ISSN 1175-5407

NZJHRM Winter 2010 - Volume 2 - Editorial

Welcome to the second edition of the New Zealand Journal of Human Resource Management (NZJHRM) for 2010.

This is the first edition I have named after the seasons and while we are tailoring off the end of winter, the title does not reflect the tone of this issue! This is also the first issue where we introduce a new section of the journal called ‘Expert Commentaries’.

This section relates to brief commentaries by experts in their particular field, and we have drawn our first set of commentaries from key speakers at the 2009 HRINZ National Conference. These commentaries provide a more succinct and practitioner focus and we hope you find the difference in these papers enjoyable. In particular, as always, I welcome feedback on the issue so please feel free to email me your comments (my address is below).

The first paper, by James Ryan and Philip Rose, explores the relationship between Confucian principles, organisational structure and employee retention in a Chinese context. Due to current high skilled employee turnover rates, employee retention is an area of HRM in China, and this undertakes qualitative research of 23 organisational members from ‘high demand’ job categories. Results identify several important issues relating to organisational structure and its perceived impact on employee turnover.

The second paper by Martyn Sloman and Sanna Malinen considers the role of government and the policy options relating to skills development in the modern economy, reviewing the skills debate in New Zealand that surrounded the high profile Job Summit that was held in February 2009. They argue a fresh approach is needed in policy formulation and that this should be based on a more detailed consideration of the way in which the acquisition and application of individual knowledge help organisations add value and provide a model outlining categories of work activity in the modern economy. Furthermore, they present case studies from New Zealand businesses to illustrate skills development in each of the four work categories.

The third paper by Alison Thirlwall and Jarrod Haar looks at the important topic of workplace bullying in New Zealand. This paper provides an initial insight into workplace bullying in New Zealand higher education institutions, and then compares their findings from similar studies from Norway, Denmark, Turkey and the USA. The results showed that New Zealand workers reported a high occurrence of negative acts and bullying. The frequencies were far higher than found in the comparable European studies, especially relating to the frequency of bullying, but similar to those from the USA. Explanations include national culture and national attention to bullying, and conclude by recommending that more research is needed towards this phenomenon.

Our fourth authors Lesley Gill and Christine McConnell highlights the complexities of training employees, giving the wide range of generations in the modern workplace. The paper examines the similarities and differences related to training across three generations: Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y. It then uses that information to highlight relevant skills already likely to be held by today’s trainers and to select practical interventions that address the particular challenges involved in achieving effective training for multiple generations simultaneously.

The last paper by Jim Arrowsmith examines the theory and practice of strategic HRM, and the growing body of evidence for the success of ‘high performance work systems’ (HPWS) based on teamwork and employee involvement.
This case study of New Zealand Post explores the process of designing and implementing a successful HR change programme based on HPWS. The paper demonstrates how HR initiatives can make significant improvements to business performance and also identifies critical success factors that are of particular insight for New Zealand HR Managers.

Our final section has the three expert commentaries, and the first is by Ed Bernacki, talking about embracing change – one challenge at a time. Ed details the SMART goal setting approach and offers a number of insights from his time at the ‘coal face’ of business.

Our second expert commentary by Debbie Grenfell talks about the challenge for organizations of getting the right people, and how recruiting the right staff maybe vital to an organizations future growth – both during and post recession. She also makes reference to Generation Y employees, providing a link back to our earlier paper by Gill and McConnell.

Finally, Rosemary Howard provides expert commentary on surviving the global financial crisis and how this provides an opportunity for organizations – especially towards the retention of talented employees. She notes the lack of talented staff and especially leadership, and suggests that the costs to organisations of departing staff is exceptionally high, and highlights the important role HR can play in informing managers and executives about the need to invest in people as much as in systems and assets.

In conclusion, we hope you find the winter issue for 2010, particularly with its diverse topics and the new expert commentaries, useful and interesting.

We gratefully acknowledge the reviewers for their constructive reviews of papers, and invite your feedback.

All the best,

Jarrod Haar, AFHRINZ, University of Waikato

August 2010

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