Tescos HR policy about their training and development system
This section of the paper will discuss Tesco's approach to HR and compare this to current thinking.
Recognition of the importance of HR in the UK has increased in recent years; this is a result of competition from overseas economies. In countries for example Japan, Germany and Sweden investment in employee development is higher that the UK. This has led to some organisations reviewing their policies on training introducing continuous investment in their employees (Beardwell, I et al 2004).
There are elementary differences in the approach to HR. Storey (1987) discussed these as 'hard' and `soft' versions of HRM The 'hard' version places little emphasis on workers' concerns and, therefore, within its concept, any judgments of the effectiveness of HRM would be based on business performance criteria only. In contrast, 'soft' HRM, while also having business performance as its primary concern, would be more likely to advocate a parallel concern for workers' outcomes (Storey cited in Guest, D. 1999).
The appearance of knowledge based economies, has deep implications for the factors of growth, the organisation of production and its effect on employment and skill requirements. This may call for new directions in industry related government policies. The prime minister stated that "education is the best economic policy we have. That through the policy of lifelong learning the UK would have the knowledge to compete in the new economy (Tony Blair PM (1998) DTI White Paper). Tesco's have exceeded the government's expectations for learning, having introduced training as a strategic advantage.
It is argued that organisations require new skills to survive; the new thinking is based on complexity and chaos theory. Organisations are viewed as self-regulating, emergent, open, whole systems. This contrasts the metaphor of organisations being machines to that of organisations as living systems (Capra (2002) cited in Nixon 2004:58).
Tescos have strategically integrated HR into their overall plans. Managers have been to utilise aspects of HR in their decision making. This has shown high commitment to HR, attempting to gain acceptance from all employees, and offering to all employees basic and extended training (Beardwell I 2004). The big picture of Tesco's strategic direction is discussed with all employees. This helps the individual employee to understand their role and importance within the organisation. Therefore, they place a high value on their human resource.
There has been an increase in training within the organisation; all employees now receive more training than before. This is a result of the HR department taking a strategic role. HR is not an administrative department within Tesco; they are proactive and are on the strategic level of the organisation. This increase in training priority has been supported by a rise in Human Resource Management. This practice emphasises that increased growth can only be maintained in the long run; by equipping the work force with the skills they need to complete their tasks (Mullins, L. 2005).
Strategic HRM has gained both credibility and popularity over the past decade, specifically with respect to its impact on organisational performance (Paauwe, J & Boselie P. 2003). Each employee is considered a part of the overall strategy; therefore they are instructed on the importance of their role. This training is delivered in a way that encompasses all learning skills and allows for cultural difference.
There is an increased need for a higher value to be placed on employees, and therefore get the best performance from the employees. According to Delany (2001) successful organisations keep people issues at the fore front of their thinking and at the core of their decision making and planning. Delany adds organisations that get the people things right are the organisations likely to be around in the future (Delany (2001) cited in Mullins, L. 2005:748). Being the largest Private employer in the UK Tesco takes this responsibility seriously, this is demonstrated through their training and development policy. This has exceeded the government's recommendations for training of the individual and the move towards a learning society.
For HR to succeed it must take on a proactive role within the organisation. Strategic HR creates value by providing opportunities for organic learning, development of intellectual capital and enhances core competencies. This value is crucial to the organisation's future success (Treen, D. 2000). Employers are increasing extorting the best possible performance from employees. Best practice will increase the skills of the current workforce, and with recruiting it will reinforce the culture of a highly skilled work force (Mullins, L. 2005).
Reinforcing learning within in an organisations, requires what Hawkins (1994) called "a change at the heart this change is in the understanding of learning, a shift from viewing learning as being abrupt facts to learning as a more multi-faceted and dynamic process" (Hawkins, P 1994:9). This learning environment with Tescos has been extended to encompass all aspects of the work environment.
The learning process has been challenged to create a culture that allows continual learning throughout the organisation. As knowledge is what matters, organisations and individuals alike must become continuous learners (Hawkins, P 1994). The organisation runs an academy that recognises skills in the individual. The training is identified from core, operational and leadership skills. All employees can access the core skills. These development programmes are tailored to the individual's skill level. The delivery method for the training is varied, allowing for the individuals learning preference.
Tesco's operate within a fiercely competitive sector, using a human resource led business strategy, has help to place them in the number one position. This is only sustainable if the strategy is on going, with competitors actions monitored for any changes (Mullins, L. 2005). To fully exploit the wealth of knowledge contained within an organisation, it must be realised that it is in human resource management that the most significant advances will be made. As a result, the human resource department must be made a central figure in an organisation's strategy to establish a knowledge basis for its operations (Armstrong, M 2005).
The principal function of any organisation is to increase the value of the business and therefore enhance the wealth of its Owner(s). This is obtained by efficient use of the limited resources available to them (T Blackwood, 1995). Garrick (1998) discussed that training inextricably linked to market economics, that "knowledge is prized in so far as it can generate a market advantage(Garrick 1998:5). This leads to the assumption that though training and developing employees, it can give the organisation advantage, increasing profit
HR and training literatures highlights the organisational benefits to be gained from adopting a systematic approach to HRD, therefore the ongoing development of employees' skills underpins the wider business objectives (Keep, E 1989). This systematic approach to training often includes models that identifying needs, planning, delivery and evaluation. Harrison developed an eight stage model to identify monitor and evaluate training. The evaluation stage is possibly the most problematic part of the training process (Reid, M and Barrington, H 1997). The organisation has seen the advantages that training can give, and has fully incorporated this into their business. The process of training is formalised through recognition of the need and continual review.
Organisations no longer offer a job for life there is no longer guaranteed employment, with a pension as a reward for loyalty and compliance. The "psychological contract" between employer and employee has shifted. Employees are increasingly mobile, changing employment for promotion, reward and job satisfaction; top employees have more choice as to where to work. To retain these key employees the organisations culture needs to allow an environment of personal growth (Harrison, R 2002).
With less job security, the best reward an organisation can give an employee is transferable skills (Marchington M & Wilkinson, A 1997). With the changing employment market, employees feel less job security and are taking more responsibility for their career paths. The skills they are taught within Tesco's could be transferable; therefore in the long run they could benefit competitors. Although the benefits of training the work force exceed the disadvantages, this employee mobility should not be ignored.
Their every little helps slogan is easily recognised by the customer, but is also built in to the training program. This slogan is part of the ethos and culture that is Tesco. The organisation surveys their employees to gauge motivation and to identify training which employees require. This goes further than just identifying organisational benefits of training. Individuals can plan for the future career. Career development is important to the individual employee (Armstrong, M 2005)
Harrison (2002) noted this as an organised planned effort comprised of structured activities or processes that result in a mutual career-plotting effort between employees and the organisation. This is a central component of the psychological contract that binds the individual to the organisation (Harrison, R 2002). This further complicates the role of the HRD practitioner, balancing organisational needs with the individual's expectations. Some employees will develop their career with one employer, while others require transferable skills. The organisation requires employees with the right skills to ensure and sustain competitive advantage (Armstrong, M 2005)
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