Managing Human Resources
Current study is based on the human resource practices followed in modern day business organisations. This study has been conducted by considering the case of Harrods, which is known as one of the renounced departmental stores head quartered at the UK. The effectiveness of the Guest’s model into the HRM practices of the Harrods has been described in this study. Furthermore, the difference between personnel management and the IR practices with the HRM policy followed in the organisations have been clearly mentioned in this study. The role of the line managers followed at Harrods has also been mentioned while conducting the study followed by the flexible work practices followed at Harrods. Furthermore, its role to increase workforce productivity has also been clearly mentioned in this study. In the later part, discrimination strategies and the equal opportunity management and diversification strategy followed has also been analysed. Finally, several methods and process of performance management system and the health and safety legislation and concerning issues related to it has been indicated in the final stage.
Effective human resource management is considered as a major challenge for contemporary business organisations as employees in the modern era has become more knowledgeable and aware of the latest industry practices. On the other hand, considering the words of Liedtka (2008), business organisations have analysed the fact that human resources are the most important asset for business and that proper HRM strategies could enhance business efficacy. In the context of the above scenario, the current report has been developed taking into consideration the case of Harrods, a leading department store brand across the UK as well as Europe. The paper would emphasise on different perspective of HRM within Harrods, ways of developing flexibility within the workplace, impact of equal opportunities and approaches to HRM practices within the organisation.
In the year 1989, Guest model was introduced by David’s Guest aiming to create distinction between personnel management and the human resource management. Mostly Guest’s model is used to create and implement diversified management activities into the organisation in order to manage overall workforce strength of the firm. As cited by Bauer (2004), the overall performance of the organisation depends on the commitment made by the management. Furthermore, it is assumed that by following Guest’s model, organisations can exhibit a few events to satisfy the overall need of the workforce. According to this model, the actual relationship between the commitment and high performance is difficult to establish. However, Bauer (2005) cited that Guest’s model would help organisations to employ a flow of approaches flowed by viewing the strategy of underpinning practice and leading to varied types of desired outcomes.
According to the Guest’s Model, employee commitment depends on mainly six pillars. These are HRM strategy, HRM practices, HRM outcomes, performance outcomes, behaviour outcomes and financial outcomes. Additionally, another positive feature of the Guest’s Model is that it could help organisation to link overall activities with the framework of performance management. Considering the fact, Bechet and Maki (2008) stated that it would help organisations focusing more on the HRM practices which would eventually lead to positive outcomes such as commitment, quality and flexibility. Furthermore, it would again lead to behavioural outcomes followed by performance outcomes. The performance outcomes would successfully lead to financial outcome of the organisation.
Considering all these aspects, Harrods is providing potential training, appraisal process across the firm and the same is improving commitment level, motivation level of the workforce. Not only this, ‘flexible work culture’ and ‘employee engagement’ practices followed by Harrods have improved the behavioural outcome that has been reflected on the performance outcomes of the workforce. Supporting to this fact, Burack (2008) stated that sound communication and flexible work culture has made the workforce able to feel valued by the management and it has enhanced the commitment towards the Harrods.
Human resource management and personnel management practices both are focused on a basic parameter that is making the workforce highly committed to achieve significant growth in the global market. As cited by Chowanec and Newstrone (2011), personnel management and IR management practices are mostly followed to maintain good relationship with the workforce. It is used to increase employee satisfaction and retention ratio in a significant manner. On the other side, Dyer and Heyer (2004) argued that when comparison of personnel and IR practices comes with HRM practices, HRM process holds broader value of managing overall growth of the organisation. HRM practices are followed to achieve long term growth of the organisation as it helps to maintain employee commitment, motivation, satisfaction and the retention ratio within a single system.
