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Human Resources in the Service Division

As jobs in most advanced economies shift from the goods-producing sector to the services sector, so do many of the tasks involved in successful human resource management. Job analysis, recruitment and selection, training, performance appraisal, compensation, and labor relations are all likely to be affected by this current trend towards increased services jobs.

There are a few specific concerns for human resources in the service industry.

1. Job analysis, which involves gathering information to understand how to perform a job successfully, is likely to be conducted differently in service jobs than in manufacturing jobs. As much of service work is knowledge work, in which job activities are less observable, this may mean differences in the way that job analysis is conducted. In service jobs, observation of job tasks may not be as useful as interviewing job incumbents or using a standardized form such as the Position Analysis Questionnaire.

2. Recruitment and selection practices in the services sector are as varied as the types of positions in this sector. Many of the job areas that grow during economic recessions do so because there are fewer attractive job options available.

Thus, during strong economic conditions, some areas (i.e., health care, day care, amusement and recreation, and private colleges) may have difficulty recruiting job applicants, and may need to be more innovative in their approach.

During strong economic times, this may also mean that these areas may find a lack of suitable job candidates, which may mean that selection criteria are changed, such that some skills are trained by the organization rather than having them present upon hire.

3. Training in the services sector may require increased attention to technology skills, as many service sector jobs now require the use of computers. Even entry-level retail jobs make use of computer technology for inventory and sales, and the ability to use these machines is critical. Additionally, customer-service skills are a crucial training need in many service industry jobs; thus, this type of training is likely to increase in value in service jobs.

4. Performance appraisal in the service sector is likely to be different than in the goods producing sector. While a physical accounting of performance through measuring production is possible in manufacturing and similar industries, it is less possible in service jobs. There may not be observable outcomes in service sector jobs.

Thus, appraising performance by measuring behaviors is more appropriate for this sector. Additionally, outcomes other than production can be measured in service jobs: customer satisfaction, sales in a retail location, or other outcomes can be meaningful ways to measure performance.

5. Compensation in the goods-producing sector can be specifically linked to productivity (e.g., actual goods produced), but tying compensation to outcomes in the services sector may be more difficult. Some outcomes are easy to measure, such as in the number and value of homes sold by a real estate agent, but others are more difficult to assess, such as the degree to which a customer service representative has successfully resolved a customer's problem.

Thus, compensation that effectively rewards and motivates employees must be based on a performance appraisal that reliably and accurately captures performance. Human resources managers should use caution when developing rewards based on outcomes; a poorly designed incentive system may result in employees aiming for outcomes at the expense of customers.

For instance, if a car repair shop pays employees for each new set of brakes they install, employees may begin to try to sell brakes to customers who don't need them in order to receive extra pay.

6. Labor unions originally grew in prominence in goods-producing jobs but now also represent many employees in the service industry. Although labor union membership has declined overall in recent decades, unions are still a presence in both manufacturing and service jobs. Many service sector employees seek representation from a union due to concerns about pay, benefits, and job security that may not be as strong as in some other areas of the economy.

Task 10. Match the verbs with nouns to make a correct word combination then use the text above to check them. Make up sentences of your own. Take turns to read them to your classmates.

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