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A Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice

by Michael Armstrong
9th Edition, Kogan Page Ltd., 979 pages, $55

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Keeping up with current thinking and practice in the Human Resources field is challenging and can take up valuable time. A Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice is indispensable for those who need an oracle to consult with questions about everything from policies to talent management. It's a great resource with overviews of key issues and in-depth discussions about the ever-changing roles that HR departments play and gives a glimpse of likely future trends in Human Resources.

According to Armstrong, “the basic aim of Human Resources is to ensure that management deals effectively with everything concerning the employment and development of people, and the relationships that exist between management and the workforce.” The book stresses that it’s a Human Resources function to play a major role in creating an environment that enables people to make the best use of their capacities and realize their potential. Instead of narrowly defining HR, A Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice characterizes HR as a “chameleon function” with variations in practice between different organizations.

The section devoted to how people learn examines different styles and aspects of the learning process. Regarding the workplace as a site for learning is an appropriate mindset for HR professionals and the chapter asserts that learning and working are inextricably mixed. The author quotes Shoshana Zuboff, who described workplace learning as “not something that requires time out from being engaged in productive activity; learning is the heart of productive activity.”

A Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice thoroughly covers the broad spectrum of employee relations and includes sections on developments since 1990. The findings recognize the move away from collectivism to individualism and note that unionism in the workplace continues to decline. Supervisors will find the section on “Employee Voice” valuable because it stresses employee participation in the decision-making process. The degree to which employees can voice their concerns varies and methods examined include attitude surveys, interviews, and suggestion boxes.

HR professionals looking for a comprehensive resource will appreciate the information and analysis on the latest policies and procedures. Armstrong supplies ample references for those who prefer to research topics in greater depth. Revisions in the areas of competency-based HRM, reward management, and grade and pay structures will keep managers on the cutting edge of the field.

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