Strategic Practices of ASDA-UK Super Market

Introduction

Along with technology, Human resources have been identified as one of the key factors for the success of any business. As Human resources have a major impact on organizations by playing a decisive role, strategic implementation of HR makes the difference. And in the ever increasing competitive world, the organizations that follow strategic HR practices will outperform the organizations that do not have strategic HR. Usually companies adopt different strategies to compete with others. This is due to the fact that different industry sectors need different skill sets and follows different strategies to accumulate the relevant expertise. The service sector observes different strategies which may not be familiar to the commercial sector. In this context the current paper tries to identify the strategic approach that is needed to cope with the changing business environment in the Retail sector. The paper tries to observe the strategic HR Practices adopted by ASDA, UK retail organization. The current study exclusively tries to identify the strategic reasons played by retail industry with management roles than traditional industry.

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Purpose

The study identifies the strategic HR practices with reference to management positions for the Retail employment in U.K

Objectives of the Study

The study has the following objectives:

  • To observe the SHRM practices in retail industry.
  • To observe the different HR strategies in ASDA
  • To identify how ASDA is able to attract management professions into Retail industry

Back ground Context

Strategic Human Resource Management

Strategy gives direction to the organization to cope up with its changing environment. During the strategy formulation process, the management defines the scope of activities and allocates resources to achieve am optimum output of the match.

Usually organizations develop business strategy to achieving competitive advantage. However the concept of strategy formulation includes a plan, a pattern, a perspective, a scheme. And strategy formulation is not necessarily rational and continuous. But often, organizations keep changing their strategies according to the changing needs.

The formulation of corporate strategy can be defined as a process for developing and defining a sense of direction. It has often been described as a logical, step by step affair, the outcome of which is a formal written statement that provides a definitive guide to the organization’s long term intentions. Many people still believe that this is the case, but it is a misrepresentation of reality.

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Strategic HRM is concerned with the relationship between human resource management and strategic management in the firm. Strategic HRM refers to the overall direction the organization wishes to pursue in order to achieve its goals through people. It is argued And as Human resource is being treated as intellectual capital and brings competitive advantage, companies do focus on developing the strategic HR practices.

Strategic HRM focuses on HR practices that differentiate the firm from its competitors.

It deliberately proclaims the benefits and regulations it has for its employees in order to maintain the optimum HR inventory to reduce costs of HR practices.

Strategic human resource management is the much practiced concept by the developed and emerging organizations in maintaining the real assets of the company. Miles and snow (1984) defines the SHRM as ‘a human resource system that is tailored to the demands of the business strategy’. And according to Wright and McMahan (1992), SHRM is ‘the pattern of planned human resource activities intended to enable an organization to achieve its goals’.

Human resource activities actually create and shape the business strategy (Sanz-Valle et al. 1999). Mechelin, (1996) expresses that with SHRM, larger variety and more complete set of solutions for solving organizational problems are provided and the likelihood that business goals of the organization will be attained is increased.

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The pattern of planned human resource deployments and activities intended to enable the forms to achieve its goals. (WRIGHT et al., cited in Dileep Kumar M). As per Legnick-Hall & Legnick-Hall, (cited in Dileep Kumar M), SHRM integrates human resource considerations with other physical, financial, and technological resources in the setting of goals and solving complex organizational problems. And Jackon and Schulerm (cited in Dileep Kumar M) make a note that, SHRM also emphasizes the implementation of a set of policies and practices that will build employee pool of skills, knowledge, and abilities that are relevant to organizational goals.

Strategic HR management takes concern about longer-term people issues and macro-concerns about organizational structure, culture, values, employee role play and commitment according to the scope and demand of the operations.

SHRM covers all those activities affecting the behaviour of individuals in their efforts to formulate and implement the strategic needs of business. (SCHULER, R.S., Cited in Dileep Kumar M). And Huselid and Becker (cited in Sandeep Krishnan & Manjari Singh) found that there were noticeable financial returns for the organizations whose human resource management (HRM) systems have achieved operational excellence and are aligned with business strategic goals. Also Youndt and Snell ( cited in Sandeep Krishnan & Manjari Singh) find that firms employing HR practices according to the stated strategy are regarded to have better perceptual performance.

The globalization has brought many changes in the way the organizations operate. For example, a change from a regulated environment to a free market environment has direct implications for SHRM practices in India, Krishna and et al., (Cited in Dileep Kumar M) and HRM specialists and the HRM departments are under severe pressure to bring about large-scale professionalized changes in their organizations in order to cope with the challenges brought about by economic liberalization, Rao & Som (Cited in Dileep Kumar M). Like wise UK, being one of the developed country and hosting many consumer services has its own characteristics in formulating its strategies in retail industry

Career Systems Theory (CST), a model proposed by Sonnenfeld and his associates (Sonnenfeld & Peiperl, 1988; Sonnenfeld, 1990) explains that organizations conduct the three employment status activities of formation, adaptation, and termination.

Schuler and Jackson (as cited in Sandeep Krishnan & Manjari Singh) discuss the kind of HRM systems needed to align the human resources to three kinds of competitive strategies, namely innovation, quality enhancement and cost reduction strategy. Cost reduction strategy demands workers to work harder, innovation strategy requires workers to work differently and quality strategy needs them to work smarter.

CST proposes that the firms that adopt a product innovation and new market creation need creative staff and experts who can think and produce at the frontier of new ideas.

Haspeslagh and Jemison (1991) observe that HR function plays a critical role in facilitating the required transfer of strategic capabilities.

Rynes and Barber (1990) proposed a model of applicant attraction that also attempts to explain organizations’ use of recruitment practices. Their model identifies three different organizational-level practices for attracting applicants: recruitment; employment inducements such as salaries or benefits; and the targeting of nontraditional applicant pools.

Overview of Retail Sector

Current and future employment prospects in UK retailing

The retail sector is the largest private sector employer in the United Kingdom. This section describes recent trends in retail employment, outlines its prevalence and looks at its likely future growth.

The retail sector’s contribution to the UK economy is raised during the year 2004 with approximate sales of £259.3 billion. Retail accounted for 5.7% of UK. Gross Value Added and over one third of all retail spending occurred in UK shops. Retail sector has become a major employer of the era, in the private sector employment in UK. According to Labour Force Survey (LFS) statistics, by the end of March 2005, the retail industry employed 2.9 million people and in December 2005, the industry has recruited over 3 million people, contributing 10 and 12% of the national workforce (Skill smart retail, 2006.)

Realizing the importance of employees for the success and growth of industry, the employers made recruitment off over 190,000 across the last five years and the industry continues to be one of the biggest providers of net new jobs in the UK economy.

The South East Economic Development Agency (SEEDA) has identified retail as a priority sector of future employment in UK. There is a vast difference observed in the past and future trends of employment in UK retail sector. In previous years, Retail, sector has poor outstanding in the national economy in terms of the qualifications held amongst the workforce. “According to the LFS data to December 2005, fewer than 15% of the retail workforce have NVQ level 4 or above (degree level qualifications), compared with 30% for the economy as a whole, and only 10% of 16-24 year olds employed in retail have level 4 or above qualifications. Although level 3 qualifications are more common – with around 17% of the workforce holding them, the most common qualification level held by retail employees is NVQ 2, or GCSE or equivalent.”(SEEDA)

Retail employment and structural changes

Employment Research (IER) study on Working Futures in 2006 suggests that the retail sector will require 298,000 new managers as expansion or replacements between 2004 and 2014 and therefore the sector, traditionally not seen as a popular option by young graduates, faces a substantial skills challenge, by not getting ready for the boom, (sussexlearningnetwork)

There is an increasing awareness among the employees of the wider range of professional and non professional career paths which are available in the retail sector. Large retailers have steadily grown in importance and continue to employ a larger share of the retail workforce, as owning more of the establishment’s accounts for a larger share of the sector’s turnover. Till now, retail sector was giving an image of ‘stop gap’ to the employees and now the need to change its image with the advent of technology interventions is apparent. Also it is clear that the current level of recruitment of degree holders into retail is insufficient to meet sector demands for managerial talent in the next ten years. The different managerial professional pathways in retail include accountancy, human resources, buying, e-commerce/IT and management.

