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The learning organization and Woolworths

Case study on The Learning Organization.

The report focuses on diversity management and providing employment opportunities to people with disability. It has discussed the case study of Woolworths and shown how it has optimally utilized variety and involved in disability of service in the business. Woolworths is the biggest supermarket in Australia serving 10 million customers and having around 39.6% market share in Australia. Its primary competitors are Cole having 33.5% market share, ALDI having 10.3% market share and IGA having 9.5% market share. Statistics revealed that it could expect a hike in growth to $34.5 by 2013-14 when the market value of grocery industry estimates $87.2 billion (Spillane et al. 2015). Woolworths being a learning organization continuously focusing on new ideas and amalgamating new changes in the structure (Donate et al.,2015). It has incorporated diversity management to develop new thoughts and implement changes to bring growth in the organization. Hence, it has employed people from Australia's vast, varied workforce, had identified women talent by promoting them to senior positions. It has initiated disability employment programs in the store to minimize the discrimination regarding invalidity. Therefore, its strategic human resource policy has concentrated on diversity management and job design to train the employee to gain the knowledge and skills to perform all the parts of the job with authority and accountability. In addition to this, the company has given importance to reward and compensation system and help employees to identify new skills and talent for the advancement of the company and achieve higher pay and rewards. The employees who have undergone the broad range of skill development training programs have developed problem solving skills and the competency required to perform a particular job and therefore get job satisfaction, which leads to high performance and productivity (Senge, 2014).

An education group refers to that organization that ensures the knowledge of every employee and develops new ideas in the organization. Learning organization gathers knowledge through experiment and quite innovative to acquire new ideas and thoughts in a fast changing environment characterized by dynamism and adaptability. It creates an environment that focuses on the continuous learning of employees, experiment with new ideas and challenges, and inspires critical thinking. It gives value to employee contribution, stimulates learning from experience and research, and includes new ideas in its day-to-day work (Hussein et al., 2014).

Woolworths is committed to continuous development, honesty, and accountability. The company will not indulge in any misconduct under any circumstances and wanted to work collaboratively with the trade partners. It is always experimenting to strength the systems. They have implemented speak up service for the business partners to make the entire system run smoothly. Through speak up service the trade partners have addressed the following things (Gagnon et al., 2015).

  • Corruption and misconduct and threatens others
  • Safety issue related to product
  • Violation of task, practicing restrictive and no permissible trade practices
  • Theft
  • Bribery, secret commission
  • Disclosure of confidential information
  • Harassment and bullying

Woolworth’s continuous development

Woolworths is concentrating on a long-term and mutually beneficial partnership to ensure the customers to get high quality services. They have developed long lasting relationship with suppliers to run the operation smoothly. For instance, the majority of vendors in fresh food segment are working with Woolworths for more than ten years. Woolworths current business plan is focusing on four key strategies develop a strong leadership in food and liquor; build the strategy to maximize shareholders wealth, searching for new avenues to create new businesses, train the employees to cope up with the changes. The company is going through substantial changes to ensure growth so that the customers can be put forward to give more value and provide the customer a better experience than ever before. Since customers are the primary focus of the company, their decisions and shopping behaviors are, affecting the way the company operates the business. The company is responding to the new situation by an emphasis on the new phase of growth and opportunity. The company is putting the consumers at the heart of the business and exploring new ideas for them to give them a better shopping experience (Aggestam, 2015). 

The mobile technology has changed the perception the way the customers view and access the products and a picture of comparative prices around the world. The company has adopted the new technology so that the customers can move effortlessly between the physical and virtual stores to meet their requirement. The company is serving 18 million consumers weekly to retain the client by rewarding their loyalty and has taken a more customer-centric approach (Daft, 2015). By Woolworths Rewards programs, the company gives the opportunity to the members to earn dollars and get more discounts from the shopping as well as provided huge range of promotional offers. Strong research and development team is working effortlessly to formulate the strategy to improve the store chain and to add new features to it to attract more customers, which will surely give a competitive advantage in a long run. The company has arranged a client talkback programs to get the feedback from the customer to understand their needs and therefore provides them the better solution (Armstrong & Taylor, 2014). The company has implemented few changes to get better bag packing, larger bags, and more trolleys and improved the store directory at the same time the enterprise aimed to give better seasonality information for fresh food. The company has implemented feedback system and rewards loyalty programs to provide more importance to the valued members to get a broader perspective of the way the customers shop. So that the company can formulate the action policy and give efforts to improve them like adding the new range of products and increasing the stocks covers in the store at the right time to serve the customer's needs (Langley, 2013).

Adoption of new technology and more customer centric approach

The company has taken the step to innovate the stores that include bringing sushi restaurants to the supermarket, added fish, bag and baked in the store to attract Australia's fish loving people. It has stored Meat Standards Australia beef and lamb that is a standard to guarantee the quality of the food (Cummings & Worley, 2014).

