Human resource management is a very crucial function in any modern organization including the Department of Defense that seeks to achieve its strategic objectives. This is because people are the most important asset in any organization whether in private or public sector as compared to other assets that aid in running an organization. It should be noted that organizations/associations need people and people need these associations. From the human resource perspective organizations have a human rationale and usually they are created and sustained on the foundation of mutuality of significance/interest among the contributors. In essence people view associations as a way to assist them to achieve their objectives while these organizations require people to achieve their strategic goals. Therefore if mutuality is missing, it makes no sense in trying to assemble a group and develop a cooperation because there is no common base on which to build. (Hoyer, 2001)
Therefore for attainment of organizational effectiveness, human resource is the most important asset that must be paid attention by the management especially by the human resource department of the military institution. Human resource has the responsibility to coordinate all the activities within the organization and they have to ensure efficiency in productivity of the organization e.g. in case of war they are responsible in protecting the citizens from any attack and ensuring that sovereignty of the country holds. Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM) is a concept that the Department of Defense need to utilize while recruiting military officers. This concept is normally associated with what is termed as organizational fit which is a concept that reflects on the function of human resource practices in relations to organizational strategy i.e. recruiting most qualified and competent candidates for further training by the military department
Need for competent military staff
The world is increasingly changing and is faced with many threats and conflicts among different countries for example terrorism and the need to be what is referred to as super powers may with production of weapons which can be termed as weapons of mass destruction. With such developments citizens of a country are at risk and competent military officers who can handle such issues are required.
Qualified and competent military staff is the in-thing for the department of military to succeed in its daily operations. Generally employees are the important assets and they influence a lot the organization’s human resource practices. Research indicates that the competence, knowledge and skills of employees can either impact negatively or positively the expected quality of work and performance of the organizations. There has been growing concern over the policies of recruitment used by military human resource department in selection and recruiting of their staff. There has been evidence in the military department that senior individuals influence the recruitment process, an event which has led to sourcing of incompetent military officers. (Department of Defense, 2000)
More so many organizations including the Department of Defense have failed to provide further training to their military officers and thus the existing staff has not been competent enough to cope with technological changes that result from globalization. Because of such failure by the department to provide training and educational facilities to their officers has resulted to high labor turn-over because military officers shifts to other organizations that develop their employees through training or some even end up engaging in criminal activities
Corporate and HR Strategies of Department of Defense
Corporate strategy is a plan of action that determines the way forward for the whole organization and it is usually a long term strategy for an organization and its start with the mission statement. This strategy takes 3-5 years to be implemented though duration may vary from one organization to the other. The military department over the past few years has been dedicated to examining their corporate strategy every year with the hope of nonstop enhancements. In order to be aligned with its mission and vision statements, the corporate strategies of the corporation are founded on the basis of being ethical, truthful, transparent, and dependable in the recruiting process. Human Resource strategy is a plan of action that is set to guide the HR department in major staffing decisions pertinent to business level strategy. In essence it focuses on total HR needs that include recruitment/hiring process, training needs, rewards system, and employee relations in order to motivate the workers to accept and support the military as well as its corporate strategies. The military department is accredited with; payment of fair salaries and wages, provision of house allowances and medical coverage, other fringe benefits, good promotional systems, good communication and motivational structures. In general the HR department has done its best in motivating the employees of the military to being committed to their work which in turn has led to effectiveness and efficiency of the military operations. The military department also provides training needs to their employees which have helped them to cope with the ever increasing changes in technologies. (Hoyer, 2001)
Military recruitment/hiring Process
In many nations we find that many people are always interested in working with the military whereby they look for information from the military recruiters from various service stations. The recruiting process is practiced hand in hand with Human Resource Management which is defined as a calculated means by which the enterprise deploy its human resources to accomplish its purpose and basic objectives under the most advantageous circumstances. In this management process we find that the recruiting the recruiters are said to be looking for the candidates who are eligible to be recruited in the military. The process of recruiting military officers is more same like that of all other organizations in that various steps are followed before an applicant is considered successful. Like many other firms in both private and public sector the military officers responsible for the entire recruitment process subjects the potential candidates to various questions that include age of the applicant, nationality, educational background, applicant’s knowledge of country’s existing laws, the issue of drug abuse, physical assessment, and medical assessment among others. The whole procedure of recruitment can actually be described as interviewing process because in one way or another, the applicants are asked questions that relates to their respective backgrounds concerning military issues. In essence the following are some recruitment processes to be followed when recruiting military officers: (Department of Defense, 2000)
In this step we find that many candidates are subjected to do the aptitude screening test under which many are found not to be continuing with the recruitment since a percentage of them do not meet the set requirements. While those who meet the requirements for recruitment go ahead and take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery which is usually practiced by the Department of Defence (DOD) with a purpose of determining those who are eligible and qualify for the position in the military.
