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Managing Human Resources In Harrods Company Case Study Analysis

Managing Human Resources In Harrods Company Case Study Analysis



Many organizations have realized that employees are the most important assets of the organization. As such, effective management of these precious resources will enable the organization to achieve its goals and objectives. Managing human resources is vital for every organization. Different organizations have developed various HRM policies that allow them to get the best from their employees. This is usually achieved through effective selection and recruitment, training, and effective reward system. Therefore, this paper will focus on managing human resources in Harrods Company.

Question 1.1

Guest Model of human resource management was developed by David Guest to help human resource managers to differentiate between personnel management and HRM. It consists of six components which includes financial outcomes, HRM policies, HRM outcomes, organizational behavior outcomes, performance outcomes and HRM strategy. The model concentrates on individual employees needs as opposed to collective workforce. The model outlines or describes various HRM practices such as performance appraisal, employee involvement, job design, selection and recruitment and employee reward management. The model goes further to recognize employees as the most valuable assets of the organization. It looks beyond training, recruitment and performance appraisal. However, it outlines the need for strategic management of human resource so as to achieve the desired organizational goals and objectives.

This model has been adopted by the HRM department at Harrods Company. They have used to develop human resource strategies that have increased employee commitment and performance. Besides, the model has improved employee trust and loyalty to the organization. To achieve this, the line managers in collaboration with the HRM department have scouted for the best talents who have the requisite skills, knowledge and ability to learn and work in a fast paced working environment such as Harrods Company. They have also taken initiatives to develop the skills and knowledge of the selected talents by identifying a suitable training and development program that would enable them to perform their roles and responsibilities to the best of their ability. The company has also modified the organizational structure to allow employees to participate in major decision making activities. The employees have been assigned more responsibilities so as to encourage them to participate directly in the mission and vision statements of the organization. The company has also changed the leadership style by encouraging individual leadership. This has improved communication between the employees, supervisors and the line managers.

Also Study: Factors Affecting Employee Performance


Question 1.2

According to Storey, human resource management is a strategic and coherent approach used by organizations to manage people. Storey recognizes human resources as the most valuable assets of the organization. He asserts that an organizational can only achieve its desired goals and objectives by having a dedicated and committed workforce. Moreover, he identified and distinguished the two forms of HRM which includes soft HRM and hard HRM. He defines hard HRM as the need or desire to manage employees in a way that would more value to them and allow then organization to gain competitive advantage. The hard HRM concentrates on quantitative aspects of performance management and control. On the other hand, soft HRM concentrates on qualitative aspect of performance management and control. It recognizes employees as the most valuable assets of an organization. Besides, the employees can be used to gain competitive advantage through employee commitment, high quality and adaptability.  Storey defines personnel management as a way of managing the workforce to comply or adhere to various rules and regulations as set by the owner of the business organization. According to storey, personnel management is majorly concerned with recruitment and selection, employment laws, and the payroll management. He believes that performance management is a separate or different function or activity from the general management. He views performance management as bureaucratic based. It is based on specific rules and regulations as opposed to general management.

There are various points that Storey came up with to differentiate between HRM, Industrial relations relation practices based on strategic aspects, assumptions or beliefs, line management and key levers. This can represent in a tabular form as shown below;

Dimensions Personnel and IR practices Human Resource Management
Beliefs and assumptions
a)      Behavior Referent Organizational norms, practices and customs Mission and Vision Statement
b)      Conflict Institutionalized De-emphasized
c)      Management guide and actions Procedures Business needs
Line management
a)      Communication Indirect direct
b)      Management role Transactional leadership Transformational leadership
c)      Key managers HR specialists General or business managers
Key Levers
a)      Pay Job evaluation Based on performance
b)      Selection Separate based on marginal task Integrated  based on key tasks
Strategic aspects
a)      Initiatives Piecemeal Integrated
b)      Key relations Labor management Customer
c)      Corporate plans Marginal Central

Source: Professor John Storey; HRM model

From the table above it clear that the HRM specialists provide a transformational leadership, an aspect which cannot be achieved by the personnel managers and the IR practices. The Storey’s model of HRM has been implemented at Harrods Company. The organization has used the model to recognize various psychological needs of their employees. As such, they have strategically engaged them to meet the organizational needs through non-monetary rewards such as promotion and decision making process. Besides, the management has used the model engage the employees in various roles and responsibilities that contributes to the success of Harrods Company.

Question 1.3

Line managers and employees are always faced with numerous problems while designing the strategic human resource management approaches. Strategic human resource management refers to a proactive management approach used by HR specialists to manage people or the human resources of an organization. It entails the basic or typical functions of human resource management such as discipline, recruitment and selection, payroll management, performance management and appraisal, industrial labor relations and compensation management. Strategic HRM involves a collaborative approach where employees are given the opportunity to participate in major decisions. As such, the organization will be able to attract and retain the best talents. It also encourages high quality performance and job satisfaction. The ultimate of the strategic HRM is to ensure that both employees and the employer are able to gain maximum mutual benefit from the employment contract.  Therefore, it is the responsibility of the line managers to integrate various components of HRM to the organizational culture, business goals and policies, and leadership style. In this case, the organization will be able to get the best from their employees resulting in improved productivity and brand image. However, integrating these HRM approaches to the organizational corporate strategy can present various implications to the line managers and the senior management team. Job rotation and changing the style of leadership in an organization is very sensitive. As such, the HR professionals and the top management should ensure that the integration process is carried in such a way that it does not conflict with the major business operations. This will negatively impact on the corporate image of the organization.