At Woolworths, the strategic human resource management focused on recruiting the right person at the right time to reduce cost and time of the company. It has identified the competency level and the behavioral skills that are required to meet the requirement of the job. The company is searching for those candidates who can complete the task in time with fewer errors, can go extra miles to serve the customer's need and develop core competency to overcome the challenges for the company(Frese & Keith, 2015).

The company's motive is to serve the customers with dignity and honesty. Its recruitment policy comprises of anti- discrimination and equal employment opportunity. The hiring policy strengthens the fact that the company while recruiting will focus on merit ensuring the selection of the right candidate for the job. The company strictly follows the privacy act when dealing with the candidates' personal information and finally all the candidate should be treated professionally to ensure maximum transparency in the selection process. The company encourages the applicants online through Corporate WOW Careers website. The company gives full attention to the online applications to make the recruitment successful. The company informs the selected candidates via emails. Therefore, the candidates can log in their account and can check the status of the application from the website ensuring accountability in the whole recruitment and selection process (Jain & Moreno, 2015).

The company also encourages mentoring the employees for their development. The enterprise has developed Fast Track programs to management and leadership for the employees and targeted to build skilled retailers with the broad range of experience and knowledge in branding in the industry. The aim is to identify the talent and create an inventory of talent pool for future leadership roles. The company has graduate programs, which offers career opportunities to graduate candidates. They have provided on and off job development opportunity and to work on a project (Dekoulou & Trivellas, 2015).

A recent survey has revealed that the company has 38 graduates who have started in 2013 and 68 graduate candidates who have actively participated in the programs. The company employed 2790 trainees and apprentices in 2013. The employees have undertaken 660,000 individual training sessions across 845 courses in 2013, which has revealed that the firm has invested $32.2 million in training the people. The company in association with Macquarie Graduate School of Management runs the academic programs. The programs aim to develop professionals who can go beyond the contemporary business thinking to bring new thought in the company (Cameron & Green, 2015).

Strategy for store innovation

There training and development programs include retail edge program for the full time and part time employees of Woolworths to develop their management and leadership skill. The programs focus on the core skill and retail elements to improve the business. The company is committed to the development of the employees. It has become one of the largest employers to impart training and apprenticeship programs in Australia. Its Fastrack programs for management and leadership development helps the employees in operating stores and distribution center (Pawlowski & Bick, 2015). Their management and leadership development programs aim to move the employees to the managerial level and continuously developing them so that they can undertake the leadership role. Since learning is an important part in Woolworths, so it makes sure, all the new employees have the adequate skills and knowledge to be able to run the operation successfully. All the employees have participated in Supermarket Retailing Level2 as a part of the learning programs. It is designed for the stores which are an online, interactive learning program that deals with customer service, safety and security act, product knowledge and compliance to legal issues. This is applicable for the existing members also to improve their skills (Awino et al., 2016). 

The SHRM focuses on reward and recognition, which reflects employee performance. The company provides the award to an employee when the employee performs well which is a result of training and development, teamwork and collaboration and an increasing sense of responsibility, thus helping the company to evaluate the employee and achieve the performance standard. It contributes to acquiring new skills that are correlated to higher pay. Compensation system comprises of incentives, reward systems which are based on competence and performance achieved through experience and knowledge that an employee applies in the enterprise to meet success (Kersiene & Savaneviciene,2015). The training programs helped the employees to acquire new skills and knowledge and made them eligible to earn rewards ensuring more commitment to the company. When the employee is given more authority and responsibility, they feel more engaged to the company and take the ownership while making a decision on behalf of the company to further the organization's goal. As far as Woolworths is concerned, it has encouraged the employee to come up with innovative ideas and rewarded new ideas in the company. The company has introduced Jack Shewmaker Scholarship after Wal-Mart executive Jack Shewmaker. Jack used to travel in Australia to meet Woolworth’s staff members to advise them and to ensure the best retail practices. Whereas Jack believes that all the decisions related to retailing should center on customer needs and preference (Mohamed, 2015).

Another aspect of SHRM is to incorporate diversity into the work culture by reducing conflicts and discrimination at the workplace, promoting women to higher positions, therefore, respecting women talent and their participation in overcoming challenges in the company. It aims to reduce discrimination against minorities and uplifts equality at a workplace. In the age of globalization, diversity refers to different perspective and ideas that an employee brings to the company. The practice of diversity management stimulates innovation and problem solving skills in the enterprise. A more diverse team regarding age, gender, different cultural background can more actively solve the organizational problems (Grant, 2015).

