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Hard and Soft HRM – UPDATED 2024 – A Complete Guide

Hard and Soft HRM – UPDATED 2021 – A Complete Guide
Hard and Soft HRM – UPDATED 2021 – A Complete Guide
Soft HRM and hard HRM are two opposing methods of Human Resource Management. HRM is the strategic approach toward acquiring, hiring, training, engaging, and retaining personnel.
Posted in: Business Management
Hard and Soft HRM – UPDATED 2021 – A Complete Guide
Hard and Soft HRM – UPDATED 2021 – A Complete Guide

Management of human resources is not easy, but it is also a critical function for all organizations since people are a very precious asset that must be properly managed in order to achieve the organization's objectives. Soft HRM and Hard HRM are two distinct HRM strategies that advise firms in dealing with their employees. Even though they have significant differences, most people get these two terms mixed up. In this post, we'll try to distinguish between the two, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each, to help managers decide which style to use.

To begin, we must keep in mind that HRM is a very nebulous topic with numerous competing theories and points of view when it comes to defining it. Fortunately, both Soft and Hard HRM recognize the importance of human resources in all enterprises. Any organization can obtain a competitive advantage over its competitors by successfully utilizing its people resources, optimizing their talents and expertise, and appropriately motivating them to achieve the organization's goals.

Hard and Soft HRM

Hard and Soft HRM

It started in 1989 when Storey explained the Harvard and Michigan management models. Harvard and Michigan had already developed two theories, i.e., theory X and theory Y. They tried to describe two competing HRM methods via their theories. The first, known as hypothesis X, regards employees as lazy and only working for their personal benefit. According to the theory, employees' interests are diametrically opposed to those of the company. Thus, management is responsible for making adjustments and modifications in employee behavior in order to fulfill the company's objectives.

More importantly, theory X is more concerned with the nature and goals of the organization. Therefore, it completely ignores the nature of its employees and condemns them as lazy. Employees are treated as equipment in this approach. As a result, the duty of keeping them in order and in good working order falls to management. Theory X was named the Michigan model. It is also called Hard HRM.

Hypothesis Y, on the other hand, is the polar opposite of theory X. It sees employees as real people with emotions and sentiments who need to be motivated appropriately. They are seen as more than just robots. The employees have a genuine interest in their employment and a desire to achieve personal fulfillment via hard effort. Managers are tasked with instilling enough motivation in their staff and ensuring that they reach their greatest potential. Unlike the prior approach, this one does not consider humans to be intrinsically lazy. It sees people as self-sufficient individuals who can be creative and proactive. In addition, if they get management's encouragement and persuasion, they can help the company achieve its objectives. So, theory Y turned into the Harvard model, also called Soft HRM by many.

Soft Human Resource Management 

Soft Human Resource Management

The soft HRM model emphasizes treating people as one of the company's most valuable assets. When management employs soft HRM, it sees its employees as valuable resources that are crucial to the company's long-term goals. Employee needs will be factored into long-term organizational planning by human resource departments.

Soft HRM differs from hard HRM in that hard HRM systems treat employees as just another resource. Hard HRMS treats employees similar to the equipment and machines required to run a business. Employees are seen as resources needed to help the firm run under the hard HRM strategy, but their needs are ignored.

An emphasis on how employees are rewarded for their success and how employees are motivated to be actively engaged in accomplishing the company's strategy, mission, and values are some of the primary aspects of soft HRM. Soft HRM also includes a stronger drive to empower employees by encouraging them to take ownership of their jobs. It allows open communication between management and employees and more performance-based awards and recognition. When employing a soft HRM strategy, companies are more likely to implement a more competitive pay structure, like as profit sharing or company incentives.

Soft HRM Examples

Soft HRM Examples

Managers in businesses that employ soft HRM allow workers to consult and ask questions about orders. There is nearly always a two-way conversation, which leads to fresh ideas, however slowly. Soft HRM is the polar opposite of Hard HRM in that long-term goals are more likely to be achieved. The need to replace personnel is unusual among a motivated workforce, but even if it does, the process will take too long due to the nature of this technique.

In soft HRM, employee participation is high, motivation is high, staff commitment is high, absenteeism is low, and productivity is high. You can use a soft HRM strategy to maintain the employee collaboration, cooperation, excitement, and effort of the staff. It will allow employees to attain maximum performance and a competitive edge. Furthermore, employing soft HRM improves communication and teamwork between employees and management. As a result, employees enjoy working under the direction of democracy, which provides an equal chance for all individuals and ensures that the proper people are hired for the position. Furthermore, it encourages employees to work in groups rather than following orders or rules. It can also help in reducing delays, monotony, and increasing employee creativity.

Soft HRM, on the other hand, has a number of flaws, the first of which is the increasing cost of skill development, training, wage hikes, and the support personnel to work. In addition, you will need to postpone decision-making to allow for the synthesis of employee and management viewpoints. Furthermore, you may notice that the middle managers are dissatisfied because they believe their contributions are undervalued. Moreover, the use of soft HRM creates inertia in employees, and in certain developing nations, management levels are limited, and the status of her father's children, for their loved ones in the organization, and those who hold those positions do not deserve power.

Hard HRM Examples

Hard HRM Examples

Hard HRM refers to a system that is not especially employee-friendly. HRM that is task-oriented is known as hard HRM. Though every firm strives to maximize profits and complete tasks, what sets hard HRM apart is how they see personnel, notably their employee rules.

Manufacturing sectors are the best example of hard HRM. In reality, industrial relations are a high-lightening challenging HRM. The workers are paid minimum wage, and there is a high attrition rate. The salary is entirely determined by performance. There are no such orientation programs in place to motivate and engage personnel. They still enjoy medical bonus pay, leave benefits, and the trade union act is quite supportive of industry workers. So, while the manufacturing business may exhibit more hard HRM features, they also exhibit some soft HRM qualities. In reality, no organization is entirely built on hard or soft HRM.

As previously said, human resource management can be divided into two categories: hard HRM and soft HRM. Despite the fact that hard HRM may not appear to be as appealing as soft HRM at first, it has its own value in businesses. Hard HRM is task-oriented, which means the organization follows a rigorous hierarchy. There is centralization, and the higher authority makes the majority of the decisions. Previously, all organizations were devoted to hard HRM since tasks were the highest priority. Hard HRM is characterized by autocratic leadership. Employees are paid for their work, but it is a pittance, and there is no such thing as employee motivation or engagement. Employee attrition is highly high in these types of firms, which have a pressing need to meet client demand. However, because there are no such feelings for human resources, employee churn is very high. Because the recruiting and firing process is never-ending, recruitment strategies are meticulously prepared. These businesses are continually hiring, and career possibilities are plentiful. However, in reality, every company has a portion of its human resources in physical copy. However, attitudes are changing, and even industries that are cost leaders in terms of marketing have particular procedures for employees and their grievances.

Hard Vs. Soft HRM 

Hard Vs. Soft HRM

Human Resource Management is divided into two types: soft HRM and hard HRM. Human resource management (HRM) is a deliberate approach to recruiting, hiring, training, engaging, and retaining employees.

Soft HRM stresses the human side of HR, understanding that the workforce is made up of people with goals and feelings. Soft HRM practices such as two-way communication and company transparency allow people to reach their full potential.

Hard HRM, on the other hand, does not place a premium on employees' need for self-actualization. Instead, it views employees as a resource that exists simply to assist the organization in achieving its objectives. One-way communication between management and employees is common in hard HRM.

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