IntroductionThis Managing human resources assignment covers the detailed description of Harrods, with its history, present and future. In the 17th century Charles Henry Harrod came up with the concept of a ‘comprehensive, one solution to all needs and problems store’ and later on in the year 1834 he succeeded in establishing the same in London, United Kingdom. He named the department store after his family’s name – ‘Harrods’.
The department store is a posh 7 storey building which houses more than 300 different department stores that offer a large number products and services to the customers. These products and services range from shoes, clothes, bridal wear, cosmetics, stationery, pet shop, grocery, belts, electronic items, jewellery to hair spa, barber service, tailor, mechanic, electrician service, gym, dietician, beauty clinic or beauty parlour, restaurants, etc.
The store is one of the most well-known, high end or up market department stores in Europe due to which it attracts customers from all over the world. Despite the store’s strict dress code policy for the customers (it does not allow people wearing swimwear, shorts, flip flops, thong sandals, etc. to enter the store), it is visited by approximately 100000 customers on a daily basis.
Moreover, the store is also known due to the employee centric human resource management policies it has in place to ensure highest level of employee involvement and motivation in the store. Factors or human resource management policies which have helped the organization to achieve this above status are – its flat or horizontal organizational structure, transformational leadership style, a free or open communication path or communication flow, 360 degree appraisal method, giving employees the option of career flexibility, etc.).
The given Managing human resources assignment case study revolves around human resource policies, practises and programs of Harrods.
The case study first focuses on the history and core values of the organization which forms the basis of all the human resource policies, practices and programs at Harrods. The five basic core values of Harrods are - British, Innovation, Sensation, Service and Luxury. These are given utmost importance due to which the same are reflected in the behaviour and actions of the employees.
The case then highlights the importance of the ‘comprehensive regular employee surveys’ it conducts. These surveys help the store to not only access the human resource policies, practices and programs which the employees want in place but also helps the management to know the human resource policies, practices and programs with which the employees are highly dissatisfied. So far the store has been able to successfully conduct a total of 4 of such surveys and considers the feedback or result of these surveys as of vital importance.
Moreover, the case study also describes how the organization gives utmost attention to human resource issues like employee motivation, employee involvement, employee retention, etc. The department store takes every possible step like adopting a flexible work framework, following a flat organizational structure, adopting transformational leadership style, etc. to ensure the same.
TASK 1 - Understand the different perspectives of human resource management
P1.1 - Explain how the Guests model of HRM is adopted at Harrods
The Guest Model proposed by Professor David E Guest in the year 1989 states that strategic management is much more important and required in organizations today than just people management. The model states the importance of maintaining good working in partnership and personal relationship (for the management) with each and every employee. Moreover, it also states that an organization must be dynamic, i.e., it must change according to the changing external environment. All this leads to better productivity from the employees’ end and reduced turnover rate.
Guest Model has five basic building blocks which helps the organizations behaviour to maintain good relationship with the employees as well as be attentive to the changes in the external business environment. These five blocks can be linked to Harrods in the following way -
- HRM practices
- HRM outcomes
- Behaviour outcomes
- Performance outcomes
- Financial outcome
Harrods operates in total agreement with the Guest Model. The department store is very active with respect to accessing the changes in its external environment and managing human resource policies accordingly. For example, it keeps a close watch on all the activities of its main competitors like Marks and Spencer Group plc.Fortnum & Mason plc., etc. and brings about timely constructive changes in its internal framework if required. In addition to this, the department store has cordial relationship with all its employees. It has achieved this by empowering users the employees, giving them a say in the decision making process of the company, giving them the option for career flexibility, etc. (Kevin J., 1999, pp. 4).
These practices followed by Harrods result in greater HRM outcomes, performance outcome, and positive behaviour outcomes; and therefore financial outcomes for the organization (increased employee motivation leads to enhanced performance outcome and therefore higher financial outcome).
