Human resource management covers more ground than people might initially imagine. Some may define it as the interactions between employer and employee in the time period between which an employee is hired, until they are terminated. While this is true, human resources management begins even before this, with the policies that are created by the institution, and the laws that govern workplace relations. In an article by L. Dobb and P. Dick, (1993):
HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
by Kelly Blessinger
To be a proper manager in today’s workplace, one must be aware of the laws that govern the workplace. It is also very important to have written policies and rules in a manual that the employee can refer back to. The manual should be kept up to date, and changes should be made clear to all. Some suggestions for what the manual might include from L. Dobb and P. Dick (1993):
The following laws regarding Civil Rights were found at: http://www.law.cornell.edu/topics/civil_rights.html (1999). Any quotations refer to the web page.
Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1870
The intention of this act was to give "full and equal benefits of all
laws" to all members of the community, regardless of race. This act also
includes the right to "make and enforce contracts." This made discrimination
in hiring and some professional decisions illegal.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
This law set into action many new laws regarding discrimination (mostly
in regards to race) in the workplace. Since this law was originally passed
in 1964, it has been amended several times. From the act, [it is a violation
to] "fail or refuse to hire, to discharge any individual, or otherwise
discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation, terms,
conditions, or privileges of employment because of the individual’s race,
color, religion, sex, or national origin; or to limit, segregate, or classify
employees or applicants for employment in any way that would deprive, or
tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise
adversely affect an individuals stature as an employee because of such
individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin."
Civil Rights Act of 1991
This Civil Rights Act made employers legally responsible for discrimination.
It states: "anyone claiming to have been the victim of intentional employment
discrimination can sue for damages."
The original Civil Rights Laws mainly dealt with race. Later, these laws were amended to include other forms of discrimination, such as gender, age, and disability. The Americans with Disabilities further covers the issue of physical and mental disabilities. Other important Acts that were past were in regards to workplace safety. Prior to the Occupational Safety and Health Act passed in 1970, states enforced their own laws, which varied greatly. From OSHA’s web page, (1999) OSHA’s laws state that employers have a "general duty to provide a workplace that is free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or harm." OSHA has established safety and health standards covering virtually all conditions of the workplace. From Baldwin, (1996) some of those specific standards include:
The Hiring Process
Take care in creating a job ad and description that not only lists the
details of the job, but lets the possible employee know the kind of atmosphere
they will be working in. Think of the job ad and description as the first
impression you will give to the future employee. As an employer, you want
to build a healthy work environment from the interview on. Prepare well
for the interview, and be careful not to ask illegal questions regarding
such matters as religion, marital status, sexual orientation, etc.
It is very important to plan an orientation for new workers, don’t just
throw them into a job. Even if the new employee has 5 doctorate degrees,
they still need training regarding the proper procedures for the particular
situation. Plan each step of the orientation, don’t try to cram in too
much at once. From L. Dobb and P. Dick, (1993) "Some managers feel that
an employee’s first day on the job may forever define how he or she feels
about working in the library." (p. 3) During orientation, it is good to
go over company policies and procedures, give the new employee a tour of
the grounds, introduce them to the other employees’, and answer any questions
that they may have. Set a meeting a month in advance to answer any questions
the new employee may have. Set up goals, and dates to achieve them by.
It is also a good idea to have a probationary period in which the employer
can observe as to how well the employee is doing their job, and if they
would like to keep them on as an employee or not.
Communication is extremely important factor in the workplace. If an employee feels comfortable with their employer, it not only creates a good atmosphere to work in, it facilitates the flow of ideas and information. If an employee is having a problem, a communicative manager is more apt to know about it. Communicating involves listening attentively, and counseling as what the right course of action may be. Communication can come in many forms. Some companies choose to have meetings, and if done right, meetings can be a great place for interoffice communication. Three communication commandments, according to the Career Development Handbook (1997) are:
If you get enough different personalities working together, there are bound to be problems. Problem behavior is not just a failure to get along with coworkers though. Problem behavior can range from absenteeism, to substandard work, to workplace crime, and those are just a few examples. It is a good idea to have a written policy regarding problem behavior, and make sure that it is spelled out in the manual the new employee gets when they are hired. Once a manager realizes there is a problem they should schedule a private meeting with the problem employee. A private setting important because a manager should never counsel or scold an employee in front of their peers. From L. Dobb and P. Dick, (1993) During the meeting the manager should: "approach the situation as positively as possible, but know beforehand the facts of the situation, what you wish to accomplish through the counseling session, and how you may structure improvement." (p 4) It is important to go into the meeting with a positive attitude that things can be changed. Termination should never be a surprise to the employee. During the meeting, the manager should listen attentively to the employee to see what their side of the story is, and how the problem can be solved. Repercussions should also be laid out if the employee makes no effort at improvement. Schedule a follow up meeting a few weeks in advance to see if and how the employee has changed.
