ensure that employees remain motivated.
Multinational companies are intensifying their efforts in the international market with a view of capitalizing a wide range of benefits that come with operating in a global business environment. However, going international is a strategy that requires significant changes to address challenges that come with internationalization. There exists significant literature that addresses the Human Resources issues that organizations are facing in the 21st century in the context of globalization. It is essential to underpin the specific strategic HRM practices that face organizations operating in a globalized market.
Bal (2011) conducted a study with the aim of addressing human resource management issues that organizations face in the 21st century and how organizations can develop a strategic view of addressing. The Bal (2011) study employed an exploratory approach organizations when operating in a globalized context are predisposed to increased competition for top talents, rapid changes in the work environment thus impacting on skills and knowledge, changes in customers and employee retention challenges. Bal (2011) identifies that human capital is a unique factor for an organization to gain a competitive advantage. Therefore, he proposes an HR strategic approach that involves enhancing the employee’s capacity for change through empowerment, ensuring the significance of the human capital to the organizational success and evolving organizational decision-making to align with changes in the business environment.
Similarly, Hashim and Hameed (2012) conducted a study on HR issues and challenges facing organizations in the 21st century and their possible solutions. The study employed a content analysis approach and established that workforce diversity, changes in management, technological change, compensation, employee retention, and motivation are the most significant HR challenges that organizations are facing when operating the globalized 21st century context. Hashim and Hameed (2012) underscores in an attempt for organizations to overcome these challenges they need to employ a strategic reward and motivation program to promote employees commitment and loyalty to the organization, provide training and development program to enhance human resource skills and competency to adapt effectively to changes in the environment and to recruit the right talent.
Moore (2016) identifies that effective human resource coaching is the most effective strategy for overcoming the 21st HR challenges for organizations. Moore (2016) recognizes that organizations face uncertainity and complexity when operating the 21st century context and it is vital to employ practical coaching approaches such collaborative management and a highly dispersed system of information and team management to overcome HR challenges.
In another study, Nasir (2017) studied the most dominant HRM challenges facing organizations in the 21st century. The study identified recruitment and selection, career development, employee promotion, conflict resolution, employee motivation, and industrial relations as the main HRM challenges that organizations face in the 21st century. The study identifies that organizations need to be proactive rather than reactive to the rapid changes in the business environment to ensure positive outcomes. Nasir (2017) affirmed that strategic HRM in the 21st century need to adopt strategic recruitment and selection program to attract and retain the best talents, reshape organizational expectations to align with changes in the business environment, develop competency framework to identify the skills and competency that the organization require in the context of globalization and invest in the right technology.
Papiano (2015) conducted a study to establish what it is like to operate in the 21st century HRM environment. Papiano (2015) used an exploratory research approach and identified that for HR managers to be successful, they need to employ a forward thinking strategy to help them identify what is new and what works in the 21st century context. Additionally, his study identified training and development as the most effective strategy for ensuring effective HRM in 21st century by empowering and providing employees with the skills, competency, knowledge, and capabilities that align with changes in the business environment.
Yadav and Singh (2014) also studied the paradigm shifts in HRM in the present. They opined that while organizations face multiple challenges in the 21st century context, paying focus on attracting, nurturing and retaining the best talents should be the main HRM strategic objective to help the organization gain a competitive advantage in the face of challenges.
Lenovo is a Chinese owned personal computer manufacturing company that was established in 1988 (Zhou & Huang, 2014). The company experienced significant success in the Chinese market, and this prompted the company to expand its business by going international with a view of venturing into the global large market base. It was in 2005 when Lenovo went international for the first time through acquisition IBM’s PC division. While it is Lenovo had never been into the international market, IBM was a sophisticated multinational company that was active in more than 160 markets across the globe (Zhou & Huang, 2014). It is only of the Chinese of the group that went to negotiate the acquisition of IBM who could speak English. Zhai & Qi (2014) asserts that Lenovo established two headquarters, one in China and the other in the USA to streamline its internationalization strategy. Subsequently, Lenovo has succeeded to become on leading PC manufacturers in the world. This study intends to explore the HRM challenges that Lenovo experiences when operating in the global market to develop a program that would help Lenovo overcome the challenges.
This study employed an exploratory case study approach using the case study of Lenovo to establish the HRM challenges Lenovo experiences while operating in the international market and determine how it can overcome the challenges. Review of the literature review was used to complement the exploratory case study to confirm and identify the most effective strategic HRM practices that Lenovo should adopt to overcome the challenges. The results were analyzed based on the intended objectives of the study.