This battery consists of ten tests whereby, among the ten, four of them include the Armed Forces Qualification Test which is known as the AFQT which is a measure practiced for training and predicting of the individuals’ performance it is regarded as the primary course of the recruit aptitude, the other test are Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge, Word Knowledge and Paragraph Comprehension. (Waters, Laurence, and Camara, 2004)
Table 1 Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) Categories and
Corresponding Percentile Score Ranges
Percentile Score Range
The AFQT is understood to be done on percentage degree as shown in the table above, which indicates the age range of 18-23 years. According to the test conducted we find that the results are put in five categories depending on the scores attained. Here we find that the first and the second categories include those candidates who happened to be of above average in trainability, while those in the third category are grouped as those who are average, category four carry those who are of below average and lastly the category five carry those candidates who are reported to be of a marked below average. The Human Resource management applied here is that those candidates who are said to have not graduated from high school and are found not be eligible for recruitment are always grouped in the category four and five as stated by the existing law.
According to research we find that in the year 2004 there were three ranks set by the department of Defence depending on the educational qualifications. The first rank included the candidates who were high school graduates, some of them being adult diploma holders and the non-graduate who had at least a fifteen hour institution credit. The second rank included what is referred to as substitute credential holders which comprise candidates possessing certificate of General Education Development attained from high school. The other rank is said to be those individuals without any educational qualifications who was perceived to be of lower rank because they had no documents to support them. It is evidence therefore that there is a strong connection between schooling qualifications and recruiting individuals to serve as military officers. (Waters, Laurence, and Camara, 2004)
Over the past few years research has indicated that there is presence of propagation of substitute credential curriculums, predominantly residence instruction. In 2004, an approximated one million learners engaged in residence instruction, which was recorded to be over three hundred thousand in number as recorded it was estimated in the year 2003 to be Seven hundred thousand students. Because of such developments there was need to contain such escalation of residence schooling and the Department of Defense carried out a pilot research in fiscal year 2003 known as Alternative Educational Credential Pilot Program. The objectives of the research included evaluating attention in recruitment of residence instruction alumnae and members being awarded GED certificates. The other goal was to assess the actual results of the choice official documents holders in residence or home instruction who had enrolled.
The other recruiting process is that of physical examination of candidates who wish to join the military as officers. It is obvious that for one to join the military because of its nature of activities undertaken by the department, one must be fully fit both physically and mentally. This procedure of physical examination is normally carried out at Military Entrance Processing Station whereby the person interested is subjected to what is referred to as physical suitability test for military examination. It involves a number of activities and comprise of checking of blood pressure levels, hearing, heart beats, image sharpness, blood examination, checking of urine, drug abuse testing, HIV examination, and health check record of the past for the individuals interested in military positions. In some other cases candidates are subjected to examination of their potency and patience for example stamina. Department of Defense is considered to be among the few understanding departments in the public sector in that after all such test are conducted and some individuals are found with minor defects which can be treated they will be allowed or directed to seek medical attention first before joining the military service. (Elster and Flyer, 1981)
The other recruitment process is that of what is referred to as moral character principles examination of the candidates interested. Like any other organization the Department of Defense does not allow individuals with past criminal activities to work for the military because they might cause problems in the future. The department has the machinery to track the records of all candidates in order to know their past criminal lives if any. The recruiter first carries his own investigations through an interview and makes a judgment on individual’s mode of conduct. After that through computerization search of his/her past records is done. It is also important to note that the Department of Defense may waive some criminal past records of the candidate in order to act as a correctional body and shape the future of such an individual. Also the concept of financial distress faced by an individual interested may also be considered as a basis for recruitment, e.g. some candidates with such financial problems may be disqualified on the basis that their problems are big enough and that the remuneration at the junior level pay may not cater for their needs and thus they are advised to seek other careers. (Waters, Laurence, and Camara, 2004)
