Sample HR Management Paper on Strategic Human Resource Management

Strategic Human Resource Management

An essential concept in organizations today is strategic human resource management (HRM). According to Holbeche (2008), the primary objective of strategic HRM is to bridge business strategy while focusing on how HR is integrated with the business and its environment. Given its complexity, arriving at a helpful and neat all-encompassing definition of strategic HRM is important. Many scholars have come up with explanations of the concept most of which stress the importance of a close correlation between business strategy and HR. Armstrong (2008) defines strategic HRM as an approach to developing and implementing HR strategies, which are often integrated with business strategies and allow the business or organization to achieve its set goals and objectives. Millmore (2007) highlights some of the major principles of strategic HRM including an emphasis on how personnel policies are integrated to form a coherent package and with business planning, responsibility for personnel management moving from specialist managers to senior line management, shifting focus from management-trade union relations to management-employee relations, as well as the emphasis on commitment and the exercise of initiative where managers become enablers and facilitators. Strategic HRM is part of every organization’s operations. This paper focuses on how important the concept is and the various aspects surrounding its application at Walmart Inc.

Walmart Inc. Profile

Walmart Inc., formerly known as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., was incorporated in October 1969. The company engages in the operation of retail, wholesale, and other units available in various formats worldwide. One of the company’s segments, Walmart U.S., operates within the U.S. both in physical retail stores and digital retail. The Walmart International segment handles the company’s retail operations outside the U.S. whereas the Sam’s Club segment handles club membership for individuals. Overall, Walmart has around 11,600 stores operating under 59 banners in about 28 countries with e-commerce websites found in 11 countries (Lombardo, 2015). Walmart operates under a hierarchical functional organizational structure with hierarchy and function-based features. The feature on hierarchy focuses on the vertical lines of command and the influence present throughout the organization’s structure (Lombardo, 2015). For instance, with the exception of the chief executive, all employees report to a superior implying that directions and instructions follow the top-down structure.

Concerning the function-based feature, groups of employees are assigned various duties most of which are monitored at departmental levels. Some of the departments at the company are the HR, marketing, and technology departments (Lombardo, 2015). Walmart’s organizational culture invests in quality service delivery to customers, striving for excellence in every operation or activity undertaken, having respect for other employees and customers, and acting with integrity. Lombardo (2015) argues that the organization prioritizes customers in its operations and activities, recognizes and respects the contributions of every employee toward the success of the company, strives for excellence in respect to individual, team, and organizational performance, and promotes the virtues of fairness, honesty, and impartiality in every decision-making process with the aim of maintaining integrity.

Importance of Strategic HRM in Walmart

Strategic HRM at Walmart is important as it has created good working conditions for the workforce. It has also created a team-spirit and ensured fair competition that have been integral to the achievement of organizational objectives. With more than 1.6 million associates (staff), strategic HRM plays a crucial role at Walmart. Concerning fair competition, strategic HRM has seen Walmart’s employees do everything possible to hold down costs. In the event the company succeeds in cutting costs or lowering its expenses, a significant percentage of the savings are passed along to customers. The outcome is that the company puts considerable pressure on its competitors. Concerning high perspective teamwork, strategic HRM at Walmart stresses the empowerment of the workforce, learning and improvement initiatives for the workforce, as well as employees enjoying ownership that set the stage for synergistic teamwork. In fact, the company’s teams are known to be highly productive. Moreover, with strategic HRM in place, Walmart has managed to build low-cost leadership on employment policies. This has helped the company when it comes to achieving extraordinarily low employment costs and maintaining predominance and competitive advantage.

The Purpose of Strategic HRM Activities in Walmart

The effectiveness of strategic HRM activities in any organization can be maximized by being linked to the available HR strategies. How important human resource strategies are to an organization can be determined by how strategic HRM activities are conducted (Oppong, 2017). Some of the strategic HRM activities in Walmart are job design, selection, recruitment, performance management, retention and separation, compensation, as well as employee training (Oppong, 2017). Thompson (2018) supposes that job design at Walmart is a responsibility of the human resource management that develops designs including those for sales supervisors, sales personnel, store managers, sales managers, and others. With job designing, the company can receive feedback from every level of operation about how its activities are. Also, job designing at Walmart has helped to motivate employees. Walmart, during its hiring processes, implements distinct strategies such as having candidates recruited directly at localities, online recruitment, and conducting the exercise across academic institutions. It also relies on referral to get qualified applicants for various job positions (Thompson, 2018). The purpose of Walmart’s recruitment activity is to have diverse and able employees who can deal with and meet the needs of the diverse population of customers.