Harrods is following potential HRM practices at the workplace. Starting from the recruitment to the training, development, reward management and performance management system, a strong HR practices is being observed in the Harrods. Considering the fact, Eckerson (2009) stated that effective reward management and training development process has made it able to increase workforce commitment and the same has reduced turnover ratio. Furthermore, HRM practices have implemented ‘job rotation’ facility along with the ‘intranet system’ which has impacted positively on the workforce behaviour and the same has improved the overall performance of Harrods. Not only this, by following HRM practices, Harrods have achieved ‘Best employer’ designation for maintaining only 5% turnover across the UK retail market (Bechet and Maki, 2008).
The Marks and Spencer (M&S), which is one of the leading retail organisations in the UK, is following personnel management and IR strategy within the organisation. As mentioned by Gomez (2004), this strategy has made M&S able to maintain higher level of employee relationship with the management. Furthermore, it has helped M&S to improve the workforce loyalty and the brand image of the firm to a great extent.
The basic role of line manager is to mentor, develop, motivate and reward employees in order to create a satisfactory work environment across all departments within the organisation. Considering the fact, Guest and King (2004) stated that line managers hold the responsibility to manage each and every employee to track and maintain individual performance across all hierarchy. Furthermore, day to day operational activities are also conducted by line managers. The line managers of Harrods are also exhibiting all type of job roles which could take care of all the needs of the stakeholders. Not only this, Hannon et al. (2006) mentioned that ‘Two way communications’ is also maintained by the line managers of Harrods in order to increase employee engagement with the management.
The role of ‘Coaching and mentoring’ is also played by the line managers by involving both formal and informal communication session (Bechet and Maki, 2008). While mentoring the workforce, the line managers provide structured feedback to the workforce and maintain all records into the system. It improves the ability of the workforce to judge their lacking and the necessary initiatives need to be taken for improving the same. Additionally, Harvey (2005) stated that open communication between the line manager and the employees have helped Harrods to create valuable feeling within the workforce. Finally, it has helped Harrods to continuously improve employee commitment towards the management and the overall growth of the organisation across the global competitive market.
Model of flexibility can be divided into several types depending of the nature of the organisation and the area of operation. As cited by Boxall and Purcell (2003), flexible work environment holds vital position to create and maintain a win-win situation within the organisation. Flexibility model provides the right to the employees to improve their skills, to achieve higher incentives or bonus and provides the role of decision making directly to the workforce. As a matter of fact, most of the organisations are trying to improve the effectiveness and organisational strength for coping up with the coming challenges of the organisation. It is a proven fact that, organisations following flexible work culture, exhibits dynamic performance more than the rigid organisations. Considering the fact, Gilmore and Williams (2009) stated that flexible organisational culture conducts open communication and coordination between varied departments across the organisations and maintains overall operational activity in a symmetric way.
Flexibility across various organisations varies depending on the type of business it is operating. It is based on basic criteria that is optimum employee engagement is required in the decision making process. As stated by Mondy et al. (2005), higher level of organisational success and employee satisfaction depends on the flexible work environment and it positively influences the retention ratio of the workforce. Considering these factors, Harrods have implemented flexibility in terms of recruitment of right people at the right job role. However, Searle and Skinner (2011) argued that one of the major parts is the flexible labour force and it could be treated as vital agenda for improving overall workforce commitment towards the organisation. It could act as an integrative approach and the same could help Harrods to improve the brand value of the Harrods across the global competitive environment.
2.2 Types of flexibility that can be developed by Harrods:
Among several types of flexibility, Harrods have implemented basic two types of flexibility named as functional and numerical flexibility.
A great attention has been paid on the human resource of Harrods by its management in order to enhance their skills, motivation, performance and retention ratio across the organisation. Implementation of functional flexibility would help Harrods transforming work organisations, alternative work practices, and higher degree of employee involvement, flexible production system and most importantly flexible human resource management system. As cited by Gilmore and Williams (2009), this type of functional flexibility would help Harrods improving employee engagement and high-job-security environment characteristics at the workplace of Harrods. Furthermore, this type of functional flexibility could also improve the growth ratio of the Harrods across the overall retail market of the UK.
