UK College Unit 22 Managing Human Resources

This is solution of UK College managing human resources Assignment, discusses organization Harrods

Introduction to Case study - Harrods

The case study gives a brief introduction about Harrods and then discusses in detail the human resource management practices it follows. The case also gives emphasis to the core values of the organization – British, Innovation, Sensation, Service and Luxury. It tells how the employee behavior at Harrods reflects the core values of the organization.

LO1 - Understand the different perspectives of human resource management

P1.1 - Explain how the Guests model of HRM is adopted at Harrods

            Professor David E Guest between the periods 1989 to 1997 developed the well known ‘Human Resource Management’ model – ‘The Guest Model of HRM’. The guest model is different from rest of the Human Resource Management model because of the fact that it lays more emphasis on strategic management unlike other Human Resource Management models that focus more on personal development and management. Furthermore, according to the model the overall employee relationship is sum total of the relationships that individual employee has with the organization. In other words the model supports focusing on needs of all the individuals or employees rather than concentrating on the workforce collectively. It has six basic dimensions of analysis –

  • HRM practices
  • HRM outcomes
  • Behavior outcomes
  • Performance outcomes
  • Financial outcomes

At Harrods, the human resource department is committed to bring out the best in employees (good performance outcome). It aims not only to look into the overall productivity and profitability of the organization (financial outcomes) but also aims at individual growth (positive HRM outcome). It does so by implementing human resource practices like mentoring, talent spotting and support network. This is a proof of the fact that the organization lays emphasis on building good relationship with each and every employee (positive behavior outcome).

Moreover, even the results of the employee surveys at Harrods are used to make strategies that would lead to a win - win situation both for the employees and for Harrods as well. In addition to this, all the strategic plans that are formulated to affect the core or basic areas in the organization rely on the feedback given by the employees of Harrods in their comprehensive employee survey. These core areas are –

  • Organizational Culture
  • Leadership
  • Improved Communication
  • Living the Brand Value

In addition to this, at Harrods all the human resource management practices are linked to high performance and commitment rather than compliance which is in accordance to the Guest model.

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P1.2- Compare the differences between storey’s definitions of HRM, Personnel and IR practices, by reflecting the HRM practices at Harrods and choose similar organizations which have adopted Personnel or IR practices.

Professor John Storey in the year 1992 explained the huge difference between the concept of traditional people management or IR and human resource management. He gave 27 differences between the two concepts in his book ' Developments in the Managing Human Resource’.

            Harrods and other organizations like Marks and Spencer Group plc, Selfridges Retail Limited (which are among its competitors), etc follow the concept of human resource management.

Dimension Personal management/ IR Human resource management
Rules, Roles and Responsibility Well defined rules, roles and responsibilities. No specific rules, roles and responsibilities (can do attitude) - At Harrods the employees are encouraged to engage in different activities by following the practice of job rotation, job enlargement and job enrichment. It helps them to acquire more or new skills and grow both professionally and personally.
Behavior referent According to custom and practice Here employee behavior is determined by the value, vision and mission of the organization – At Harrods, the employees are the public face of the organization. All their actions are governed by the values of Harrods.
Leadership Style or management role Transactional leadership Democratic and Transformational leadership – At Harrods employees are encouraged to participate in the decision making process. They are asked to give new ideas and become a part of the growth process of the organization.
Communication Indirect communication Direct communication – At Harrods people believe in or engage in open and direct communication. Moreover, the organization has a flat structure to prevent hierarchical gaps between different layers of management.
Pay Job evaluation (fixed grades) Performance related – At Harrods, the pay of the employees is directly related to the kind or level of performance they show.
Training and development Controlled access to courses Learning organization – At Harrods emphasis is given on changing the organizational structure, leadership style, etc according to the changing needs. The organization tries to keep itself abreast of all the developments and convey the same to its employees.
Management Actions Actions are according to well defined procedures. All the actions are driven with respect to the current business needs.
Speed of taking any decision Slow Fast or quick – At Harrods all the decisions are taken cumulatively by the management and the employees, this helps to solve the current issues and reach to the conclusion or decision quickly.
Labor management Here the organization believes and engages in collective bargain contracts Here the management has individual contract – At Harrods, each and every employee has a separate contract. Moreover, the management takes steps to ensure good relationship with each and every employee separately.