After the candidate has passed all the above processes successfully, he/she will now be subjected to occupational area counseling by the counselor to agree on available alternatives for recruitment. Under this process it is worth noting that the candidate through all the above stages had not made any pledge or commitment to the Department of Defense. The candidate credentials now are in the hands of the counselor and here he/she can choose and indicate for a particular ability or for wide work-related area that he/she can handle comfortably if considered for recruitment. According to research conducted for the last five years army recruits estimated to be slightly over 90% go into particular skill instruction while others estimated to be slightly over 4% are positioned on armed forces job-related area of expertise during fundamental instruction. For example it is reported that nearly 69% of Air Force recruits go in to particular skill instruction while the remaining join occupational areas e.g. airmen or seamen curriculums. Before one is allowed to choose occupational are he/she is provided with all available options and the choices made must always rhyme with the educational and other credentials that the potential candidate has. In fact the more qualified an applicant has , the higher the likely hood of choosing his/her desired occupational are because he/she will be provided with many choices to pick from unlike when an applicant has less credentials and thus he/she will be subjected to make a choice from few or limited choices of occupational area specialty. The counselor has the responsibility to clarify the areas of occupations to the applicants clearly citing the merits and demerits that each available choice depicts. Furthermore sometimes the counselor may be forced to propose some incentives that accompany an occupational area in order to attract the applicant to enter in to such occupational area specialty. It is also worth noting that the candidate interested in army recruitment has the right to either refuse or recognize the counselor’s offer and sometimes they have to consult their relatives or friends to make such decisions. (Elster and Flyer, 1981)
After the candidate interested has made a decision and agree to the offer put forward by the counselor the next process is that of Delayed Entry Program whereby he/she will be required to enter in to an agreement referred to as enlistment indenture. Usually those who sign the contract join the center for the recruits within thirty days of recruitment. According to research most of these recruits join the delayed entry program which allows a period of up to twelve months prior to the person reports for his obligation/duty. This program has the responsibility of controlling stream of new recruits to training at respective practical institutions. Recruits in the Delayed Entry program stay for a period of up to four months. Those candidates who have successfully finished their high school level studies can enroll in the Delayed Entry Program. It is also worth noting that not each and every individual enrolled in the Delayed Entry program will automatically be assigned active responsibilities in the military. For example in the year 2006 those who had enlisted themselves to pursue the Delayed Entry Program estimated to be slightly over 20% requested the program officials to discharge them from their initial enrollment contracts because they could not continue in the program because of various reasons.
However, the above recruitment process is very tiring and involves a number of steps to be followed by the concerned authorities. In the year 2005 the U.S Army started to utilize the Lean Six Sigma concept of recruitment and selection process of applicants in some states. This concept normally abbreviated as LSS was first put in practice at Kentucky, Fort Knox in U.S Army Recruiting Command whereby a body referred to as Army Accessions Command have been operating conscientiously to achieve the recruiting and selecting goals by re-structuring and enhancing the U.S. enrollment procedure.
With this process a procedure known as Value Stream Analysis is utilized in order to cut down the process of selection and recruitment exercise. Before the use of Value Stream Analysis (VSA) process the process of recruitment was cumbersome for example initially thirty two procedures are needed for applicants to join Army, twenty seven approvals needed in the whole hiring process and forty seven handoffs of necessary information involved or interviewees. But when the Value Stream Analysis is put in place overall the recruitment process will be shortened that is eleven procedures are needed for applicants to join the force, fourteen approvals required, and fourteen handoffs of necessary information or interviewees to be involved. (Elster and Flyer, 1981)
Also the use of Lean Six Sigma procedures has in the process aided Army Accessions Command to achieve notable enhancements in the recruiting process and particular this new process has proved to be cost effective. For example the use of Lean Six Sigma has lead to the following advantages; leads enhancement whereby conduct-to- contact prior arrangement occasion has risen by over 200% and its defects has declined by almost 59%, there is also early background verifications whereby almost seven hours is saved when an applicant is considered, and enhanced overall interview process among others.
