The HR Information Booklet for Our Employees
Our company is now facing fierce competition from national and international wide. As a retail company with 7,500 employees worldwide and 85 large stores, the company has to improve its managements on workforce and the excellence in customer service. We, the HR specialist group in the representation of the head broad, have made a HR benchmarking exercise in our retail stores. In order to address on enhancing human resource practices on both management and policy, we establish this booklet in favouring each store to identify its potential advancement. The booklet mainly draws on four problems overall today: absence, employee’s voice, total reward and assessment centre. In the following of the booklet, each item will be introduced for you to understand them and examples will be given.
For organizations that are struggling towards excellence must take the employee absence into account. The minimized absence can optimize an organization’s practice. The absence problem, rather than concerned by the organization management, the employees are equally interested in it. The traditional managing on absence has largely based on disciplines and principle, which are generally punitive. Instead, we have to change our ideas on taking it as a “problem”. Bevan (2002) pointed out that absence is able to be viewed as positive and according measures should be encouraged on attendance and the prevention of absence in a long term.
In his research on absence in workplace, James et al. (2002) found that the most presented causes for absence is minor illness such as cold and back pain. Stress is also raising as one of the major cause in short term absence. However, Bevan (2002) also pointed out even though it is able to categorize the main causes in workplace absence, the causes are often interrelated tightly with one another. Thus, the process approach is considered to be one of the best ways to understand the absence despite its critics. We take the attendance model of Rhodes and Steers (1990) (Figure 1) in this paper. Except for the fame of the model, we think the model not only identify the main causes in absence but also their interrelationship with one or another. In the understanding of the model, it is clear that there are two factors for motivating attendance: satisfaction with job situation and the pressures to attend (Rhodes & Steers, 1990). The interdependence of the causes of attendance also highlighted the cause for absence. Thus, in our company, we encourage managers to take a mixture of attendance and absence strategy. The attendance should be positively encouraged by managers while the absence disapproved. Furthermore, a consistency in the policy establishment is also required with the clear tackled employee expectations (Nicholson, 1977).
The first example we take in managing absence is the HOBS that worked on a pilot project. The HR members in the project followed the instruction of best practice guideline and took the conversation with other managers on absence. The HR specialists believe the social and work-related causes are big part in absence rather than minor illness causes. Thus, they were asked to understand the social and work reasons behind the medical symptoms. Then changes such as reducing responsibility, job rotation were taken out in encouraging the employees’ attendance motivation. Their practice won 80% absence back on work and saved the company big fortune.
Another working partner succeeded in its practising of accurate data collection for absence. The managers in Active Health Partners collected detailed information on absence such as days lost, absence rate on individual and organized them in departmental report. The information is shared among managers at the monthly meetings and measures are discussed on broad (Silox, 2005).
The last example comes from London Borough of Merton. The company takes flexibility in its design of job and tries to balance the work and life for employees. The practice involves working week, working at home and so on (Bevan, 2006). The flexibility, improved the organizational performance by 30%, reported its executive manager.
The three examples listed here showed to us that the measures on absence could be various based on the nature of the company and each of them has different disadvantages and advantage. However, the main point in this part is that we should take the encouragement of attendance as the useful reduction of absence rate. And the absence discourse should be viewed positively in this sense.
Figure 1 The Rhodes and Steers process model of attendance
The involvement of employee is the basic successful condition on running a company. The employee’s voice is critical in sustaining the organizations (Budd, 2004). The working structure and process would become easier when the employees’ opinions and ideas are taken seriously. When the working is related directly to their working context, their voices are quite important. Budd (2004) argued for the importance of employee voice on two reasons. Firstly, the managers are not the ones know the best of the work even though they are paid higher (Harley et al., 2005). The chances for them to make appropriate decisions for the organizations lay in their attitude of listening to the employees. The most practical and innovative ideas are often from bottom of organization other than from the managers. Further, the involvement of employee demonstrates their importance for the organizations and many of them would like to be heard. It is quite possible that employees gain satisfaction over the work when their opinions are listed and acted upon (Kelly, 1998). The employees are supposed to be happier if their voice was listened to. Even though we take employee’s voice here to make our ideas more concrete, the employees are to be heard from many different ways. They could be casual conversations or formal meeting, direct questioning or indirect ones. Recently, the methods for listening to employees are very well researched and many interesting methods are introduced (Budd, 2004). But all of these different terms are aiming at addressing employee’s influence to the organization. We will take three methods to present here which we think are the ones most useful in retail companies.
Kelly (1998) suggested that the influence from employees could be viewed from its extent. The managing broad of organizations is thus ranged from executive team or employees. Loch Fyne Oyster is a typical example of running organization through employees. The company owns 120 employees on its farm and its ownership transferred to employees when the first farm owner died. Each year the employees are offered some company shares to buy and gradually, the company is owned in employees. The company, however, is running like other companies except for its intensive organization communication and interaction among employees. The trust and openness in employees has contributed to better customer’s service and further opportunities.
Marchington and Wilkinson (2000) in his investigation into a marketing company named BI and suggested the company overcome its turnover and profit rate in developing employee involvement strategies. The employees in the organization were encouraged to identify positively on the problems which further enhanced a encouraging organizational culture. They choose to do the followings: the employees send weekly emails to managers in explaining their problems and development; an annually report from the broad in listing the yearly achievement; quarterly meeting where managers and employee will be informed on the financial performance; an intranet for company news that is updated daily; HR department would arrange monthly meeting with 10 randomly selected employees. The whole program builds up a flexible working schedule and raising employee attendance rate and satisfaction.
The reward for employees is the central relationship between organizations and their work force. The way the organization pay for the employee and how much the employees are paid is often the key concern among employees (Armstrong & Brown, 2006). The human resource management department has to take care the questions such as salary, benefits and other forms of rewards in line with the organization’s costs. In some organizations, this part of expenditure is the decisive cause for profitability and competitive advantage (Kessler, 2001). The reward systems in organizations, hence, serve both as the attraction to retain and incentive employees in organizations and also the budget costs for organization profit. A functioned well reward system can stimulate the better performance from employees and further adding up the organization competence.
Kessler (2001) explained that a reward system in an organization has three different parts: the salary, incentives or bonus payments, pensions and benefits. In traditionally, the rewards are often considered in the form of monetary compensation for employees. However, this consideration is too narrow since a lot of forms of rewards have taken participate into the system. Employees also value the intangible rewards as most of the managers could expect today (Armstrong & Murlis, 1998). For example, employees are asking for work and life balance as one of the important rewards they can earn from their working. The concept total rewards reminds us that managers today have to rewards their employees more than monetary items but spread round reward systems including both the tangible and intangible parts. Armstrong and Brown (2006) are prominent scholars who advocate the “total reward” system. They identified four important categories in total reward system as individual, transactional, relational and communal (Figure 2). They argue that the total reward system marks the equally importance of rewards based on the four categories in the perspective of employees. The total rewards system is not as easily achieved as the monetary items due to the fact that some parts of it are intrinsic to employee personal (Doeringer &Piore, 1990). Rather than the level of salary that attracts people to work in the organization, a typical example of total rewards is that the employee works diligent on his or her own interest of the work. She or he may find the job as an interesting one and working with the commitment. The work results are generally very satisfactory on this kind of work but little attention has been paid from the perspective of managers (Poole & Jenkins, 1998). Our managers are thus required to create an organizational culture that sustain this kind of intrinsic motivation that employees would take the working experience as rewarding.
Our example on total reward comes from the Crown Prosecution Service. The company set up new facilities and strategies in promoting the total reward system. They included a civil service benefits such as children are for employees that were also highlighted in the recruiting stage (Kessler, 2001). A new e-learning and professional training system was introduced to employees to help them with further career development and investment. The working schedule was also revised to flexible for employees that allowed them to take part of the work home. Neither of the newly introduced services or rewards to employees are economic compensation, they are approached from the intangible services that are welcomed by employees. The most important principle in developing a total reward system is to maintain the intrinsic motivation for employees (Kelly, 1998). The way to find out the intrinsic motivation in employees is not as easy as handing out salaries. But we believe the results will be proved rewarding.
Figure 2 Categories of total rewards
Assessment Centres for Selection
Various selection methods are widely used in the recruitment process among organizations. Although most of the methods are not perfect and fragmented (Barclay, 1999), a suitable selection methods in the current organization culture is necessary. The cost of poor selection is highly unexpected with the absence, additional training and so on. Furthermore, the legislation today emphasises on the equal opportunities for every candidate and valid selection methods are guarantees for it (Carrington, 2002).
Based on the commercial performance and the analysis on the recruiting data yearly, we decide to take assessment centres as the main tool in our selection procedure. Assessment centres integrate a multi-dimensional using of selection methods. The group selection is a major player in this method together with other stimulation exercises. The assessment centres are popular in making selection in a group of similar candidates. Barclay (1999) concluded the basic aims in assessment centres are in looking for the candidates who can work with others, influence other people , express themselves freely, in thinking logically and acutely and most important, they are able to work as a team partner who can identify their roles in a group play. A series competencies and behavioural presentations required on the job ads are practiced and evaluated in the assessment centres (Davidson, 2003). Even if the candidate is considered to be competent in handling the job, a lengthy assessment has to be taken in measuring on other tasks. Iles (1992) argues that the assessment centres are probably the most effective way in selecting candidates for the reason that they include multiple uses of measure, assessors and predetermined assessment criteria. On the other hand, Davidson (2003) points out the effectiveness of an assessment centre are its ability to draw on the performance of future rather than the current situation. The assessors could get a valid picture on how candidates handle different work scene and how well they cope with the work in the future. The assessment centres are in this sense especially important in revealing the candidates’ holding of the further work who are in as interviewing context (Lievens et al. 2002). Thus, the methods are very useful in evaluation a candidate applying for a managers’ position while he or she is not in this kind of work yet. Their presentation on management related behaviour in assessment centre indicates their ability to cope with manager works.
The assessment centre often develops a matrix table in relating the required competence and activities together (Iles, 1992). Also the well-trained assessors are needed in assuring the process take out smoothly. The competencies and behaviours in the matrix are printed on a check list and a carefully designed candidate behaviour activities. The whole assessment ends with the scores to different candidates in the light of the job requirements (Barclay, 1999). Some of the organizations which take assessment centres have managed to relate the working environment into a real-life scene. A longer assessment criterion is needed in this case but the real-life experience is considered to be authentic. Another example is that Britvic, a company uses assessment centres in evaluation of the company value and culture other than a specific job position. The company takes that the nature of the organization is changing fast and the environment is also not stable (Lievens, et al. 2002). The candidates are thus selected on their ability to adapt the company culture but not limiting on the position.
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