Human resource is an important aspect of each and every organization, whether they are located in Australia or any other part of the world. Through the effective HR practices, the company is able to attain and retain talent, keep the employees motivated and keep the engagement levels of employee high (Price, 2011). Woolworths is a leading company of Australia, and is constantly working towards adoption of different HR practices and keeping the employee engagement levels high. In the following parts, the HR practices adopted by Woolworths, along with the steps taken by the company for enhancing the engagement levels have been defined. Along with this, some new initiatives have been presented here, through which the engagement levels of the employees of Woolworths can be improved upon.
Woolworths is amongst the leading companies in the nation, which caters in the retailing industry. The company is considered as the second largest one in terms of its revenue and is only behind Wesfarmers Limited. The company has been listed on the Australian Securities Exchange for over 21 years (ASX, 2017).
The company has attained second rank out of 2000 companies in Australia. The majority of income of the company is attributed to supermarkets and grocery stores. And for 2016, the company generated sales and revenue amounting to $58,563,300,000 (IBIS, 2016). The average growth rate of the company is 10.50% (Financial Times, 2017).
The management structure of the company is summarized below.
The vision and mission of the company is aligned with its strategy of putting its customers at the first position. The vision is to assist the people of Australia in living big for less. And the mission is to attain its top five priorities (Woolworths Group, 2017a).
In Australia and New Zealand, for 2016, the company had 205,000 employees and this included such employees which were enrolled in the subsidiaries of the company. The company also has strength of 2,200 indigenous people and the number of young employees is 79,000 (Woolworths Group, 2016).
The company has its branches in the nation, as well as, in New Zealand (Reuters, 2017). The company is the second largest company in both Australia and New Zealand. And the global headquarter of the company is at Bella Vista, New South Wales, Australia (Woolworths Group, 2017b)
The Divisional Director for HR of the company, Matt Keogh was interviewed to highlight the HR strategies of the company. Before establishing the HR strategies for the company, the company has identified its biggest challenge, which is related to attaining and retaining talent of skills and talent. The company also identified its leading capability, which is its innovation and quality. In order to deal with the challenges, the company formulated HR strategy for establishing leading employee value proposition which would help in attracting and retaining the best talent by making certain that the workforce is not only inspired, but is also committed towards the strategic plans and the vision of the company (Eeden, 2017).
In an interview conducted, where the employees of Woolworths, Aldi and Coldes were interviewed, the working life at the Australian Supermarkets was highlighted. Majority of the former and the current employees stated that they enjoyed their roles, even when some highlighted that there were highly strict demands, unpaid overtime, backbreaking labor and heavy lifting. In this interview, it had been revealed that a major contribution was made by the company towards the economy and employment. And that it is a role where the young Australians get their first job, which acts as a launch pad for their successful careers (Tran, 2015).
Employee engagement refers to such a property of relationship which is between the employees and the organization. When an employee is engaged they are fully able to absorb and be enthusiastic about their work, which leads to actions being taken towards the interests and reputation of the organization. When the employee engagement levels are high, the employee outperforms; and when this low, the employees are not motivated towards performing exceptionally well (Bridger, 2014).
For the Woolworths Limited, an employee engagement survey was conducted, in which the company attained participation at the rate of 80% and it also obtained an overall engagement score of 66%. However, this had a decline by 2% in comparison to the last year. And another problem is that this result fell below the industry standards and the leaders of the company are continuing to work with its employees, in order to understand the manner in which employee engagement can be increased and to understand the manner in which the company can be made a great place to work, for the employees (Woolworths Group, 2015).
As it has been identified that the employee engagement for 2015 for Woolworths fell down by 2% in comparison to 2014, it highlights the need for the company to invest their time, efforts and take initiatives to contribute towards the success of the business (Woolworths Group, 2015). This would give them a sense of purpose in their roles; bring energy, passion and enthusiasm to do the work. By the use of these techniques, the employee engagement can be boosted for the company.
The first and foremost initiative which needs to be adopted is to make certain that there is an inspiring leadership.
There is a need for a hands-on, competent and passionate leadership for the employee engagement. By showing that the leader is genuinely interested in the employee and by investing time in knowing their aspirations and needs can help in spreading the message that the employee is valued (Page, 2015). This is aligned with the expectancy theory where the employees act in a particular manner when they feel motivated. So, when the employee is motivated through their leader, they would want to work in a better matter and be motivated towards attainment of company goals (DuBrin, 2008).
The expectancy theory, when aligned with strong leadership, would push the employees in performing better as the leader would push them to attain the objectives set out for them. This would in turn increase the engagement levels of the employees.
The next step towards employee engagement is to provide the employees with the opportunity of growing.
When the staff feels underused, they get disengaged. When the employees are given the opportunity to use their skills in an adequate manner, they remain engaged and are also encouraged to stretch their skills so as to progress (Page, 2015). This initiative is aligned with the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Under this model, the employees are said to have certain needs, which help them in being motivated (Rakowski, 2011). The esteem needs under this model require the feeling of accomplishment for the employee and only when they are given the opportunity to progress, can they feel accomplished (Maslow, 2013).
(Source: McLeod, 2007)
When the employees are given the opportunity to grow, their esteem needs would be satisfied, which would help the employee in moving over the next step; and would also motivate the other employees, to stay engaged in order to get such growth opportunities.
Another helpful initiative in this regard is finding the way of recognizing and rewarding the employees.
In order for the employees to be engaged towards performing ell and giving their best, they need to know that their efforts would be rewarded and recognized (Page, 2015). This is not only aligned with the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but is also aligned with the incentive theory of motivation. This theory involves a combination of positive reinforcement, conditioning and homeostasis. Under this theory, the employee is rewarded when they work better (Explorable, 2017).
When the employee would be awarded for their efforts, they would automatically become more engaged in the workplace and this, in turn, would garner attainment of objectives for the company.
On the basis of the discussion carried above, it can be concluded that even though Woolworths is a leading company in Australia, it is facing employee engagement related issues. The company is growing constantly and yet some of its employees have been dissatisfied about the working in the company. And for these purposes, there is a need for the company to adopt some new initiatives, so that the employees can be engaged and the goals of the company can be attained. Hence, it is recommended to Woolworths to adopt the three initiatives which have been stated here, as these are aligned with famous theories, which substantiate their efficiency
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Tran, C. (2015) Backbreaking labour, unpaid overtime and strict managers: Coles, Woolworths and Aldi staff reveal what it's REALLY like to work at Australia's biggest supermarkets. [Online] Daily Mail Online. Available from: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3313134/Employees-reveal-problems-faced-Coles-Woolworths-Aldi-staff.html [Accessed on: 03/08/17]
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Woolworths Group. (2017a) Strategy and objectives. [Online] Woolworths Group. Available from: https://www.woolworthsgroup.com.au/page/about-us/our-approach/strategy-and-objectives [Accessed on: 03/08/17]
Woolworths Group. (2017b) Contact Information. [Online] Woolworths Group. Available from: https://www.woolworthsgroup.com.au/page/contact-us/contact-information [Accessed on: 03/08/17]
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