Military’s current recruitment policies
The Department of Defense policies have been said to be effective and efficient and thus the military has been successful in its recruiting process. The military department has come up with policies that ensure that sincerity, fairness, hard-working and principled manner in the recruitment and selection processes of officers is followed. The Department of Defense has laws and by-laws that outline how the military officers are expected to be recruited without complain by those subjected to such interviews entailed in the recruitment and selection exercises. (Department of Defense, 2000)
Recommendations for Department of Defense
Through the human resource function the department should formulate corporate strategies that incorporate thorough analysis and clarification of the military mission statement when recruiting officers. The department should also offer guidelines to the rest of the department when considering how military services should be developed and in what direction it should be directed to. In this line the HR department should clearly ensure that strategies developed in the department should be the ones that direct efforts towards accomplishing the department basic mission or purpose. In order to enhance the recruitment and selection activities of the department, the HR department should redesign and shorten the procedures of the process in order to attract more applicants who will enjoy working with the army. The department should also try to inform the public of the functions of army officers and try to explain to them that their function is not only about going to Iraq and other nations having conflicts.
The other scope is that of technological aspect and it involves decision regarding to military services that involves the use of technology and the anticipated technologies. Proper training should be carried out to ensure that the officers are equipped with skills and competence regarding to technologies introduced. Technology will make military jobs interesting and many will be interested to work with the military The Department of Defense should also utilize in all states the recruitment and selection processes of Army officers the use of Lean Six Sigma process because it has proved to be cost effective and beneficial to federal government where it has been practiced for example in Kentucky at Fort Knox. (Thomson and Rampton, 2003)
One of the most significant roles of Human Resource department is that of employee recruitment, training and selection processes in an organization including Department of Defense. Organization’s management and especially the HR department are responsible in recruiting competent and qualified employees. The best method an organization can directly improve its overall productivity performance in the first place is to employ, select and train the right personnel. This entails respective officers in the military getting to understand the aspect of personnel management in an organization. Organizations now days have engaged in what is normally referred to as job-fit practice which has enhanced production efficiency and effectiveness of employees’ responsibilities. This practice is useful to organizations including the military which do not want to have their employees undergo extensive training but rather conduct their duties right away using their skills gained elsewhere. Another strategy is person-organization fit practice. In this case, the organization and in our case military seeks to recruit and select persons with good morals who are able to meet the military’s values, culture and structure.
Human resource management practices have been utilized to measure the analysis of the task to be done. These practices will guide the responsible military officers to select persons with desirable attitudes and characteristics suitable for the job description. To ensure that this process becomes a success, the military through the Department of Defense is seeking services from expert recruiters to assist them get the best in the country. Although the process might be very expensive for the military department, it is considered to be worth the cost. This human resource practice is done with a sensible objective that will encourage potential officers to show up for the selection. It can be done by offering good remuneration package and other benefits. With qualified military officers such conflicts like go-slows and strikes can be avoided because there will be fewer conflicts between the officers and their employer that is the Department of Defense because the former will do good job as a result of his/her competence and qualification.
The other role is that of employee performance, monitoring, and evaluation. The most important aspect of human resource management practice is employee evaluation. (Mark, 2001)
The performance of any organization including military is determined directly by the performance of the officers. It is possible to monitor the evaluation if the officers of the military arm of government via the use of human resource evaluation systems. These systems are done continuously with a view to retaining useful employees. Sometimes employees feel that the management of their respective organizations uses harsh methods of monitoring and evaluating their performance. (Mark, 2001)
Department of Defense, (2000): Review of Minimum Active Enlisted Recruit Quality Benchmarks. Do They Remain Valid? Report to Congress. Washington, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Force Management Policy. Pp 2-17
Elster, R. and Flyer, E. (1981): A Study of the Relationship between Educational Credentials and Military Performance Criteria. Monterey, Naval Postgraduate School. Pp 45-129
Hoyer. S (2001): HRM concepts, Practices and Strategies- 4th European Edition. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. Pp 65-79
Mark, D. (2001): Human Resource Management and organizational performance; 3rd Edition of the Institute of Management, Washington, U.S. Pp 45-99
Thomson, C. and Rampton, L. (2003): Human Resource Management. Melbourne press, New York. Pp 23-65
Waters, B., Laurence, J. and Camara, W. (2004): Personnel Enlistment and Classification Procedures in the U.S. Military .Washington, DC, National Academy Press, Pp 45-98