Delivery in day(s): 5
Diploma in Business
Unit Number and Title
Unit 21 Human Resource Management
The assignment deals with the various problems faced by the companies to ensure a hazard free and open work culture for the employees. The example of Unilever has been taken, the HR policies of which are more relatable to the model of Guest than that of Storey’s. Considered as one of the leading employers in the entire world, Unilever can act as a guiding force for several other companies. Although the company is very superior when it comes to other working companies, several changes are still required for the betterment of the employees.
A well-planned employment relationship that is established between the employer and the employee falls under Human Resource Management (HRM). It is the way in which the management of a company works to provide a workplace which will motivate the employees and will help them to give their maximum efforts. A number of models have been put forward by scholars on HRM practices over the years. One such model was put forward by David Guest.
David Guest’s HRM model (1987, 1989, and 1997) mainly dealt with how the management should work in order to increase the productivity of the workers and enable them to work towards the future goals of the organisations.
The model consists of six different perspectives:
In this model he explains that HRM practices is quite different from that of personnel management. Guest’s model proposes the fact that appropriate HRM practices will produce proper outcomes. These outcomes include flexibility at workplace leading to employee commitment. All these factors lead to high productivity of the concerned company (Spicer and Lee, 2014). Unilever is a multinational company owning more than 400 brands and having its headquarters both at Rotterdam in Netherlands as well as in London, United Kingdom. It is named among the best workplaces in the world. The HRM practices are praised all over the world. The Human Resource Management policies of the company assure the employees of safeguarding their fundamental human rights. It also carries out training programmes to improve the skills of the workers. It also conducted assessment programs by the employees themselves so that they could figure out the areas where they can improve. Unilever deals in software so communication within the premises of the company is extremely easy. It also keeps a continuous track of employee satisfaction and employs various ways to retain staff members in the company. Therefore, through various innovative methods by the HRM department, the employees tend to give their maximum efforts and this process has a close relation with the Guest model.
In John Storey’s model of HRM, he focuses on the difference between IR and personnel practices and he wants to make ‘ideal’ HRM practices. It has been argued by several people that such a model is not achievable in real life and is a mere concept. His model comprises of four distinct characteristics:
Storey in his model talks about the importance of considering employees as assets of a company instead of looking down upon their needs (Storey, 2015). He draws a fine line between HRM practices on one side and IR and personnel practices on the other side. Storey puts forward his first point that IR or personnel practices always abide by the written contracts. However, HRM practices intend to operate beyond the contracts much like Unilever, which is one of the highly rated flexible workplace in the entire world. Storey says that while personnel and IR practices deal with rules, HRM policies are generally flexible when it comes to rules. There is one similarity between the human resource policies of Unilever to that of personnel policies. In case of personnel practices, there is a continuous monitoring of the employees involved, which takes place in Unilever as well. The company’s employers monitor the performances of the workers and evaluate them. This practice is not prevalent in the HRM practices defined by Storey as it explains the need to nurture the employees and not to monitor them.
A company of more than a hundred years, Unilever is not casual about the employees working in it. Storey has stressed in the line managers section of his model that the general managers of the company should be the ones to provide the employees with appropriate work environment so that they are able to produce maximum output. These managers should be the ones to properly execute the HR policies of the organisation. Trained HRM professionals are not required for this task as the managers are more intimately associated with all the workers of the company. When it comes to the key levers part of the model, he focuses on the various available methods that can be used for the appropriate implementation of the HRM policies. It mainly comprises of methods such as payment based on the quality of the work, initiating teamwork and so on (Armstrong, 2007).
Unilever believes in protecting the rights of the people. As most of their working sites are safe and ensure life safety and hazard free health care conditions. The managers remain in close contact with the workers of the company through a very well knit communication system that is prevalent with the structure of the organisation. In order to make the company a better workplace for its workers, the leaders of Unilever are providing them with career breaks, facilities for would-be mothers, a sufficient duration of maternity leave, flexible working hours and policies which are unbiased to any gender. The company has generated huge amounts of revenue over the past few years and all these have been possible because of the proper execution of HR policies by the managers. These policies have worked in favour of the company, as the majority of the employees have not switched from Unilever to other companies because of the hospitable working environment.
Flexibility in the workplace means to provide maximum freedom to the employees based on how the work is expected to be done and reducing the number of restrictions imposed on them. It is believed that with increasing flexibility in the working hours and the ways of work completion, productivity of the employees are likely to increase (Christensen and Schneider, 2010). Nowadays, more and more companies are trying to provide time for the employees so that they can spend time with their families. The company, Unilever, is already working towards improving its workplace for the staff. A number of employees do not have fixed desks to work, as they are free to execute their roles from any part of the office they wish to. The company’s management has worked on redesigning the office floor. They have also brought in new technological services to keep the workers updated. Emerging economies like that of South Korea encourage the people to work from their respective homes. Unilever can adopt such a policy for retaining employees as they will be able to spend time with their families. A number of employees of the company are of the opinion that even though the authorities are warm, communication with the HR can be a hindrance at times. It has also been noted from the workers that the salaries are not as high as the load of the work. In a survey that was conducted by Glassdoor, staff members have said that they are not involved when it comes to any kind of decision making for the company. All these flexibilities can be adopted by Unilever to improve the quality of the workspace.
An experiment was carried out in the TOMO paper where a number of employees were provided with benefits of working anytime as long as they were meeting deadlines. They did not have to remain in the office for fixed hours and found time to take care of their respective families. After the research, it was found out that the workers were not suffering from ill health, experienced better sleeping patterns and remained free from any kind of work stress. The workers were so happy with their workplace that they did not wish to leave the job in the near future (Dominus, 2016). Unilever can develop all these kinds of flexibilities and the company is actually working towards this mission.Unilever can look into the working spaces of the world’s leading companies and try to apply certain features of their models. Google Inc., for example, is considered one of the leading employers of the world. The company allows its staff to work from any corner of the office, which is furnished by beautiful cafeterias, several play stations and gym equipments. Pets are allowed inside Google’s office. Delicious free meals are served to the employers who are also provided with open terraces (Stewart, 2013). A provision is provided at Google where every employee is provided with a day in a week where he can do his other works apart from the office stuff. These flexibilities can be developed by Unilever to make the company a better place to work in as productivity should be the priority for any company.
Flexible working practices work for both the employers and the employees. Employees enjoy the benefits of using this working structure by giving time to their families and other works. As for the employers, these flexible ways help them to retain the employees and prevent them from leaving. With the growing number of young people entering the industries, it has become more challenging for the employers to keep them in the company as these young minds prefers freedom at workplace more than salary. The new work dynamics enable the employers to save money when it comes to office desks. Employees can work from anywhere in the office or even outside the office premises. In that case, the money spend on permanent work desks can become useless. The employers need to know their employees on the personal front and work together to increase the productivity of the company (Boucher, 2015).
Unilever’s productivity manager once said that they had noticed an increase in the overall productivity of the company after providing the workers with flexibility in the office. The health of the staff improved lowering the medical costs of the company. Employees felt energised and worked better. The employers found out that with certain changes in the working pattern, the workers were likely to remain in the company more several long years. Since then Unilever has been clever enough to use certain practices for their own benefits. These include a reduction in the hours of work, the provision of part-time working, an increase in the number of paid leaves, centres of childcare and so on. All these practices have worked in favour of the company (Laasch and Conaway, 2014).
Flexibility in the labour market means the willingness of the labour forces to respond according to the changes in the market with respect to demand and wages. Globalisation and advanced use of technology has increased the flexibility in the labour market . Moreover, the number of women joining the firms has increased over time and they are provided with flexible working hours, which prove to an important cause for labour flexibility.Even in case of Unilever, the amount of pay depends on the amount and quality of the work done by the employees. The women who prefer part-time jobs occupy a great percentage of the company’s workforce. So, Unilever is following has changed its rigid work structure to meet the needs of the labourers. If the companies provide flexible working conditions to its workers then the flexibility of the labour market will also increase. The workers will be willing to shift from one place to another because of the open workspace of the company. Labour forces tend to act more flexible when part-time jobs come into play. Even the company will have the authority in such cases to hire as well as fire employees according to their needs as less rigid contracts are involved in them.
Every company is bound to provide equal opportunities and equal facilities to all the employees in the firm. The powerful Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination in the workplace on the basis of age, race, gender, religion, marital status, pregnancy, disability, gender, sexual orientation and so on (Equal Opportunities Commission, 2016). It has been noticed that a firm, which is bereft of any kind of discrimination, has experienced longer job tenures on the part of its employees. This is because of the fact that the employees like clarity in the selection, promotion as well as other processes of the company. In spite of all the awareness programs, the world has witnessed several discrimination cases in international companies as well as small firms.
Earlier in 2016, Meseret Kumulchew filed a case against Starbucks on the grounds of disability discrimination. The woman has been suffering from dyslexia and has difficulties in reading certain alphabets and numbers. She has always been very open to her employer about her difficulties and that she needs to be visibly shown her work. Starbucks initially provided her with lesser amounts of work that made her feel worse. She was also accused of forging certain documents even though her employer was aware of her difficulties. She had entered wrong information because of the problem she suffered from. The employment tribunal, which looked into the case, found that Starbucks was incapable to cater to her needs and discriminated her based on her shortcomings (Coleman, 2016). Even last year, McDonald’s was accused of firing a number of its employees because of the race of the workers. These workers claimed that they were harassed in the workplace and the supervisor addressed several racial slurs to them. Not only that, the supervisor also sent sexually explicit messages and pictures to the female employees. The company, which promotes awareness campaigns against racial discrimination, has failed to follow those in their own workplaces. Recently, Trade Union Congress (TUC) came to decision that the female employees must not be forced to wear high heels in their corporate offices. They claimed that women should have the freedom to choose the kind of footwear they wish to wear in their offices. Therefore, although certain measures are being taken against all kinds of discrimination, yet it is not completely absent in today’s world.
The practical implications of equal opportunities legislation for an organisation include the fact that a firm is not allowed to disobey any of the law that prohibits discrimination of any kind. Libby Lyons, director of the renowned Workplace Gender Equality Agency, feels that until the male workforce of a company does not want flexible working hours, women will not be provided with this facility, as the majority of the people working in any company are men. (Spring, 2016) The equal opportunities legislation ensures that none of the organisations should discriminate between its working forces based on their gender.
An organisation must provide paid maternity leaves for their female employees so that they can rejoin their position after giving birth to a child. It has also been noticed that women who tend to join work after pregnancy are often not offered a managerial post or any other position of high responsibility. This trend makes the men move ahead in their careers even though the working capabilities of both the sexes are more or less the same. Therefore, it is the responsibility of an organisation to give the women their deserving posts. Every firm needs to work for the betterment of their employees without considering them merely as investments. The provisions under the Employment Equality Act have been path breaking for both the employers and the employees. The sections of workers who were neglected previously are expected to receive appropriate cooperation from the managers of the firms they are working in. However, both the organisations and the trade unions need to take up initiatives for the betterment of the working culture in any office by ceasing the practice of discrimination. If a company is able to abide by all these provisions, then it will be able to retain the workers of its firm and will not face any legal hazards from the employees.
It is the belief of the Dutch-British company Unilever that a company can only prosper when the fundamental rights of its employees are safeguarded. The company recognises the problem of discrimination against women and the fact that women are not given proper training and are often subjected to sexual harassment cases. Therefore, the employers of the company respect the needs of women and provide them with equal opportunities in their respective jobs. Being one of the few of its kind, Unilever provides safety to its workers, provides the, with equal salary for equal performances, does not force any individual to work against his or her will and provides the employee association with the much needed freedom (Unilever Human Rights Report, 2015).
For Unilever, discrimination was the company’s one of the most important issues to be solved in the year 2014. The management tries to operate at places where he feels that any kind of discrimination is prevalent. The company ensures respect to all irrespective of their class, race, colour, creed, gender, etc. It is one of the foremost objectives of the company to ensure a workplace, which is bereft of any kind of discrimination based on colour. The brown-skinned people who work in the firm have stated that the employers strive to produce a workplace where everyone feels equal and respected. Unilever has also taken a step forward to provide women with paid leaves during the time of their pregnancy. Workers are also provided with part-time jobs, which have proved beneficial for them over time. Most of the employees get time with their families and prefers Unilever to other companies. People who have joined the company from other countries are treated nicely enabling labour flexibility and all these causes increase the productivity of the company.
Unilever follows a diverse range of paths in order to achieve ultimate employee satisfaction. The supervisors who keep a track of the work results of the employees monitor the performances of the employees. The management of the company, which comprises of three stages, also follows a scorecard system. The first stage comprises of maintaining a record of the targets based on the performances of the employees. It is followed by the second stage of monitoring processes. The performances of the employees are supervised and their productivity is compared to the expected target results. Such an integral process helps to identify the areas where improvement can be done on the part of the employees. The final stage is to provide the scorecard for each employee at the end of every year. The output of the workers is assessed against the expected output and this system enables the management to know the capability of each worker in the firm. The company provides such an environment to the workers that they feel motivated to work with maximum efforts. Moreover, the management makes the long-term and short-term goals clear to the employee so that they can work accordingly (Jindal, 2015). The rating system is also prevalent in the company when the results exceed the expectations.
Creating proper health conditions for an employee has always been a major concern for the employers from different companies. The Human Resource Management professionals are the ones who are responsible for improving the working conditions in a company. With better health conditions, the workers will be able to increase their productivity by being present almost every day (Growing the health and well-being agenda, 2016). Several vaccination programs are also introduced in firms to protect them from epidemic flu. Health care centres are also available in most office premises.
Unilever has come up with a universal welfare program that is known as Lamplighter. The data that is collected via this program is used to make strategies for the welfare of its employees. It not only deals with the physical well-being of a particular person but also shows the management the appropriate diet required for employees all over the world. The mental condition of a worker is also kept in mind and the pressure of the work is distributed after studying the results. More recently, the company has announced that the company has signed an agreement for acquiring Seventh Generation Inc. that is a company based in North America known for its personal care commodities (Unilever, 2016).
Most of the firms have the health care department as a part of the human resources responsibility. It is the responsibility of the HR department to understand the importance of health issues of employees and managers. It needs to makes sure that everyone is work towards making the workplace safer when it comes to hygiene. The HR practices must include the prevention of illness, which is related to the work. Proper training of the staff members also forms an important part when it comes to health. The welfare measures should be such that the workers do not remain absent from work which will be harmful for the company’s productivity. The presence of first aid is a pre-requisite for any organisation, which involves the working of a number of people. Other than the physical injuries, the mental stress levels also need to be looked at by the authorities. Employees must not be overburdened with workload that disrupts their sleeping pattern and in turn proves harmful for their productivity. The work culture should be such that the workers feel motivated to work in the company. The HR department needs to meet the employees at regular intervals and train them to combat any upcoming disease. All these factors need to be looked after by the Human Resource department for the better health conditions of the employees.
The major number of employees in the company is part-time workers and not full-time workers as most of them like to operate from their homes. However, no compromises have been made when it comes to product quality. The working condition of working in UK has been recorded to be most satisfactory as compared to working in other countries under the same company. The human resource practices enable a company to look into the needs of the workers and provide them with a better workplace (Edwards and Rees, 2008). The common link between the management or the authority of the company and the employees is the HR department of any company. During a time of rift between the employee and the employers, the Human Resource department remains in the receiving end. Therefore, all the policies put forward by the company needs to be executed by the HR department. Maternity leave has been a major issue for the women employees of a company who had to often leave a job post-pregnancy. The absence of proper paid maternity leaves should be increased. Google Inc, for example, has increased the number of paid maternity leaves by almost a couple of months. Similar steps should be taken in other companies as well. Like Unilever allows its women employees to work from home. These initiatives on the part of the HR are well appreciated throughout the domain of corporate industry.
The HRM strategy of Unilever is more or less based on the Guest model, which is not a utopia but can be achieved in real working places. Various problems have been dealt with in this report and the steps are recommended to improve the working conditions. All the companies in the world need to work on the discrimination that takes place in an office and needs to make sure that the employees are able to maintain good health conditions. The better the workplace the more will be the productivity of the companies. Employees should be considered as assets of the firm and not as mere capital investments.