Overall occupational profile of the UK retail sector

Due to its size and scope of operations, the retail sector covers a wide range of occupations. ‘Just fewer than 70% of all the UK’s sales and customer service staff and 13% of managers and senior officials work in the retail sector.’ (Skill smart retail, 2006) Overall, the occupational structure of the retail sector nationally and regionally is largely consistent with the UK picture. The majority of people work in sales and customer service, followed by management roles and elementary occupations (such as shelf fillers and trolley collectors). There are some variations however between the nations and regions. Many retailers’ head offices and substantial operations are based in London and thus the highest

Proportion of managers and senior officials work there (22%), closely followed by the East of England at 21%.

Number of retail employees by major occupation

Occupation Number %
Sales and customer service occupations 1,536,695 50.8
Managers and senior officials 557,680 18.4
Elementary occupations 342,270 11.3
Administrative and secretarial 198,640 6.6
Associate professional and technical 136,397 4.5
Skilled trades occupations 109,978 3.6
Process plant and machine operatives 83,021 2.7
Professional occupations 52,149 1.7
Personal service occupations 6,457 0.2
Total 3,023,284 100

Source taken from current and future trends in UK retailing:Skillsmart Retail analysis from <www.skillsmartretail.com/pdfs/skillsmart_retail_analysis_2006.pdf ->

Type of employment in UK Retailing

The retail sector is renowned for its part-time employment opportunities which many

regard as a key component of its competitiveness. As per the labor survey report a quarter of people employed in the UK as a whole are in part-time jobs. And in that 1.5 million are employed in the retail sector constituting half of that part time employment.(Skill smart retail)

There are various career options, including store management, buying, merchandising, central management, and the booming area of e-tailing (online retail) which bridges the technology, marketing and retail sectors. Professional sales people are the essential part of any company. The managers have their desire for satisfied fulfilled through the retail and wholesale sales, marketing management, product planning, market research, and product display, promotion, and distribution functionalities of the retail industries.

Strategies to attract new skills into Retail Sector

The retail sector has a rich history of employing newly arrived populations. The UK’s growing economy, historically low levels of unemployment and ageing population are encouraging employers and government to look once more at the benefits of employing foreign workers or the workers who has high capabilities. This has created a demand for a potential opportunity for the professional managers to seek more levels in the retail sector.

The sector’s reliance on a young workforce is also making many student graduates or management graduates to choose the retail sector as the first preference. Careers in retail offer fast-paced and stimulating career growth. Students look for management trainee positions through entry level operations to gain experience. ”A significant proportion of younger workers in the retail sector are employed in sales and Customer services: 40% are below the age of 25.” (Skill smart retail, 2006)

Also, the retail sector employs a smaller proportion of people aged 28 to 62 than the economy as a whole. (Skill smart retail, 2006). And the collaborated changes in demographic and market forces create future recruitment and retention challenges in the sector. Also, many of the retail positions enable students to combine study and earning at the same time.

Industry strategies to attract the Management Professions

The employees are more likely to continue with the organization when there is an expected work environment and vice versa (Zuber, cited in Henry Ongori 2007).The changing scenario of the retail sector has brought out a change in the philosophy of retail Corporates. Retail companies want to be able to manage their staff with minimal regulatory burden, so that they can ensure, as far as possible, a workplace environment that is enjoyable and rewarding, without being forced to comply with unnecessary and over-burdensome legislation.

Also the Employment Research (IER), made a forecast for overall demand for jobs in the retail sector will grow during the period 2004 to 2014 by 1.4 million, creating new jobs that arise due to demand and expansion with the increased demand and in the way of replacement for the exits. (Trevor (2001), cited in Henry Ongori 2007)The local unemployment is interrelated with job satisfaction to expect the turnover in the market. IER estimate that around 1.17 million positions will be created as a result of people moving out of the sector. This high estimate of replacement demand is feasible given the sector’s reputation for high employment turnover.

Strategic offer of Retail Employment

Retail employment gives good foundation to any one who is starting their career. The skills gained in the in the retail industry can be useful in all jobs in later life. So the people are moving to retail sector to learn professional skills which are useful through out their career development in later life. Although the enjoyment is an intrinsic motivator, the perceived usefulness is the extrinsic motivator to while selecting the job (Davis et al. (1992) cited in Sanjaya S.Gaur, K.Abdul Waheed). Retailing is one of the UK’s largest sources of graduate vacancies. Retail industry offers immediate responsible positions to the graduates, where as in the other sectors there are only few careers for young graduates to take immediate responsibility for their performance and skill. This factor is motivating the students to choose career in retail industry. As soon as the employment, the employee will be introduced to new environment, where he or she has to absorb or learn the new organization culture. This has lot of impact on the performance and job satisfaction of the employee.

A field study by Vandenberg and Scarpello (1990) tested Wanous'(1980) matching model proposing a link between Realistic Job Previews (RJPs), and new employees’ adjustment to work. This industry is the global industry as the core skills of retailing hold good anywhere in the world. Retail industry is looking for skilled people though the people are not having experience where as in the other sectors seeking the people with work experience.

Retail is a large and fast growing industry, one can be found in every corner of the UK and across all parts of the world. This is truly a universal business, one that provides excellent career opportunities for everyone including those who have an interest in owning their own business. One of the great things to choose the graduate career in retail is its potential and rapid progression into the more remunerative senior roles.

The retail sector holds a range of careers and opportunities for people with diverse interests and ambitions. From shop work to management, PR to finance, specializing in fashion, sports, food and a whole host of areas, careers in retail are international, potentially lucrative, and wide-ranging. The retail industry offers to have a 20 year-old earning £25,000 as a manager of a shop and it is common to find 30 years-olds earning in excess of £150,000 at board level. (The British Institute of Retailing)

In retail industry career progression is very fast and very varied. Retail industry knows the important of young talent to succeed the business. Retailing is all about people, it focuses on people, it profits from people. Good communicators at all levels are very important from the sales ambassadors on the shop floor to the marketing department, store designers and caterers.

Retail industry provides excellent career growth opportunities. If some graduates join as trainee store managers. They can gain a combination of shop-floor experience and management training before adopting responsibility for a particular phase of store management and then progressing to higher-level jobs. The Large organizations provide better chances to employees for their progression and higher salaries and hence ensure organizational attachment (Idson and Feaster 1990, cited in Henry Ongori 2007). After a period in stores, some graduates move on to ‘head office’ posts such as buying and recruitment, with a few high-flyers recruited directly into these areas. Pay in the retail industry is low but the more senior positions can expect pay corresponding to their level of responsibility. The opportunities in this industry are open and scenario is limitless with the right company.

Retailing is strong on training. It provides training, if people are keen to learn retailing they will be given the chance to shine and be rewarded accordingly. The enthusiasm and willingness of the employee is important. People can be educated to learn retailing skills and most companies, even small organizations also giving training courses to the staff.

Work place strategic HR practices in Retail sector

  • Training: Retail industries are offering the good training system on the skills required to retail industry and to develop the employee skills. These skills can be very useful to move to the other industries. It is providing the opportunity to gain national recognized qualifications. Training will be competency based. Programmes usually last from 1 to 2 years and with drive, commitment and ability you can usually achieve promotion in less than a year. Fast-track training will develops the management competencies to build business and personal strengths
  • Flexibility: Retail industry is 24 hour industry which is characterized by seasonality and peak trading periods. Retail industry is offering the both full and part time careers with the flexibility of limited working hours and certain times in day or night.
  • Mixing business and pleasure: Retail industry is providing the excellent workplace environment to the employees. Retail is one of the few industries which is combining employee interests and hobbies with work. Working in retail is all about people and relationships, an industry where people work hard, but also have fun and enjoy themselves. This is an industry in which employee can meet people and make many friends One can develop their relations with people in retail.
  • Career growth: Retail is recognized as one the best industries to join into management. Promotion opportunities are come at an early age and also these are based on skill rather than how long employee have been with the company or qualifications. People with all kinds of ambitions, personalities and backgrounds have found their perfect address in this fast moving industry. Required skills for retail industry are commercial awareness, self-confidence, flexibility, strong time management skills, team-working, leadership qualities, communication skills, analysis and problem-solving skills and an aptitude for learning new concepts.