Numerical flexibility followed involves maintaining employee strength either increasingly or decreasingly within the organisation. However, Mondy et al. (2005) mentioned that it also employs cost reduction by reducing the number of labour force as and when required by converting into part time job practices. This would create the externalisation of the labour behaviour which is further sub divided into flexible staffing arrangements, contingent work, market oriented and non standard work arrangements. Following all these types of flexibility, Harrods could generate required productivity as and when required by altering the type and the timing of the job (Bechet and Maki, 2008).
2.3 Assessing the use of flexible work practices from both the employer and the employee perspective of Harrods:
Flexible work practices are followed by organisations primarily to motivate the workforce and improve the workforce performance. It becomes helpful for both the employer and the employees focusing on a common goal that is achieving higher sustainability in the global market. As cited by Harvey (2005), talented and skilled employees become motivated by receiving higher flexibility in terms of various parameters from their employer.
Considering the fact, Harrods have implemented ‘Flexible work schedules’ to allow the workforce to maintain work engagements as well as all compliance also. Furthermore, Gilmore and Williams (2009) mentioned that job sharing scheme has been also implemented by Harrods which has created higher level of job satisfaction to the overall workforce. It has served equally both the employee and the employer by means of flexibility and improved performance respectively. As a matter of fact, flexible work practices employed by Harrods have made the workforce able to maintain work life balance which is considered as one of the prime factor of job satisfaction. Increased job satisfaction further has craeted improved dedication of the workforce towards the organisation.
Another flexibility that is provided by Harrods is the ‘Time off’ facility. The time off facility employed by Harrods has been made such a way that could reduce the monotony of the work structure that might occur from attending regular job. Furthermore, Harvey (2005) cited that flexibility on the career development is also provided by the Harrods which is again increasing the workforce commitment towards the firm. It is helping Harrods to maintain healthy relationship between the management and the workforce in a significant way.
Harrods have implemented flexible work practices into the organisational system by taking into consideration about the rules of the labour market. As per the rules and norms, Harrods have implemented participative decision making for enhancing the ability to perform different types of jobs in an outstanding manner. On the other side, Mondy et al. (2005) mentioned that Harrods have also focused on reducing organisational cost by limiting the participation of the workforce in the decision making process. This approach has influenced both the workforce as well as the organisation. Workforce is getting higher flexibility which is again creating higher commitment towards the firm. Similarly, organisation is getting served by improving the overall performance of the workforce and eventually it is influencing the financial outcome of Harrods positively.
Several norms of labour law stated that high performance workforce requires optimum flexibility of the work culture into the organisational system. As stated by Gilmore and Williams (2009), the cross cultural flexibility approach would help organisations to create higher output to the system as it involves higher degree of innovation into the system. Furthermore, the holiday scheme of the labour market has also impacted on the statutory system of Harrods and the firm has created statutory compliances following the rule of the labour market. It has created satisfactory image of the firm which has helped Harrods to maintain higher brand image within the global retail market.
Workforce discrimination is a common phenomenon in contemporary business environment. While some organisations are benefitted from a diversified workforce, others find difficulties in managing discrimination within workforce (Rosenstock et al. 2006). Taking into consideration the perception of Toulson and Dewe (2004), age, gender, cultural background, ethnicity and language are the major factors that can influence discrimination within the workforce. Considering the case of Harrods, the organisational workforce is comprised of various employee groups. The reason is supposed to be cultural differences. Harrods prioritises a cross cultural workforce as the brand is recently emphasising on an internationalisation process. However, employees within the organisation have a tendency to form groups based on similar cultural background.
In reference to the recent corporate reports published by Harrods, the brand is focusing on equal opportunity policy so that an unbiased HRM policy could be followed within the work environment. Harrods has focused on mitigating gender discrimination and the recent reports suggest that the organisational workforce is comprised of equal male and female employees. However, Harrods has been recently criticised for gender discrimination approach. In recent past, a female sales assistant, Melanie Stark was sacked after refusing to wear make up in work place. Lam and White (2008) acknowledged that gender discrimination within the workplace is not compatible for ethical management practice and therefore, the approach of Harrods is highly controversial.