Strategic HRM also enables an organization to adopt policies that would improve its competitive advantage in the market. The changing global business environment requires HR professional and the top management to devise policies that would encourage free market ideology and technological change. They should address issues related to cross-cultural differences, demographic trends and the labor market. In this case, the HR professional may find it difficult to integrate strategic human resource objectives to the strategic objectives of the organization. This usually results from inability to provide effective training to manage human resources.

On the other hand, employees are also faced with various implications resulting from strategic HRM. Such implications include job security, fluctuating bonuses and remuneration which are based on the level of performance, and the cross-cultural differences. The existing economic gravity which is shifting from developed to third world or developing countries is another implication that the line managers and the employees have faced while developing a strategic approach to HRM especially at Harrods Company.

Question 2. 1

Employee flexibility is of great significance to any organization. It is an arrangement made between the employee and the employee to allow the employee to manage and accomplish the assigned task and responsibilities as per the business needs. Employee flexibility has arisen because of the changing business environment and the rapid advancement in technology in the 21st century. It is also a policy which has been supported by the government so as to reduce the cases of unemployment. There are various models which have been devised to explain the concept of employee flexibility. In this case, I will explore the Atkinson model of flexibility and its applicability at Harrods Company.

Atkinson has identified four types of labor flexibility adopted by various organizations based on their strategic objectives. The different flexibility can be applied in the workplace to enable the organization to reduce costs. Such flexibility include financial, numerical, functional and temporal flexibility. This model can be used by different organizations where employees are encouraged to undertake part time or full-time jobs depending on the needs of the organization. Various organizations gave used Atkinson model of labor flexibility to gain a long-term competitive advantage, reduce labor related costs, match the efforts of the employees to the organizational objectives and improve organizational customer service. The model has been adopted by Harrods Company to improve its productivity. The company recognizes the intrinsic needs of its human resources. As such, it has developed a strategic HRM approach that allows for flexible work schedules. The company has managed to meet the needs of its employees by engaging them to give the best for the organization. The company has implemented various strategic approaches to ensure that the employees perform to the best of their abilities. Such mobile working arrangements include job sharing, compressed working weeks, paid and unpaid leaves, and flextime. The Atkinson model of flexibility has enabled Harrods Company to reduce operation costs. Besides, the employees have managed to have a quality work-life balance. As such, they have performed to the best of their ability.

Question 2.2

Functional flexibility

It refers to the ability of the firm to adjust the skills of its employees so as to match the jobs and responsibilities as stipulated in the job profile or specifications. Functional flexibility also requires organizations to deploy talents or skills that would match the changing production methods and the workload. It is achieved through multi-skilling where the traditional rigidities are dismantled to allow for horizontal and vertical flexibility. Functional flexibility is designed to allow Harrods Company to reduce operational costs. It has utilized functional flexibility to ensure effective human capital management. In this case, both skilled and semi-skilled employees are given equal opportunity to perform different tasks.

Numerical flexibility

The numerical flexibility is where the management adjusts working hours or the working schedules of the employees. This can be achieved through working in shifts, flexi time, part-time and overtime and parental leave. In the case of Harrods Company, the numerical flexibility has enabled it to attract both talented undergraduate and graduate employees who only work at time they are not engaged in school. Besides, the flexi-time has employees who are nursing babies to have time for them. However, the business has not been able to allow employees to work from home since it is a retail business organization.

Temporal flexibility

It is usually linked to the business demands and the pattern of the working hours. It entails flexi-times systems that allow employees to work at their convenience so long as business goals and objectives are met. The Harrods Company has allotted some employees to work in the evening to enable them meet their personal interests. As such, the company has been able to attract a large pool of talented employees.

Financial Flexibility

It reflects on the demand and supply of the workforce. Employees are paid depending on the amount of work done. In the case of Harrods Company, employees who are paid depending on the amount of hours worked. As such, there are no great wage differentials.

Question 2.3

Employees and employers prefer flexible working schedules because of the various advantages associated with it. I do believe that flexible working hours are in tandem with the labor laws and the human rights act. Flexible working practices accommodate the different needs of employees at Harrods Company, and at the same time allow the company to achieve its strategic goals. For instance, part-time employment is beneficial to student employees. They can give their best to the organization during weekends and holidays and take unpaid leave during the normal school days to allow them concentrate on their studies. As such, Harrods Company uses strategy to save on salary which could have been paid to the student employees during their leave days. The company also encourages employees to work from home. As such, they save on transport cost, office space, and administration expenditures. Job sharing, compressed working hours, temporary employment and zero working hours benefits employees who have other engagements as their work at their convenience while meeting the organizations goals and objectives. This has enabled the company to avoid spending on health covers, retirement benefits and pension which is usually given to employees on permanent contract.

