Café Co Case Study Part I

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Question 1:
Applying your knowledge of academic models of HRM (for example HRM/PM; Hard and Soft HRM or the Guest or Harvard model) explain the main similarities and differences between the approaches to people management at Café Co before and after the review. Soft HRM related to the Harvard Model by Beer (1984) is focusing on increasing performance of employees by enhancing competencies and commitment towards the company and its overall business goals (Bloisi, 2007). Whereas in Soft HRM achieving a competitive advantage and cost-effective HRM are possible by focusing on sustainable training, development, motivation and involvement of employees (Storey, 2007), Hard HRM gains these effects by replacing the workforce of a company, which therefore acts as a rational factor of production like capital or resources to an organization (Legge, 1995). Hard HRM with regards to the Michigan Model by Fombrun (1984) “views people as a resource used as a means of achieving organizational goals” (Bloisi, 2007:14). This embraces the idea of a free market with respect to cost-cutting effects regarding full utilization of human resources by employing and deploying (Bloisi, 2007). Previously Café Co was characterized by a rather hard HRM due to high employee turnover, minimum wages based on legislative requirements and mostly short-term contracts which led to low motivation amongst the remaining staff. In order to improve the quality of employees, Café Co was keen on performance management whilst communication as well as employee engagement have been neglected. Furthermore HR department, responsible for recruiting people, often employed inappropriate workers. The new HR approach was based on soft HRM trying to increase employers’ commitment to the company goals and values by establishing higher wages for baristas, better internal communication or learning and development. HR directors are now part of the board and HR policies have been integrated into the business goals. Collegiality amongst store managers and employees has been promoted and HR managers were given a more advising function offering support to other areas.

Word count: 271

Question 2:
Kim, the HR manager, is trying to convince line managers that taking more responsibility for HR activities such as recruitment is ‘in the best interest of the organisation and employees as well as the line managers themselves.’ What would you say to the line manager to convince them of the benefits of devolving HR responsibility to line managers? Because of managing the daily business, line managers are informed about the performance of their employees as well as the gaps and problems in the staffing profile or potential risks (Anon, 2005). Moreover by relocating the point of responsibility, employees and managers will benefit from a better mutual relation and thus from higher engagement to work (Reilly & Williams, 2006). By carrying out the HR practices on their own, line managers, who used to complain about the HR department being out of touch with business realities and thinking too theoretically, avoid running counter their business goals. Thus they can improve their performance levels independently (Marchington & Wilkinson, 2008). Unless line managers are not acting against the pre-set company values and standards they benefit from more freedom of managing their employees (Reilly & Williams, 2006). Besides there would be more time for HR managers to focus on forward planning and project developments. Thereupon line managers can resolve issues within their department more rapidly, because they are not depending on HR department decisions anymore (Marchington & Wilkinson, 2008).

Word count: 158

Question 3:
Discuss how each of Ulrich’s HR roles could help the HR manager solve some of the problems in Café Co. One crucial role is the employee advocate who is responsible for communicating care and reacting to employees’ current needs...
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