Human Resource Management for Service Industries

13 Pages   |   3,402 Words

Assess the role, tasks and activities of Human Resources Management.

Human Resource management is growing in importance in today’s economy. By definition it is the process of managing people in a structured manner, and establishing a supportive relationship between the employer and the employee. It also leads employees towards empowerment that increases the job satisfaction level, and retention rate. This is one of the many roles of HRM in companies nowadays. Efficient HRM practices lead to organizational empowerment, which positively relates to job satisfaction and affective commitment (Linas Turauskas, 2011).

An effective HRM would give decision-making power to employees, which comes from an efficient information sharing system, within the hierarchy in an organization. As it is, well-informed employees are in a better position to making timely and relevant decision.

The traditional roles of HRM include recruitment, compensation design, performance appraisals, and employee motivation through recognition and reward. Another important responsibility of HR is to provide for the training and development of the employees, according to the needs of the company, in order to increase the overall productivity of the firm. 

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The main aim of this study is to understand the growing importance of HRM in travel and tourism companies in the UK. For this study, British Airways has been chosen for its large scale operations and efficient HR practices. Human resource management is the organization that focuses on the recruitment, management and well being of the people in the organization. HRM is important for inculcating motivation in the employees in a firm. Each and every employee’s contribution to the firm is important and is effectively monitored and rewarded through a performance analysis which is systematic and transparent to the employee being rewarded.
Before, we move on to the importance of HRM in the tourism industry, and specifically the British Airways, it is vital to study the tourism industry itself. It is a major employer of the world’s total population. All regions of the world; developed or underdeveloped have tourism as a major economic engine that contributes immensely to their respective GDPs. In 2000, it was found that tourism supports 11% of the total world GDP and supported 8% jobs worldwide that year (Tuckman, 2010).
According to the stats by the world tourist organization the international tourism generated US$1.030 billion in export earnings in the year 2011. It is also expected to exceed the US $1 billion mark in the year 2012. Even, in 2011 exports increases by 7% from tourism in UK in just first 8 months.
“Despite current volatility, international tourism is proving to be an important economic driver for many European economies, bringing much needed foreign exchange and helping to ease the pressure on their balance of payments,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. Europe is the major attraction for tourist around the world. It accounted for 59% of the international tourists’ arrivals and 52% of the tourism revenues. The significance of the Europe tourism industry can be seen by the World Tourism Organization stats, which has estimated that there will be 717 million incoming international tourists in 2020 in Europe.
As it is, the tourism industry is one, which is service-oriented. The performance of such a company’s employees will determine its success. Therefore, it is important that proper training and development is provided to the employees of a travel and tourism firm. Also, it is extremely vital to know the employee relations and the effect of the employee law on the workforce in a travel company; BA (British Airways) in this case, to be able to understand the HRM practices better.
What is fascinating in this industry is the way we see contradictions in the provided services on a daily basis. These contradictions are fed by diversity in the industry in that every customer demands differently from the tourism company and see their services differently. Also, if we look at the entire tourism industry it is diverse geographically, culturally, for business purposes and also different due to the varied customer expectations. The services in the tourism sector cannot be generalized, and this is the one major cause of contradiction. Every tourism unit set up in a different region must be having a different purpose than any other unit in some other region of the world. The focus of this research is British Airways, which is an emerging global business.
Also, when we look at the nature of the work in this industry it is seen as low skilled and therefore, lowly paid.
There is an argument between these jobs being low skilled or otherwise provided by Zanzi-ibar and Suliaman. Suliaman argues that frontline positions like food service and housekeeping are deemed low skilled in Europe and North America. Suliaman (1996) argues in relation to Zanziibar and declares little tourism related jobs as unskilled (Sulaiman Zanzibar and Onkalo, n.d.). As, it is when some employees are coming in from coastal villages they do need an understanding of the kind of services that are required by the customers. Precision in a foreign language and effective writing skills are required by many companies. Not many of these people from the coastal areas have had the chance to work in tourism related enterprises other than selling shells, hand woven caps and miniatures.
There is also an increasing debate in the context of the tourism industry, presented by (Lashely, 1996); those employees who are positioned at the front desk are to be empowered as they are in direct connection with the customers. The contradiction is that they are least equipped and are required to work in a pre designed parameter without referring to the higher authority, whereas greater resources must be allotted to such employees in the tourism industry (Tim and Smedley, 2008).
In relation to the above, Baum (1995) presents the idea regarding the tourism industry:
One of the expensive investments in employees is the training and development. The characteristics of hospitality industry’s internal market includes high labor turnover, especially for those workers, who work in a contact to customers. Baum argues that if the labor turnover is high indicating that the laborers are to leave anyway, and then it does not make sense invest in their training and development. He stated that if employees are trained they leave and go to the competition, which is a total loss to a firm in the tourism industry.
This proposition of Baum can be seen as a solution to the problem of contradiction in empowerment in the industry. Providing a quality service is very important for making a happy work place and reducing employee turnover. This will make employee proud and empowered (Baum and Nickson, 1998). Now, we have understood some major problems in the industry being a contradiction in empowerment and high labor turn over resulting in less investment in training and development. The high labor turn over, is also fed by the seasonal demand variations, that it turn make the tourism industry less stable. As, this lack of stability discourages the firms from adopting the empowerment route.


