Employees form a very important component in any organization. According to Noon and Youssef (2012), employees are the wheels upon which an organization runs towards its objectives in its normal operations. Many successful organizations attribute their success to their team of skilled and dedicated employees who work tirelessly to make the organization successful.
Scholars have tried to understand factors that may make employees motivated in order to boost their output. Industrial or organizational psychology is one of the main areas of research that seeks to investigate factors which motivates employees in their respective workplaces. In this research, the focus will be to analyze the work of supermarket attendants at Wal-Mart.
Description of the Organization
Wal-Mart is the leading supermarket in the world operating in several countries in North America, Europe and some selected countries in Asia and Africa. In the United States, this firm has several retail stores where it employs several employees. The human resource unit at this firm has developed a formal job description for various positions.
There are various categories of jobs at this firm with clearly defined qualifications and job expectations. The human resource management at Wal-Mart has also developed formal job analysis criteria to help them understand the performance of the individual employees and determine those that deserve some form of promotion.
Recruitment of the Employees
Recruitment is one of the most important tasks of the human resource management unit. It helps an organization select the best applicants who have the capacity to meet the needs of an organization. At Wal-Mart, the management has a rigorous recruitment program for various positions, including the supermarket attendants.
Although the firm does not have a standard application, it allows the applicants to send their resumes and application letters regularly, especially when there is a vacancy. The applicants would then be subjected to vetting process which starts with the aptitude test to determine their level of knowledge and ability to address the problems within the shortest time possible. The applicants would then be interviewed and their testimonials verified before they are confirmed as employees of the organization.
Appraisal of Employees’ Performance
Employee appraisal has become an important aspect of employee motivation in many organizations across the world. At Wal-Mart, the human resource management unit has developed employees’ appraisal strategies that seek to determine their performance in their respective assignments. The organization uses performance evaluation as a way of appraising the employee’s performance. This is always done on a yearly basis in order to identify the brilliant performers who should be rewarded with promotions or salary increment.
It also helps the organization to identify the underperformers within the organization so that corrective measures can be taken. As Aamodt (2013) notes, in the current competitive business environment, a firm may not be able to put up with underperformers. Such underperformers would be pushed aside from the organization so that they can pave way for the performers. The human resource management unit at Wal-Mart always outsources the services of external consultants to appraise the performance of its employees in order to avoid any form of prejudice that may cloud judgment of the evaluators.
Training and Development
Training is an important way of keeping employees of an organization updated of the changes which take place in their respective areas of work. The business world is very dynamic, and the only way through which an organization can manage this dynamism is to maintain a constant training among its workforce. At Wal-Mart, the human resource has always maintained a regular training of its employees to help them understand the changing nature of their tasks.
The human resource management was able to realize that the information management system that was in use within the organization was not effective enough. Employees working within the stores could not access relevant information that this firm had been gathering about the changing customers’ practices. In the training program, the first activity was to integrate a communication system within the organization and train all the employees, especially the attendants, how to access and use the information within the organization.
One area that this firm highly encouraged its employees to focus on was in the field of social media. Facebook and Tweeter are the best media that an organization can mine data about the changing tastes and preferences of the customers. In fact, Levy (2010) says that firms can directly engage with its clients and ask them how they would want to be served.
Another area of training that was taken with the employees is on how to protect the intellectual knowledge of the organization. Any strategic knowledge that has been created by the employees of the firm has to remain a property of the organization, and every member of the firm should ensure that it is not stolen by rival firms. The trainers made these employees understand the difference between tacit and explicit knowledge. It is important for the employees to use their own unique capacities to develop and effectively use their tacit knowledge in order to improve their performance.
They can come up with unique ways of handling their tasks effectively in a way that other employees may not. For this to be possible, the management had to relax the policies that require a standardized behavior when addressing various tasks. The management must allow a room for creativity among the employees. It is only through this that the employees can use their special knowledge in various fields. On the other hand, the management encouraged sharing of the explicit knowledge among the employees as a way of promoting efficiency.
If any of the employees acquires a new knowledge that can be beneficial to other members of the society, the information should be fed into the knowledge management system in order to be accessible to all other members of this organization. Developing a free flow of such knowledge through data management system would be the appropriate way of achieving this. The last area of training was on how to improve effective communication among the employees in order to ensure that there is effective information sharing as may be necessary.
Stressors in the Job and the Company’s Communication Process
The analysis that was conducted revealed that although the job of a supermarket attendant was very demanding, it was not the main stressor among these employees. Most of them cited ineffective communication system as their main stressors in the company. It was realised that in most of the cases, the employees of junior ranks found it difficult to communicate with the senior officers at this firm. The policy of reporting to the immediate supervisor was making the process of efficient communication even more complex.
When a message comes from one supervisor to another, Aamodt (2013) says that it always get distorted because of a number of reasons. The supervisor may not like the information in its original context. For this reason, they would distort the information to suite their desires. It means that by the time the information would be reaching the intended audience, the original meaning would be lost. In most of the cases, the information would never reach the intended audience. Communication is an important tool, and as Levy (2010) notes, it should always be treated as such.
In order to address this problem that was raised by the employees, the human resource management unit developed a social networking system that incorporated all the employees. All the employees were trained on how to access the system either through their phones or personal computers using a unique password. This enabled them to share any information with various departments without having to follow the bureaucratic system that had previously been in use. The employees maintained that the best way of dealing with their stress would be to find ways of eliminating the bureaucracy in the communication system.
Motivation of Employees
Employees’ motivation is an important ingredient that helps in making workers behave in a desirable manner within an organization. At Wal-Mart, Incentive Theory of Motivation has largely been used to motivate the employees. The management has developed programs that reward excellent performers on a regular basis. In most of the cases, the employees are always given financial rewards to boost their morale.
This model of employee motivation has worked well at this firm. The management has also been using Transformational Leadership Theory in order to ensure that the needs of the employees are met. In applying this leadership model, the management has embraced the need to incorporate the junior employees in the strategic planning processes. Given the fact that they are always on the ground, they have a better capacity to advise the top managers on the reality in the market.
Groups in the Workplace
Most of the groups that exist at this organization are always project members assigned to complete a given project within a particular time. Although some members started a union for the junior employees of this firm, this group has not made any significant impact among the employees. In the projects, group members always work as a team in order to achieve specific objectives for the project.
One of the main factors that affect group performance is the motivation that group members receive from their project manager. Teamwork in itself is also a motivation of the group members. However, it has been observed that Group Polarization Phenomenon Theory is evident among some employees. These employees would take hard lines when making decisions and support some decisions even when they know their results may not be very pleasant.
The human resource management strategy taken by Wal-Mart has been effective enough in maintaining high levels of performance. However, the following suggestions should be considered.
- Promotions should be based on the employees’ capacity and their determination at workplace as determined during the appraisals.
- Communication should be open so that the top employees can find time with the junior workers in order to understand their needs.
- All the stressors at the workplace should be identified and effectively eliminated in order to boost the employees’ morale.
- Training of the employees should be a regular activity in order to maintain high levels of the employees’ performance.
Aamodt, M. G. (2013). Industrial/organizational psychology: An applied approach. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Levy, P. E. (2010). Industrial/organizational psychology: Understanding the workplace. New York, NY: Worth Publishers.
Noon, A. & Youssef, C. (2012). Industrial/Organizational Psychology. New York: Bridgepoint Education.