Cambridge consultants has for more than 50 years taken a lead role in product development and technology solutions. Founded in 1960 by Tim Eiloart and David Southwarth with the goal of providing innovative product development and conception, for Technology Companies mainly based within Cambridge city set up by Cambridge University graduates. Cambridge consultants has active offices in the United Kingdom and United states, the company has expansionary plans to grow into the Asian market beginning with the opening of its Singapore office to serve the enormous and fiercely competitive Asian hi-tech manufacturers in countries like Australia and Japan. The company has a stronghold in technology consultancy where it provides companies with advice on market strategies, management solutions and operational support mainly to technology based companies or entities. Recently Cambridge consultants have diversified its operations into providing innovations for the medical technologies industry to assist in instrumentation, diagnostics as well as drug delivery. The company has also heavily invested into wireless technologies innovations for the present and create capacities for the future, for example satellite, ZigBee and NFC. Cambridge consultancy’s mark in advancements made in human resource was recently recognized by People Magazines as among the most admired companies, categorized along with giants such as Rolls-Royce, Shell and Ford. It also received the Employee Award of the Year at the Cambridge News Excellence Award. Despite the difficulties faces by technology oriented companies during and after the financial downturn it achieved between $20-50million in total revenue, the company was also able to open its US office with 19 employees accumulating $42500 in annual revenue and its Singapore offices as well.
- What are your roles, position and responsibilities in the company?
I am the overall Director of Human Resource since 2006, though I’ve been in employment at Cambridge Consultancy for the last 20 years. I manage and oversee all company activities involving staffing, training and career development, performance reviews, benefits and personnel retention functions in both the U.S. and U.K. offices. I have previously been the head of human resource and corporate communications at Cambridge Consultants, which helped me gain relevant experience and training as I progressed up the hierarchy of command. I am also presently a senior consultant at Strategic Dimensions and previously a director at Higher Talent Limited, at Mallon Errington Consulting I was the recruitment consultant and did consulting for AoN limited and MM&K limited. My areas of expertise have been in recruitment of staff, formulation and evaluation of HR policies and managerial trends given my wide connections of key industry professionals and experts.
- How is the company’s PR department structured? Outline its roles? How is it adapted to modern HR conventions?
The public relations department’s leadership is headed by the director of human resource who receives reports from heads of human resource from both the US and UK offices. The heads of human resource work closely with the chief consults from various departments to manage their staffing and performance needs or requirements. The PR department is small with about 12 employees working as consultants to help the organization appreciate and satisfy its human resource requirements. Since Cambridge Consultants Ltd is a involved with highly technical clients in the health and electronics sector therefore, its staffing activities are directed towards hiring of highly specialized and knowledgeable individuals who include scientists and engineers. The core functions of Cambridge Consultants human resource division is organization, staffing, training and development, rewarding, performance management and skill appraisal. Human resource has especially put focus on the roles of staffing and training in the organization.
Planning for the organization is an important role to the organization; this means that HR makes preparations for the organization’s future prospects in terms of people. Planning for the organization is always made in alignment with the company’s objectives for example, this year Cambridge Consultants was searching for engineers in its bid to expand into the wireless technologies sector. Human resource is tasked with determining the staffing needs of the company and how the different personnel will work best without clashing of roles or authority causing chaos and confusion. This can only be achieved through proper job design where the different related tasks in the company are grouped together into a job, the different jobs into a department. Job design includes the process of job description and analysis where description of duties, responsibilities, expectations and necessary qualifications. Job descriptions help the recruitment process to work efficiently as those who match the qualifications stated are the ones considered.
Human resource conducts regular performance evaluation relating the expected outcomes of a job and the actual achievements gained by an employee and the effect the performance had to the overall organization to weigh if the human resource strategy is effective. This kind of evaluation is conducted using information/feedback from customers concerning product quality and customer service so that HR can produce a performance report to grade execution. At this stage the HR is able to report on areas with weakness and suggest possible solutions.
Training and employee development keeps the organizational elements up-to-date concerning emerging issues and trends, therefore keeping employees competitive and more productive. Human resource at Cambridge Consulting conducts assessments on current industry practices and the company’s workforce capabilities so as to assess for the need for employee training to increase labor potential. Once the need for training has been established the human resource department makes adequate arrangements to provide either internal or external training opportunities for its employees. Training at Cambridge Consulting is keyed to include career development to enable progress through the hierarchy of authority and rewards.
Rewarding of employees at Cambridge Consulting is determined by the human resource department, who assign specific remunerations to specific jobs depending on the job class and weight of duties involved.
- Based on experience, what do you think should be the recommended order of HR activities?
I personally think that the functions of human resource have been adequately researched and organized for any random firm to implement and work toward achieving organizational goals. However in the case of start-ups and other small/struggling firms I recommend that some of the PR functions should be merged and conducted simultaneously to save company resources and to save time. Stages like planning and job design and analysis could be done together while staffing and performance evaluation should be combined as well since these items circumvent within related activities and data.
- How does the company approach employee training? Which training is common? Who should receive most training?
Most formal companies including Cambridge Consultants provide an appropriate environment for employees to grow their careers based on their skills, talent and interest. We at Cambridge view employee development through training as a necessary requirement to ensure that our workforce remains competitive to produce quality commodities and service. Training is important because it looks after our employees’ welfare career-wise as knowledge gained is used as sufficient foundation for promotion or advancement through the company’s ranks, through doing this the company will have a dedicated workforce who appreciate and understand the company’s objectives who are invaluable to us. Although this creates opportunities for employees to advance their careers to avoid stagnation in life, it also creates the problem of time wasting as tasks or projects in the company are limited with deadlines majority of the time.