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 gave 27 major differences between the concept of traditional people management or IR and human resource management in his book titled 'Developments in the Management of Human Resources’ in the year 1992. Some of the differences that apply to Harrods are –
|Dimension||Personal management/ IR||Human resource management|
|Management Actions||Management actions focus mainly on achievement of more profits (purely profit driven organizations)||Management actions are not only governed by the current business need of the organization (to achieve better profits and growth), but also focus on the needs of its employees (employee centric organizations)|
|Leadership Style||Transactional leadership style id followed||Transformational leadership style is given importance (which supports innovation and creativity in the organization)|
|Communication System||Restricted communication flow or system owing to tall or vertical or hierarchical organizational structure||Open and direct communication system or flow of information owing to the wide or horizontal organizational structure|
Major competitors of Harrods like Fortnum & Mason plc.Marks and Spencer Group plc., etc. just like Harrods, flown and practice the concept of human resource management. These organizations pay utmost attention to human resource issues like employee motivation, employee good health, employee security, employee work- life balance, etc. Owing to this all these organization (in the same way as Harrods) have flat organizational structure, follow transformational leadership style, have career flexibility in place, have a very open and transparent communication system, etc.
P1.3- Assess the implications for line managers and employees of developing a strategic approach to HRM at Harrods.
Strategic human resource management approach of Harrods acts as a win - win situation both for the employees as well as the line managers. This can be supported by the following facts-
Implication for line managers –
- Reduces work load on line managers - Strategic human resource management approach produces a breed of self-motivated employees who feel more responsible towards the organization and therefore work very hard for its success and growth. Employees at Harrods deliver their 100 percent to the department store and therefore the line managers don’t run behind the employees to get the work done; this reduces the work load on the line mangers.
- Better efficiency of line managers– Owing to strategic human resource management approach and self-motivated employees, the line managers are able to concentrate more on their own work which in turn improves their efficiency.
- Increased overall productivity – Better efficiency of line managers and self-motivated employees result in increased overall productivity.
Implication for the employees –
- Work- life balance - Strategic human resource management approach helps the employees to balance their personal as well as professional lives in a better way. For example, career flexibility option at Harrods enables the employees to have a better control over their work and life.
- Value addition - Strategic human resource management approach supports initiatives or practices that result in more value addition. For example, it enables the employees to gain additional skill sets and hone their present skill sets (, 2009, pp. 444).
TASK 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 is a human resource framework which gives a greater degree of freedom to the employees with respect to certain aspects of their jobs such as choosing the place of work, their work timings, etc.; which in turn makes the employees feel more comfortable and satisfied with their jobs. Model of flexibility has three basic components and these can be related to Harrods in the following way –
- Flexible work arrangement – This type of work arrangement enable employees to avail options such as ‘work for home’ so that it becomes more convenient for them to work. Moreover, here the employees can also have options like ‘flexi timing’ which ensures that the employee is able to devote enough time for his or her personal engagements as well.
- Career flexibility – This type of arrangement has provisions like job rotation, job enlargement as well as job enrichment for the employees. This helps the employees to manage and develop their careers in a better way by honing their present skill sets and gaining new ones.
- Time off flexibility – This type of arrangement has provision for Short-Term Time Off, Episodic Time Off, Extended Time Off and Time Banking, etc. This enables the employees to address their personal or family work/ engagements.
Presently Harrods gives a lot of importance to career flexibility and has options like job rotation, job enlargement as well as job enrichment for its employees. Moreover, it also has some features of flexible work arrangements. However, the department store gives very little emphasis to time off flexibility, which it needs to look into (Debbie., 1996, pp. 74).
P 2.2 – Discuss the types of flexibility which may be developed by the Harrods.