Government support

The UK Government encourages the employment through the following policy areas for retail workers:

  • National Minimum Wage – Adult (22+)
  • National Minimum Wage – Salary Sacrifice
  • National Minimum Wage – 16- 17 year olds
  • Age Discrimination
  • Discrimination Law Review/CEHR
  • Balancing Work and Family Life
  • Warwick Agreement
  • Pregnancy Discrimination
  • National Implementation of the Information and Consultation Directive

Need for managerial skills in retail industry

The retail industry is a business at the sharp end. Fast moving and complex, high profile and constantly changing, it is an environment where only the best managed and most innovative organizations can succeed and succeed. The retail industry is offering the different choices of demanding and highly rewarding opportunities for management trainee at school leavers and graduates. The only the thing is it and requires a range of different qualities and skills. The ability of good retail managers are flexible and should have the mental agility to switch between day – to – day decisions and strategic issues such as competitor analysis and market research. Retail managers must be innovative in controlling of the retail environment. They are responsible to ensure the delivery of the very highest standards of customer service by recruiting, training and developing their staff. As the boom in continues to develop the retail industry, organizations are offering great range of services and incentives to retain their custom and attract new ones. So, there is range of occupations and career paths within the retailing sector have opened up. There are graduate careers in fields such as retail management, head office management, commercial management, personnel, merchandising, product development, development technology, business systems and information technology, finance, and many more. Retailing is still undergoing quite dramatic changes. Those changes need to be managed and consciously exploited to the advantage of customers and the retail businesses. As a result, retailing is exciting, well rewarded and growing. In a world where graduates often have to choose between either high financial rewards or excitement and job satisfaction, retailing offers no such dilemma. In retail industry graduate employees are identifying the degree of satisfaction in the early employment experience it self in UK. In retail industry short-term needs are more easily satisfied than longer-term needs.

Entry Qualifications

Retail sector offers entry level positions to the minimum education qualifiers Retail sector not only offering job but also offering career growth to the entry levels. A consequence of the retail sector’s current demand for a growing number of high-caliber staff is raising salaries, reports Carl Gilleard of the association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR). ‘Our latest study shows that the average starting salary for graduates in the retail sector is £18,400. These starting salaries rise extremely quickly

Rewards

The Salaries are ranging from £10,000-£14,000 for school leavers and £15,000 to £20,000 for graduates, (ca.courses-careers.com). Additional benefits may include bonus schemes, company discount and pension. Retailers are managing their staff with minimum burden, workplace environment is enjoyable and rewarding, without being forced to comply with unnecessary and over-burdensome legislation.

A career in retailing is exciting and high-speed rate. It offers variety of opportunities that is hard to match anywhere else. Retail is an increasingly popular graduate career choice and consequently it remains very competitive, especially for those positions that offer early responsibility and quick promotion.

Retailers are very aware that their employees are vital for the continuing success of their businesses. So, over the last five years, employment in retailing has grown by over 190,000 and the industry continues to be one of the biggest providers of net new jobs in the economy (BRC Report, 2005).

Hence retailers started investing in acquiring people who can bring more value to their organization. According to the retail recruitment trends report in 2006 the retail sector has created 2.9m jobs in the UK and accounting to 11 per cent of the total labor force.

Generally employees look for the change of jobs when they want to upgrade their skills or want to earn extra money or not satisfied with the current jobs. If a retailer is perceived as having a long-term, secure future and a culture that tangibly values its people, then high staff turnover can be arrested.

Staff retention

Staff retention is important to an industry but getting the staff retention is difficult. But it is not in the case of retail industry. Because retailers have real succession plans and a structured progression programme at each level of the business, it results to have happier staff. People feel sustained by the fact that they can see their next career opportunity ahead and the clear objectives they must achieve to reach this. Not surprisingly, companies renowned for natural growth find that their employees are much happier to sit tight and wait for the next move.

Recruitment

Many retail positions need strong management positions. The industry specific skills of the retail sector are related more to customer relations, supply chain management and sales promotion. Such skills are always on demand in the market, particularly so in the more specialist areas such as fashion.

So, many retailers started head hunting for the talented individuals who are already working within the industry and offering attractive positions pay packs to bring them to their in house.

The key competencies required for the successful career in the retail sector include Business Focus, Personal Effectiveness, Relationship Management, and Critical Thinking (CORTCO). The Consortium of Retail Training Companies (CORTCO) further elaborates the above as, skills like- commercial awareness, self-confidence, flexibility, strong time management skills, team-working, leadership qualities, communication skills, analysis and problem-solving skills and an aptitude for learning new concepts.

And for buying and merchandising jobs Numeric and attention to detail are more anticipated in retail sector.

Scope for Management students for the development of skill set like,

  • Managing Customer Relations
  • Retailing channel management
  • Professional Development
  • Qualitative Techniques for Retail Management
  • Retail Communication and Promotion
  • Retail Loyalty and Events
  • Strategic Brand Management

Also the following transferable skills:

  • self management
  • learning skills
  • communication
  • teamwork
  • problem solving
  • Information technology.

Career prospects

Management professionals have a wide range of skills to offer employers in the retail sector and business in general. By possessing certain skill set, management professionals are able to reflect upon, understand and articulate the dynamics affecting the retail sector.

  • Through their vast accumulation of knowledge and information, management professionals demonstrate awareness concerning the factors determining the changing retail and business environment, and their linkage with each other.
  • Having functional specialist expertise in different areas, the managerial skill set can be used within retailing, such as human resource management, law, finance, information systems, budgeting, marketing, and investment appraisal, to mitigate and avoid various problems arising in these functional areas
  • Can easily integrate different functional areas of retail operations such as buying, merchandising, logistics, marketing, operations and computing, in profitable way.
  • Will be able to demonstrate practical skills which are fundamental to the retail process such as store layout, elements of merchandising, site location, research skills, communication and negotiating skills
  • Can easily demonstrate skills to adopt strategy of the company in retailing, such as developing and presenting a business plan or planning and implementing a new project or promoting a brand or price promotions in certain geographical areas and timelines.

Literature review

Devanna, Fombrun and Tichy (as cited in Sandeep Krishnan & Manjari Singh) has described about the strategic perspective of HRM. They identified SHRM in three levels of management – strategic level that deals with recruitment, employee policy and training aspects, then the managerial level dealing with ‘compensation and rewards practices, promotion policies and its linkage to performance appraisal systems, professional development and training activities and mid-term career paths’ and short term operational level that focus on daily activities of staffing and monitoring, salary and wage, control systems and skills training.

Miles and Snow (as cited in Sandeep Krishnan & Manjari Singh) have studied the differences in the HR strategies according to the organizational types and discussed “make” or “buy” HR strategies where HRM systems focus on building or acquiring human resources.

Retail industry includes largest food retailers, high street giants and a multitude of luxury, niche and owner-managed businesses. The above market overview shows that the recruitment activity continued at an increased pace in 2006. In this context the current literature tries to find out the strategic factors influencing the growth of retail employment or the strategies that will be employed by management to attract the highly professionals in to their organizations.

Truss and Gratton (as cited in Jean-Luc CERDIN & Ashok SOM ) have established link between long-term outcomes of SHRM on individual well-being, organizational well-being and societal well-being.

There is a growing body of literature examining the relationship between workforce diversity management and performance in organizations (Frink, Robinson, Reithel, Arthur, Ammeter, Ferris, Kaplan and Morrisette, 2003, cited in Sally Howell, Donna M Buttigieg, Wendy Webber).