The Contribution of Strategic HRM To the Achievement of Walmart’s Objectives

Bergdahl and Vindhya (2010) argue that employees are a common organizational bridge that connects Walmart’s strategies and tactics to achieve set organizational goals and objectives. However, Walmart can achieve its objectives by emphasizing the alignment of business strategies with strategic HRM. Strategic HRM helps to protect Walmart’s price and competitive advantage because it focuses on employees doing everything possible to hold down costs and put pressure on competitors. Strategic HRM at Walmart stresses the empowerment of the workforce, learning and improvement initiatives for the workforce, as well as employees enjoying ownership that help to achieve the desired operational success (Bergdahl & Vindhya, 2010). Moreover, in the long-term, Walmart is committed to having a good culture that can facilitate business success. Walmart’s culture is carefully maintained and monitored by strategic HRM that identifies opportunities that are used in the elimination of business risks.

Business Factors That Underpin HR Planning at Walmart

The HR planning in an organization is majorly influenced by a wide range of external factors. The fact that various external factors bound every organization means that it must comply with these factors. One of the business factors underpinning HR planning at Walmart is technological change (Saiyadain, 2009). With the world undergoing rapid technological change, it has become essential for organizations to update their processes and embrace technology continually. Walmart, for instance, has adopted automatic controls that handle various human processes effectively. This has helped the company to reduce numerous issues related to skills encountered previously. Economic factors also underpin HR planning at Walmart some of which include import restrictions, transfer curtailment, high taxation rates, high inflation rates, economic recession, and others (Saiyadain, 2009). Most of these factors result in the reduction or shortages of jobs, which affect Walmart’s HR planning processes. The firm’s HR planning is also affected by various social factors including unemployment and underemployment. Similar to other organizations, Walmart’s focuses on growing employment opportunities and establishing pressure from the public. How Walmart responds to these social factors plays a crucial role when it comes to determining the security and increasing the commitment of existing employees.

Human Resource Requirements for Walmart

Given the mentioned factors impacting Walmart’s HR planning, the company must focus on its human resource requirements. Consequently, the company is able to fully evaluate the potential of the current workforce. Martin (2009) proposes that one of the HR requirements for Walmart is the recognition of the requirements of the workforce. In this regard, the company must be in a position to determine the knowledge, experience, and skills of its workforce. To meet the needs of the workforce, Walmart must first determine the number of its staff and ensure that the reservoir of the human resources comes into play when needed. Another HR requirement for Walmart is counterbalancing change and insecurity. To remain competitive, Walmart must adequately utilize its human and non-human resources. One of the expectations is that the company could find adequate or inadequate resources that would prompt effecting planning for various changes and uncertainties.

Human Resource Plan for Walmart

A human resource plan for Walmart can focus on various aspects such as supply and demand forecasting, recruitment and selection, training and development, performance appraisal, as well as compensation and benefits for the workforce. Concerning supply and demand forecasting, the company should focus on determining the influx or outflow rate of employees using the workforce planning methodology. Through this process, the company will be able to cross-check the skills, knowledge, and expertise of its current employees and decide whether training is needed for the development of employees or not. In fact, the process would allow the company’s management to identify the gaps between employee skills and their various jobs. Recruitment and selection are among the strategic HRM activities at Walmart. To improve its recruitment and selection strategy, Walmart can settle for online applications whereby people interested in various positions apply for the same through the company’s website. It should also Telephone interviews are also recommended by the company. Here, the company contacts the most suitable candidate that they believe holds the required criteria for a specific position. Also, through telephone interviews, it is possible to know about their applicant’s previous jobs, roles, or responsibilities. The company should also embrace background and reference checks during recruitment and selection. Walmart’s training and development can be achieved through job rotation, coaching, mentoring, shadowing, induction training, and apprenticeships.

Meeting Walmart’s Objectives through a HR Plan

The HR plan mentioned above can meet Walmart’s objectives in various ways. The plan focuses on how the company can effectively recruit and select new employees, and thus, it contributes to the careful selection of new employees based primarily on the qualification and how they meet various organizational requirements. Also, the above HR plan reveals new employees’ capability to adapt to the new workplace. With the HR plan, there is the likelihood that the activities of the company’s HR department will be supported. The company will ensure the effective arrangement of its workforce, a move that could see Walmart have a decent working environment thereby boosting competitiveness.

The Purpose of HRM Policies at Walmart

Any organization’s HR department is responsible for coming up with various procedures and policies that guide the organization’s activities and operations and ensure that employment-related matters are in line with the organization’s philosophy. One of the significant purposes of Walmart’s HRM policies is that they help to define the rules, roles, and behaviors expected of employees alongside availing the necessary resources and equipment for employees to effectively handle their responsibilities. Second, HRM policies at Walmart provide a working environment for the employees. It should be noted that the absence of specific policies such as those guiding the discipline of employees, performance expectations, working hours, and employee safety could be disastrous to organizations (Paauwe, Guest, & Wright, 2013). Third, Walmart’s HRM policies and procedures ensure equal job opportunity and fair treatment of the workforce. The company’s policies emphasize that employees are remunerated and rewarded according to their performance levels, which reduces incidences of bias or unfair treatment (Paauwe, Guest, & Wright, 2013). Moreover, scrutiny of Walmart’s HRM policies and procedures enable it to determine whether the workforce lives up to expectations, as well as the various perspectives that do not work well for the company.

