Strategic Human Resource Management Initiative Essay


Discuss about the Strategic Human Resource Management Initiative.



The current market competition has forced the organisations to employ the skilled workforce so that the future organisational challenges can be met in a flexible way. However, the majority of the contemporary groups fails to increase the knowledge base of the skilled workers as much as required for achieving future sustainability (Paauwe, 2009). The lack of adequate training and development program has become a significant human resource management (HRM) issue for the organisations. Considering the fact, the current study aims to describe the brief of the firm Woolworths Limited and its HRM issues. Additionally, the researcher has given a detailed description of the problems, and adequate justification has been made on the need of improving the issues. Finally, the current practices of the firm with industry best practices have been conducted, based upon which, a set of recommendations has been provided to mitigate the current HRM issues of the business.

Description of the firm and the HRM issues:

Woolworths Limited is an Australian retail company which serves customers across the global platform (Lim et al. 2016). The company’s primary retail division is the supermarket stores. Since its foundation, the company has made an employee strength of more than 2 million across the globe. However, it has been identified that the corporation is experiencing major issues in the HRM functions such as recruitment of skilled labour and the training development activity of those resources. Supporting to this fact, Lall and Zaidi (2008) stated that worldwide retail industry is experiencing severe skill shortages, especially in the customer handling and communication parameters. Furthermore, Noe et al. (2012) mentioned that the lack of training and development activity fail to reveal the diversity and complexity of the workforce and its associated benefits as well.

The firm is experiencing the major HRM issues in the context of the higher employee attrition rate. This is due to matters in job description, rotation shifts, poor work life balances, lack of clarity in the training development and career opportunities. Considering the fact, Prytz and Scerbo (2015) stated that excessive workload and lack of work life balance reduces the motivation of the retail employees. Among these issues, training and development issues are mostly affecting the efficiency of the existing workforce. The workers are not experiencing adequate training as per the changing job requirements. As a consequence, the firm fails to meet the organisational goals. This is due to the lack of focus on the personal development plan of the employees. Also, it has been identified that in the year 2013, Woolworths invested $32.2 million for its learning and development parameter (, 2016). However, the execution of the development plan has been found lesser than the corporate training activity. It resulted from significant failure in satisfying the global customers based upon complexity and variety in nature. Considering the fact, the current study attempts to analyse the training and development issues of Woolworths that is affecting the overall performance of the firm in its global operation.

Analysing the current HRM issue of Woolworths Limited:

Although Woolworths Limited attempts to formalise the existing knowledge of the employees for meeting higher business goals, it has been given below rates based upon the employee development plan. In this context, Chan (2013) stated that the training collaboration with TAFE had enabled the firm, ensuring natural knowledge management approach relevant to the operational model of the company. On the contrary, the job roles and the confidence among the employees are given lesser priority as compared to the other organisation. The past employee review also states that the firm lacks from cross-cultural training and warehouse management training (Hutchings, and De Cieri, 2007). Due to this, the majority of the trades assistant of the Brisbane, Queensland Brand fails to manage diversified customer requirements.

Thus, evaluating the current HRM practices of the Woolworths, the current HRM issues can be segregated as follows:

  • The lack of self-learning scope for the employees
  • Poor prioritisation of cross cultural training program for the development of communication skills
  • Lack of nonverbal communication program creates communication issues with the cross culturally diversified workforce and the customers as well.
  • Issues with the cash handing training program and the changing methods of stock control.
  • The employees state that increase use of IT is not at par with the current training and development program of Woolworths.

Detailed descriptions of the training and development issue:

Lack of self-learning and health and safety training:

The budget formulated for the HR training and development program does not include a self-learning process for the employees. Although more than 660,000 courses had been undertaken by the employees across 845 courses, there is a lack of alignment between actual need with the class module (, 2016). On the contrary, McGrath-Champ et al. (2011) argued and stated that Woolworths encourages networking for the employees to drive the employee performance. However, Chan (2013) also criticised the view and indicated that the mentoring for employee development is based upon the future management and leadership roles. This lacks from the employee own developmental choices. Additionally, the lack of health & safety training has also generated significant health and security issues among the workers operating in the retail floors.

