For businesses to survive in the 21st century they should be committed in implementing the most effective operational and managerial practices (Baines 2009). Human resource development is one of the aspects that firms should consider in their pursuit to nurture competitiveness with regard to human capital. Currently, human capital is considered as a fundamental organisational asset.
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In addition to the quality of the product, customers are increasingly becoming concerned with the quality of customer service, which is paramount in promoting unique customer experience. Therefore, it is essential for the firm to close the gaps in skills amongst employees in order to promote the firms’ success in service delivery (Thomas, Zolin & Hartman 2009).
Employees’ training and development underscore one of the fundamental organisational development elements that organisations should pursue in an effort to achieve sustainability in their operations (Hutton 2013).
Subsequently, it is imperative for H&M’s Board of Directors to understand the view that the capacity of the firm to achieve its desired competitive advantage will be subject to the quality of its workforce with regard to competency. Therefore, failure to invest in effective employee training and development affects the productivity of its workforce adversely.
The aspect of employees’ training and development promotes the level of job satisfaction amongst managers in different levels of management. Moreover, it provides them with an opportunity to progress through their career path (Kirby & Riley 2006). Therefore, it is essential for H&M to ensure that its human resource management practices and strategies align with the firm’s vision and goals.
Employees’ training and development is one of the most effective strategies that the director of training and development at H&M should incorporate. This move will improve the likelihood of the firm achieving competitive advantage in an industry that is increasingly becoming competitive.
However, the firm’s success in employee training and development will only be successful if the firm allocates a substantial amount for employee training and development in its annual budget.
Background to the organisation
H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB [H&M] is a multinational retail-clothing firm that was established in 1947 in Vasteras, Sweden. H&M vision entails ensuring that all its operations are managed in an environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable manner.
Subsequently, the firm has managed to developed sufficient economic, environmental, and social sustainability, which is in line with its vision to achieve sustainable future through fashion. The firm is ranked second amongst the global cloth retailers such as the US-based firms Inditex and GAP, which are its core competitors.
Currently, the firm has penetrated in over 53 countries and it has established over 3,100 retail stores. By the end of its 2013/2014 financial year, H&M intends to have established an additional 375 stores (H&M 2014a).
In its pursuit for economic sustainability, H&M has implemented effective marketing strategies such as online marketing in Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, the UK, and Austria. H&M market expansion strategy underscores its commitment in growing the firm’s retail stores with a 10% to 15% margin annually. The firm’s success has also arisen from its effective human resource base.
Moreover, H&M has developed an adequate workforce, which is comprised of over 116,000 employees. The firm is also focused at creating additional new jobs. This aspetc illustrates the firm’s commitment to achieving its predetermined growth and profitability objectives.
The firm’s success has arisen from its commitment to the ‘H&M Way’, which highlights the firm’s organisational culture. Some of the areas that the firm is focused at entail nurturing a strong workforce through teamwork, continuous improvement, believing in people, entrepreneurial spirit, cost consciousness, and keeping it simple.
The firm believes that teamwork is an essential component of its organisational culture. Subsequently, H&M has formulated clear values that guide employees in their duties. The firm considers employees as a fundamental organisational asset. In an effort to support employees, the firm provides employees with an opportunity for growth through training and development programs.
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Moreover, H&M has integrated a culture of inclusiveness by eliminating discrimination based on their operation (H&M 2014b). In a bid to promote employee satisfaction and high rate employee retention, H&M has incorporated an incentive program (Siegle 2014). In addition to the internal environment, H&M is committed to effective interaction with the external world.
Subsequently, the firm is cognisant of the importance of its external stakeholders such as suppliers, customers, and other business partners. The firm’s ability to maintain external relations arise from is commitment to openness, sensitivity, objectivity, and accessibility.
Training needs analysis
The retail industry has undergone remarkable changes since the beginning of the 21st century. Some of the most notable changes relate to intensity of competition, changes in information communication technology, changing consumer needs, and labour force demands (Hellriegel & Slocum 2011).
H&M is committed to undertaking continuous expansion of its workforce. For example, in its 2009 annual report, H&M announced its intention to increase its human resource base with an additional 7000 employees. The firm intended to achieve this goal by expanding into 33 new countries.
In an effort to achieve social sustainability in the international market, H&M has incorporated recruiting from the local market as one of its human resource management policies. Subsequently, the firm has adopted external recruitment as one of its human resource management practices. This move has sufficiently positioned H&M as a culturally diverse organisation.
H&M is committed to developing competitive advantage with regard to human capital. This vision arises from the recognition of the role of human capital in promoting its competitiveness in the global fashion clothing industry. Investing in employees’ training and development will enable H&M to achieve operational efficiency and this assertion arises from the view that the firm will become innovative in its operations.
