The emerging role of HR practitioners: Expectations, challenges and trends

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Paine, Sonja
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Business
Unitec Institute of Technology
Du Plessis, Andries
Masters Dissertation
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
human resource practitioners
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Paine, S. (2009). The emerging role of HR practitioners: Expectations, challenges and trends. Unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Master of Business, Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
To sustain a competitive advantage organisations rely not only on technology, patents or strategic positions but also on how their workforce is managed. This emphasis on ‘people’ as a source of competitive advantage increases the interest in how HR practitioners in New Zealand organisations manage their employees since the extent to which the employees are managed is a critical element in sustaining and improving overall organisational performance. Competing in today’s turbulent global economy provides additional challenges in the HR function and adapting themselves to those changes has become an occupational reality for HR practitioners in New Zealand organisations. Hence, the aim of this study was to establish if HR practitioners in New Zealand organisations are equipped with the capabilities that can increase HR effectiveness. A quantitative approach to research was followed with the objective of gathering data on a large scale of participants self identified opinions regarding core capabilities currently inherent and/or needed to increase HR effectiveness. This put the researcher in a strong position to identify possible shortfalls in HR practitioner’s capabilities and therefore addressing the research question and aim of this study. The data was collected via a survey questionnaire, which was specifically designed by the researcher for this study. Data was collected from 364 members of the Human Resource Institute of New Zealand (HRINZ) who had ‘opted’ in to participate in any forthcoming HR research requests. The return rate of the survey was 41 percent. In assessing the current state of HR practitioners’ capabilities the researcher decided to chose five HR themes which were closely related and widely cited by researchers/authors in HRM literature. The first two themes focused on the HR practitioner’s role as a change agent and strategic partner since the complexities of change in the modern New Zealand business environment require the right capabilities to initiate and implement the necessary programmes and practices to support organisations in gaining or maintaining their competitive edge. The three remaining themes focused on HR practitioner’s responsibility of improving relations in the organisation with the goal of balancing the internal complexities. The pressure of forces such as skill shortages, the increasingly multi cultural society as well as accommodating life outside workplaces compels HR practitioners to implement new practices and/or changes and therefore requires certain capabilities. Findings of the study show medium to high positive results in self identified HR capabilities in all of the HR themes. This signifies that HR practitioners in New Zealand organisations possess capabilities that potentially can increase HR effectiveness. Moreover, the study profiled HR practitioners in NZ organisations regarding multiple demographic issues e.g. highest educational level, number of years of experience, job classification and so forth. Findings suggest medium to strong positive relationships between number of years of experience in job/occupation and all of the five HR themes.
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