- What makes rewarding of employees such a sensitive issue to date?
Remuneration or rewarding of employees will always be an area of concern because; this is where gratitude for staff efforts is conducted therefore prone to exploitation. Equity and fairness must take the front line, where rewards awarded are equivalent to contribution or effort put to company activities. Management staff is notorious for assigning high rewards to their roles at the expense of hardworking employees, in coercion with human resource leadership as hefty bonuses and allowances. This results to under motivated employees who may quit or decrease their efforts in tasks and other company activities.
Part 2: Interpretation of Findings
Human resource is a necessary requirement for any company to function mechanically through company structure and maximize on labor, as they seek to achieve organizational goals (Handy, 1999). Quality products and service can only be provided by a well motivated staff willing to do all they can for the company’s success; therefore the employee welfare should take priority to any human resource manager. The labor market has become more specialized and extremely competitive therefore individuals are demanding for better compensation for their opportunity cost of working elsewhere of for leisure time. Rewarding employees in forms such as remuneration, bonus, allowances and compensation go a long way in encouraging the employees to work harder towards the company’s development (Greenberg, 2004). Motivation to employees is also an evolving area of HR where companies like Cambridge Consultants Ltd and Google are developing new innovative ways of keeping workers happy and eager to work for them. Through ideas like giving workers free meals and allowing them to work in small effective units/groups has made the office environment fun and creativity enabling.
Human resource is facing increased pressure to account for their activities and resources allocated to them to facilitate their existence and roles. Management and other key stakeholders require that HR just like other departments offer value and acceptable facilitation of growth to the company. Human resource staff size need not be large, as HR activities are quite simple and straightforward. Reduction of resources used by the department’s activities can go a long towards profitability as costs are reduced. Cost and time factors have both led to a popular practice by companies today, where companies outsource some or all HR activities to external parties. Outsourcing firms have specialized skills and employees who can work faster and at a lower expense (Ulrich, 2009). This cost restructuring is not restricted to PR personnel but ripples throughout the company, human resource if tasked to control human capital costs for the whole company through measures such as hiring the best qualified to highly defined jobs for the deserved rewards.
Planning is a very important role to human resource as all staffing activities are first predetermined and organized to create efficiency. However, planning should be done more carefully to reduce overlapping of duties and a proper chain of command so that flow of information is correct and timely (Rothwell & Kazanas, 2010). Through proper job analysis employees will have clearly spelt roles and functions so that employees do not waste time in irrelevant tasks, or clash over who is supposed to do what therefore inculcating responsibility in the workforce. Communication recently has become an increasing function of human resource an activity controlled by the hierarchy of authority, therefore when HR is structuring the chain of command it should consider how company information will flow. HR should determine what information will be given to whom and ensure this is done in a timely manner, employees should know who to report to and what to report on.
Companies should show interest in employee skill development and growth in their competencies; this ensures that the company’s future is bright due to a highly skilled workforce who understands the organizations goals and work efficiently towards their achievement. Companies program training workshops or lectures to provide information to their employees on current trends and emerging issues in various disciplines including managerial, technical and entrepreneurial training. Training aims to widen the educational/professional foundation for their employees from which, individual workers can decide where they want their careers to progress towards.
While human resource aims to comprehensively define different job types and rewarding scheme associated with each job, the hierarchy of leadership is an automatic outcome (Handy, 1999). Lower level employees have constantly resisted management/authority, attributed by leaders distancing themselves from their subordinates and use of autocratic style of leadership. Management rarely connects or interacts with these employees since supervisors and heads of departments report departmental activities and performance to top level management. These internal struggles slow down progress and cause inefficiencies in the human resource strategy. Human resource should therefore describe managerial roles such that there increased communication and interaction with their subordinates, to make sure that employees continue appreciating their understanding their contribution towards achieving the organizations goals. Managerial control over any company’s human resource and their activities is fast becoming an area of key interest to human resource experts and scholars (Ulrich, 2009). It’s advised that HR should have reasonable influence over managerial activities surrounding the HR discipline, and consequently management’s control over human resource activities should be restrained. Management has had a history of using the company’s human resource to influence who is hired, fired or promoted and what kind of returns are associated to a task; therefore causing inequality and bias in the firm which results to an unmotivated workforce.
Part 3: Recommendations
Therefore based on the findings from the interview priority would be given to employee motivation through improving their working environment and conditions, through equalizing salaries for similar jobs, opportunities to for training and promotion. When employees’ welfare is cared for efficiency in production and delivery is definitely guaranteed therefore helping in achieving organizational goals. Secondly attention would be placed to structuring management to reduce its influence over HR activities so that recruitment and rewarding can be free and fair. The human resources department would be next to be restructured, its size and functions will be reviewed so that the cost-benefit analysis from HR activities are measurable and evaluated constantly.
Handy, C. (1999). Understanding Organizations, 4th Edition. Penguin.
Rothwell, J. & Kazanas, C. (2010).Planning and managing human resources: strategic planning for human resources management.HRD Press.
Greenberg, J. (2004). Managing behavior in organizations. Prentice Hall.
Ulrich, D. (2009). HR Transformation: Building Human Resources from the outside In. McGraw-Hill