As mentioned in the previous answer, Harrods gives a lot of importance and emphasis to career flexibility. It has provision for job rotation (same employee performing different tasks on a weekly or monthly basis), job enlargement as well as job enrichment (increasing the number of duties or tasks associated with a profile or position that the employee holds). This enables the employees to gain more skills as well as knowledge and secure their future. However, the department store needs to work a lot with respect to flexible work arrangements as well as time off flexibility so that the employees could take advantages of the same as well
- Workplace Flexibility – Harrods has the option of ‘flexi timing’ for its employees, i.e., its employees can report to work according to their convenience. However, the store does not have other options like work from home, mass career customization, etc.; which it can adopt for certain departments (where it is practical to apply these) like the finance department, human resource department, etc.
- Time off flexibility – The organization must make provisions for some minimum number of paid leaves for all its employees (different for different employees based on their level of experience, performance, designation, etc.). Moreover, the store must also have provision for Short-Term Time Off, Episodic Time Off, Extended Time Off and Time Banking.
P 2.3 – Argue by assessing the use of flexible working practices from both the employee and the employer perspective of Harrods.
Flexible work arrangements at Harrods have and will serve to be a win – win situation for the employees as well as the management or organization as a whole. This can be stated by considering the following facts –
Benefits of flexible working practices for Harrods (or its management) –
- It helps the organization to avoid wastage of resources. This is so because by adopting options like job rotation, job enlargement and job enrichment (career flexibility) the store saves unnecessarily cost which could arise by recruiting, selecting and training more number of employees since now the organization can get the same work done by employing and training lesser number of people.
- These flexible work options boost employee morale and therefore they become more involved and associated with the store.
- These options result in self-motivated employees to deliver to the best of their capabilities to the department store; which in turn increases the overall productivity and therefore profitability of the store.
- These options result in greater employee satisfaction and therefore reduces the turnover rate or employee attrition rate of the department store
- It builds goodwill of the organization. This is so because such human resource policies and programs lead to positive word of mouth or increased positive publicity of the organization
Benefits of flexible working practices for the employees working at Harrods –
- Flexible work arrangements helps the employees to manage their professional as well as personal lives in the best possible way (work life balance)
- It increases the happiness index of the employees since now they remain stress free
- Options like career flexibility encourage the employees to realize their potential and develop their careers in the best possible manner (Chih-Hsun., 2006, pp. 492).
P2.4 – Discuss the impact that changes in the labour market have had on flexible working practices at Harrods
Tight conditions of labour market in the United Kingdom and stringent employment laws/ legislations have forced organization to adopt human resource policies that ensure employee health, safety, wellbeing and security. Moreover, such human resource policies also help organizations to attract and retain the best available talent in the labour market. One such human resource policy that Harrods has adopted is ‘model of flexibility’.
Harrods has in place ‘flexi timing’ so that its employees could report to work according to their convenience and therefore balance their professional as well as personal work/ life in a better way (earlier it had fixed working timing from 9 to 5 which gave no option to the employees and therefore proved to be very inconvenient for them). Moreover, the organization has career flexibility in place, wherein it offers the option of job rotation, job enrichment and job enlargement to all its employees so that they are able to plan, manage and develop their careers to the fullest potential. Moreover, the department store is also planning to take into consideration time off flexibility to make lives of its employees much simpler and easier.
TASK 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
Discrimination refers to any kind of misbehaviour or favouritism done on the basis of factors such as caste, creed, race, religion, colour, cultural practice, gender or sex, age, parental status, marital status, political belief, pay, national origin, sexual orientation, physical appearance, etc.
During the 1990s Harrods was in news due to all wrong reasons. The department store was all over the news since a number of discrimination cases came forwards wherein the managers or top management of the store was accused by a number of its ex-employees and ex partners of discrimination. The latter charged cases under the ‘Race Relations Act of 1976’, ‘Disability Discrimination Act of 1995’, ‘The Racial and Religious Hatred Act of 2006’, ‘Disability Discrimination Act of 1995’, etc. Owing to the same, the organization established stringent rules against anyone indulging in discrimination of any sort. Moreover, in serious matters the store terminates people who are proved to indulging in the same without any exception.