Terpstra and Rozell (as cited in Jean-Luc CERDIN & Ashok SOM) found a significant and positive link between extensiveness of recruiting, selection and the use of formal selection procedures and firm performance. Russel, Terborg and Powers (as cited in Jean-Luc CERDIN & Ashok SOM) demonstrated a link between the adoption of employment training programs and financial performance. The use of performance appraisals (Borman, as cited in Jean-Luc CERDIN & Ashok SOM) and linking such appraisals with compensation has also been consistently connected with firm profitability, Gerhart & Milkovich, (as cited in Jean-Luc CERDIN & Ashok SOM)

Prior research on professional choices has compared the importance of various intrinsic and extrinsic factors that influence students in their choice to pursue becoming other profession as a career (Paollilo & Estes 1982; Kockanek & Norgaard 1985, cited in JE Myburgh); Deci (1972) argued that behavior is determined by intrinsic as well as extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation refers to the performance of an activity itself (Davis et al.1992). Extrinsic motivation is defined as the performance of an activity because it is perceived to be instrumental in achieving valued outcomes that are distinct from the activity itself. According to Teo et al. (1999) cited in Snjaya.S opinion that perceived usefulness is an extrinsic motivator, while enjoyment is an intrinsic motivator. The intrinsic factors that affect the student while taking a decision about career is satisfaction derived from a job that provides the opportunity to be creative and autonomous in an intellectually challenging and dynamic environment. And extrinsic factors as financial remuneration and market-related factors that are extrinsic to the nature of the job itself.

Delaney et al. (as cited Jean-Luc cerdin & Ashok som ) speak about ten HRM practices in the areas of selection, appraisal, incentive compensation, job design, grievance procedures, information sharing, attitude assessment, and labor management participation as ‘sophisticated HRM. On the other hand, Becker et al. (as cited Jean-Luccerdin & Ashok som) include rigorous recruitment and selection, performance-contingent compensation systems, and management development and training activities linked to the needs of the business. Huselid (as cited Jean-Luc cerdin & Ashok som) extended the list to include intensity of recruiting efforts, average number of hours of training per employee per year, promotion criteria to represent the HPWPs. Delery and Doty (as cited Jean-Luc cerdin & Ashok som) in their review identified seven alternative ‘strategic’ HR practices of which their research found support on results-oriented appraisals, profit sharing and employment security that were related to overall organizational performance.

Various factors such as financial remuneration ranked high on the list of decisive factors in studies while choosing the job (Wheeler (1983) et al., cited in JE Myburgh). Other factors, such as job market considerations (which encompass job satisfaction, job security, job availability, job flexibility and opportunities for advancement over the short term and long term, were found to be important in career decision studies done by Paollilo and Estes (1982), et al., cited in JE Myburgh).

However, organizations observe different other strategies like retention, promotions, redeployment etc to attract the expertise into the organization. Dahrendorf (as cited John Buchanan & Debora Campbell,) in 1980s highlighted the need to balance employment security with flexibility in the labour market.

John Buchanan & Debora Campbell illustrated the study by Brunhes, which ‘examined how enterprises are introducing greater flexibility in their use of labour in response to economic, technological and sociological changes. This issue was examined by documenting practices prevailing in innovative firms in four European countries focusing on five different types of flexibility. These were:

  1. External numerical flexibility (ie recruiting and firing workers in response to demand fluctuations)
  2. Externalization (ie contracting non-essential tasks of an enterprise)
  3. Internal numerical flexibility (ie varying working hours but not changing the number of employees)
  4. Wage flexibility (ie move workers between tasks as the demand for different types of labour changes)
  5. Functional flexibility’

Brunhes’s study while examining on the deployment practices emphasizes on the social responsibility of organizations for economic development. “He concludes that if flexibility is taken too far it could segment the workforce dramatically, leaving many workers without the skills necessary to promote economic development.” (John Buchanan & Debora Campbell)

Factors for Job preference

Job related factors

Good local labor market conditions improve the organizational capability of coping with economic-level changes and hence enhance the odds for organizational stability and growth (Eagly (1965 cited in Rita Mano-Negrin). Large organizations can provide employees with better chances for advancement and higher wages and hence ensure organizational attachment (Idson and Feaster 1990 cited in Henry Ongori). And according to the Trevor (2001) cited in Henry Ongori, local unemployment rates interact with job satisfaction to predict turnover in the market. In UK, non availability of the desired skill set forth job improvement for managers may be causing the managers to join the retail industry, to hop on multilevel tasking.

Job Involvement & organizational commitment

The HR strategy must create the Job involvement and organizational commitment in employees. Job involvement describes an individual’s ego involvement with work and indicates the extent to which an individual identifies psychologically with his/her job (Kanungo, 1982, cited in Henry Ongori). Organizational commitment is an affective response to the whole organization and the degree of attachment or loyalty employees feel towards the organization. Job involvement represents the extent to which employees are absorbed in or preoccupied with their jobs and the extent to which an individual identifies with his/her job (Brooke et al., 1988, cited in Henry Ongori).The degree of commitment and loyalty can be achieved if management they enrich the jobs, empower and compensate employees properly. Empowerment of employees could help to enhance the continuity of employees in organizations. Empowered employees where managers supervise more people than in a traditional hierarchy and delegate more decisions to their subordinates (Malone, 1997 cited in Henry Ongori).

Involvement would influence job satisfaction and increase organizational commitment of the employees. Employees who are more involved in their jobs are more satisfied with their jobs and more committed to their organization (Blau and Boal, 1989; Brooke and Price, 1989; Brooke et al., 1988; Kanungo, 1982, cited in Henry Ongori).

Task Characteristics & Job satisfaction

Satisfaction represents an affective response to specific aspects of the job or career and denotes the pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from an appraisal of one’s job or career (Locke, 1976; Porter et al., 1974; Williams and Hazer, 1986, cited in Henry Ongori).

Workers who have a greater variety of tasks tend stay in the job. Task characteristics of the job have been found to be potential determinants of turnover among employees (Couger, 1988; Couger and Kawasaki, 1980; Garden, 1989; Goldstein and Rockart, 1984, cited in Henry Ongori). These include the five core job characteristics identified by Hackman and Oldham (1975, 1980,cited in Henry Ongori): skill variety, which refers to the opportunity to utilize a variety of valued skills and talents on the job; task identity, or the extent to which a job requires completion of a whole and identifiable piece of work – that is, doing a job from beginning to end, with visible results; task significance, which reflects the extent to which the job has a substantial impact on the lives or work of other people, whether within or outside the organization; job autonomy, or the extent to which the job provides freedom, independence, and discretion in scheduling work and determining procedures that the job provides; and job feedback, which refers to the extent to which the job provides information about the effectiveness of one’s performance (Tor et al., 1997, cited in Henry Ongori).

Also, According to Keller & Dansereau, Employees show high job satisfaction and responsibility when they get support from superiors. Superiors empowering subordinates by delegating responsibilities to them leads to subordinates who are more satisfied with their leaders and consider them to be fair and in turn to perform up to the superior’s expectations (Keller and Dansereau, 1995, cited in Henry Ongori).

Retail sector is the one that provides most of the above tasks to the employees and hence the being satisfied with the job they are involved or having the high job involvement, employees tend to remain within the sector.

Organizational factors

With increased competitiveness on globalizations, managers in many organizations are experiencing greater pressure from top management to improve recruitment, selection, training, and retention of good employees and in the long run would encourage employees to stay in organizations.

Studies prove that employees are more likely to stay when there is a predictable work environment and vice versa (Zuber, 2001, cited in Henry Ongori). Therefore, in situations where organizations are not stable employees tend to quit and look for stable organizations as with stable organizations they would be able to predict their career advancement.

As the managers perceive the steady growth in the retail sector and also the growing future for the sector, they tend to associate themselves more with the sector.