The Impact of Regulatory Requirements on HR Policies at Walmart

Every organization’s HRM must comply with all the regulatory requirements or legislation from employment to health to safety applicable to the jurisdiction where the organization operates. One of the reasons for complying with regulatory requirements is to ensure that an organization avoids costly penalties or closure in worst cases (Odina, 2017). Regulatory requirements set and implemented by various authorities including federal, state, and local governments have had significant impacts on Walmart’s HR policies (Odina, 2017). For instance, Walmart’s payment and remuneration systems do everything possible to comply with legislation such as the Equal Remuneration Act of 197 6(Odina, 2017). Besides, discrimination is based on the legal requirements. Also, the firm’s HR department emphasizes the need to uphold fair and equal right for all genders, cultures, sexes, and races. There are legislations such as the Employment Rights Act of 1996 and 1997 that have significant influence on and determine how Walmart handles matters related to the discrimination against the workforce (Odina, 2017).

Impact of Walmart’s Structure on the Management of Human Resources

A company’s structure impacts various aspects including growth and management of human resources. An effective organizational structure creates a perfect working climate and environment, which, in turn, positively influence the operations of the workforce. Clemmer (2003) postulates that an organization’s structure has a significant impact on performance. According to Johari and Yahya (2009), organizational structure has significant effects on an organization’s competency and processes including the management of human resources. Walmart has a hierarchical functional organizational structure with hierarchy and function-based features (Lombardo, 2015). The hierarchy feature focuses on the vertical lines of command and authority whereby every employee receives commands and instructions from a superior. With such a structure, the organization’s top management makes critical decisions that are followed by the employees thereby determining how every activities or operation of the organization are undertaken.

Impact of Organizational Culture on the Management of Human Resources

Silverthorne (2004) argues that organizational culture involves the sharing of schemes and knowledge among people forming part of a group to express various social realities at the organizational level. Walmart’s corporate culture revolves around four key components or beliefs including service to customers, respect for the individual, striving for excellence, and action with integrity (Lombardo, 2015). These components provide favorable working conditions for the employees and encourage collaboration and teamwork where the workforce focuses on how the elements can be realized. Also, the components dictate how employees must operate to meet or satisfy the needs of customers such as providing better products and services (Habib, Aslam, Hussain, Yasmeen, & Ibrahim, 2014). Walmart’s four components give a strategic direction that helps in the achievement of other set organizational goals and objectives, as well as the proper communication among all corporate members thereby building a bridge among the organization’s top management and workforce. 

How the Effectiveness of Human Resources Management is Monitored at Walmart

The effectiveness of HRM at Walmart is monitored at the micro and macro levels. At the micro-level, Walmart monitors HRM by carrying out career planning for employees and succession planning for various positions in the organization. At the macro level, Walmart monitors HRM by focusing on workforce planning. Also, in the monitoring of HRM, Walmart can use various metrics throughout the control process, which would play a key role in controlling issues related to cost and quality. Another tool that would prove pivotal in monitoring Walmart’s HRM is the benefit-to-cost ratio that would help to measure training activities and monitor their impacts on the job.

Recommendations to Improve Effectiveness of Human Resources Management at Walmart

To improve human resource management, Walmart must make necessary changes to its current organizational procedures and adopt new strategies. First, it is vital for the company to use existing opportunities, and hence, training the workforce would help to achieve this objective. Other prospects that the company ought to focus on include the provision of security and safety to the workforce, communication technology, and providing healthcare benefits. Second, the company should consider improving its remuneration or incentives to the workforce. To be in a good position, Walmart’s pay scale or incentives should be relatively higher as compared to competitors. This would be integral to the creation of value for the workforce triggering their commitment toward the organization. Over the long-term, the company would witness a significant reduction in the recruitment costs.

Strategic HRM is one of the most critical concepts to organizations. HRM at Walmart is important as it creates good working conditions for the workforce. It has also created a team-spirit and ensured fair competition that have been integral to the achievement of organizational objectives. Some of the strategic human resource activities at Walmart are the compensation of employees that takes various forms, the training and development of the workforce, hiring of employees, and others. Going forward, Walmart’s management must do everything possible to ensure that its strategic HRM has positive impacts not only on the workforce but also on every procedure or process. With effective HRM at the organization, it will become more competitive thus overcoming strong competition in the global market.


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