P1.3- Assess the implications for line managers and employees of developing a strategic approach to HRM at Harrods

            At Harrods employee engagement and employee involvement are given utmost importance. They are encouraged to participate in the decision making process of the organization. This not only helps the organization to make decisions quickly or come up with better and diverse ideas but also motivates the employees to deliver their 100 percent to the organization since they feel a part of the organization. Furthermore, this also fulfills the need for self esteem and self actualization of the employees which are the two highest levels of basic human needs (according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs). In addition to this, by involving the line managers and the employees in the strategic approach to HRM at Harrods, the management is able to access the areas of concerns, i.e., they are able to determine which all areas are uncomfortable for the employees or which all areas need improvement and they take actions appropriately (Keenoy, T., 1990, pp 364). By doing so the management builds a sense of trust and confidence in the employees and they feel valuable to the organization (since their requests and demands are looked into).

            At Harrods the human resource department conducts regular employee surveys and the results of these surveys are used to frame strategies and bring about other changes in the organization. For example, after the first comprehensive employee survey the following areas were given attention to ensure employee satisfaction and comfort –

  • Changing the organizational structure from a tall or hierarchical structure to a flat or wide one
  • Adoption of transformational style of leadership where all the employees are encouraged to take decisions
  • The organization improved its communication structure or system. It encouraged more open and direct communication so that all the employees stay well informed
  • More emphasis was given to ‘value’, i.e., the employees were trained to live up to the brand name

LO 2 Understand ways of developing flexibility within the workplace

P2.1- Explain how a model of flexibility might be applied in practice. Relate this to the Harrods and reflect your argument with examples

            ‘Model of flexibility’ defines how, when, where and from whom work can be obtained/ done in an organization. Model of flexibility is a win – win situation both for the employee as well as for the organization. On one hand it enables the employees to choose their work place, time of work, the kind of work, etc according to their convenience and capabilities and on the other hand it helps the organization to increase employee engagement and involvement and lower the employee turnover rate. This ultimately helps to increase the overall profitability of the organization.

            Workplace flexibility has the following main components that most of the organizations have in place nowadays

  • Flexible Work Arrangements – It deals with where, when and for how long the work would be done. For example – the work can be done over the phone or internet form home or from office; it can be done individually or in a team; the reporting office time may not be fixed, etc.
  • Career Flexibility – It deals with what kind of work the employee wants to perform (depends on his or her capabilities or skills and organizational requirements).
  • Time off Flexibility – The employee can avail different types of time off - Short-Term, Time Off, Episodic Time Off, Extended Time Off and Time Banking.

At Harrods, the employees are encouraged to learn more and develop themselves by offering them a chance to engage in different activities through job rotation, job enlargement and job enrichment. This gives them the opportunity to take up different roles and responsibilities like face-to-face customer operations, merchandising, recording and reporting of sales; and online customer communications.

P 2.2 – Discuss the types of flexibility which may be developed by the Harrods

            Harrods already has the option of ‘Career Flexibility’ in place, which helps it to motivate and develop its employees. Moreover, it can also introduce the concepts of ‘Time off Flexibility’ and ‘Flexible Work Arrangements’.

Time off Flexibility

  • The employees are allowed to take breaks with prior notice whenever they wish to.
  • The employees are able to maintain a good work – life balance by being able to take offs during any working day so that they are able to address family concerns and issues.
  • The employees are made eligible for a particular number of paid leaves.

