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HRM Toolkit

HRM Toolkit

Author: James Howard

This lesson explains the HRM toolkit and includes information on reinforcement theory.

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Hello and welcome to this tutorial on the HRM Toolkit. Now as always, with these tutorials, please feel free to fast forward, pause, or rewind as many times as you need in order to get the most out of the time that you're going to spend here.

So let me ask you a question. What is it that you think, or what tools do you think, does human resources, as an organization, have to do their job? Now we already discussed how compensation and benefits may be more than simply money. So what is it that human resources can use in order to motivate their employees and do their job better? Well, today in this lesson, what we're going to be looking at are, one, the HRM Toolkit. We're also going to be looking at reinforcement theory.

Now there are no key terms for this lesson, so let's go ahead and start looking at the HRM Toolkit. What are those tools in the HRM kit? Well, HRM, Human Resource Management, has a lot of different tools that they can use within the workplace. And a lot of the times, these depend on the company and the package of benefits that the company is going to offer its employees.

The first one we're going to look at is job enrichment. Now job enrichment increases employee job satisfaction by providing an opportunity for the employee to have greater oversight or choice over the manner in which they do their job. Now an example of this might be Federal Express, the people who do their delivering in the trucks. A source of job enrichment might be letting those employees determine what route it is they're going to take, or which particular business or household they want to deliver to first. There may be typically a lot of packages that go to one particular place.

Another one would be job redesign. And this is increasing employee satisfaction by reviewing and possibly changing the requirements for that particular job. Now let's say that I work at the Ford Motor Company on the assembly line, and we notice we have a lot of people who are dissatisfied. They're going home with aching backs. And it's just the same old thing over and over and over again. Well, in this case, Ford may want to redesign a particular job on that assembly line so that, one, it may include job enrichment, but also, so it's less stress for the employee or that the job is easier to get done and results in a better quality product.

Another one is flex-time. Now flex-time is working hours chosen by the employee within reason, of course. An example of this may be people who are highly creative, such as works for Apple Corporation. You can't force creativity. So in this case, I may want to have them simply do the job when they're feeling the most motivated or the most creative. Now we can't let them have free rein and just take weeks and weeks and weeks off. But if we can allow them to have that flex-time, so that they're doing their jobs, but they're doing it at a time that's more beneficial for them or a time when they may feel more creative or are able to focus on their job better. This works out better for the employee. And it also works out better for the company.

Another example is telecommuting. And this is simply working from offsite. Again, with Apple, I may want people to work who are in a more comfortable spot. And the more comfortable spot may be working from home. This also allows me to grab a lot more geographic area to pull my workers from, because I don't have to have the workers within the local commuting distance. So I can increase the people I have working for me. And because they don't really need to be at the office, I can put them in a place where they may feel more comfortable.

And lastly is job sharing. Now job sharing is sharing a job with another person. Let's go back to the Ford Motor Company, for instance. Let's say we have people who work in the accounting department. Now I have two people here who are going through periods where I can't be at work all the time, or I'm having problem completing all the work that they're giving me. So in this case, I may share that one job with someone who does it in addition to what I did.

You'll also see this in the US Navy and the Coast Guard where you have Blue Team and Gold Team crews on things like destroyers and submarines. The captain of the ship is still the captain of the ship. It's just they have alternating schedules, where the Blue Team is out to sea one period of time, and the Gold Team is out to sea another period of time. This allows that ship to be used a lot more. It increases the availability of the ship. And it also gives the captain and the other employees-- the other sailors on that ship-- downtime to do training, and personal development, and things like that. And they're not always constantly out at sea.

Reinforcement theory is something that's been around-- well, it's been around for quite a long time. Now the first topic we're going to look at in reinforcement theory is something called positive reinforcement. And this is encouraging a behavior by adding something good. A classic example of this may be Pavlov's dog, if you remember. The dogs salivated whenever food was offered. That was that positive reinforcer. I'm getting an animal to do a particular thing by giving it treats along the way.

Well, we can do this with people too. If people do this one particular thing, then I give them a positive result or a positive reinforcement. Now the pros for t this is it works really well. And you're not discouraging employees along the way. The negative side or the con side of this is if you can't afford to do that particular reinforcement or you forget to do those reinforcements, and people can get demotivated pretty quickly.

Negative reinforcement is encouraging behavior by taking something away. And typically that taking something away is taking away something bad. So I'm putting them in a bad situation when they do something I want them to do like take that particular item away-- that thing that's causing stress. Now the pros for this again-- well, it tends to work. The problem is you have to put people in a situation that's bad and then expect them to do something so that they get something good in return. Think of it like getting grounded. If I do my work, and I do the things I'm supposed to do, then I take away that negative or that something bad, which is being grounded.

Positive punishment is discouraging behavior by adding something bad. I'm going to ground you, or I'm going to put you on report. I'm going to take away certain pay if you don't do the things that I need you to do. That will be a form of positive punishment. I'm actively punishing bad behavior, which can work. But again, there's cons to this also. Positive punishment can cause feelings of resentment by the person who's being punished to the manager or the company.

And then you have negative punishment. Now negative punishment is discouraging behavior by taking away something good. So I have someone who's promoted or I give them a bonus or a particular pay raise. And when they mess up, I take that thing away. Now it works. All of these work. Like I said, the reinforcement theory has been around for quite awhile. The problem with negative punishment is because I'm taking away that something good, again, I may be building those feelings of resentment. Think of it as someone who buys their child a bicycle just so they can use that as a tool to take that bike away when that child messes up.

And then you have extinction. Extinction is discouraging a behavior by ignoring it. No matter how much an employee acts up or acts out or does something bad, I simply ignore it. And what I'm doing is I'm not reinforcing that behavior. Well, the pros for this is it's a non confrontational way to address that particular behavior. The problem is I have to put up with that behavior until the employee gets the message that we're not going to acknowledge that outburst or that particular behavior.

And if we don't positively or negatively reinforce that behavior or punish that behavior, then the employee may think that, well, that type of behavior is OK. It is important to note here that positive reinforcement, though, is considered to be the most effective. So what is it we talked about today? Well, we looked at the HRM Toolkit. And we also looked at reinforcement theory and those things in HRM, or Human Resource Management, can use to encourage good behavior and motivation throughout an organization. Now as always, I want to thank you for spending some time with me today. And you folks have a good day.