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Publix Grocery Store Research Paper

Publix is a private food retailer company that operates in five states across the US. George Jenkins founded the company in 1930 in Winter Haven, Florida (Publix, 2013). Over the years, Publix has grown tremendously to be a Fortune 500 company. It has over 1073 supermarkets in different states with more than 160,000 employees.

The company is employee-owned, but it has the fastest growth rate in the US. Its annual revenue for the year 2012 was $27.5 billion. The company aims to create a pleasant experience for its customers. The company does not want to disappoint its customers.

Publix is a grocery store that serves all types of customers from various backgrounds in the US. It supports complete inclusion and diversity. The company also supports community projects and youth soccer.

The role HR in fostering the organization’s mission

Publix’s mission is to be the “premier quality food retailer in the world” (Publix, 2013). As a result, it is passionate about customer value, reducing waste, promoting dignity, and employment security. In addition, the company devotes itself to the highest standards of stewardship for stockholders. Finally, Publix promotes responsible citizens through community programs.

The HR department is a strategic partner at Publix. Qualities of employees are critical for overall performances of the company. Over the years, Publix has grown in terms of retail stores, sales, and the number of employees. This has been possible because the HR department has broadened its roles. It has grown beyond the traditional roles of employees’ welfare and administrative duties.

Instead, the HR department has leveraged its expertise by using right people to provide positive contribution for the success of the supermarket. Human resource professionals at Publix have a major role to play in promoting the company’s mission statement and achieving its strategic objectives. The HR department has encouraged employees’ participation in corporate social responsibilities (CSR).

This has happened because the HR department has the tools to leverage and engage employee commitment to community services, customer values, dignity, and eliminate waste within the company. Publix has been able to integrate CSR in its core values and practices throughout its retail stores across the US. Generally, employees prefer to work in companies that promote their values and align such values in their core operations.

Therefore, CSR is one way of attracting and retaining top talents at Publix. The HR department has been able to foster a culture of diversity and inclusion at Publix. More than ever, Publix has found it necessary to foster a culture of diversity and inclusion in order to operate in various markets across the US. This makes it relevant and viable in a competitive supermarket industry.

The HR department at Publix has recognized the importance of promoting cross-cultural competence in its workplace. The HR department must strengthen diversity and inclusion at the company. The core role of HR professionals is to make employees and the company to manage and leverage differences so that employees and customers from different backgrounds can promote strategic goals of the supermarket.

The HR must support inclusion and diversity because Publix aims to be a quality food retailer globally. The HR department also has the responsibility of total quality management in the retail stores (Vaikos, Jamage and Tale, 2012). In this regard, the HR department must recruit and retain highly qualified employees. In addition, the department must engage and train employees on a continuous basis and create a favorable reward system.

Thus, it is the role of promoting Publix’s mission through its quality workforce. Total quality management must affect all employees at Publix. Publix must note that the role of the HR department at the workplace has changed because of business practices and technologies. The HR department must promote effective working methods, create standards, select, and train employees for achieving strategic goals of Publix (Summer, 2005).

Assessment of the common HR challenges facing Publix

Managing change and culture

Publix serves all types of customers from different backgrounds and socioeconomic status. Thus, managing changes and cultural differences across five states of the US is a major challenge for the HR department. The department must recruit employees who would serve all customers without discrimination. Thus, it must emphasis the importance of promoting inclusion and diversity across all its 1073 outlets.

Cost management

Publix has over 1073 outlets with over 160,000 employees. Hence, managing recurring expenditure is a major challenge for the retail store. The HR department must control costs of employees’ remuneration and benefits. At the same time, it must also reward employees well in order to attract and retain top talents.

Generally, grocery stores have low profit margins. Thus, the HR department must recommend lean and efficient workforce to reduce employees’ costs. Labor cost remains the most manageable expense in any organization. For instance, some retail stores normally reduce the number of employees during tough times.

However, the HR department must not compromise quality and customer care when reducing the number of employees due to cost reasons. This could lead to poor services, lost customers, and revenues. Publix has increased the number of its retail outlets. This initiative requires highly qualified staff, which may come at increased costs.