Flexible Work Arrangements

  • The employees are allowed to ‘work from home’ in case of some emergencies. Moreover, they must be allowed to avail this opportunity for a certain number of fixed hours.
  • Employees must not be made to work overtime (paid or unpaid) without prior notice.
  • Employees must be allowed to work according to the work shifts that are more suitable for them.

P 2.3 – Argue by assessing the use of flexible working practices from both the employee and the employer perspective of Harrods

            Workplace flexibility as discussed earlier is a win - win situation both for the employee as well as the employer or the organization. The option of ‘Career Flexibility’ that Harrods provides to its employees have the following advantages -

Advantages to the employee

  • The employee is able to maintain a good work life balance.
  • The employee feels more involved with the organization or feels motivated to work for the organization (since the organization takes up steps to ensure employee wellbeing, the employee feels responsible for the organization’s success or profitability)
  • The employee is able to satisfy his or her basic human needs (physiological needs, need for security, social need, need for self esteem and need for self actualization). This leads to psychological wellbeing of the employee.

Advantages to the employer/ organization

  • More profitability due to better or enhanced productivity from the employee’s end
  • Low turnover and high customer retention (employee retention at times also leads to customer retention since employees are the public face of the organization and many a times the customers develop good relationship with them and follow them wherever the former goes).
  • The organization is able to develop its workforce to handle varied duties and therefore save additional cost.
  • More employee involvement, low turnover and more profitability results in positive word of mouth; which is by far the most trusted source of advertising.

P2.4 – Discuss the impact that changes in the labor market have had on flexible working practices at Harrods

            Labor is the most crucial resource of any organization. Human resource retention and engagement are of prime concerns for the management of any organization. Harrods understand the importance of its employees and the cost associated with their recruitment, training and development and therefore takes adequate steps to satisfy its employees. For example – It provides equal opportunities to grow to all its employees. The human resource department of Harrods has adopted job rotation, job enlargement and job enrichment in its main business framework so that the employees learn about different roles and responsibilities and take up activities that best suit them (career flexibility). This helps Harrods to look into individual employee’s career development process apart from the organizational process, which in turn keeps the employees satisfied and they stay associated with Harrods willingly for a very long time.

LO 3 - Understand the impact of equal opportunities within the workplace

P3.1 – Explain the forms of discrimination that can take place with special reference to Harrods

            In the year 1997 and 2011 Harrods was in news due to wrong reasons – racial discrimination; and sex discrimination and disability discrimination respectively.

            Mrs Remick (a black woman) and Mrs Seeley (a woman of Asian origin) lodged a complaint against the organization under the ‘Race Relations Act 1976’ in 1997. They claimed that Harrods took away its license from them since the former was not able to follow the dress code of Harrods and the latter couldn’t remove her nose ring (which was a part of her culture).

            Melanie Stark, an ex - employee of Harrods lodged a complaint against the company for sex discrimination. She said that the company forces its female employees to wear seven layers of heavy makeup whereas there is no such rule for male employees. Females who do not adhere to this policy are terminated from their jobs.

            In addition to this, another ex – employee of Harrods, Riam Dean lodged a complaint since she was discriminated due to her disability (prosthetic limb). One of the company officials made her work in the stockroom and she was told that she was not suitable for the front desk work.

            Other forms of discrimination that could happen at Harrods are – Discrimination based on age, religion, parental status, marital status, political belief, pay, national origin, sexual harassment, etc.

P3.2 – Discuss the practical implications of equal opportunities legislation practiced in Harrods

            The equal opportunity legislation of United Kingdom states that all the employees in an organization must be given equal opportunity to learn and grow. Moreover, there must not be any kind of discrimination or bias with respect to promotion, pay, etc. Furthermore, all the eligible and well qualified candidates must be given equal opportunity to employment in any organization.