However, despite all these efforts, the store is always criticized by most of its female employees, who accuse the store to have a much more lenient attitude towards the dress code policy for its male employees, whereas the female employees are expected to wear seven layers of heavy makeup every day during their duty hours.
P3.2 – Discuss the practical implications of equal opportunities legislation practiced in Harrods.
Equal opportunity legislation was passed by the British parliament to safeguard the interest of the employees working at Harrods. In other words, the government of the United Kingdom protects the rights of the employees employed in the United Kingdom through this legislation.
The legislation makes it mandatory for all the organizations in United Kingdom to give equal opportunity for growth and success to all its employees. Harrods does so by providing compulsory training and development to all its employees and providing them the opportunity to attend different types of workshops. Moreover, the store gives the option of ‘career flexibility, i.e., job rotation, job enrichment or job enlargement’ to all its employees so that they could hone their existing skill sets and learn new ones.
The legislation considers any sort of discrimination at workplace (on any basis - caste, creed, race, religion, colour, cultural practice, gender or sex, age, parental status, marital status, political belief, pay, national origin, sexual orientation, physical appearance, etc.) as punishable under the British law. In order to encourage employees to be fair and treat everybody equally, Harrods has established strict laws against anyone indulging in discrimination of any sort. Furthermore, the department store follows a very fair and transparent recruitment and selection procedure so that all the employees get an equal opportunity to get hired by the department store (Vepsäläinen, Ari P.J., 1995, pp. 66).
Moreover, the department store encourages fair and transparent promotion (as directed by the equal opportunity legislation). It does so by incorporating 360 degree appraisal method in its human resource framework. This ensures that promotion of an employee is determined by a number of factors and by a number of people (and not just by an individual) so that the final decision made is free of bias).
Knowledge sharing and knowledge bank/ management is another initiative by Harrods in this regard.
P3.3 Compare the approaches adapted by Harrods to managing equal opportunities and managing diversity.
Harrods abides by ‘The Equality Act of 2010 or the equal opportunity legislation of the United Kingdom’ by ensuring the following –
- The department store follows a very transparent and clear recruitment and selection procedure so that all the eligible candidates get an equal opportunity of getting hired and serving the store
- The department store maintain transparency and fairness in its promotion technique by adopting ‘360 degree appraisal method’. This appraisal method is generally free of any sort of bias because here the final decision regarding the promotion is taken by a group of individuals (peers, subordinates, self and superiors) and not just any one individual or party
- It provides the option of job rotation, job enlargement and job enrichment (career flexibility) to all its employees with so that all of them get an equal opportunity to develop and manage their careers in a better way
Harrods employees people belonging to different countries, family background, educational backgrounds, experience, etc. Such a scenario may result in favouritism or discrimination. Owing to this, the department store has also banned discrimination of any sort and considers it as a serious offense and punishable without any exception (if proved).
TASK 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 followed different types of performance appraisal methods since its beginning. Some of the methods which were employed at the department store are –
- Critical incident method – In this method the immediate manager or the supervisor of the employee prepares a log that contains all the important activities, events and assignments for which the employee was responsible for the entire year (and what was the end result of the same). It also includes the kind of behaviour and attitude the employee portrays during the same. Based on this assessment (of behaviour and attitude), the employee is appraised accordingly.
- Checklist – In this method the immediate manager or the supervisor of the employee judges the employee based on certain predefined criteria (which the human resource department defines for an ideal employee). Based on this assessment of the employees appraisal is done accordingly.
- Confidentiality report – In this method the immediate manager or the supervisor of the employee prepares a comprehensive report that includes behaviour of the employees, their sincerity towards their work, their attitude towards other employees in the organization, etc. Moreover, the report also points out the strengths and weaknesses of each employee so that apart from an appropriate appraisal, appropriate training could be provided to each employee to improve upon their skills.