  • A lesser degree of cross cultural training:

The sustainability report of Woolworths Limited indicates that the majority of the investment is made in the training and development for building future leaders and managers of each supermarket store. It has been evaluated that the functional training employed by Woolworths has successfully improved the employee knowledge regarding the team building approaches and meeting the organisational goals(, 2016). On the other hand, the lack of cross-cultural training program, creating misunderstanding with the diversified workforce as well. Eventually, the reduced trust among the workers is failing to meet the customer satisfaction ratio. Thus, the overall brand performance gets reduced.

  • Cash handing and stock control training program issue:

The need of developing training programs in the new areas such as store security, quick cash handling mechanism, and stock control program has emerged in the global retail sector. It has been identified that increased use of IT has changed the mechanism of a point of sales entry system. The employee review also indicates that more than 20% employee lack of reading spreadsheets. From the website (2016), it has been identified that a majority of the employees is facing cash handling issues and stock control training program. Eventually, the overall job performance, reduces, which significantly impact on the overall growth of the firm.

  • Lack of nonverbal and diversified training to cope up with the changing demands:

The lack of non-verbal communication training has failed to enable employees to maintain the non-verbal communication strategy with the customers and diversified workforce. Also, the lack of IT training across all hierarchical levels fails to meet the changing demands of the firm in its international business operation (Donnelly, 2009). The finance report published by Rebecca Hyam and Thuy Ong on 26th February 2016 indicates that Woolworths says almost $1 billion loss in the half year results (, 2016). The in-depth analysis suggests that the lack of overall operational goal and training & development program have generated demotivation, which again created mass employee turnovers. Eventually, the firm failed to meet the projected business value in the last financial quarter (Cadman, 2013).

Need of improving the issue:

Analysing the current scenario of Woolworths, it can be stated that employees are more concerned regarding the job specifications as the more than 65% training module covers the job-related learning program. The apprenticeship program and induction are also found satisfactory as well (, 2015). The only thing which deviates from the benchmark industry practices is the employee self-learning, training in new technological skills, and the improvement of the communication process as well.

  • More than 40% training module needs be conducted on handing new technologies. It could increase the operational process of the firm, thereby improving the customer satisfaction ratio.
  • Soft and generic skills need to be conducted by more than 45% to satisfy the local and international customers as per the requirements. Thus, the firm could attain greater business profitability.
  • Self-learning program could improve the analytical and logical thought process of the employees. Thus, cope up with the future challenges could become easier for the Woolworths Limited.

Case for change:


Name of the field

Changed justification

Step 1


The change needs to be initiated in the context of Human Resource Management in Woolworths. According to Diamantidis and Chatzoglou (2014), Woolworths had emphasised on the professional efficacy, thus, needs to reformulate its training program.

Step 2


The employee proficiency and behaviour would change. The self confidence amongst the employees would enhance automatically, which would reflect a positively impact on the organisational productivity.

Step 3


· Involving the managers to attend the training session

· Reward performing employees

· Offerings of the personal development training

· Reconstructing the employees with tech based training

Step 4


The change would facilitate the firm to increase the expertise of the employees. The implementation of the change process would be a smart initiative to motivate the employees to increase the commitment.

Step 5


In case the employees fail to provide the acute contribution towards the firm (Katsimi, 2008). The probability of customers’ and employees’ switching rate would increase automatically.

Step 6


The employees would be expected to get aligned with the organisational objectives (Dysvik and Kuvaas, 2008). Therefore, proficient and professional behaviour would be expected, which would make a positive contribution wards organisational productivity.

Comparing the current practices with an industry best practice:

In the framework of the current context, Lancaster and Di Milia (2014) determined that the training and development structure of Woolworths have been designed to equip the expertise of the internal employees. The training department makes use of the rigorous assessment process to recognise and develop the efficacy amongst the employees to adjust he frequency of the functional transformation. The statistics of the previous report forecast that the employees in the retail industry are demanding for the personal development training program to enhance the self-analytical skills. The above effort would not only increase the professional proficiency. Considering the opinion of Mandhanya (2015), the modern trade had been developing with a rapid speed. Therefore, the expectations of the customers and product selection preferences are getting differed with time. The sudden change demands the personal operating internally to enhance the skill set measures to match up with the external situation.