            Harrods gives equal opportunity to all the candidates that apply for jobs. In addition to this, it arranges for programs like ‘bright ideas’, quarterly employee forum, publishes its employee magazine – Your Harrods, etc. Moreover, it gives emphasis to job rotation, job enlargement and job enrichment that helps employees to acquire new skills by learning and taking charge of different roles and responsibility.

            Such practices in an organization build trust and confidence among the employees, they feel more closely associated with the organization and deliver their best for its success. This in turn lowers the employee turnover and increases the overall profitability of the organization (Donald., 2003, pp 200).

P3.3 Compare the approaches adapted by Harrods to managing equal opportunities and managing diversity

            Harrods offer equal opportunities to all its employees. Its human resource department takes adequate steps to ensure career development and management of its workforce. Moreover, it promotes people strictly on basis of skills acquired and performance done. Approaches used for the following – Job rotation, job enlargement, job enrichment, ‘bright ideas’, quarterly employee forum and the organization also publishes its employee magazine – Your Harrods. Moreover, other important approaches used by the organization are – Recruitment and selection (attracting ands selecting appropriate candidates), enhance performance (providing adequate training and development to its entire employee so that they excel in whatever they do) and development (developing careers of all its employees).

            Harrods employs people from different countries. It has around 5000 employees from over 100 nations. Moreover, the employees belong to different age groups and have varying experience. This helps the organization in knowledge sharing. Approaches used for the same - morning briefing (explaining the day’s agenda to all the employees individually by the floor manager), intranet (communicating all the information to the employees so that all the employees are well aware of their roles and responsibilities) and internal employee magazine (conveys all the important information related to the organization to the employee).

LO 4 Understand approaches to human resource practices for the chosen organization

P.4.1 Research, Compare and comment on different methods of performance management adopted by Harrods

Harrods has adopted different performance management methods over the years. Some of them are -

  • Critical incidents method – In this case the immediate senior of each employee lists down all the appropriate and effective as well as inappropriate and ineffective behaviors of the employees. In other words the managers prepare a behavioral log of all the employees working in his team.
  • Checklist – It consist of a list of qualities or objectives that the employee must possess or must fulfill. The manager is asked to prepare a checklist of the same by ticking against or crossing the qualities or objectives given in the form with respect to each individual employee.
  • Ranking method – All the employees working at Harrods are ranked in order of the skills they posses and the performance they show. Employees with better ranks are given financial or non financial rewards accordingly.
  • 360 degree feedback – Here an employee is ranked by his superiors, subordinates as well as colleagues. Based on these ratings or ranks the overall performance of the employee is calculated.
  • Confidential report – It is a report that is made by the immediate seniors of each individual employee. The main purpose of the report is to draw attention to the strengths and weaknesses of each individual employee.
  • Self assessment – In this case, the employees are asked to fill in a form (hard or soft copy) wherein they have to fill in the objectives they have fulfilled as well as the skills they have acquired over the last six months or last year.
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P4.2 Research and assess the approaches to the practice of managing employee welfare in Harrods

Human resource practices at Harrods are designed to ensure employee welfare or wellbeing. For example after conducting the first comprehensive employee survey, the human resource department took up steps according to the responses given by the employees.

  • Organizational structure – The organizational structure of Harrods was made more flat or wide to bring to an end to so many hierarchical layers. This enabled the employees to communicate their concerns as well as new ideas to the top management much more easily.
  • Leadership – Harrods follows a democratic leadership style. It encourages its employees to be more participative in the decision making process. This not only motivates the employees by fulfilling their different needs but also builds confidence in them.
  • Career flexibility – The human resource department at Harrods as stated earlier, encourages job rotation, job enlargement and job enrichment. This helps the employees to gain new skills and choose the role and responsibility they want to get associated with.
  • Non financial rewards – Harrods offers non financial rewards to its employees like promotions, more say in the decision making process, perform varying tasks to learn new skills, etc. these rewards are totally based on performance and helps an employee to grow professionally as well as personally.
  • Training and development – At Harrods, all the new employees undergo rigorous training sessions so that they are able to learn new things. Moreover, timely training sessions are organized for other employees so that they stay well informed about the new developments taking place in the outside world as well as so that they are aware of values, mission and objectives of the organization.
  • Stress management – Harrods conducts regular stress management workshops for its employees so that their work life balanced is maintained (Brian., 1994, pp 34).