Question 2.4

The changes in the global labor market have had different effects on the flexible working practices in various companies. Such changes have resulted from demographic changes, technological advancement, and increased recruitment of both undergraduate and postgraduate employees. The changes in the labor market have enabled Harrods Company to acquire talented employees. For instance, the contractual and functional flexibility has allowed the company to spend less on the staff recruitment and at the same have obtained the best output from the employees. In this case, the company has managed to remain one of the best retail companies in the world. The demographic changes have also enabled the organization to acquire employees from diverse backgrounds who are willing to take full-time employment. The wage flexibility has also allowed employees to take part-time jobs and have embraced flexi-time practices. As such, the Harrods has been able to reduce business expenditures and the same acquire employees from different cultural backgrounds.

Question 3.1

Workplace discrimination refers to unequal treatment of employees because of various attributes which they posses. Such attributes includes age, race, gender, religion, disability and sexual orientation. For instance, employees at Harrods Company are discriminated various basis. Female employees who work in different stores are required to wear make-ups whenever they are on duty. This has seen female employees who are not interested in make-ups lose their jobs especially at their Knightsbridge store. On the other hand, employees are also discriminated on age ground. This has been prompted by the changing global labor market. Harrods Company is employing more of young, talented and energetic undergraduate employees as opposed to old specialized employees.

Question 3.2

Equal employment legislation has both negative and positive impacts on the organization. For instance, Harrods Company has been forced by the new legislation to change its HRM policies. It has forced to change the HRM guidelines and now considers discrimination based on sex and age as unacceptable. The organization was forced to hire experts to review it guidelines and policies to ensure that they are in tandem with the new equality legislation. Besides, the experts had to ensure that the HRM polices of the company such as statutory maternity pay, redundancy payment, age limit and statutory sick pay do not violate the new equality act in the United Kingdom. However, the law new legislation will force the organization to change its selection and recruitment policies to ensure that employees are acquired on merit. All candidates will be given equal employment opportunity regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. The new equality legislation will impact negatively on the organization in case it fails to comply HR policies regarding discrimination. In this case, they are likely to face risk of prosecution.

Question 3.3

Similar approaches can be used to manage both diversity and equal opportunities. This is because diversity and equal opportunities always work in unison. In the case of Harrods, it utilizes simultaneous approaches to manage both equality and diversity. For instance, it uses both print and digital media to advertise for various vacant positions. In this case, it ensures that both employment laws and equality is adhered to. This gives all qualified candidates equal opportunity to apply for such available positions. Harrods Company also applies gender equality in the selection and appointment of both supervisors and the line managers. The company does not discriminate on gender so long as the employees have the requisite skills and competency to be appointed to the management position. The company also uses open communication approach where all employees are given equal opportunity to air their views and to participate in decision making.

Question 4.1

Performance management refers continuous monitoring and evaluation of employee’s performance so as to determine their areas of weakness and strengths. It is usually done by the immediate supervisors after which they make recommendations for additional improvement. At Harrods Company, the management utilizes performance management approaches on individual employees, production lines, teams and subsidiary branches. For instance, the company uses talent sporting where talented employees are selected and encouraged to take higher responsibilities. The company also uses flattered organizational structure where employees are encouraged to take more responsibilities. This enhances career growth and increased job satisfaction. Harrods has developed Harrods reward for excellence where top performing employees are nominated across all the departments regardless of their level in the organization. The award system gives both top management and subordinates an equal opportunity to get the same rewards based on performance. This approach encourages and motivates employees to perform to the best of their ability.

Question 4.2

Health and safety regulations have direct implications on the HR practices and policies of Harrods Company. This is because the law requires them to comply so as to enhance the safety and well-being of the human resources, customers, suppliers and the general public. The health and safety legislations have increased the company’s expenditure. For instance, the 1974 Health and Safety Act require all employers to develop health programs that would ensure the health and safety standards of employees are maintained throughout their stay in the organization. The company may face the risk of prosecution whenever it fails to comply with health and safety acts. Moreover, the act requires human resource managers to ensure that the employees adhere to health and safety standards. As such, the organization is required to incur an extra expense so as to train the staff on health and safety standards.

Question 4.3

Harrods Company has managed and effectively utilized e-learning to impart vital skills, attitude and knowledge to employees on various online platforms. The e-learning program has enabled employees to perform their jobs effectively. Harrods has implemented a flexible e-learning program that allows employees to attend online lectures at their own convenience. This has enabled them to deliver on their roles and at the same time improved their skills and knowledge base.

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  • CRAWLEY, E., SWAILES, S., & WALSH, D. (2011). Introduction to international human resource management. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  • FRICKE, W., & TOTTERDILL, P. (2003). Action research in workplace innovation and regional development. Amsterdam [Netherlands], John Benjamins Pub.
  • KÖSTER, M. (2007). Human Resource Management versus Personnel Management. München, GRIN Verlag GmbH. https://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:101:1-2010081312413.
  • REDMAN, T., & WILKINSON, A. (2002). The informed student guide to HRM. London, Thomson Learning.
  • STOREY, J. (2007). Human resource management: a critical text. London, Thomson


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