Saturday, November 30, 2013

SWOT: Opportunities

The third component of the SWOT analysis is opportunities. Unlike the first two components (strengths and weaknesses) opportunities are external rather than internal. This means that the factors considered being opportunities are not controlled by the company and consist of analyzing outside sources. HR looks at factors such as the industry and markets for potential prospects, whether it is: market growth, business expansion, or internal strategies (Clardy, 2013). A company may be looking at competitors’ management styles or business strategies that they do not currently exercise. More specifically, the human resource department may assess a company’s opportunities as a way to satisfy more employees needs, discover new management strategies, and notice new methods when dealing with HR dilemmas. The following chart looks at the connection between a company’s strengths and weaknesses matched with their opportunities (Community Tool Box, 2013):

Use the company’s strengths to achieve opportunities
Use opportunities to overcome the company’s weaknesses

Human resource departments can look at other companies’ departments as a way to find new opportunities to satisfy their own employees. This can be accomplished through creating a friendly, healthy, and welcoming work environment or culture and by offering unique benefits to employees. The human resource department can be creative by offering benefits such as paid vacation time, medical benefits, and offer health training classes or gym membership. Employees will see the unique offerings and may be drawn to the company. Using Google Corporation as an example, the HR team can develop an environment with everything at the fingertips for the employees. Google offers amenities and benefits such as (Google, 2013):

·      Large and colorful cafeterias
·      Gym facilities on location
·      Kitchens for employees to use
·      Educational classes
·      Gaming rooms
·      Travel opportunities

The company needs to look at the budget and variety of amenities it wants to offer its employees before trying to copy another company like Google. Google has such a large variety of amenities because they expect their employees to work longer hours, therefore giving them the convenience of everything within the company’s building. Google also wants to give employees the opportunity to interact with one another away from their work. When employees have close relationships they feel more comfortable in the work place and excel in their positions.

The culture of the company can cause employees to be uncomfortable in their work environment, therefore causing them to quit the company. Companies have the opportunity to change their work environments to adjust to the company’s culture and mission. The work environment starts with the basics such as the layout of the desks, offices, and cubicles. HR should look at how the company wants to be laid out and if the executives want to have private offices or be placed within the mix of desks and cubicles with lower level employees. The feeling of the higher-level employees earning their own office may be a perk to the position. But if they are mixed with the other employees, there may be a more open environment to the company.

The diversity within the workforce may also contribute to the company’s culture. Within the last two decades more and more human resource managements are increasing their workforce diversity as part of their overall strategy (Alcázar et al, 2013). If the company is a multinational corporation, hiring a diverse group of employees will allow the company to relate to clients all over the world and expose the employees to diversity as a way to better help them excel personally. When assisting clients, employees will be able to relate to them more if they know about the client’s culture, which can be discovered through a large pool of nationalities and ethnicities within the workplace.

With the opportunity of the culture, environment, and benefits offered to the employees, the satisfaction level will rise. If there are lots of amenities that cater to a wide range of employees, then employees will not complain that their interests or needs were not met. HR may want to consider creating a survey regarding the employee’s satisfaction and the culture of the employee annually to see where changes need to be made or if any employees have suggestions on additional opportunities the company should consider. A company wants to have high employee satisfaction in order to (Aghazadeh, 1999):

·      Decrease employee turnover rates
·      Increase employee loyalty
·      Have the company be even more successful

Take away points:
When it comes to the company’s culture and environment, HR needs to take the time to compare with other companies and discover new opportunities that will create a more stable and welcoming culture. Companies will notice through productivity levels and through their employees’ satisfaction levels if the culture is welcoming and comfortable for employees or if more changes need to be addressed. Employee satisfaction levels will reflect on their involvement in the company’s culture as well (Light, 2004). When the culture gives opportunities to individuals, whether it’s moving up the corporate ladder or being involved in important decisions, employees will feel they are of importance to the company. The company’s culture also should have a connection with their overall mission. Employees should feel comfortable and safe in the work environment. Companies can create a more diverse community within the company, which will expose employees to different situations dealing with nationalities and religions that may help them deal with conflicts, especially if the company is an international company. It is very important for the human resources department to continue to receive feedback from the employees to gather insight on the company’s culture and environment.

Lastly, HR needs to work closely with the employees to offer them a wide variety of unique benefits. Compensation is not always the top priority for employees regarding their benefits. HR has the opportunity to look at other companies when creating their benefits policy. If the human resources department can develop policies that can cater to their employees on a more personal level, then employees will appreciate the time and effort the company is putting into the policies. HR ought to realize that sometimes the simple satisfaction the employee receives from their job is enough of a benefit.

Aghazadeh, Seyed-Mahmoud. (1999). Human resource management: issues and
challenges in the new millennium. Management Research News, Vol. 22 (12),

Clardy, Alan. (2013). Strengths vs. strong position: rethinking the nature of SWOT
analysis. Modern Management Science & Engineering, Vol. 1 (1), 100-122.