It is suggested that tourism companies must have a plan where they invest in the training and development of employees during low seasonal demands enabling retention for a longer time.  As, it is when seasonal demand falls, and then employees have to look for work elsewhere, and during this time if tourism companies plan a training and development phase, then employees would be less willing to move to competitors. Front line employees could be rotated to other departments in the firm to enable them to understand the company better and make a stronger relation to it. All this could achieve a better retention in the tourism industry (Baum and Nickson, 1998).

Describe the current state of employment relations in your chosen Travel and Tourism organization. Also explain how employment law affects the management of human resources.

British Airways has always tried reducing glass ceiling effect by promoting equality and fairness. Thus, encouraging diversity and providing employees with an equal opportunity to work (Explore our working way, n.d.). British Airways ensure that its organizational goal is well communicated to its employees. Employees within BA are treated as colleagues thus representing a clan culture within the organization. BA has come up with many initiatives to build superior organization-employee relation. These initiatives include, allowing employees engagement in recognized trade unions and adoption of upgraded incentive plans. In addition to this, the organizational structure and programs, such as senior sponsors program, champion program, one destination program, leadership program and training ensure that employees’ are engaged and motivate (British Airways, 2009-2010). Colleagues are kept well informed about the company and customers. This happens through rigorous internal communication, ensuring employees engagement at acme. Along that, BA ensures that its employees’ exhibit superior attitude by associating rewards with behaviors such as, listening to colleagues, and if necessary training and workshops are done to inculcate these attitudes. BA promotes diversity and ensures that employees are satisfied, motivated and feel proud of being a part of BA (British Airways, 2008-09).
Within all these efforts to maintain employees relation BA has done quite well. There are two schemes of employees’ motivation at BA i.e. intrinsic and extrinsic. BA kept its employees extrinsically motivated by providing perks, bonuses and good pay. While, it made sure employees to be intrinsically motivated by treating them as colleagues, updating about the business and engagement to various activities and making them feel they are an important asset for organization sure. In other words, employees motivation plan at BA are quite effective. There were some strikes called out by cabin crew, but we saw that these were covered with enthusiastic pilots who were willing to take on their responsibilities.    
 (b) There are certain employment laws that affect the employees at BA. They are as under:
Employment Act 1980, 1982:
These acts reduced the power of trade unions at the workplace. They allowed the employers to refuse to negotiate with the trade unions.
The trade unions Act 1984:
This required the trade unions to allow their members a secret ballot before the union could take any industrial action like strikes.
Employee Act 1990:
Closed shops were made illegal under this law. They were those firms where it was obligatory for employees to be a part of the union. This act also allowed the employers to sack any employee who took to a protest without first conducting a secret ballot.
Trade union reform and rights Act, 1993:
This act required the unions to give the employer a week’s notice before taking any industrial action. The idea was to provide a cooling off period to make the industrial action less likely (McDonald, 2000).

Evaluate selection procedures of your named organization and produce a job description and person specification for a position of Travel Retail Manager.