Business organisations in the UK need to comply with the equal opportunity provision set by the UK Government and the European Union. Harrods has been trying to follow a range of equal opportunity policies so that the organisational practice could be compatible for the equal opportunity legislations. As mentioned by Starcke (2006), business organisations need to comply with the legislative framework established by the centralised administrative authority so that a legally compatible business initiative could be followed. The Code of Conduct at Harods covers varioua aspects of the Employment Equity Act, 1998. As per Yeung and Berman (2007), the applicability of the Employment Equity Act, 1998 ensures unbiased HRM practice within the organisation so that issues such as discrimination or conflicts within the workforce could be avoided.
Highlighting the Employment Equity Act1998, a hardcopy of organisational Code of Conduct is given to the employees. Adding to that, employees are treated equally and the required resources for conducting assigned tasks are provided to the workforce. For instance, employees are given required training so that every employee gets the required resources to perform assigned activities (Schuler, 2007). Harrods has also deployed a team of HR personnel in order to ensure the fact that equal employment practice is aligned with the business operations. An effective conflict resolution process along with an effective grievance management system is also in place to conduct unbiased grievance management procedure.
Harrods has prioritised an unbiased management practices while ensuring a transparent management policy. In order to make the initiatives feasible, the brand has focused on equal opportunity and diversity management. Considering the words of Kelloway and Day (2005), workforce conflicts can often emerge from biased management practices and organisations could ensure equal opportunity policies along with effective diversity management initiatives to tackle the situation. Harrods has also focused on these two strategies in order to maintain effective employee relations within the work environment.
Equal opportunity practices:
Harrods has been trying to maintain equal opportunity within the workforce so that an ethically sound management practice could be initiated. CEO Michael Ward in a recent press conference, acknowledged that the brand is trying to maintain an effective employee relations so that workforce conflicts could be reduced. Koys (2008) cited that equal opportunity polity helps business organisations to attract potential candidates while at the same time, retaining the existing the existing employees. However, implementing such initiatives is critical in modern day context. Harrods has been following three specific approaches with the likes of sharing provision, liberal approach and high radical system in order to ensure equal opportunity policy.
The liberal approach initiated by Harrods has helped developing the compensation structure based on specific set of legislations. According to Muchiri (2007), differences in compensation would likely to create conflicts within the workforce while a reward system with specific standardisation policies is likely to be appreciated by the organisational employees. Harrods has established a compensation structure aligning with the standardised business model and a relevant balanced scorecard approach. Employees’ performances are measured following a balanced scorecard approach and the strategy helps assuring an unbiased compensation policy.
The sharing provision followed by Harrods ensures the fact that an effective teamwork culture is maintained within the workforce. Muchiri (2007) supported the fact by citing that the sharing philosophy is compatible for effective employee relations within the workplace while the collective effort is likely to enhance overall workforce productivity.
Harrods has also prioritised on a high radical system aiming to establish a dynamic workforce. According to Wiley (2012), a high radical system is needed to be prioritised in order to develop a workforce that is highly flexible to changing business environment. Over the past few decades, Harrods has maintained a strong British culture to run business. However, the internationalisation of the business processes has influenced the brand to opt for a high radical system and accordingly, the development of a dynamic workforce has been feasible.
Workforce diversity management:
Harrods is currently managing a large workforce, comprising of more than 4,000 employees. The diverse workforce is a reason why Harrods has been focusing on a range a specific diversity management approach so that an ethical HRM practice could be conducted within the workforce. Thomas and Garava (2007) attributed that organisations can often benefit from a diverse workforce and the diverse talents would likely to enhance workforce productivity. Harrods has been following the recruitment policy keeping n mind the gender discrimination scenario. The HR personnel engaged in the recruitment process are directed to balance the demand-supply ration when it comes to manpower requirement keeping in mind, equal number of male and female candidates.