Community Tool Box. (2013). SWOT analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Light, J. N. (2004). The relationships and effects of employee involvement, employee
empowerment, and employee satisfaction by job-type in a large manufacturing
environment. (Ph.D., Capella University). ProQuest Dissertations and
Theses. (305041635).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

SWOT: Weaknesses

The second component that makes up a SWOT analysis is the company’s weaknesses. Like the strengths component, weaknesses are the second internal factor magnified through the SWOT analysis. Weaknesses are the areas in the company that need attention for improvements. It’s important to focus on the organization’s weaknesses from the company’s viewpoint and from the customer’s point of view (Lee, 2000). By looking at a competitor’s strengths, a company will realize their weaknesses throughout the company and survey employees, asking where improvements need to be made. Although listing a company’s weaknesses is not ideal, once a list is compiled, the company will be able to tackle the weaknesses. By addressing weaknesses, the company can become more sufficient and more competitive in the market.
As mentioned in the “SWOT: Strengths” blog post, offshore outsourcing is becoming more popular. While there are many strengths to outsourcing around the world, weaknesses come with it as well. Using India outsourcing example, weaknesses that the human resources department may face include (Nair, 2004):
·      Lack of proper service and maintenance by government departments and agencies
·      Poor policy implementation
·      Poor business image
The human resource department of the IT company needs to realize they have to adjust to the new government departments and agencies. For a new company outsourcing in the area, they need to create a plan for the company to adapt to new regulations. Services and maintenance may not be up to the company’s previous expectations. Adjusting or resistance to change is a common weakness human resources face around the world, but developing and implementing an adjustment plan will make the employees more comfortable and the company will find outsourcing more beneficial (Okpara, 2008). This also leads into the second weakness listed above; poor policy implementation. The level of involvement of the HR department with policy implementation will be evident if it is a weakness. The HR department needs to work close with the employees and make sure to survey the employees on improving policy implementation and give insight to which policies they feel need enhancements. They also need to keep in mind when the right time will be to implement policies. One survey revealed, companies lack policies for employees with AIDS and other health related concerns (Okpara, 2008). The employees felt the HR department failed to train employees on how to deal with health concerns or offer services to help employees cope with these health concerns.
The final bullet above, “Poor business image,” can be broken into two areas: image of a business location and the overall image of the company. While one may not find the image of a business location to affect the company’s HR department, if employees are being transferred to a new location then HR will have to be involved in the process. Whether the location is within the same state or in a new country, HR needs to look at the image of the company’s new location and consider how comfortable employees will be there. HR needs to be ready to deal with language barriers, culture shock, and living situations if the company offers assistance. It will be up to the HR department to find qualified employees to transfer to the new location or recruit nearby. The second part of “poor business image” is the overall image of the company, more specifically for this example, how ethical the company is being presented to the public eye (Okpara, 2008). A weakness may include the negative aspects of a company, which are more apparent in the spot light through media and other sources. HR needs to be able to deal with the negativity and develop methods to distract or eliminate any unethical or negative publicity the company faces. This may be done through lining up an article highlighting the positive impact the company is making to the community or providing ways the company has changed from its past ways. Either way, HR wants to preserve the company’s image in a positive way. 
Once the weaknesses of the company are recognized, the next step for the human resource department is to develop a plan on how to manage the weaknesses. This is then followed by executing that plan. One way to manage a weakness is to develop a plan to improve it, whether it is a major change or a slight adjustment (Visser, 2005). This will create a positive out of a negative and be very beneficial in the future. For example, if an employee has weak telephone communication skills, the HR department can create a training session to improve his skills or find a new employee for that position and move the current employee to a better-suited position. If a company’s weakness is its more recent quarterly sales, they can further investigate areas that can improve sales. HR management can then create workshop programs and procedures to increase the skills and talents in that area to help the company. With that, it is important to realize human resource’s goals aligning with the company’s goals may not match up, causing a huge weakness to be apparent (Okpara, 2008). Through the SWOT analysis process, HR should meet regularly with executives and managers to address the goals of the company and each department to make help transform weaknesses into strengths that support everyone’s goals and improve the company overall.
Take away points:
The SWOT analysis gives companies the opportunity to pin point, improve, and transform weaknesses to positives. If a company dwells on the negatives then there is no way to move up from them. It could be beneficial to see how the company’s competitors see their strengths as a way to discover their own weaknesses. That being said, the HR department has the opportunity to run, analyze, and make adjustments to a company’s SWOT analysis. Routinely running a SWOT analysis will allow the HR department to see how changes throughout the company are being made and make adjustments for areas that are not being as sufficient as necessary. How to manage the company’s weaknesses falls onto the HR department as well. It is up to them to develop the necessary tools to eliminate the weaknesses. When looking at particular employee weaknesses, HR can pair employees who will balance one another or place the employee in a training program to help strengthen their skills. For a larger weakness that effects more of the company than just one individual, HR needs to create a series of steps that will not overwhelm the company all at once with the change.  Lastly, it is important to realize the human resources goals aligning with the company’s goals may not match up, causing a huge weakness to be apparent (Okpara, 2008). Through the SWOT analysis process, HR should meet regularly with executives and managers to address the goals of the company and each department to help transforms weaknesses into strengths that support everyone’s goals.

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              analysis, and implementing "Sun Tzu's the art of business management
              strategies" on QFD methodology. Managerial Auditing Journal, 15(1/2),
Nair, K. G. K., & Prasad, P. N. (2004). Offshore outsourcing: A SWOT analysis of a
              state in India. Information Systems Management, 21(3), 34-40. 
Okpara, J. O., & Wynn, P. (2008). Human resource management practices in a
              transition economy. Management Research News, 31(1), 57-76.
Visser, Coert. (2005). Managing strengths in three steps. 2013
September 27.