However, the firm’s long-term success will depend on the extent to which the firm is committed in ensuring that its employees’ knowledge and skills align with the prevailing market demands (Timmons 2013). Moreover, H&M has an obligation to promote a high level of synergy within various organisational components as advocated by the McKinsey 7S model, which include the hard and the soft elements.
The McKinsey 7S model underscores the importance of ensuring a high level of interdependence amongst the various internal organisational elements, which include strategy, systems, shared values, skills, staff, style, and structure as illustrated by the figure below. The hard elements include the organisation’s systems, strategy, and structure while the soft elements include the shared values, style, skills, and staff.
Source: (Hanafizadeh & Ravasan 2011)
Investing in employees’ training and development will improve the probability of the firm achieving the desired competitiveness. This assertion arises from the view that the employees’ training and development strategy adopted will affect the employees’ skill level, shared values, operational style, and systems either directly or indirectly. Using the McKinsey 7S model will enable H&M to understand the skills’ gaps within its workforce.
Moreover, the firm will be in a position to understand the most important skills and knowledge amongst its workforce. Subsequently, the firm will be in a position to formulate the most effective employees’ training and development strategy. Subsequently, the firm’s board of directors and the management team have an obligation to ensure that the firm invests in human capital development in order to achieve its vision.
Findings of previous empirical studies show that the level of employee motivation is a fundamental factor that organisations should take into account in formulating an employees’ training program. Saad, Mat, and Awadh (2013) assert that motivating employees stimulates them to accomplish a predetermined goal. Some of the aspects that motivate employees include a high career insight and motivation to learn.
Saad, Mat, and Awadh (2013, p.4) argue that motivation ‘refers to the efforts required to complete a raining task, which are determined by the relationship with the rate of participation in training activities’. This aspect highlights the importance of ensuring that the employees’ training and development strategy adopted contributes to a high level of employee motivation.
One of the theories that best illustrate the contribution of employees’ training and development towards employee motivation is the Vroom’s expectancy theory. Lunenburg (2011) contends that expectancy theory is based on the view that there is a strong relationship between the employees’ performance and the expected rewards of their performance.
Employees’ believe that they are likely to be motivated if they perceive that they their contribution to the organisation is rewarded adequately and fairly. Lunenburg (2011, p.1) further argues that people ‘join organisations with expectations about their personal needs, motivations, and experiences’. The theory contends that the employees’ behaviour is a conscious choice (Greenberg 2011).
Subsequently, employees are likely to behave in a manner that aligns with their expectancy calculations. Furthermore, the theory asserts that employees have diverse personal needs at the workplace; for example, career advancement and challenging tasks (Werner, Tosi & Gomez-Meija 2005).
The expectancy theory provides organisational managers with the guidelines for improving their level of motivation by adjusting the employees’ effort-to-performance expectancy. Lunenburg (2011) argues that organisational leaders have an obligation to ensure that employees can execute the assigned duties successfully.
Therefore, it is essential for organisational leaders to improve the employees’ level of motivation through training and progressively assigning them challenging tasks. Nurturing effort-to-expectancy rate demands organisational leaders to seek the employees’ opinion on how best to adjust the organisation’s performance.
Furthermore, it is imperative for organisational leaders to consider the possibility of coaching employees who do not have self-confidence. The figure below illustrates the basic expectancy model.
According to Vroom’s expectancy theory, it is imperative for organisational leaders to steer their organisations towards the desired organisational objectives by implementing the necessary and desirable strategies.
Programme of work
Proposed training and development offer
In order to position itself in the global retail industry effectively, it is imperative for H&M to focus on improving the skills and knowledge of its workforce. However, the extent to which the organisation succeeds in promoting business performance is subject to the success of the firm in identifying the core areas of employees’ training and development.
The contemporary business environment is characterised by a high rate of change emanating from the macro-environmental and micro-environmental business environments. Therefore, the importance of developing a skilled and experienced workforce cannot be underestimated.
In order to survive in such an environment, it is imperative for H&M to formulate comprehensive employees’ training and development program. Some of the aspects that the firm should consider include improving the employees’ technical skills, management skills, and leadership skills.
Management development, leadership and technical skills
It is imperative for H&M’s director of training and development to focus on developing optimal leadership and managerial skills. Management development refers to the process of ensuring that the employees’ development aligns with the organisation’s goals. By focusing on management development, H&M will ensure that its employees have developed diverse skills to enable them to execute diverse tasks.
Subsequently, the workers will execute the delegated tasks successfully. Additionally, the likelihood of the employees achieving the desired career goals is enhanced. Investing in management development will enable the employees to develop adequate problem solving skills, hence improving their capacity to deal with challenging situations at the workplace (Newton & Doonga 2007).