British Airlines has a stringent recruitment process, and one has to go through many facets of evaluation, until eventual recruitment. The recruitment team has highly qualified and experienced individuals with a diverse background. BA follows the standard recruiting practices like Equal Opportunities Legislation and one laid down by The British Psychology Society and Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). This process design is such that it thoroughly looks into and finds the most competent recruits.
Recruitment process consists of three stages that start with filling of an application form. After acceptance, one qualifies for the assessment stage where one has to go through group activities interviews and psychometric test. In the third stage, one has to go through fact findings, presentations and role plays.
The recruitment process of BA is quite extensive and brings out the best talent available. As we see BA strictly follows the standards to ensure to perform recruitment at best. However, BA should also go through physical examination processes like blood and urine testing to ensure physical fitness. In addition to that, BA’s application form got severely criticized by the employment lawyers. These lawyers claimed that BA could be in breach of both disability and sex discrimination laws. This form requires detailed information regarding children and time needed to look after them etc. (BA recruitment process criticised, 2011). In addition, there are certain tests such as personality tests that should be conducted. We further analyze the selection procedure we can say that though it’s quite thorough, but it raised certain concerns and it probes mental development but no physical. In addition to that, every recruit doesn’t have to go through whole assessment procedure. So, it also creates biases in equality of opportunity and clashes with its core value. This process though quite thorough, but certainly not an icon for industry to follow. It needs amendments and improvements ensuring probing of physical and mental development, addition to that ensuring equality of opportunity.         
A job description provides a detailed description of, expected role, activates to be performed, the reporting responsibilities, performance and rewards (Riley, 2012).          
 The job description will be posted on BA’s website career section. We assume that BA is the one stop choice for graduates and professionals around the world; we expect to attract candidates for the travel retail manager position.
The job description will be placed on online job hunt sites like and to attract a much larger profile database, so that it is easier to attract the best talent from around UK and elsewhere. Our specifications would again surely indicate that the position is only for individuals who have living and working rights in UK and that no sponsorships will be given in this case (Riley, 1996). All the resumes received will be kept in the BA HR database for further possible job postings, as and when jobs arise, the suitable candidates will be notified.
A proper medical examination for example, blood and urine tests will be conducted to examine the candidates before they are hired. A personality assessment is also important in this context as helps judge the candidates’ sociability before they are hired in the company. After this, the candidates are called in for the next round of an interview, which are panel and then followed by another round of individual interviews and once again to the final interview. If a candidate passes all the stages he is made the final offer and is made aware of all policies and the contract.
BA offers reasonable compensation and growth opportunities for its employees. Its compensation structure is as under:
A starting salary in the range £23000 – £26,000
An annual performance rewardscheme
premium standby and unlimited standby discount on British Airways and some other airlines after eight months’ service for you and two others
 discounted tickets for all acquaintances including family and friends
One bookable concession per year on British Airways Other benefits include:
Gym membership
A range of other products, and access to health clubs, special offers on holidays,  and childcare vouchers
Job Description
Job Title: Travel Retail Manager
General Function: To lead the team in a fast retail environment. Also to oversee the everyday operations of the store and improve sales and achieve daily targets. 
Duties and Responsibilities:
Individual will be responsible for exceeding sales and productivity.
Individual will have to meet the target of the business
Individual will have to cooperate with others as a good team member
Individual will have to demonstrate to others high level of customer service
Individual will be responsible for overseeing the store operations.
Source: (
Person Specification
Must be 22 – 32 years old
Must have a Bachelors degree with a relevant experience of at least 3 years        
Extensive traveling experience with a good understanding of long haul destinations.

Discuss the different approaches of training and development used in your named organization. Also evaluate how the training and development activities contribute to its effective operation. 

Training and Development

British Airways has always considered training to be a significant factor in organizational success and employee motivation. For the previous year, 171,000 training days got delivered across all departments. BA conducts different training programs as per the need. Some of the training programs worth mentioning here are;

Cabin Crew Training:

According to annual report 2011, almost 90,000 days got dedicated to cabin crew training. Reason being, most of interaction with clients or passengers take place at this level. So to create a positive word of mouth and impact behavioral training for cabin crew is necessary. BA understands its importance as we can guess from the amount of days dedicated.

Diversity and Inclusion:

BA has always been a promoter of diversity. Thus, it provides its line managers and colleagues with mandatory diversity and inclusion training. This training program focuses on recognition of harassment, bullying and training employees to cope with such behaviors.                     

Safety Training:

            BA also conducts safety training programs, especially for its front line managers. As a result, BA injury rates are well below the industry average. BA, also takes necessary steps to enhance safety standards like the introduction on an Airmanship in Heathrow ramp. These training programs provided its fruits reducing injury rates to 0.00507% (Corporate Responsibility Report, 2010-2011).

General Training:

This is mandatory training program, focusing on polishing skills and bringing out competencies as per the job. This training program ensures that the employee is aligning with the organizational goa (THE BA WAY IN THE WORKPLACE, 2006-2007)l.

Specific Training Programs:

BA has initiated training programs, like training to flying staff after cabin crew announced strike and passengers with reduced mobility training (PRM) (What's the BA dispute about?, 2011). 
Training and development are not expenses but investments, which bring in positive results for the organization. If we look into the BA’s training and development programs we, like BA, can also observe their importance and effects. Cabin crew is one of the important places to create a positive impact and word of mouth, as its place with the highest customer interaction. If we capitalize on that, cabin crew can become an icon for an air line and it can be branded like The Singaporean Girl. BA has never underestimated cabin crew training and because of that it has dedicated a fair portion of training time to this program. Specific training programs, like pilots interacting and passengers with reduced mobility are a part of cabin crew training. This results in customer encouraging superior services thus bringing in more loyalty and business. This is one of reason for BA to be recognized as among most prestigious airlines.
Diversity and inclusion program has allowed managers and employees to act together to achieve a common goal. This allowed people to learn to respect each other without bias of religion culture, race, gender or color. BA has increased number of female managers (22%). Because of such efforts, BA has become a pride for its employees.
Last but not the least, Safety training has reduced rate of injury up to 0.00507%. This is well below industry level, and because of such standards and performance; BA has become a superior organization to work.
BA recruitment process criticised', BBC News business, april 2011, p. 1.
British Airways, Annual Report and Accounts, p. 41.
British Airways, Corporate Responsibility Report, p. 43.
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Boyd, C. (2001) 'HRM in the airline industry: strategies and outcomes', Personnel Review, vol. 30, no. 4.
Corporate Responsibility Report', Annual Report 2010-2011, p. 40.
Explore our working way, [Online], Available: [09 October 2012].
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Lashely (1996).
Madrid (2011) Eurpean tourism grow above expectation.
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