Human resource management (HRM) policy of voluntary agencies (VAs) in Hong Kong has been conservative and cannot respond to new challenges. This is mainly due to the limitation of subvention policy imposed by the major funding source, the Social Welfare Department. The traditional view of non-professional volunteers working in welfare organisations also contributes to that phenomenon.
Time has changed. The complexity of social problems and issues that VAs face require professionals with many skills. It requires a flexible and integrated service delivery model. The changing mode of the Social Welfare Department not only allows flexibility in HRM policy but also makes HRM reform mandatory in order to manage resources effectively.
What kind of HRM policy do VAs need? Firstly, VAs need an HRM plan. In the past, there was no such need, as basically everything had to follow the policy laid down by the major funder. What VAs need now is to work out a HRM plan, taking into account the resources projected, the future development, the profile of existing workforce and the mission of the agency.
Secondly, flexibility should be built into the HRM policy. Staff should be helped to develop competency that would allow them to take up different assignments and work in various teams. They should be able to take up part-time, contract, flexible hours or other modes of employment.
Thirdly, although reward options are limited, there are ways that this aspect should be implemented.
Fourthly, VAs usually have very clear missions. Staff working in VAs can generally identify themselves with their missions easily. VAs should make use of this biggest asset fully when formulating its HRM policy.
The core business of VAs is working with people. The main methodology of VAs is using people to help people. Let us put more effort in refining the HRM policies.