Currently the department store has 360 degree appraisal method in place. By far this is considered to be one of the most reliable and fair appraisal methods since it not only involves analysis or evaluation of the employee by his or her immediate senior or superior but also includes analysis or evaluation of the employee by his or her peers, self, as well as subordinates.
P4.2 Research and assess the approaches to the practice of managing employee welfare in Harrods.
Employee welfare is a very broad term. Harrods considers ensuring employee welfare and wellbeing as its top notch priority. The organization has taken a number of steps in this regard. Some of them are –
- The organization conducts regular stress management workshops, conflict management workshops, training sessions in relation to change management, etc. This ensures that the employees do not feel pressurized at all and are therefore able to cope up with all the business situations in a healthy way.
- Harrods also arranges for motivational speech by inviting motivational speakers from all over the world, who interact with the staff members of Harrods and try to surround them with positive energy.
- The organization has a very transparent and easy grievance handling procedure so that none of the employees feels left out.
- Harrods has model of flexibility in place so that through options like job rotation, job enrichment and job enlargement, flexible work arrangement, time off flexibility, etc.; the employees are able to have a better work life balance.
- The organization works in accordance to all the legislations/ acts or laws passed by the British parliament.
P4.3 Discuss the implications of health and safety legislation on human resources practices with special reference to Harrods.
‘The Health and Safety Legislation’ passed by the British parliament is an attempt of the highest authority of Britain to safeguard the interest of its citizen and ensure that they lead a safe and healthy life. Harrods operates in total agreement to this legislation. Some of the actions that Harrods has taken in this regard are –
- A personal ambulance is available with the store during working hours
- The organization has a well-equipped centralized first aid room
- The department store has provision for one qualified doctor and one nurse during working hours
- The organization has provision for fire extinguishers at each and every corner (on each floor)
- Harrods conducts regular surprise mock drills
- The organization has hired a professional counsellor to deal with professional or personal issue of the employees
- Harrods has banned the sale or usage of any kind of carcinogenic material or other related harmful materials
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 most topical issues pointed out in the case study under consideration is ‘importance of employee motivation in organizations’.
Motivation refers to the factors that drive employees to work to the best of their capabilities. Harrods works very hard and tries its level best to bring into place human resource policies that motivate employees. While formulating these human resource policies the department store keeps in mind ‘Maslow hierarchy of needs’ proposed by Abraham Maslow, who stated that all human being can be motivated to deliver their 100 percent to the organization if their five basic human needs are met – Physiological need, safety need, social need, self-esteem need and self-actualization need.
Harrods fulfils theses five basic human needs of its employees in the following ways–
- Physiological need – Harrods fulfils this need by providing its employees with appropriate compensation, incentives, etc.; so that they are able to fulfil their basic need for food, cloth and shelter.
- Safety need – Harrods provides cordial working environment to all its employees to ensure that they feel safe and secure.
- Social need – Harrods promotes team work so that employees are able to interact with each other more frequently. This enables the employees to bond properly with their co-workers.
- Self-esteem need and Self-actualization need – Harrods encourages employee participation in the decision making process. Moreover, it rewards employees whose performance is outstanding (, 1997, pp. 52).
Harrods is one of the most famous department stores of the world. The store is popular due to its exquisite exteriors and world class interior design. The store situated in London, United Kingdom is also well known due to its human resource policies and is also considered to be one of the most employee centric organizations of the world.
The department store ensures goodwill of its employees by adopting human resource policies that the latter want in the organization (by accessing the same through the comprehensive employee survey they conduct). Moreover, it gives utmost attention to human resource issues like employee satisfaction, employee motivation, employee engagement or involvement, recruitment, selection, training and development, maintenance of good working environment, ensuring employee welfare and good health, etc.
Such measures at Harrods make the employees working for the department store very valuable to the store and therefore hey feel more associated and responsible for its success and growth. This in turn increases the overall productivity of the organization and lowers down the attrition rate (or decreases the turnover rate).