A brief synopsis/summary of Wal-Mart Stores Inc
Wal-Mart was established in 1945 in New Port, Arkansas and grew exponentially to become the biggest retail outlet in America by 1990. Today, Wal-Mart is one of the companies listed at New York Stock Exchange. Wal-Mart is best known its efficient operations and its cost leadership.
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It has a vast distribution channel as well as an automated and central purchase system. Wal-Mart prides itself as the promoter of local small and medium enterprises (SME’s) through the umbrella campaign dubbed ