Hilltop Stores’ Strategic Human Resource Management

The need for proper human resource strategies is indispensable for success. There is a need for a holistic approach that links workers, organizational values, and performance. Hilltop Stores exhibit poorly managed ventures where intangible human assets have not been given the required emphasis. This has led to understaffing, sagging motivation, high employee turnover, internal conflicts, and poor service delivery.

To correct the whole scenario, there is a need for recruitment, training, and development, improved reward scheme, employee participation, and communication of the organization’s vital information to employees. With this squared out, Hilltop Stores will achieve an added competitive advantage over its competitors.

In the current business world, an employee’s creativity and commitment determine the organization’s survival and advantage over competitors. However, recruiting good employees, motivating, and retaining them requires exemplary management skills. As many argue, a successful HRM strategy involves the ability to link the employees, the values of the organization, and the overall performance. A successful intertwinement of the mentioned guarantees the organization an improved and long term productivity and, at the same time, ensures employee satisfaction, retention, and motivation. Consequently, this leads to a lesser turnover (Caldwell, Truong, Link, and Tuan, 2011).

Hilltop Stores offers a solid example of a poor human resource strategy that has resulted in poor employee satisfaction and retention. This article will offer workable solutions that would ensure sustainable improved productivity and employee satisfaction.

In reference to the case study in the article provided, several problems are identified in the two memos. While the management feels that employees are not performing, it requires a good manager to realize that the problem is not the employees but the management. The main problems identified include an understaffed organization where some containers are left without attendants. For instance, the management’s decision to include a fresh fish department without recruiting someone to take care of the same meant that the experienced meat cutter had to be requested to change his department, low employee motivation, high employee turnover, common disagreements and wrangles among employees and poor service and orderliness within the stores.

Having identified the problems that ail Hilltop Stores, a solution shall be offered for each challenge. As a manager, the first challenge that I would address is understaffing. As a service industry, service delivery is important for survival. Behera, Sahoo, and Sundaray (2010) purport in their research that the factor identified as the main cause of job dissatisfaction is work overload. At Hilltop, workers are forced to multitask given the fact that some counters have no attendants.

Customers are forced to ring a bell to be served. To begin with, I will recruit people to serve at every counter, including the fresh fish department and the salad bars. This will ensure that workers concentrate on the exact task assigned to them and not working in more than one place. By ensuring that all salad bars and fresh bread sections have attendants, customers will have reasons to buy the products. In addition, recruiting someone else in the fresh fish department will ensure that those working in the meat section will not be forced to work in both departments.

Instead of requesting the best meat cutter or his second best to move to the fresh fish department (which will mean that the department remains with one overworked employee), I will ensure that a fresh person is recruited to the position. This move will ensure that all my workers are not overloaded.

Employee satisfaction and motivation are intertwined together like a problem for Hilltop Stores. As mentioned in the first memo from Boyer to Flynn, the store has a high reputation in all other sections except service delivery. He lets her know of the survey, which indicated that employees at Hilltop Stores were slow, exhibited no courtesy, and on many occasions, failed to have knowledge of new products. This is also characterized by Henriette’s brawl with the teenager who asked for codes she was supposed to know. The last step will involve adopting Boyer’s position developing a clear reward scheme through the improvement of the salary and benefits.

Colhns and Porras (2004), as quoted by Caldwell, Truong, Link, and Tuan (2011), argue that positive financial performance is based purely on a HRM strategy that values its employees and treats them well. One of the ways through which an employee can feel valued is by increasing his wages. By doing that, employees will be motivated, knowing that their inputs are recognized and valued by the organization.

While this can sound costly, this generally long term strategy is actually cost-effective. When employees are motivated by the salary and benefits, there will be fewer conflicts, increased job satisfaction, and hence better service delivery. In return, better service delivery will lead to satisfied customers and thus an increase in sales. Consequently, the overall productivity of each employee will increase. Increased input per employee means success in an organization because the basic measure of productivity is actually the total input per employee (Douglas, 1996).

Employee turnover determines the organization’s survival. While the first two actions taken can greatly improve retention, there are several other actions that I will take to ensure that employees are motivated and hence retained. The first major step will involve developing strategies that ensure that the employees are empowered and are involved. I will ensure that employees participate in the management of the organization.

Behera, Sahoo, and Sundaray (2010) argue that empowering employees makes them feel valued and part of the organization. Empowerment and participation lead to retention. The first step that I will take to ensure that employees are empowered is through development of clear career paths. Just like explained in the memo, I will develop a training program where high-potential trainees will be rotated within service intensive departments for five weeks in each department. The choice of trainees will also involve seniority unlike Boyer’s suggestion of merit. Through seniority criteria, employees’ will develop career expectations and this will help in retaining them.

In terms of involvement and participation, Hilltop had failed. Tom DiSesa had managed Hillside without visiting Sigourney Street for six years. Caldwell, Truong, Link and Tuan (2011) in his assessment of the ethical role of stewardship argues that it is an ethical obligation of the management to offer to its employees the organizations’ critical information and also show them threats facing the organization and what the threats would imply for the future of the organization.

To begin with, I will organize monthly meetings where employees shall be notified of the organization’s short term and long term goals, the organization’s strategies, the developed operating plan, their roles, and finally the financial results. Naturally, the employees will feel part and parcel of the organization. In addition, the employees will be given opportunities to offer their take on how the organization’s strategies can be achieved, explanation on the reasons behind the month’s financial results and also on the best approach to training. Their views will be tabled during high level management meetings where valid and potential contributions will be assessed and given good implementation plans.

Successful management involves the ability to “understand how to integrate people into the achievement of organizational goals” (Caldwell, Truong, Link and Tuan, 2011, p.175). Managers are thus required to understand the management of intangible human assets. This is the strategy I have put in place to ensure changes at Hilltop Stores. Understaffing, low wages, limited benefits, poor job satisfaction all lead to low motivation and hence increased turnover and conflicts.

These are the challenges I aimed at eliminating through improvement of wages and benefits, improved employee empowerment and participation, and through hiring to fill up the gaps. All these will lead to better service and thus satisfied customers. Consequently, this will lead to higher returns per employee and this is the basic measurement tool for productivity.

References

Behera, N., Sahoo, C. & Sundaray, B. (2010). Retaining high performing employees through job satisfaction: A theoretical construct. Web.

Caldwell, C., Truong, D., Link, P. & Tuan, A. (2011). Strategic human resource management as ethical stewardship. Business Ethics 98: 171-182.

Douglas, D. (1996). Ethics of managing people. Business Ethics: A European View, 5(3): 139-142.