The performance management process followed at Harrods aims to monitor the employee performance while considering the associated strengths and weaknesses. The HR managers at Harrods ensure that the performance of the workforce is up to the desired extent. In this context, self assessment along with a 360 degree appraisal process is followed at Harrods to effectively monitor and appraise workforce performance.
The employees at Harrods are encouraged to conduct self assessment once a year. The immediate line managers set key performance indicators (KPIs) for the employees and the employees need to evaluate the self performance comparing with the KPIs. Walker and Armes (2009) consider self assessment as an effective performance monitoring process that allows employees to evaluate self performance. Comparing self performance with the benchmarks in a balanced scorecard approach, employees at Harrods manage to produce expected performance.
A 360 degree appraisal process is initiated at the time of performance management process. In this process, the employees are engaged in two-way communication mechanism with the immediate supervisors and a senior management staff. Milkovich et al. (2009) appreciated the 360 degree appraisal process by acknowledging that a transparent appraisal process is needed to be a priority and the 360 degree appraisal process can be considered as a viable option.
Harrods has developed the employee welfare scheme focusing on three strategic pillars including recruitment and selection, employee development and performance management. Leibowitz (2008) acknowledged that recruitment, workforce development and performance management are core values that dictates the workforce performance of an organisation. The recruitment process has been initiated keeping in mind the employee turnover scenario. Therefore, employees are assured of job securities to an extent while the lower turnover enhances the brand image as well. The performance management process has been initiated keeping in mind the philosophy of ‘Engaging for Success’. The management has aligned the organisational goals with the employees’ job roles so that greater commitment can be experienced. However, employees are given relevant training to develop required skills and knowledge to achieve self as well as organisational goals.
Employees are considered as the most important asset at Harrods. Therefore, the organisation has emphasised particularly on the health and safety precautions when it comes to the employees’ security concerns. As cited by Khatri (2009), employees are needed to be protected within the work environment and the health and safety measurements are needed to be ensured. Harrods has emphasised on the work-life balance scenario in order to ensure a high morale within the work environment. On top of that, the managers are directed to focus on effective delegation process so that increasing job pressure might not affect the morale of the employees. Wiley (2012) attributed that the role of managers could be critical in delegating work to the employees as ineffective delegation process could enhance the employees’ job pressure. Apart from that, employees at Harrods are provided effective compensation package that includes a combination of intrinsic as well as extrinsic rewards. The compensation package includes health insurances and medical facilities along with the basic wage. Effective training and development function has been developed to ensure continuous development of the workforce.
Harrods has managed to develop a reputation of being a preferred employer across the UK as the brand follows a specific set of HRM policies. However, a recently developed issue regarding gender discrimination has significantly affected the organisational brand image. Koys (2008) stated that gender discrimination has turned out to be a major concern in the contemporary business environment and organisational brand image of being a preferred employer, depends highly on the gender discrimination scenario. Female employees at Harrods are required to wear makeup during the working hours. Malanie Stark, a sales assistant at Harrods was sacked having denying to comply the policy (Wiley, 2012). Harrods has been heavily criticised for the initiative as the approach reflect some controversies relating to gender discrimination. The brand has developed disciplinary provision regarding the female employees and not the male candidates. As a consequence, the initiative is found to be contradicting the Equal Employment Act 1998. Therefore, the gender discrimination scenario is needed to be addressed effectively so that an ethically sound HRM practice could be initiated.
The findings from the study promote the fact that effective HRM strategies could help business organisations to develop a competitive edge over the rivals. Simultaneously, ineffective workforce management could affective the organisational brand image. Such has been case for Harrods as the organisation has been benefiting from the ‘Engaging for Success’ initiative, the brand image has been affected for ineffective gender discrimination scenario. While Harrods has been prioritising equal opportunity policies and open communication mechanism, the gender discrimination issue has been a controversy relating to workforce management. Harrods needs to comply with the Equal Employment Act 1998 so that an ethically sound workforce management strategy could be followed.
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