The paper is based on the notion of high commitment human resource management being of much interest in many organizations and research studies recently. The practices of high commitment human resource management are directly linked to high performance in employees resulting to good financial performance, greater productivity, quality service, and good customer relation experience.
High commitment approach in human resource management focuses on increasing productivity and effectiveness by motivating employees to give their best and work towards achievement of organizational strategic goals. The approach revolves around policies that motivate employees and cause them to be committed towards their work. It entails practices such as employee comprehensive training, employee development activities, developmental appraisal, and staff selection among many others. In the recent years, the notion of high commitment human resource management has been of much interest in many organizations and research studies. Based on this premise, the paper provides an underpinned account of the benefits and advantages of using the high commitment approach in an organization. The paper also relates the human resource practices adapted by Starbucks to the practices of high commitment model.
High commitment human resource management has in the recent past been the main focus of research in the field of human resource. The studies have been investigating the relationship between human resources management and the high performance of employees in the workplace. High commitment model of human resource management is needed in organizations for many reasons pertaining to growth. The model creates high motivation in employees especially the ones who get direct contact with customers. Quality customer service leads to customer satisfaction.
The retail industry is known for a long time now that the attitude upon which it has towards employees is not sufficient enough to cause worker satisfaction of their jobs. Frontline employees in the retail industry have direct and regular contact with customers; they therefore play a very important and critical in the success of a business. Despite this fact, most retail companies still fail to treat their employees including the frontline worker in a manner that would yield the best out of them. Starbucks Coffee Company however was different in the way it treated its employees.
The company’s human resource management style fits into the model of high commitment human resource management and used it as a means of sustaining their competitive advantage. It is for this reason that the company never witnessed common problems with the retail industry such as high rate of employee turnover. The work culture in the Starbucks was friendly to employees and was based on policies that satisfied employees. This therefore was the reason for it to thrive in the retail industry. At least there was sustenance in their growth and the company managed to keep a low employee turnover rate, service quality, and good customer relation.
High commitment human resource management model when adopted by organizations can be used to help them move forward, raise customer service level, and be used as a tool for growth. A company can witness increase in their sales volume just by ensuring that employees are treated well and they are motivated to produce their best. There are many other advantages that have been witnessed by companies that adopted the high commitment model of human resource management. These include: high rate of employee retention, low turnover, increase in financial performance, greater productivity, and employee effectiveness and motivation.
These are exactly the same benefits that Starbucks Coffee Company experienced with their use of the high commitment model of human resource management. For a long time the company has always focused a lot of attention on how their employees are treated. The company realized that having a committed and motivated workforce, would help it achieve its strategic goals and experience success in the retail industry. The employees who were hired by the company were recruited on the basis of their ability to work in a team, their adaptability, and their dependability.
High commitment human resource management results in employee commitment. This is essential for organizations since it helps in maintaining employee turnover at lower rates. It encourages behaviors that are geared towards loyalty and good citizenship within an organization. The attachment that employees acquire with organizations as a result of practices of high commitment human resource management ensures that they do get persuaded by any outside opportunity that passes their way. Employees would be emotionally attached to their jobs and stay loyal to the company at least for a long period of time. Turnover cost is usually dear for companies. They end spending unnecessarily on hiring and training new workers. The company will also be expected to incur cost on the old worker. The expenses increase with the rank of payment. Therefore human resource best practices are important in keeping turnover rate down thus helping companies reduce on their cost of turnover.
Measures of loyalty and commitment are numerous and not just limited to turnover rate. Having employees commitment and loyalty would also mean that employees taking pride in their organization. This can extend to defending the organization against criticism. Having employees protect the reputation of their organization is important for public relation. This also leads to an increase in customer base since the reputation of the company among the public is maintained. Behaviors such as whistle blowing are directly influenced by an individual loyalty to an organization. The behavior is a show of citizenship and a sense of ownership in the organization. This is only nurtured using best practices of human resource management.
High commitment approach ensures that employees are at their best. Worker disengagement is one of the factors that lead to high turnover since employees fail to be emotionally attached to their work leading to a reduction in morale. Survey conducted on Starbucks Company employees indicated that the morale rate in employees is very high and most of them were very satisfied with their work while a few others were simply satisfied (Regani, 2005). This means that employees in the company were highly motivated due to the practices of high commitment human resource management. If the morale levels are high among employees in an organization, then the productivity is increased. These two variable correlate as proved by a collection of research findings. The success witnessed in Starbucks Company is a practical example of the relationship between high employee morale and productivity (Regani, 2005).
Practices in human resource in the organization directly affected the organizational culture which eventually was reflected in the company’s overall success. Research conducted on the effect of human resource practices to organizational outcomes suggests that the attitudes and behaviors of employees are directly shaped by systems of human resource management. High commitment human resource management therefore is linked to increase in organizational effectiveness. High commitment practices create a working condition where employees become highly motivated and focused on the goals of the organization. Employees tend to assume that high commitment practices of human resource are a direct show of commitment by the organization to them. They therefore tend to reciprocate the same gesture by being committed to the organization.
Offering employment security is a strategy that can be used for high commitment human resource management. Employees would not easily feel like offering their best ideas and skills to an organization that fails to guarantee them a job security. Employees would also fail to be committed and work hard for an organization if their no guarantee of job security. Job security entails assuring employees of the retention of their jobs irrespective of circumstances. It does not imply employees sticking to the same job for a long time. It means also providing opportunities for career growth and development for employees with the company. This aspect of job security was witnessed in the case of Starbucks Coffee Company. Some employees could work for the company for more than seven years something that was highly uncommon with companies in the retail industry.