Employee information

Employees have a strong need to be informed. Organization with strong communication systems enjoyed lower turnover of staff (Labov, 1997, cited in Henry Ongori). Employees feel comfortable to stay longer, in positions where they are involved in some level of the decision-making process. That is employees should fully understand about issues that affect their working atmosphere (Magner et al. 1996 cited in Henry Ongori). In order to stay ahead in the competition, the Multinational and national retail organizations are practicing ‘transparency’ in their HR policies and that being shared and communicated as a recognized factor for the success by the companies, employees are being satisfied with what they are expecting from the known policy structures. This accessibility of information would lead to strong performance from the employees and creating strong corporate culture (Meaghan et al., 2002, cited in Henry Ongori) in the retail industry.

Reward systems

(Griffeth et al. (2000), cited in Henry Ongori) noted that pay and pay-related variables have a modest effect on employee turnover. Their analysis also included studies that examined the relationship between pay, a person’s performance and turnover. As the retail sector is also offering pay raises and good incentives and providing adequate financial incentives more employees will likely to remain with organizations in the coming future.

Increasing demand for the techno functional expertise

Retail technology initiatives such as ECR, Supply Chain management systems, CRM systems and increase in consumer expectations are creating greater challenges in recruiting the retail employment. The introduction of new technologies and increased service expectations has altered the skill requirements of managerial and non managerial jobs, and this is forcing retail firms to recruit, train, manage and compensate employees accordingly. The education and skill level of store-level employees has been cited as a major constraint to the implementation of ECR practices (Kurt Salmon Associates, Inc., 1996, cited in Robert P.King, Sara M. Ashman and Stacie A.Bosley). There is a need for higher levels of customer satisfaction in store establishments and supply chain establishments. This even puts much pressure to recruit and retain highly professional employees at all levels like management professionals who are techno functional experts.

ASDA- U.K retail Giant- Overview

ASDA is the UK’s third largest supermarket chain spread across the country. ASDA is promising endless challenges and responsibilities from day one to the employees. Employees can able to look forward to real variety. The training in the ASDA is beyond comparison and employee contribution is encouraged and as well as rewarded.

Stephen Lochead, head of graduate recruitment and development at Asda – who are recruiting 120 graduates this year – also points to the growing number of global opportunities. ‘Next year, we will be changing our scheme to make it possible for new recruits to spend time.

In February 2006, an employment tribunal found that the supermarket chain, Asda, had breached the law by offering financial incentives to employees to give up their rights to collective bargaining. The case is one of a series of disputes involving the company and the GMB general union, and highlights the deteriorating state of management–union relations in the company. Caroline Massingham, Asda retail people director, said: “It’s the hard work and enthusiasm of our colleagues that has made the business a success this year. It’s great to be able to share the rewards with them.”

ASDA is leader in retail sector when it comes to employee benefits. Its workers across 300-plus stores can now take advantage of shift-swapping schemes, job-sharing, grandparents’ leave, and even IVF leave, to name just a few. ASDA management discusses with the employees about their needs and collects the feedback from employees about rewards and incentives. A flexible approach to reward has enabled the ASDA to achieve the lowest staff turnover in the supermarket industry.

Sarah Dickins, who is the Asda’s head of reward and recognition, says that all these initiatives were introduced in response to employee feedback. “We talk to colleagues about their package and feed that into our reward strategy. The whole philosophy is built around listening to people,” she says. When there is communication between employees and management regarding reward and pay issues establishes the satisfaction about management in employees. Employees need to have strong information. Organizations which are following strong communication systems can enjoy lower staff turnover (Labov, 1997, as cited in Henry Ongori). Also the friendly ness of management and sharing of information with employees increases the competitiveness in the employees. This ease of access of information would lead to strong performance from the employees and creates strong corporate culture Meaghan et al. (2002).

ASDA Values

ASDA prefers to recruit people with attitude to people with skills. ASDA looks to hire the people who identify them selves with the corporate values and beliefs.

Respect for the individual

ASDA respects and values each other’s differences and personal values. And ASDA believes that people with all the differences are equally vital to the success of business.

Service to the Customers

ASDA exhibits a passion for customer service and the way it treats the customer s and colleagues is one ad same.

Service for excellence

ASDA pools the excellence by nourishing and by rewarding it. When the company sees great performance in action, they will recognize and celebrate it, and use it as an inspiration

The mission of ASDA

To be the UK’s best value retailer exceeding customer needs. Always.

The purpose of ASDA,

Making goods and services more affordable for everyone.

ASDA strategy

ASDA observes an award winning people strategy. The objectives in developing such strategy is:

  • to recruit the right caliber people with the appropriate personality
  • to serve customers in the fast-paced retail environment,
  • to be able to train key skills as effectively as possible in order to meet business priorities, and
  • to offer employees a motivational working environment free from the traditional retailing command and control style

The basic prerequisite that ASDA expects from its applicants for job are:

  • Customer and colleague focused
  • IT literate and not afraid of new technology
  • Trustworthy and have lots of integrity
  • Are able to communicate at all levels
  • Have a flexible approach to work
  • Live the Asda Values
  • Confident and willing to challenge others

ASDA strategic HR Features

Recruitment strategy

Per Year, Asda recruits nearly 7,000 to 10,000 people. The hiring includes 60-70 graduates in one year, who has to undergo a 3 year training scheme in one of the following fields: finance, logistics, IT, buying or trading, retail and the clothing arm George. Graduates on the retail scheme can also have a stretch to work with Wal-Mart.

The different roles that ASDA recruits are, Colleagues, Ambient Team Leader, Fresh Team Leader, Night trading, People Manager, Profit Improvement Manager, Department Managers for Bakery, Counters, GEORGE, General Merchandise, Grocery, Home Shopping, Produce, Provisions and Warehouse.

The Preferred recruitment methods for colleagues are in-store advertisements and job centres, while

The graduates are recruited from the internet and signing up people who have had holiday jobs and for the rest of the positions it will be through the in-store advertisements. However ‘Talent Race’ has designed to recruit or promote a more ethnically diverse range of managers.

Retention strategy

Staff turnover in 2005 is 25. “At manager-level, the split between home-grown and imported talent is about 70% and 30% respectively. Women make up 45.2% of its managers at all levels, and 25,000 colleagues are aged 50 or over.

The chain offers 52 weeks’ maternity leave (half of it paid), five weeks’ paternity leave (three unpaid) and adoption leave, the option of flexi-time or home working, and career breaks after three years’ service.

Other benefits that make staff to prefer ASDA are, childcare leave during school holidays, shift-swapping schemes and a ‘school starter’ scheme enabling parents to take a half-day off for their child’s first day at school. It also offers leave for grandparents, fertility treatment, carers and religious festivals, ‘V-time’ for people who want to reduce their hours in return for doing voluntary work, and a ‘Big Break’, where staff can add two weeks’ unpaid leave to annual holiday for a special trip or holiday.

But according to people director David Smith, “Food retail in ASDA is one sector that suffers high turnover.

Redeployment strategy

In 2005, ASDA has faced a heavy competition from rivals like J Sainsbury and Tesco, which gained a considerable market share. So as a strategy to sustain in the market ASDA has reorganized its staff and store management.

Retail business in Britain is plagued by increasing curbs on consumer spending, mainly as a result of increased interest rates. Asda, with its 279 stores, is facing stiff competition, which have gained considerable market share recently.

Then ASDA formulated a staff reorganization strategy by giving layoffs to nearly 250 managers in several areas.

According to the chief executive Andy Bond, the company’s strategy has formulated on “five key building blocks” — simplicity, prices, cost-cutting, differentiation and improving basic in-store housekeeping. And this was targeted to spur growth and bring in the desired results in a period of 18 months.

Bond expressed that ASDA will also “bring back proven talent” and restructure its headquarters to “simplify the business”.

First ASDA adopted layoff strategy to cut down its costs; Nearly 1,400 workers were given layoffs to cut costs and regain its share of the intensely competitive British market.

Some 200 management jobs were removed out at the company’s head office in Yorkshire, and 1,200 retail management positions at Asda stores were cut off to focus on frontline customer service. By this time, ASDA was employing 140,000 people in 256 stores in the United Kingdom.

