Topic 2.6 – Supporting functions

Similar to the organizational structure, supporting functions do not play the initial role in HRM but are important for the correct functioning of all the main functions. 

There are some specific HR roles or HRM supporting functions:
1. Labor Relationships
3. Health and Safety
4. Diversity

1. Labor Relationships

Having good employee relationships means providing fair and consistent treatment to all employees so that they will be committed to the organization.

Labour Relationships

Psychological contract —Employees expect to be treated fairly and ethically in return for providing their employer with a fair and reasonable amount of work.

  • What is the role of the manager in employee relationships?
  • What is the role of the HR manager?

Managers and supervisor in employee relationships:

  • evaluate, reward, and discipline employees 
  • in line with the company’s Employee Relations Philosophy (Policy) 
    • Develop trust
    • Act consistently 
    • Be truthful and avoid white lies 
    • Demonstrate integrity 
    • Meet with employees 
    • Ensure that employees are treated equitably
    • Control to clear standards 
    • Demonstrate respect and recognition toward employees

Employee relations representatives from the HR department:

  • ensure that employment policies are being fairly and consistently administered within the company. 
  • consult on specific employee relations problems with both supervisors and employees.

Effective communications <=> Feedback

  • downward communication – allows managers to implement their decisions and to influence lower employees (in the organizational hierarchy).
  • upward communication – allows employees at lower levels to communicate their ideas and feelings to higher-level decision-makers.


informal communicationsInformal communications also called “the grapevine.” Information exchanges without a planned agenda that occur informally among employees.



Employee programs:

  • employee feedback program. A program designed to improve employee communications by giving employees a voice in policy formulation and making sure that they receive due process on any complaints they lodge against managers.
  • employee assistance program. (EAP). A company-sponsored program that helps employees cope with personal problems that are interfering with their job performance.
  • employee recognition program. A program that rewards employees for their ideas and contributions.

IT communications

multimedia technology
A form of electronic communication that integrates voice, video, and text, all of which can be encoded digitally and transported on fiber-optic networks.

Telecommuting is also called “remote work”, “telework”, or “teleworking”. A person who telecommutes is known as a “telecommuter,” “teleworker,” and sometimes as a “home-sourced,” or “work-at-home” employee. (Wikipedia)

Challenges of telecommuting: feeling out of the team, need a high level of self-control, difficulties in on-line communications, technological problems.

Internal Marketing is used to build enthusiastic commitment among the organisation’s middle managers, front-line managers and employees. Note! Employees are possible customers. Employees have direct contact with customers. 

Internal marketing strategy:

  • Hiring and training
  • Standards
  • Communication
  • Participation
  • Monitoring and rewards

Example, Intel Commercials 

Another good example is Starbucks, all employees are called partners, and the waiters at Starbucks are called baristas to make them feel exceptional and proud about their workplace, not to feel just simple service worker. 

Starbucks HRM

Watch the interview “How Starbucks Trains Customers to Behave”>>>, Anne Morriss, managing director of the Concire Leadership Institute, explains how the coffee giant increased efficiency and satisfaction by treating customers like employees. Like not-payed employees. (source 

  1. HRIS

HRISA HRIS (human resource information system) or human resource management system (HRMS), is basically an intersection of human resources and information technology through HR software.
This allows HR activities and processes to occur electronically. HRIS is
not only useful as a database of current workers, but also for contingent (or seasonal workers). 

contingent workers

HRIS also rise up some ethical issues related with the treatment of personal information.

personnel file – A file maintained for each employeecontaining the documentation of critical HR-related information, such as:

    • performance appraisals, 
    • salary history, 
    • disciplinary actions, and 
    • career milestones.

The company should guarantee the safety and secrecy of this information.

3. Workplace Safety and Health


Dust from sugar is highly combustible,  an explosion caused by sugar dust killed 14 workers at the Imperial Sugar refinery in 2008. Source: Maksud/Shutterstock


It is difficult to be definitive in terms of identifying the number of people who may be HIV positive or have AIDS within the workplace.

Workplace Safety and the Law
There are two sets of workplace safety laws:
(1) workers’ compensation, an employer-funded insurance system that operates at the state level
(2) the law that mandates safety standards in the workplace.

work and healthyComprehensive Safety Programs are well-planned efforts in which management 

  • (1) involves employees and carefully considers their suggestions, 
  • (2) communicates safety rules to employees and enforces them, 
  • (3) invests in training supervisors to demonstrate and communicate safety on the job, 
  • (4) uses incentives to encourage safe behaviors and discipline to penalize unsafe behaviors, and 
  • (5) engages in regular self-inspection and accident research to identify and correct potentially dangerous situations.

The health program is the range of activities with the focus on employee health improvement provided from the organization.

Benefits for EMPLOYEES:

  • improving physical health
  • improving focus at work
  • increasing job satisfaction 
  • bettering relations with co-workers and supervisors

Benefits for EMPLOYERS:

  • attract and retain good employees, reduce turnover
  • improve productivity
  • reduced absenteeism*
  • job satisfaction, employee morale brings a stronger organizational commitment
  • enhance corporate image
  1. Managing Diversity

Diversity –  Human characteristics that make people different from one another. 

Example, Intel Diversity website 

Example, Diversity in Hospitality 

Why Manage Employee Diversity?
Management of Diversity – the set of activities involved in integrating nontraditional employees (for ex. minorities) into the workforce and using their diversity to the firm’s competitive advantage.

  • diversity management = inclusiveness
  • Greater creativity
  • Better problem solving
  • Greater system flexibility
  • Better information

Diversity training programs – programs that provide diversity awareness training and educate employees on specific cultural and sex differences and how to respond to these in the workplace.