High commitment human resource management also ensures that companies only keep a stock of highly skilled and exceptional human resource. This is considered as the best of maintaining competitive advantage over other companies in the industry. Every organization intends to have highly qualified people to help them meet their organizational needs. It is the duty of the human resource management team to ensure that the recruits are perfectly suit for their positions. Besides technical skills and qualification, employers seek to have employees with additional skills that can be used to maximize on productivity. Starbucks Coffee Company had a system where the human resource team was primarily the best. This was supposed to ensure that the team hires the best employees for any available position. There were qualities that the company looked in every employee. These included: their ability to work in a team, their adaptability, and their dependability. These qualities were stated upfront during job postings to ensure that the prospective employees do a self check for the qualities first before making the application.
Highly skilled and exceptional employees are also involved in comprehensive training and development exercises that induce them into the culture of the organization. In order for the training exercises to be comprehensive, the new employees have to be brought to the knowledge of the product or service, their professional expertise polished and be taught to use every other necessary skill needed for their full productivity. Training employee practices were part of Starbuck’s huge investment on human resource development. The company specifically focused on ensuring that the trainees would perform their work efficiently. The training programs at the company were done to both part time and full time recruits. This was one of the few companies in the retail industry to extend this gesture to both part time and full time employees. The training program followed a standard curriculum prepared by experts and commonly used in parts of North America.
Training programs are aimed at indoctrinating workers in the belief system and philosophy of a company as well as exposing them to the service principles. The skill of making coffee was regarded as science at Starbucks. Every employees was expected to mater this art and perfect on it. The training programs were therefore focused on ensuring the new employees familiarize with the art of making coffee as well as having good customer experience.
Another aspect of high commitment human resource management is employee involvement. This entails open communication, team work, and participation in the process of decision making. Open communication as a human resource strategy for motivating workers is important for ensuring that employees feel part of operational matters and are informed of essential issues happening in the organization. Management therefore is expected to be open about issues such as financial performance, organizational strategies, and every operational matter. Team work is a way in which individual workers offer suggestions and build on ideas as a team in order to increase performance. Team work therefore is a essential part of ensuring organizations focus on achieving their goals. Starbucks Company emphasized on this particular skill of team work in its recruitment postings. Employees were expected to work in teams in order to support each other and improve the performance of the organization.
There were three basic skills that employees were taught in order to maintain good basic skill for interpersonal relations. They include: maintaining self esteem, listening and acknowledging, and asking for help (Regani, 2005). Having the ability to work in a team would ensure that employees display these skills during their work experience at the company. Frontline employees received different kind of training from that of management trainees (Regani, 2005). There was no exception when it came to knowledge of company product and services. Even the managers were trained in skill of coffee making and sometimes allowed to work in stores where they would witness first hand interaction with customers.
The other important practice of high commitment human resource management is provision of good fringe benefit programs for all the employees and attractive wage packages. Competitive payment packages for employees are a source of motivation for increased productivity. As stated earlier, when an organization expresses gestures of commitment to its team of employees, then most likely the employees would reciprocate by being committed to their work and giving their best. Starbucks Company was one of the few retail companies that spent a lot of money on employee payment packages. The company’s expenditure on employees was even higher than what it spent on marketing and advertisement.
Status differences need to be reduced in organization in order to achieve high commitment human resource practices. Whether a worker belongs to the lower grade of payment or belongs to the c level management, they all deserve to be treated without obvious show of status differences. The system that ought to be in a work force should be based on principles of egalitarianism or equity among every member. The underlying idea behind reduction of status differences is so as to ensure that every employee feel valued and appreciated. This aspect goes hand in hand with open communication. Once status indifferences is achieved then workers are able to interact with management freely and provide their opinion regarding any issue without fear.
Status indifference at Starbuck was also emphasized. Management and employees were interacting in a free manner. A lot of activities were done in the form of teams with team leaders and supervisors involved. Everyone was treated with respect and dignity. Organizational behaviors were guided using adopted company values. One such value that played a central role in shaping organizational behavior was equality (Regani, 2005). Each employee was not called with their titles or referred by their positions. Employees were called partners irrespective of their level of rank. Low grade employees and high payment grade employees were all referred to with the same name to avoid the issue of rank differences. The idea of referring to employees as partners meant that every employee received the right to own part of the company’s stocks and be part of the team that contributes to the company’s progress. In many other companies, job titles for top c level officials have to be capitalized. However, Starbucks never engaged in this activity (Regani, 2005). The top c level officials and other titles in the mid level management were not capitalized. For instance, instead of referring to ‘CEO and President’, the titles would be referred to as ‘ceo and president’. This was a gesture that no one was more special than the other in the company. Everyone was treated equally (Regani, 2005).
High commitment in human resource management revolves around policies that motivate employees and cause them to be committed towards their work. It entails: employee comprehensive training, employee development activities, developmental appraisal, and staff selection among many others. Recent research conducted on the notion of high commitment human resource management has been focused on how to employee performance with the best practices of the model. The case of Starbucks discussed in this paper has shown that high commitment human resource management indeed creates highly motivated employees who become committed to their work.
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