The reorganization strategy is so designed to improve Asda’s underlying performance in the market within 12 to 18 months.

Apart from this, many roles in England stores were merged. The management structure in 265 stores were simplified.

Then ASDA deployed another strategy to retain its expertise and experience within the organization through ‘Redeployment’. Usually organizations observe Redeployment programs to have mixed results like social and economic benefits. However, better results can only be achieved by proper planning to deploy demand driven, targeted workers with whom it is most cost-effective.

ASDA redeployed 4 out of 10 people that it has given lay-offs after careful consultation.

The major reorganization in the ASDA stores with its managerial staff was taken in the following ways:

Checkouts

The position of Customer Care Manager is totally removed and the reporting of service Manager is transferred to GSM. Team Leaders are made responsible for the Customer Path in their own departments.

Specialty Departments

The Specialty Managers are removed except for Optical and Pharmacy departments. The roles of Photo shop and Vision Centre Managers have been removed. The GM Department Manager has taken a direct in charge for Photo shop. The GM Team Leader is given responsibility for Optical and Pharmacy as a combined unit.

Second Managers

Earlier there were two managers running Grocery, Provisions, H & L, and George. The change is made to run the show only with one manager. And in the Bakery stores, one manager is removed, in which the scratch sales per week are less than £9k. However, the investment is turned to colleague hours within these departments. And in the larger stores a Night GM/George Replenishment Manager was introduced to strengthen the Night Management Team. Night Replenishment is also in-charge of coaching and developing the team of colleagues working between 10pm – 6am to maximize productivity in the out-of-hours replenishment.

Security Managers

A Security Team manger has replaced the roles of Security Managers from all stores. The Security Team Manager will have hours invested in a new Security Colleague Role which will facilitate greater use of CCTV and increase general shop floor security cover.

Such type of reorganization of managers are aimed at

  • Share of responsibility and accountability for customer service by all the managers.
  • Removing ambiguity on accountability and ownership in trading areas.
  • Clearer accountability and ownership in all trading areas.
  • Duplication has been removed
  • Investment in colleague hours to do the job and be available to serve the customers in the Grocery, Provisions and Checkout departments
  • Greater levels of security coverage through greater use of CCTV and Investment of hours in the new Colleague Security roles
  • All the trading floors will be monitored round the clock with this change
  • Strengthened night operations in the larger volume stores through the introduction of night replenishment
  • With the increase in the number of Stepping Stones colleagues, more development opportunities for the colleagues were established ASDA confronted this change by making a consultation with the laid off managers, to offer them the most suitable alternative position within ASDA.

Working Conditions-As strategy

ASDA policies are aimed at promoting diversity in the work place and the ‘Talent Race’ initiative to encourage skills development have captured the attention of all its employees

Also ASDA offers sick leaves, flexible working hours, training and rewards to employees.

Bonus

ASDA offering the bonuses to the employees depending on their performance and targets achieved. ASDA rewards all the employees’ hard work and good ideas with an impressive discretionary bonus scheme. ASDA offered the occasional bonuses to their employees. On eve of five years completion of ASDA supermarket in U.K., ASDA offered nearly £70m as a performance related bonuses. ASDA strongly believes that its employee’s hard work and enthusiasm are causes for its business success. The employers are happy with sharing the reward with employees. In 2004, the company has distributed nearly £70m bonus among the employees. (Dan Thomas)

Colleague Discount

If the employee is working in ASDA for three months, the person become eligible for a colleague discount card which gives 10% off in ASDA shopping as well as Wal-Mart shopping.

Share Plans

After six months service, the employees are getting the fantastic opportunity in ASDA to join in the ASDA Share Plans which enables the employees to become a Wal-Mart shareholder.

Share save Plan

Share save gives the chance to be part of ASDA and Wal-Mart’s success to employees. This shows value of employee contribution to ASDA.

The employee can decide the amount to save between £5 and £250 every four weeks. This amount will straightly add into employee own account. After saving for three years employee will receive savings plus a tax-free bonus. The employee can use this to buy discounted Wal-Mart shares.

Pension

The ASDA provides Pensions to employees and also employees are qualifying for life assurance of four times of base pay subject to the necessary scheme rules.

Voluntary Benefits

ASDA negotiate special deals and savings on a range of products and services for colleagues in every year. These benefits are highlighted in a Benefits Book and are categorized under: Days in or out, Holidays, Cars, Money, Household and Health. The employee will receive the actual savings depending on a number of factors including your personal circumstances, location, seasonality and other timings.

For example, you’ll enjoy preferential rates with Hilton Hotels and Livingwell gyms, Chester Zoo, Alton Towers, Johnson’s Dry Cleaners, T Mobile and Denplan, to name but a few. We also provide a law club for only 12p per week for ASDA colleagues and their families.

Recognition

The employee can get reorganization and appreciation for their extraordinary performance.

Private Medical Cover

It provides fast treatment to their employees when they are suffering from illness or injury needs. ASDA is teamed up with leading health care provider to offer comprehensive care plans at normal costs.

STAR Points

These are the rewards and recognition to individuals for their well performance in job. These rewards are trading and non-trading incentives such as Recruit a Friend and Tell One can win points by taking part in any number of in-store incentives that can be redeemed for an ASDA gift card, a holiday through Apollo Travel or a gift experience through Golden Moments.

Flexible Working hours in ASDA

ASDA believe that colleagues are essential to their success. That’s why it offers the flexible way of working for colleagues.

Parental or Childcare Leave

ASDA offering four weeks off for employee to take care of their children or parent, when the children is not well or when ever they need time to settle into a new school. But this leave is unpaid. The employees can extend unpaid leave up to 8 weeks during the summer holidays if they have need.

Time off to look after dependents

ASDA provides leave also to take care of dependents in the family and in the case of unplanned emergency.

Care for Kids: If any employee wants to balance their personal commitments or to look after child under the age of 6 or disabled, the employee can apply for change the working hours. ASDA is providing 3 hours off while the employee is joining the child in school.

Maternity or Adoption Leave:

ASDA is providing leave of 52 weeks as legal leave for all parents as maternity leave. And also the time off to consult the doctor for antenatal care and all new parents can get a choice of 2 weeks paid leave or up to 3 months unpaid leave as Paternity Leave. In emergency cases, it is offering reasonable unpaid leave as an emergency family leave. And to take over of dependents for long term ASDA providing the unpaid leave up to 6 months as a career leave. In addition to this ASDA provides swap shifts to the employees. ASDA arranges to exchange of shifts with colleague when the employee needs a time off for a family reason.

Career Break

If the employee is working with ASDA for 3 years or more, then that employee is eligible to take a break of up to 2 years for extended maternity leave or time off to care of children or to take a professional break or for pursue to further education.

Study Leave

It provides excellent flexible working hours to help the students to maximize their earnings. It allots more working hours during holidays and few working hours in term time or exam time.

Store Swap

ASDA supports the away from home students with excellent facilities. They can even enjoy the transfers during their work term and also can avail holidays in between.

Career progression

Promotions in ASDA are quick with performance. The career growth can be enhanced through on-the-job training, computer-based learning, development centers, interactive video learning and open learning workbooks.

Research methodology

Qualitative Method

Qualitative method is used to collect the secondary to evaluate the preliminary facts of the retail employment. Qualitative research methods can be described as naturalistic, anthropological, and ethnographic and can be used through interpretivism paradigm in the current research. As per definition of Byrne’s definition (cited in Rob O Neil), qualitative research is about ‘inquiries of knowledge that are outside the framework prescribed by the scientific method, as well as assumptions of inferential statistics’, the current study inquires the facts of the retail employment. Though, qualitative study is assumed as ‘vague’ (Byrne) and ‘loosely defined category of research designs or models (Preissle). The same authors again confirm that qualitative method is a tool that “elicit verbal, visual, tactile, olfactory, and gustatory data as descriptive narratives like field notes, recordings, or other transcriptions from audio and videotapes and other written records and pictures or films” (Preissle 2002 cited in Rob O Neil).

