The 21st century will be an era of increasingly global competition, and what will distinguish one organisation from another in terms of continuing success ... is optimising the people contribution. Effectively managing the health and welfare of all employees ... will be a major contributor to improving productivity.
(Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 1995:4)
Human resource management (HRM) encapsulates a whole range of notions on management theory, style and practice. Perhaps most usefully considered as a generic term that covers the entirety of work organisation, working terms and conditions and representational systems, HRM can be depicted as being concerned with all those activities associated with the management of people in organisations. Storey (1995:5) defines HRM as ‘a distinctive approach to employment management which seeks to achieve competitive advantage through the strategic deployment of a highly committed and capable workforce, using an integrated array of cultural, structural and personnel techniques’. Extensive training and culture management programmes, individualised reward management systems, as well as a range of employee involvement mechanisms, all operate towards achieving enhanced employee contribution. More recently the contributory role of OHS in organisational performance has come into vogue, partly because of alarming upward trends in work-related illness and injury, and the related costs to organisations and governments. Every year about 10 million of the 150 million workers in the European Community are affected by accidents or diseases at work. Direct-compensation costs are estimated at 20 billion ECU per year (Agius 2001). Work-related injuries cost the USA some $125 billion in 1998 - equivalent to nearly three times the combined annual profits of the top five Fortune 500 companies (Economist National Safety Council 1999). For the UK, the cost of work-related injury and illness to employers has been placed at between £3.5 billion and £7.3 billion annually - equivalent to between 4 per cent and 8 per cent of all UK companies’