Human resource professionals can play a significant role in creating and implementing sustainability strategies for their businesses (HRM’s Role in Corporate Social and Environmental Sustainability, 2012). Based on data in a 2010 study, sustainability is most effective when it is integrated into the organization’s strategy with more than half of organizations with sustainable business practices having a formal sustainability policy that includes goals tied to the strategic planning process (Bates, 2011). Human resources factors such as top management support, environmental training, employee empowerment, teamwork, and rewards systems can be key elements of implementing successful sustainability initiatives (Daily and Huang, 2001).
In the Human Resources department, many specific business changes have occurred to help with sustainability including the conversion of organizations to paper-free environments. HR was previously the home to cabinets full of paper applications, employee files, and payroll documents. Technology innovations have allowed HR to convert to automated and paperless systems which result in paperless systems like online recruitment and applications, employee communication through company email, and direct deposit.
A study of hotels with Green Seal certification found that nearly all hotels conduct training for employees on sustainable practices but found that a deeper commitment to sustainability practices need to occur (Stalcup, Deale, and Todd, 2014). For restaurants, social responsibility and sustainability can help to attract loyal patrons and employees (Perkins, 2020). The Human resource department can help to ensure that sustainability and social responsibility are integrated into policies and procedures so they are put into practice on a daily basis. For instance, the company orientation can include a discussion of the company’s overall sustainability goals, and the performance reviews for all employees can include measuring the employee’s efforts to meet those goals.
Title 1 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to consider all qualified candidates for positions and to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants and employees with disabilities unless the employer can demonstrate that doing so would cause undue hardship to the employer (SHRM, How to Handle). The Human Resources team is responsible for ensuring that applicants and employees with disabilities are treated fairly according to the law. HR is responsible for defining the essential functions of every position in the organization which usually occurs by conducting a job analysis where each job task or function is evaluated to determine its importance to the performance.
Human Resource professionals need to continually review ADA laws and regulations to help identify areas where the workplace can improve. Continual review of position essential and marginal job functions is necessary to ensure that any requests for reasonable accommodations can be evaluated appropriately. Proactive Human Resource departments are also taking steps to make their workplaces more ADA friendly by bringing universal design principles into the work areas to provide the widest possible range of situations without the need for any adaptation. One example of universal design is to create an office layout that is easy to maneuver for all employees by widening doorways and removing objects that might cause obstacles (Shorr, 2019). Many businesses have focused primarily on physical disabilities in their ADA efforts.
In the 30 years since the ADA has been enacted, only 31% of employees with disabilities had a job in 2019 compared to 75% of those without disabilities (US Labor Department, 2019). Some Human Resource departments have sought broader recruitment strategies to attract individuals with disabilities like a software company that started an Autism at Work program in 2013 (Lu, 2020). Hiring initiatives for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities might serve as a future opportunity for Human Resource executives searching to fill positions within the organization.
Diversity & Inclusion
Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are used by businesses for a variety of reasons. Some choose to focus heavily on these areas, as they support the organization's vision and mission. Others opt to promote them as a result of compliance obligations. In either instance, the Human Resource professionals in the organization are the ones charged with developing diversity, equity, and inclusion practices. HR managers complete four main steps to develop diversity equity and inclusion: 1) data collection and analysis of workforce to determine inequities, 2) strategy design to help the business meet goals and objectives, 3) implement the plan, 4) evaluate and audit (SHRM, How to Develop). Diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are most successful when they can be woven into the corporate culture so that every decision is reflective of these ideas.
Many hospitality organizations have prioritized diversity, equity, and inclusion as values. The hospitality industry has often had much diversity in front-line employees but less so in management and corporate roles (Morrisey, 2020). A 2018 Boston Consulting Group study found that management teams with more diversity reported better overall financial performance with nearly 10 percentage points higher than companies with below-average diversity on their management teams. This means HR departments have work to do to increase the diversity, equity, and inclusion of team members in the future. Some ways that HR professionals are trying to improve are, to recruit employees from different sources like senior centers or job boards like diversityworking.com, to reduce the implicit and explicit bias in the selection and promotion process, to develop diversity training for employees, to increase awareness of the value of diversity, as well as, to identify personal barriers to inclusivity, and to proactively investigate any intentional or unintentional discrimination that may be occurring in the workplace.
Many of the Human Resource functions have evolved significantly as a result of technology. Organizations have relied on technology to streamline HR processes to reduce administrative burdens, to compete more effectively for talent, to improve service and access to data for employees and managers, to provide real-time data to allow managers to effectively manage the workforce, and to allow HR to play a more strategic role in the business (Johnson and Gueutal, 2011). The 2019 HCM Trend Report developed by leading HR analysts states that technology expenses in HR departments increased to $3.1 billion in 2019. Technology is being used not only to transform how employees do their jobs but also allows HR managers to make better decisions about the workforce including compensation, scheduling, promotions, and coaching.
Technology has helped to leverage Human Resources as a strategic partner by analyzing workforce capabilities. Companies are using Human Resource departments to measure employee data and to learn more about where the business is headed using predictive modeling (BasuMallick, 2020). Data gathered about the success of recruitment, employee engagement, employee development, performance, and workforce management can be the first step to understanding. These HR metrics are operational measures that can help determine how efficient, effective, and impactful an organization’s HR practices are (Teeboom, 2019). Human Resource professionals can use that data with sophisticated analytics and smart dashboards to give insights into meaningful action, which can result in a successful workforce. Some examples of software use in Human Resource analytics include Tableau and ActivTrak.
In a Wall Street Journal article ranking the most promising careers of the next decade, Human Resource Managers ranked 35th out of 800 occupations based on new employment projection data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Oh, 2019). The ranking is based on the number of job openings in Human Resources projected to the year 2028 along with median salaries for those holding Human Resources positions in 2018. The number of jobs for HR professionals is estimated to grow by seven percent, which translates to about 14,400 projected jobs annually (Maurer, 2019).
Human Resources professionals have become a recognized partner with company leadership to help grow, retain employees and help develop people-centric approaches to Human Resource Management. Another compelling reason to consider a future as a Human Resource Manager is salary. In 2019, the median annual manager’s salary was $113,300 per year with the lowest 10% of managers earning less than $66,870 and the highest 10% earning more than $201,380 (Maurer, 2019).
Advances in Human Resource Management continue as the workforce evolves. Labor laws change as a result of changes in administration and can result in employee handbook and company policy revisions (Lee, Smith, Nagele-Piazza, Maurer, Miller; 2020). Many issues being discussed at the federal and state levels will have an impact on employers and will result in Human Resource action including, recruitment and termination practices, health care, paid leave, labor relations, workplace immigration, and minimum wage. Human Resource professionals are expected to not only be knowledgeable of the laws, they must be able to take action in the workplace to ensure the regulations are being followed.
There is a large shift to remote work in organizations. Even before COVID-19, a 2019 report (Buffer, 2019) found that 99% of employees would like to work remotely at least some of the time. Human Resource professionals are faced with determining how work will be done both at the workplace as well as remotely. While guest room attendants and cooks are unlikely staff to work remotely, many hospitality functions including sales, accounting, and even Human Resources employees could work in a location other than the hotel or restaurant. In hospitality organizations, many Human Resource managers are faced with determining how work will be completed and where. Some challenges related to remote work that HR is charged with solving include, ensuring employees have the right tools to get their work done, communicating with employees, keeping employees engaged, and establishing expectations (Atchison, 2020).