Qualitative research methodology includes the types like, action research, case study research, Delphi studies, grounded theory, life histories, content analysis, hermeneutics, or general narrative enquiry or participant observer research. Qualitative methods are the most certainly appropriate option when in need of researching patterns and trends in the industry and to understand the depth of the environment around the research point, the cultural characteristics that influence the industry especially when the research is adopting new areas of identification. Qualitative research is ‘mainly concerned with the properties, the state and the character’, (Labuschagne 2003 cited in Rob O Neil).

Qualitative research also gives the flexibility of driving the research according to the scope. This aspect is very helpful where the research area is very vast and the scope of the research needs to go in particular direction. That’s why qualitative methods are being preferred in studying the sensitive subjects. The personal skills of the researcher bring out the quality in answering the questions of hypothesis. However the personal skills of the researcher may also become hindrances to elicit the exact answers from the responders as it may be influenced by the gender and ethnicity of the researcher.

Qualitative methods allow openness in conducting the research and help to generate new theories. Participating subjects can discuss issues that are important and relevant to the scope of the research, rather than responding to closed questions, and there is a lot of space to clarify ambiguities and confusion over concepts. ‘It certainly seems reasonable to suggest that one may have a better understanding of a community member situation by reading a descriptive passage than just looking at demographic statistics’, (Kruger, 2003). Qualitative results are difficult to total and are difficult even to replicate due to the lack of structured design and standardized procedures. However, the qualitative study gives a greater depth in understanding the entire scenario of Retail employment in UK.

In-depth interviews

An in-depth interview is a dialogue between a skilled interviewer and an interviewee, but for most of the part in one way. Its goal is to extract rich, detailed that can be used in analysis (Lofland and Lofland, 1995). In depth interviews are best conducted face to face giving an advantage of taking true expressions of the respondents into consideration.

In-depth interviews are characterized by open-ended questions probing more towards drawing information from the interviewee. The list of questions or issues that are to be explored and suggested will be formulated by the researcher well in to make interviewing more systematic and comprehensive. (Lofland and Lofland, (1995) cited in Joy Frechtling).

The dynamics of interviewing are similar to a guided conversation. The interviewer takes a portion of an attentive listener who shapes the process into a familiar and comfortable form of social engagement – a conversation – and the quality of the information obtained is largely dependent on the interviewer’s skills and personality (Patton, 1990). However, an in-depth interview is not intended to be a two-way form of communication and sharing limiting the subjective bias of the researcher on the findings. The personal opinions, perceptions, or feelings of the interviewer should be limited by selection and training process fro the implementation of in-depth interviews. The selection of the interviewer also makes a key position in eliciting the responses from the responders showing a bias arising from age, sex, profession, race/ethnicity, etc., Poor interviewing skills, poor phrasing of questions, or inadequate knowledge of the subject’s culture or frame of reference may result in a collection that obtains little useful data.

In-depth interviews can be used at any stage of the evaluation process. They are especially useful in answering questions such as those suggested by Patton (1990) cited in Joy Frechtling, in the current research,

  • What does the program look and feel like to the participants?
  • What are the experiences and opinions of program participants towards their job roles in retail sector?
  • What do stakeholders know about the retail employment prospectus?

Research design

The study observes a qualitative study of the ASDA retail organization and conducts an in-depth interview of its managers to identify the facts about retail employment.

Focus Group

The 8 Participants were considered for In-depth interviews who are the working managers in ASDA at various operation levels like, General merchandise, Produce, Grocery, Home shopping, Warehouse, Night Shift, HR and Financial areas. Participants were all managers having a management graduation working with ASDA from quite some time and are responsible for the duties they are handling.

Data Collection

One week before to conducting the interview, a letter from the ASDA management was circulated to the participants allowing their permission and to give the information. All the participants were given a questionnaire to know the questions and the purpose o the interview was well informed before hand. The participants were asked to express their opinions freely where the response is recorded with the help of a tape recorder to have accuracy of information. A response rate of 100% was obtained with the sample being small and selective. This helped to maintain accuracy in the out come of the research design. The researcher has personally involved in conducting the in-depth interviews aiding the respondents with relevant information wherever necessary in directing towards the scope f the study.

Study variables

  • Motivating Factors: The managers were asked to find out the motivating factor to work with retail environment
  • Decision making opportunity: The mangers were asked to explain about the decisive role they play in their relevant areas
  • Workplace opportunity: The managers were asked to name the workplace opportunity or the task characteristic they like in the retail industry.
  • Organizational Factors: The managers are asked to name the factor that makes them work for ASDA
  • Job Satisfier: The managers are asked to name the job satisfiers in their Job.
  • Jon Involvement Factors: The managers are asked to name the factor that makes them involve in their current job
  • Performance Boosters: The managers are asked to name the factors that make them work to achieve their targets
  • Organizational Commitment: The manager’s attitude or the factors that contribute the organizational commitment towards ASDA was also examined by asking them to compare the current job with other traditional jobs.
  • Influence of Reward system: The managers were asked to express their opinion on the link between their job performance and the monetary reward system.
  • Comparison of job criteria with traditional organization: The manager’s preferences were observed by asking them to give their opinion on difference of retail employment with other industries.
  • Success of ASDA HR strategy: The managers were asked to reveal the successful strategy of ASDA that makes them satisfied and to adhere to the company growth from a long period.
  • Complexity of the job structure: The mangers were asked to express the type of skill set required for the retail operations.
  • Entry level expectations of the employees from retail sector: Managers were asked to point out the expectations of the career starters in retail sector.
  • Success ladder opportunities: The manager’s perception about the career growth is also sought thorough the questionnaire.

Findings & Analysis

Warehouse department, Grocery Department, Frozen food department, Night replenishment, Fresh stock Department, Beauty & Cosmetics department, Finance Department and Consumables departments expressed their opinions on the company’s HR strategies. All the managers are having 2+ years working experience with ASDA and are committed to the vision. The manager’s responses revealed the impact of their job, work culture of ASDA on their organizational commitment and the factors framed around the organizational strategy and employment growth in retail sector in UK.

The respondents expressed that retail sector gives a growth for opportunity with its realistic environment. The respondents also expressed that retail segment gives them work challenges to move up in the career ladder. The business environment is also fast moving, competitive and also adjustable and flexible with seniors support.

This finding proves Keller and Dansereau’s finding that employees are more satisfied with superior’s empowerment.

The intrinsic factors (Ahmed et al. (1997:326)), like challenging and dynamic work place to improve intellectual capabilities are proved to be the motivating factors in retail segment.

Presence of scope for improvement, Team environment (Keller and Dansereau, 1995), valued skills and talents on the job Hackman and Oldham (1975, 1980) and possession of skill set (Idson and Feaster 1990) to other industries are also making the employees to choose the retail industry.

Flexible work opportunities, Pay for performance Griffeth et al. (2000), team environment, multi site working are some of the interesting factors of their job sites for the respondents to work with retail sector.

Creative and Autonomous work delivery (Ahmed et al. (1997:326), learning, inner Satisfaction, difference in ethics, job involvement are the primary motivating aspects of the mangers to fulfill their tasks with high performance in ASDA. This finding correlates with Kanungo’s finding on link between job involvement and organizational commitment, which was proved with manager’s commitment to work with ASDA.

Recognition and own satisfaction, autonomy, superior-subordinate relations and team environment are the driving factors to achieve work targets for the respondent managers in ASDA, proving the Keller and Dansereau’s empowerment concept. Also the managers expressed that they are highly motivated to pas on the empowerment value to their subordinates and that makes them feel achieved a level of responsibility in the organization. This finding strengthens the opinion of Malone, who states that empowered delegate more decisions to their subordinates than a traditional hierarchy system.

As a opinion on changing the career from retail industry, all most all the managers shown a reluctance to shift from the challenging environment. The task characteristics (Couger, 1988; Couger and Kawasaki, 1980; Garden, 1989; Goldstein and Rockart, 1984, cited in Henry Ongori) of their retail job has made them loyal to the sector they are working and created an organizational commitment towards ASDA and as well as to the industry they are. The task structure has become potential determinants of turnover among employees in ASDA.