In the present context, Woolworths has included the diverse workforce of Australia to become more global and to increase the performance. It got recognition for its diverse work culture from AHRI in 2013.   It has taken initiative for disability employment programs to end discrimination in respect of invalidity. It has embraced the challenges for implementing disability employment Programs and identify its positive aspects. It has collaborated with the disability employment officer to focus on the problems and promote knowledge and awareness regarding the disability employment (Lakemond et al., 2016).  

The company should be more innovative regarding articulating new ideas and improving the business. They should develop an action plan and measure the outcome by comparing the difference between expectations and reality. The management should focus on collaboration and put more effort in building leadership qualities in the organization to able to align with the mission and vision of the business.

As Woolworths is concerned, the international human resource manager has to consider many aspects like cultural differences, compensation system, working conditions, and people's expectations and the problems the expats are facing regarding meeting the project requirement while working there. The HR manager should address all these things to ensure a good relationship with the employees to achieve the performance standard and produce the proper result for the company. Minute changes can affect the employee from different cultural background since different cultures have different requirements. Keeping this in mind the SHRM should focus on restructuring the pay and compensation system. 


The researcher reveals the key aspects of diversity and disability employment and has explained how Woolworths being a learning organization facilitate the learning opportunity among employees. Therefore, Woolworths has incorporated diversity management in the work culture and demonstrated how the diverse people have increased productivity and employee motivation of the company. Furthermore, Woolworths has given the effort to implement disability of employment to make a workplace free from discrimination of people from invalidity. A recent survey reveals that people with disability have 31% participation rate as compared with 83% people who are not affected by disability (Woolworths Online 2016).  

Reference List

Aggestam, L. (2015). Learning Organization or Knowledge Management–Which Came First, The Chicken or the Egg?. Information technology and control, 35(3).

Armstrong, M., & Taylor, S. (2014). Armstrong's handbook of human resource management practice. Kogan Page Publishers.

Awino, Z. B., Ambula, R., & K’Obonyo, P. (2016). The Role of Employee Outcomes in the Relationship between Learning Organization and Performance of Large Manufacturing Firms.

Cameron, E., & Green, M. (2015). Making sense of change management: a complete guide to the models, tools and techniques of organizational change. Kogan Page Publishers.

Cummings, T., & Worley, C. (2014). Organization development and change. Cengage learning.

Daft, R. (2015). Organization theory and design. Cengage Learning.

Dekoulou, P., & Trivellas, P. (2015). Measuring the Impact of Learning Organization on Job Satisfaction and Individual Performance in Greek Advertising Sector. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 175, 367-375.

Donate, M. J., & de Pablo, J. D. S. (2015). The role of knowledge-oriented leadership in knowledge management practices and innovation. Journal of Business Research, 68(2), 360-370.

Frese, M., & Keith, N. (2015). Action errors, error management, and learning in organizations. Annual review of psychology, 66, 661-687.

Gagnon, M. P., Payne-Gagnon, J., Fortin, J. P., Paré, G., Côté, J., & Courcy, F. (2015). A learning organization in the service of knowledge management among nurses: A case study. International Journal of Information Management, 35(5), 636-642.

Grant, K. (2015). Knowledge Management: An Enduring but Confusing Fashion. Leading Issues in Knowledge Management, Volume Two, 2, 1.

Hussein, N., Mohamad, A., Noordin, F., & Ishak, N. A. (2014). Learning organization and its effect on organizational performance and organizational innovativeness: A proposed framework for Malaysian Public Institutions of Higher Education. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 130, 299-304.

Jain, A. K., & Moreno, A. (2015). Organizational learning, knowledge management practices and firm’s performance: an empirical study of a heavy engineering firm in India. The Learning Organization, 22(1), 14-39.

Kersiene, K., & Savaneviciene, A. (2015). The Formation and Management of Organizational Competence Based on CrossCultural Perspective.Engineering Economics, 65(5).

Lakemond, N., Bengtsson, L., Laursen, K., & Tell, F. (2016). Match and manage the use of knowledge matching and project management to integrate knowledge in collaborative inbound open innovation. Industrial and Corporate Change, 25(2), 333-352.

Langley, A. N. N., Smallman, C., Tsoukas, H., & Van de Ven, A. H. (2013). Process studies of change in organization and management: unveiling temporality, activity, and flow. Academy of Management Journal, 56(1), 1-13.

Mohamed, S. (2015). Learning organization and employee motivation: a case study of Equity bank, Kenya (Doctoral dissertation, University of Nairobi).

Pawlowski, J. M., & Bick, M. (2015). The global knowledge management framework: Towards a theory for knowledge management in globally distributed settings. Leading Issues in Knowledge Management, Volume Two, 2, 134.

Senge, P. M. (2014). The dance of change: The challenges to sustaining momentum in a learning organization. Crown Business.

Woolworths Online. (2016). Woolworths Supermarket - Buy Groceries Online. 
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