Training employees

In most instances, supermarkets fail to budget and train their employees to acquire the required skills for the industry. However, training is important because it improves employee productivity and reduces staff attrition. When Publix fails to budget for employee training, it experiences high staff attrition, low productivity, poor customer services, and increased costs for future training programs. Thus, the HR department must insist on regular staff training.

The use of technology

Today, Publix has improved the use of technology in its retail stores. This could be due to expected return on investment, improved customer service and operational efficiency. It is important to note the low profit margin in the supermarkets. Therefore, any investment in technologies must maximize returns to the business. Employees should use such technologies to demonstrate immediate payback through efficiency, cost reduction, and maximizing profits.

However, this may not be possible because of low qualifications of employees on the use of modern technologies. Thus, the HR department must recruit qualified employees who can use new technologies for cost reduction and improving operations at the stores. Some technologies aim to enhance checkouts or provide additional information to customers.

Justifying returns of such technologies may be difficult, particularly when the supermarket’s focus is the ultimate profit. In order to realize the impacts of the new technology, the HR department must recruit qualified employees or train them.

Staff attrition

Competition within the retail industry has changed HR practices. The industry requires highly qualified employees, who may not available. As a result, the search for highly talented and qualified employees has led to high rates of staff attrition in the retail industry. Supermarkets have noted that customers demand and require fast services. This has led to pressure on employees and other resources.

Employees left retail stores with demanding roles and poor compensation. The company must implement effective reward systems, employee training, and work management. This would allow Publix to retain its employees and attract new ones.

Leadership and succession management

Creating a strong leadership in an organization is important for present and future performances. In the retail industry, this could be difficult due to high rates of staff attrition. As a result, the company must highly reward potential leaders in order to retain them. However, this may increase costs or lead to poor selection of employees to take management positions.

Hence, the consequences have been mixed, but with several challenges. The supermarket must grapple with the challenge of retaining potential leaders and integrating the best performers in its management structure without affecting employees’ productivity. In some cases, the supermarket may even promote best performers who lack leadership qualities (Bernthal and Wellins, 2006).

Publix must understand how to retain and promote its best performers, particularly those without management abilities. The HR department should only put the right persons in management positions rather than best performers who cannot manage others.

Constant supply of qualified employees

The supermarket industry lacks constant supply of professionals in different departments. This is a major challenge that the HR department must address effectively. The department itself may lack the right professionals to strengthen its position within the company and devise effective and creative methods of improving employees’ performances.

Given the low supply of qualified staff and the importance of the business, Publix HR department must constantly seek for professionals both within and outside the industry for its expansion programs.

Improving performance management and rewards

The HR department has a significant challenge in improving employee performance and creating a suitable reward system for best performers. On this note, it is critical for the department to create performance management and appraisal systems for the company. In addition, it must reward employees based on their performances. Rewards may vary, but must be acceptable.

Effectiveness of the above recommendations

Based on different challenges that Publix HR department faces, the above recommendations are effective for mitigating them. For instance, studies in HR policies and practices indicate that performance and reward should match each other in order to motivate and retain employees (Wan, 2007). Training has been effective in enhancing employees’ performances, customer service, retention, and career growth.

Training will also improve employees’ skills in the use of modern technologies in retail stores. Such new technologies present opportunities for the company to deliver best services to its customers. In addition, training will help the HR department to identify potential leaders for company.

Controlling operation cost is an area that any supermarket must observe. Publix must avoid excessive rewards for its employees because of low profit margins in the grocery stores. Effective controlling of labor costs can result in high profit margins for the company. The company can use such profits for training, expansion, and recruiting competent employees.

These recommendations require efforts, skills, and resources in order to be effective. In addition, managers must also support recommendations during their implementation to guarantee success.


Bernthal, P., and Wellins, R. (2006). Trends in leader development and succession. Human Resource Planning, vol. 29(2), 31-40.

Publix. (2013). . Web.

Summer, L. (2005). Employees: your most important stakeholders. Corporate Responsibility Management, 1(5), 2.

Vaikos, P., Jamage, D., and Tale, S. (2012). Total quality management initiative in supermarket and role of HR manager. World Journal of Science and Technology, 2(5), 54-57.

Wan, H. (2007). Human Capital Development Policies: enhancing employees’ satisfaction. Journal of European Industrail Training, 31(4), 297-322.

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