As a response to their opinion on money as their biggest motivator, only one or two agreed that money makes a part of their job involvement. But for the rest of the managers money is secondary, while the aspects like – learning, sense of responsibility, and the people they work with being their primary motivators at work place.

The work place is also a great place of entertainment and knowledge distribution through TV shows that displays on several plasma TV screens around the office, giving information on company sales, local news and upcoming social event

In order to work on community projects, there is a separate departments to work on welfare of the employees through environmental improvement, school facilities and charity.

Online training has facilitated many training programs in accessible to many workers, to complete them at their ease. Employees are encouraged to take up the outside programmes and even sponsored to do the prestigious course like PMP. ASDA funds the professional fee for such courses.

As part of the in-house development programmes, business analysis, Project management and behavioural training offered to the employees.

Through the Lunch ‘n’ Learn programme, the employees are aimed to improve their business and technical skills. All employees’ professional fees are funded by ASDA.

The youngsters are offered a developmental program as a three-year graduate scheme that escalates them to a project management role. Graduates are given inter and intra departmental training to uphold skills at all levels.

The flexible working hours, the early leave ‘jocker cards’, job sharing from home, career breaks have all made ASDA, a wonderful place to work but also won prestigious work place awards.

The award winning work place factors with ASDA are, three year graduate development programme, central training schemes, “We are listening survey’, jocker cards, share of parking space and daily huddle.

ASDA work culture is more encouraging, where in the group discussions are a daily morning task and includes feedback workouts, resolving the problems, and celebrating the success. ASDA managers reveal that there is place for major achievements in the pictorial form and representation of how the company lives its values of “respect for the individual”, “customer service” and “strive for excellence”.

‘Retail is very competitive’ is the statement mentioned from all the managers. Challenging tasks, customer interactions and day to day work dealings that have both physical and mental involvement are the big job involvers in the retail industry for all the managers.

As a secret to its successful strategy in retaining the skill set with ASDA, the managers revealed the strengths of ASDA like good compensation, employee recognition, fair play , transparency, People friendly atmosphere, employee appraisals, ease of communication, crisis resolving, flexible work durations and reward systems are some of the best features that any employee could ever anticipate from an organization.

Conclusion

The retail industry in U.K is attracting more professional talent in now-a-days. Keeping their organizational cultures more suitable for the intrinsic motivators’ retail sector is achieving organizational commitment from the management professionals. Employees being highly involved and empowered by superiors and motivated by task characteristics in retail industry are showing commitment to the organizations. And this changed scenario of employee – employer relations is a strategic evolvement of the retail sector that is attracting the management professions to choose retail sector than the traditional office works as it is evident in the case of ASDA.

ASDA achieves its mission and objectives by nourishing its people. The current day success of ASDA is by adopting different types of HR strategies from time to time. Being in retail sector, where it is people served by people, ASDA values its Human assets, which is evident through its recruitment, training, retention and redeployment strategies. ASDA not only pools up the people, but it nourishes them to a level, where even after leaving ASDA, they will have the value of working experience with ASDA. ‘Valuing People’ is so much to be learned from ASDA, by looking at its employment benefits and working conditions. The Work place is encouraging to employees not only to give their best expected services, but also to give their innovative ideas. One of such inventions is innovative packaging that is newly introduced in the ASDA retail stores, and the other one is eco-friendly CD range release across the stores. The award winning working conditions and work place features are the dream place to any employee. Even during the layoff and redeployment phases also, ASDA was able to create so much confidence in the mangers about the new reorganization strategy, that went out with out any hassles. The Organizations need to have workers skilled enough and jobs defined broadly enough to make redeployment easy in response to changing demand conditions. ASDA has such provisions with strong guarantees of employment security that made the redeployment a possibility.

Reccomendations

ASDA Values people very much, which is evident through the values written in their value statement page. But, the HR strategy formulated for ASDA has no direct evidence that the current day HR practices are emerged our of that decade back HR strategy or of its updates. This elevates a gap to further research to find out the direct connection between the formulated HR strategy and the current day HR practices, which was not possible to cover in the present study. So a further observation of direct link is recommended through a statistical analysis against each objective.

Also the study recommends an observation of comparative operating of HR strategies by country wise, in which the ASDA stores are located.

Also there is a recommendation of observation of HR strategies between retail sector and non retail sector.

Though the study could identify that ASDA focuses much on developing the intrinsic factors to motivate the managers to choose retail sector than extrinsic factors, it is further recommended to have a research including more participants and taking the other cases of retail sector. As the population and the sample size is very small in the current study, the findings can be said to have limited reliability. Hence a detailed study covering high number of managers working in other retail sectors and stores will evaluate some more strategic factors that contribute to the HR practices in retail employment.

Reflection

The research project on HR strategies of ASDA has enriched my research skills. The project helped me to analyze the theoretical aspects of strategy execution into practical observation of HR strategy of ASDA.

At the beginning, I simply started gathering the relevant direct and indirect information on the scope of the subject as a preliminary research. Then after some level, I summarized the initially gathered information to formulate my own research topic. This has facilitated me to focus my thoughts, learning aspects to derive the objectives of the study.

Specifying the objectives gave direction to observe the scope in specific direction and to achieve the results by the end of study.

The initial evaluation of literature helped in finding out the gap in literature on the scope of subject and elevated some of the aspects that are not touched by the previous researchers. Also the preliminary literature review helped in observing different angles of the subject to advance my research and to make my research different to the previous studies. I started at the gap found out in literature in identifying the HR strategies applied with reference to manager roles in retail industry and made it as a key subject of my study.

The extensive literature review through books, journal articles and internet blogs has given a direction to frame my research on more precise grounds, leading the research from less focused to more focused.

The study finally also elevated some of my weak learning areas during my course time. However, I correct them by giving much more concentration in further activity. This, in turn, led to better learning outcomes.

By following the specific research guidelines, I am able to change some initial aspects of the study with conviction to bring in more clarity, without which the paper would be more complex to understand.

The observation of ASDA as a case helped in focusing the organizational practices in general and then comparing them to retail industry helped in observing the industrial specifications being implemented at organizational level.

The career assessment for management professionals in retail industry gave much reference on the current day employment requirements and skills required to get to the high levels.

While thinking on the methodology to adopt between, quantitative and qualitative methods, I have faced many stumbling blocks in adopting a proper research methodology to the study. These have slowed the progress of the study up to some extent. However, after reviewing various similar research papers in detail in the areas of psychology and learning areas, I could rationalize to adopt the current method of study.

The scope of the research helped me to observe the organizational practices of the retail industry in accordance to their strategy.

The different work conditions offered by organizations to make a difference between day shift and night shift workers is another learning aspect, when it is observed as a strategic practice of UK’s 2nd largest retail giant, ASDA.

In order to access the managerial interviews, I had to e-mail and talk with the professionals to get the access and permissions. This was like a test to my interpersonal and business communication skills. The same learning continued even taking the in-depth interviews. The open – ended questions has facilitated to invade many related areas of job satisfactions with ASDA managers.

As the study used the in depth interviews, it gave an opportunity to observe the impact of the strategic HR issues very closely with the managers involved.

The in-depth interviews allowed finding out:

  • Information regarding specific managerial roles that exist in ASDA.
  • Information regarding type of skills, education, and personality that are required for employment in the industrial area.
  • Information regarding job recruitment, retention, layoff strategies in the Retail Industry.

Information on different motivational techniques adopted by ASDA representing the Retail employment sector.

However the study found it is difficult to summarize the opinion of different managers for a particular concept and bring it into analysis. Still the study gives a lot of scope to develop the personal communication skills and the lateral thinking into the factors that can be influenced by the strategic HR practices.

References

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  6. Asda launches major recruitment drive – Yorkshire Forward.
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Strategic Practices of ASDA-UK Super Market
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