The goals of HRM are to:
- support the organization in achieving its objectives by developing and implementing human resource (HR) strategies that are integrated with the business strategy (strategic HRM);
- contribute to the development of a high-performance culture;
- ensure that the organization has the talented, skilled and engaged people it needs;
- create a positive employment relationship between management and employees and a climate of mutual trust;
- encourage the application of an ethical approach to people management.
An earlier list of HR goals was made by Dyer and Holder (1988: 22–28) who analysed them under the headings of contribution (what kind of employee behaviour is expected?), composition (what headcount, staffing ratio and skill mix?), competence (what general level of ability is desired?) and commitment (what level of employee attachment and identification?). Guest (1987) suggested that the four goals of HRM were strategic integration, high commitment, high quality and flexibility. And Boxall (2007: 63) proposed that ‘the mission of HRM is to support the viability of the firm through stabilizing a cost-effective and socially legitimate system of labour management’.
Doubts were expressed by Noon (1992) as to whether HRM was a map, a model or a theory. But it is evident that the original concept could be interpreted as a philosophy for managing people in that it contained a number of general principles and beliefs as to how that should be done. The following explanation of HRM philosophy was made by Legge (1989: 25) whose analysis of a number of HRM models identified the following common themes:
That human resource policies should be integrated with strategic business planning and used to reinforce an appropriate (or change an inappropriate) organizational culture, that human resources are valuable and a source of competitive advantage, that they may be tapped most effectively by mutually consistent policies that promote commitment and which, as a consequence, foster a willingness in employees to act flexibly in the interests of the ‘adaptive organization’s’ pursuit of excellence.
Storey (2001: 7) noted that the beliefs of HRM included the assumptions that it is the human resource that gives competitive edge, that the aim should be to enhance employee commitment, that HR decisions are of strategic importance and that therefore HR policies should be integrated into the business strategy.