In the similar circumference, Menezes and Vieira (2008) asserted that Woolworths have been highly efficient in providing the profile based training to the employees of all the departments. However, the employees are of the opinion that the profile based training would be effective when the staffs would enable to improve the personal development skills (, 2016). The sales executives are the spokesperson of the enterprise. Therefore, the sales executives majorly receive the training to mitigate the target pressure. Conversely, the sales executives are highly necessitated to increase the self-expertise to understand the behavioural aspects of the customers of diversified culture. Hence, the foundations of the employees are not effectually strong to handle to changing preferences of the external scenario. Therefore, the management of Woolworths, Australia is highly necessitated to conduct the personal development program to remould the personal laggings to effectually deliver the professional requirements.

Moreover, with the continuation of the latter statement, Tarique (2014) inferred that the competitors like Tesco, ASDA and Aldi had identified the internal flaws of the organisation. Based on which, each of the existing as well as the new employees receive the training session from utilising the training technique to the optimum level. According to Mahdavi et al. (2014), the management of Tesco had constructively formulated the training and development plan, which includes both the personal and professional enhancement schedule of the employees. Alignment of both the perspectives in the training module had facilitated Tesco to address the expertise of the employees within short time tenure. Thus, it had helped the brand to amplify the functional requirement within a minimal expenditure. However, the marketing measures of Woolworths are highly lucrative, yet, the lack of efficacy amongst the internal employees had been the major constraints of the enterprise. The marketing efforts have been standardised with the support of the PR experts, which encourage a huge base of prospective customers towards Woolworths’ products.

However, the lacks of confidence amongst the internal employees are creating hindrance towards the organisational depicted revenue figure. In the similar background, Mandhanya (2015) determined that the employees of Woolworths are unable to match up the time fluctuation. The management had been experimenting with a different functional process to enhance the revenue margin. Conversely, the employees have already got accustomed to the certain organisational culture, whereas, a sudden change in the overall process is enforcing the employees to handle the job responsibilities in a different process. Consequently, due to the lack of training facilities, the employees of Woolworths are failing to adapt the changing criterions, due to which the outcomes of the delivered result gets negative. The lack of efficacies is enforcing the employees to invest huge tenure of time to redo the existing work.

Recommendations for improving the changes in training and development activity:

The recommendations have discussed below:

Involving the managers to attend the training session

According to Pierce and Maurer (2009), it is highly essential to involve the departmental managers into the training session. The managers are majorly responsible for the job allocation process. Therefore, the concerned persons are necessitated to understand the potency as well as the individual laggings of the employees. The new employees of Woolworths require the personal guidance of the managers concerning the work profile (, 2016). Therefore, the training module needs to include the managerial training techniques, which would enact be a guiding initiatives for the managers to provide the corrective guidance to its subordinates.

Reward performing employees

The newly trained employees get back to the workstations with increased confidence, renewed enthusiasm and high levels of competency. However, Mandhanya (2015) claimed that with a passing phase of time, the employees fail to apply the similar level of dedication towards the work profile. The specific action occurs due to the lack of permanent motivation. Therefore, the trainers of Woolworths need to have the permission of discussing the reward facilities with the employees. In the training classes, the employees remain in a relaxed mood, which increases the scope of conducting an interactive session (, 2016). Thus, the reward facility discussion in the training session would be a smart policy to imbibe the reward criteria and its benefits amongst the staffs.

Offerings of the personal development training

In the framework of the existing context, Diamantidis and Chatzoglou (2014) denoted that the personal growth training automatically enhances the foundation of the employees. The particular approach would facilitate the employees to rebuild the individual expertise, which would be a smart initiative to emphasise on the professional development. The majority of Woolworths’ employees have to undergo the cross-cultural training as well. Consequently, the employees have failed to understand the sentiment and the professional expectations of the employees of diversified cultures. Therefore, the cultural gap in the similar enterprise had been the primary constraints that prevent the firm attaining the depicted profit margin.

Reconstructing the employees with tech-based training

The technical process is no more limited to the IT department of a firm. Indifferent organisations are converting the manual operating modules to the ERP process to track on the vast amount of database. However, the employees I n Woolworths had experienced a huge challenge to convert the operational process into the ERP system (, 2016). Hence, the employees require the training in the technological genre to implement the technical understandings.


The study emphasises on human resource management issues the enterprises are experiencing in the Australian market. To understand the HRM scenario of the Australian retail market, the study had evaluated in the HRM function of Woolworths. Analysing on the internal situation of the firm, a conclusion can be derived that Woolworths have been efficient in providing the profession training to its internal members. However, the brand had lacked to include the modules that improve the individual proficiencies amongst the staffs. Therefore, the management needs to reformulate the training module to include the personal development plan as well.


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