P4.3 Discuss the implications of health and safety legislation on human resources practices with special reference to Harrods

In accordance to the ‘Health and Safety Legislation’ of United Kingdom, Harrods provides all the basic health facilities to its employees. It has a first aid room with all the basic facilities on all the floors. Moreover, it provides health insurance or health cover to all its employees.

P4.4 Evaluate the impact of one topical issue on human resources practices reflected in the case study and additional research of Harrods.

            One of the topical issues related to human resource addressed in this case study is ‘employee surveys’. Employee surveys are now an integral part of Harrods. The strategies and policies that they adopt are derived from these surveys as well apart from other factors and situations.

            These employee surveys aim to know the views of the employees about different aspects of the organization – effectiveness of the organization in managing its workforce and ensuring their wellbeing, the kind of leadership as well as organizational structure that the employees would be more comfortable with, the kind of communication flow which must be there in the organization, identify the problem areas of the organization (according to the employees), the kind of performance system that the employees prefer, the kind of training and career growth that they expect from the organization, the employee morale as well as level of employee involvement, the kinds of policies that the employees would like to see in the organization, etc.

            Responses related to theses core areas helps an organization to understand the psychology of their employees and therefore adopt strategies that would satisfy majority of the employees. Harrods follow the same structure and this has been one of the main reasons for its success. For example - it switched from tall to flat structure only after they realized the need for the same by going through the responses of their employees in the first employee survey.

Conclusion

            Harrods is one of the most well known up market departmental or retail stores located in the London, United Kingdom. Spread over a vast area the store offers complete solutions to the customers under one roof. Harrods employs around 5000 employees from around 100 different countries.

            Harrods is a very people centric organization, i.e., it gives utmost importance to its employees. Most of the policies or strategies that Harrods establish are centered on employee welfare. Policies and actions of Harrods are in accordance to the Guest model of HRM, i.e., it believes in establishing good relationship with individual employee. Moreover, most of the strategic planning at Harrods is governed by the responses which the employees give in employee surveys of Harrods. So far Harrods has conducted four surveys and all of them have been a success (Lucy., 1994, pp 34).

Harrods offers its employees the option of career flexibility which helps in personal as well as professional growth of its employees. However, application of flexible work arrangement as well as time off flexibility can help the organizations in helping the employees maintain a better work life balance.  In addition to this, Harrods has a very elaborative performance management system that helps it to identify and promote or give rewards to the deserving employees.

Unfortunately Harrods has been accused of racial as well as sex discrimination in the past by ex employees, etc; however, it is taking adequate measures to do away with such problems or practices at workplace.

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References

  1. Donovan, Steven., H. Kleiner, Brian., 1994. Effective Stress Management. Managerial
Auditing Journal, Vol. 9 Iss: 6, pp.31 - 34 Beer, M., Spector, B., Lawrence, P.R., Quinn Mills, D. and Walton, R.E., 1984. Managing           Human Assets. New York, NY: The Free Press Davis. Ann., Gibson, Lucy., 1994. Designing Employee Welfare Provision. Personnel Review, Vol. 23 Iss: 7, pp.33 – 45 Devanna, M.A., Fombrun, C.J. and Tichy, N.M., 1984. A framework for strategic human resource management in C.J. Fombrun, N.M. Tichy and M.A. Devanna (eds)          Strategic Human Resource Management. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons. Edgar, Fiona., Geare, Alan., 2005. HRM practice and employee attitudes: different measures different results. Personnel Review, Vol. 34 Iss: 5, pp.534 – 549

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