As abovementioned, the Lenovo began its internationalization strategy in 2005 through the acquisition of IBM PC division. Since then, Lenovo has expended to other areas in Asia, including Singapore and Malaysia and Western Europe. While Lenovo had grown very successful in China since its inception in 1988 it had minimal contact with the global market given that it was an offshoot of a Chinese government research institute. Subsequently, expansion to the global market was marred with significant cultural and managerial chaos that impact significantly on Lenovo’s HRM practices.
Increased competition for talents and difficulties in recruiting, developing, and retaining top talents in the global phenomenon is one of the biggest HR challenges facing Lenovo in the 21st century. Lenovo serves customers in more than 160 customers. Therefore, Lenovo has to compete for staff in a tight labor market and an environment that is increasingly resource-constrained as demonstrated by (Stahl & Köster, 2013). The global labor market is facing significant demographic shifts which are making employees less predictive. For instance, millennials are easily bored, and Lenovo faces significant challenges trying to provide for them a flexible work environment to ensure their satisfaction.
As abovementioned, Lenovo has customers in more than 160 countries, and therefore, it has a cross-cultural workforce that is increasingly diverse. The diverse workforce has different needs meaning that Lenovo HR has to address all of their needs due to differences in culture, religion, gender, education, race, and others. The diverse workforce is essential in meeting the diverse needs of the customers across the globe. Meeting the needs of a diverse workforce is a challenging issue for Lenovo.
Lenovo operates in a culturally diverse environment, thus raising a challenge to cope with the different cultural needs of its customers. Lenovo experiences challenges when trying to adopt a global cultural approach in the different markets it operates. Lenovo has to localize essential elements such as management, staff and decision-making processes to ensure that they align with the local market needs.
It is evident from the analysis of Lenovo that the organization experiences significant HR strategies when operating in the global market in the 21st century. The HR Challenges that Lenovo experiences are consistent with those that have been highlighted in the literature. The biggest HR challenge facing Lenovo in the global phenomenon is talent shortage and difficulties in recruiting, developing, and retaining top talents. The increased competition for top talents and resource constraints are making it challenging for Lenovo to attract and retain the best talents. Shifts in demographics, high employee turnover, and increasingly less predictable employees are giving Lenovo HR significant challenges. Human capital is a unique factor that contributes significantly to the competitive advantage of a business. Therefore, finding the right talent is an essential factor in achieving improved organizational performance. It is essential for Lenovo to increase investment in the selection, management, and retention of the best talents.
The analysis also established that cross-cultural management is a severe HR challenge for Lenovo. Given that Lenovo has customers in more than 160 countries, meeting all the needs of the diverse labor in these countries is a challenge. Cultural barriers in the different markets are the other challenge impacting Lenovo HR in the global phenomenon. Customers’ needs in different markets must be met to ensure continuous sales.
Given that the talent shortage is one of the biggest challenges facing Lenovo HR in the global phenomenon, the following program was recommended to offer solutions.
Strategic talent recruitment and selection strategy
With the fierce challenge of the talent competition in today’s world, it is imperative for Lenovo to follow the following program.
Lenovo should adopt a recruitment and selection policy that picks the most suitable talents that are loyal to the organization and corporate values. It is vital for Lenovo to observe the following principles
- Recruit based on evaluation of the needs of external recruitment.
- Prepare a thorough action plan before selection through things such as job description and specifications, the examination on professional knowledge and contingency ability that is based on professional ability tests, IQ tests, and others.
Other than selection, retention is another critical factor. Training and development is an essential strategy for improving employee retention by empowering them and providing them with the skills and competency needed to deal with the changes in the business environment. Training improves quality and competitiveness of the employees, thus giving Lenovo a competitive advantage over its competitors.
- Lenovo should offer continuous practical training programs to strength quality of the newly acquired talents, inject corporate values, and culture.
- Offer management training programs to the managerial level employees to align them with current organizational needs.
In conclusion, operating in a globalized market comes with significant cross-cultural management issues, talent recruitment and retention, changes in technology, and managing organization merger and acquisitions. Lenovo is a Chinese multinational company that experienced significant challenges during its initial years of internationalization. However, through effective utilization of HR strategies of the 21st century, such as strategic recruitment, effective communication, and human capital management, Lenovo has become the leading PC maker in the globe.
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