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L'évaluation des directions des ressources humaines dans le secteur public québécois

L'évaluation des directions des ressources humaines dans le secteur public québécois

Adnane Belout et Shimon L. Dolan

Volume : 51-4 (1996)


Every organization (and department) needs to undertake a periodic analysis to pinpoint its existing strengths and weaknesses. At present, there is a growing interest among organizations about learning how to conduct a systematic human resources (HR) assessment. The evaluation of the HR function and its relationship to organizational effectiveness results in an understanding that is useful when modelling the path toward strategie human resources management. Thus, evaluation and control mechanisms are a requisite and contributing factor to the credibility and acceptance of HR management in the eyes of corporate management.

Although management understands the need for assessing the effectiveness of their HR services, the approaches and instruments avallable to carry out this task are not very well developed. Recently, however, an approach called "multiple constituency" has emerged. The premise behind this approach is that the effectiveness of the HR department is determined by its reputation with constituents or clients. The multiple constituency approach is on the rise, given the importance accorded to customer satisfaction in the general management literature. With the proliferation of general concepts such as "total quality", "zero defects" and the like, this study attempts to develop a model applicable to human resources; it measures constituent satisfaction with various HR activities (i.e. the dependent variable) as an indicator of the effectiveness of the HR department.

Nevertheless, given the notion of limited resources, the underlying assumption in this study is that an effective HR department is one that is able to identify the critical constituents in its organization (i.e., hospitals in this study), and to attempt to satisfy these constituent groups first and foremost. By contrast, it is also assumed that an HR department which falls to address these "core groups", may allocate time, money, and other resources to less important constituents and consequently may have less impact on the organization's overall effectiveness. Thus, the two research questions addressed in this study are:

1. What are the key variables affecting the level of satisfaction of different constituent groups with their human resource department?

2. Are there differences or similarities pertaining to the level of satisfaction with the HR services amongst the various constituent groups?

In order to test the model, the collaboration of the Quebec Hospital Association was sought. A stratified sample was used to select 35 general hospitals (i.e., 12 large, 12 medium-sized and 11 small) of which 27 finally agreed to collaborate. Two types of instruments (questionnaires) were developed to measure 5 principal constituent groups' perceptions about their respective HR effectiveness. The groups included: (1) senior executives, (2) middle managers, (3) nurses, (4) professional employees, and (5) blue-collar workers. In parallel, all of the HR directors were given questionnaires which enabled them to supply information about their services and department (i.e., size, qualifications of the staff in the HR unit, etc.). Based on this stratified sample, and the requirement of a minimum of 42 questionnaires per hospital (i.e., a minimum of 7 employees selected at random for each constituent group), a 68.5% response rate was obtained.

The fact that multiple sources of information were used and that analyses were done across hospitals and constituent groups (i.e., the aggregate nature of the analyses), reduced the problem of "method-variance" in the findings.

A model pertaining to the determinants of client satisfaction with (and expectations of) the HR department was developed. The determinants of clients' satisfaction (and expectations) were divided into two principal groups: (l)those pertaining to client characteristics (i.e., seniority, age, commitment to the hospital, gender, level of autonomy, frequency of contacts with the HR department, and constituent affiliation), (2) those pertaining to HR department's characteristics (size, power, seniority of the HR department, qualifications of the HR staff, education and the general orientation of the HR strategy in conducting the HR activities). All in all, the results supported the general usefulness of the multiple constituency approach. First, the results of the factorial analysis suggested that the 10 facets of HR activities (i.e., staffing, training, remuneration, etc.) can be grouped into only two dimensions which were labelled in the study: "labour relations" and "traditional HR". Second, it was demonstrated that different constituents have significant differences in their level of satisfaction with respect to labour relations activities ÇF=11.6; P=.001). By contrast, no significant differences in satisfaction were found for the traditional HR dimension. As regards to expectations of the HR department, a significant difference was found for both labour relations and traditional HR activities. Moreover, the findings revealed that three independent variables play a major role in explaining variance in satisfaction with the HR services: (1) level of commitment of the constituent to the hospital, (2) professional qualification of the HR staff, and (3) the frequency of contacts the constituent has with the human resource department. Other findings shed more light on the level of expectation constituents have toward their HR services. The study concludes with a short discussion on how an HR department can increase its effectiveness under circumstances of compatibility and non-compatibility with its clients' expectations, and how the HR department should intervene in order to increase satisfaction thereby increasing effectiveness.