E – Learning
In order to improve the level of employee motivation and satisfaction, H&M should focus on improving the employees’ technical skills, which will play a remarkable role in promoting their career development. Majchrzak, Beath, Lim, and Chin (2005) assert that career development is achieved through continuous acquisition and refinement of the employees’ technical skills such as job mastery and professional skills.
In order to improve the employees’ technical skills effectively, H&M can adopt the simulation strategy, whereby training is undertaken away from the work environment. Additionally, H&M should consider adopting e-learning concepts.
Chen and Kao (2012) assert that employees’ training and development can be costly. Therefore, it is imperative for organisational leaders to adopt the concept of e-learning.
One of the ways through which the firm can achieve this goal is by implementing effective information communication systems such as video conferencing. Using e-learning will provide employees with a high degree of flexibility in their learning process. This assertion arises from the view that employees will have the discretion to determine when to study (McGurk 2013).
Coaching and mentoring
Developing effective leadership skills amongst employees will promote H&M with competitiveness regarding human capital.
Through acquisition of effective leadership skills, H&M will be in a position to implement project-based approach in its operation, as firm will enhance its teamwork culture by promoting a high level of collaboration amongst employees. Moreover, the firm will be in a position to deal with various workplace issues such as conflict amongst the team members.
In order to support management development and leadership development, H&M should consider implementing effective employee training and development strategy. One of the strategies that the firm should incorporate is coaching and mentoring.
Mavin and Lee (2010) assert that coaching and mentoring aim at stimulating learning ability of subordinates by consciously matching the firm’s management style with the learners’ readiness to accept what is being taught. In order to succeed in coaching, it is imperative for H&M to develop effective interaction between employees and individuals in the different levels of management.
Coaching and mentoring will improve the effectiveness and efficiency with which H&M’s employees take charge of their personal development. Subsequently, they will be in a position to achieve their desired results.
One of the coaching models that H&M can incorporate in its management development effort is the GROW model. The model assesses the employees’ goals, the reality of the prevailing situation in the workplace, the employees’ options, and will to accept the available options as illustrated by the figure below.
Source: (Pride, Hughes & Kapoor 2009)
With regard to mentoring, H&M should develop a mentorship program whereby employees in the different managerial levels share their experience with their subordinates.
For example, the firm’s managers should share some of their technical expertise with the lower level employees (Ryan, Windsor, Ibragimova & Prybutok 2010). However, the ‘mentoree’ does not have to undertake similar responsibilities like those in the managerial level.
In order to benefit both the organisation and employees, H&M should adopt both developmental and sponsorship mentoring models. Adopting sponsorship model will enable employees to achieve their desired career success while the development model will contribute to a high level of personal development.
Implementing developmental model requires the mentor to be experienced on issues that are relevant to the employees needs. Therefore, using the two models will enhance the probability of employees acquiring the desired skills.
H&M should evaluate the contribution of the coaching, mentoring, and e-learning to the employees’ training and development strategies in improving skills and knowledge. The firm should conduct a comprehensive employee appraisal in order to determine the employees’ level of skills. One of the models that the firm should implement is the Kirkpatrick’s Hierarchical model.
The model assesses the effectiveness of employee training and development by examining four main aspects. One of the issues that the firm should assess is the employees’ reaction to training and development program. The second aspect entails evaluating the extent to which employees have learnt new techniques, logics, and methodologies coupled with their relevance at the workplace.
This goal can be achieved by evaluating the knowledge and skills acquired through the training program. The fourth step entails reviewing whether the employee training and development has contributed to the development of the desired employee behaviour. Finally, the firm should assess the contribution of the training and development program to the overall organisational performance.
In the course of implementing the employee training and development program, H&M should be cognisant of the possible risks that might affect the implementation of the project.
Some of the risks that the firm should be aware of include lack of adequate resources such as financial and human capital. This risk may arise due to resource scarcity. Additionally, some of the resources devoted for employee training may be diverted to other areas.
In a bid to deal with financial constraints, H&M should be proactive, for example, by allocating a substantial amount for employee training and development every year in its budget.
Considering the significance of employee training, the firm should also develop a contingency fund that will address possible financial constraints. On the other hand, H&M should consider adopting the concept of outsourcing human resource management experts.
Conclusion and next step
The above analysis shows that the success of H&M into the future will depend on the effectiveness and efficiency of its human capital. Subsequently, the firm should incorporate a comprehensive employee training and development program in its strategic human resource management practices. Failure to invest in employees’ training and development will lower the level of productivity due to low levels of motivation.
Moreover, the firm will not be in a position to cope with the prevailing market dynamics. In a bid to implement the training and development program successfully, H&M should ensure that employees are adequately involved in the formulation of t he employee training process.
This move will aid in understanding their needs. Subsequently, the training and development program developed will align with the employees’ personal development and organisational goals.
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