As a manager, it is important to document, document,
document. It is imperative to have a written record of all dealings with
a person who is displaying problem behavior. You will need to document
the first time the behavior was noticed, and the details of the meeting
you had with the problem employee to help amend the problem. It is so important
to document, because if the employee is terminated, they may file a grievance
against you. Be sure that discrimination isn’t a factor in their problem,
especially if they are a protected party under today’s laws. If termination
is inevitable, make sure that it is a private, neutral setting, where both
the employer and the ex-employee can leave immediately after. If the manager
holds the termination meeting in their office, the ex-employee may not
leave when the meeting is over, and more negative behavior has the possibility
to arise. It is also a good idea to have another manager present when termination
is necessary, just in case things do take a turn for the negative, and
as a witness. Keep the termination meeting brief and empathetic, but clear.
Health is the key factor in an effective worker. It is important to follow all of OSHA’s guidelines for workplace health, and to offer generous benefit packages. D. Baldwin (1996) gives us some reasons for benefit packages:
As the saying goes, nothing is sure but change, and the field of Library and Information Science is no exception. The world of Library and Information Specialists has changed tremendously in the last century. What was once a very low-tech profession has become very technologically advanced. We are now in the "Information Age," and as information specialists, we will have to constantly keep up with the new technology coming our way. From L. Dobb and P. Dick, (1993) "Many libraries now have automated circulation systems, telefacsimile and e-mail for interlibrary loan, CD-ROM and online resources for reference, bibliographic utilities for cataloging and card production, and a host of other automated capabilities." (p. 5) By the time we end our careers, there will no doubt be technology that we can't even fathom now.
It is good to have a written policy regarding change
procedures and policies to minimize confusion and disruption. People react
differently to change. Some welcome change as a new challenge, or as a
better way to do things, while in some it provokes feelings of alarm, insecurity,
and displeasure. It is important to communicate change as far in advance
as possible, and always give your employees reasons for the change. From
L. Spiegel's article, (1994) "Give users strong leadership and an active
role in the project rollout. Solicit user input during the proof-of concept,
modifications, acceptance testing, and pilot stages of the project." (p.
Training is necessary in the information profession in today’s day and age. Training is not the department to skimp on money resources, because training will pay off in the end with a well-informed staff. It is a great idea to send staff out to seminars and have hands on training when possible. If the library is located near an academic institution, it is also a good investment to keep up to date with the trends in technology by allowing staff to attend classes. There should be money allotted in the budget specifically for training, and sending employees out to conferences related to the profession. From an article by J.A. Fraser, (1993):
As indicated from the variety of topics discussed, Human Resource Management
covers a wide range of topics. Today’s special library manager has a lot
of jobs to accomplish. As a manager, one must be familiar with the laws
regarding today’s work environment, and keep up to date on the new laws
that develop. They must also be an effective communicator to able to delegate
responsibility, and alleviate conflict. They have to deal with hiring new
employees, and terminating bad ones. Effective Human Resource Managers
strive to make the work environment a healthy one, in every conceivable
1) Baldwin, D. (1996). The academic
librarian’s human resources handbook. Englewood, CO: Libraries
2) Chadbourne, R. (1995). Ergonomics and
the electronic workplace.
Wilson Library Bulletin, 69, 24-26.
3) Fraser, J. A. (1993). Managing emotions
in the workplace: Advice for managers on dealing with employee anxiety
times of change. New York Times, 142, F25.
4) Lewin, D. (1995). Preventive medicine at work. Nations Business, 83, 33.
5) Marmion, D. (1998). Facing the challenge:
Technology training in libraries. Information Technology and Libraries,
6) Spiegel, L. (1994). Change management eases complex projects. InfoWorld,16, 50.
7) Tenopir, C. (1998). Plagued by our own successes. Library Journal, 123, 39-41.
8) OSHA Web site. (1999). http://www.osha.gov/comp-links.html
9) Cornell Web site. (1999). http://www.law.cornell.edu/topics/civil_rights.html
10) Learn 3 Rules for effective communication,
5 traits you’ll need as a manager, 10 motivating factors, and more. (1997).
Career Development Handbook. Nursing, 27, 58-60.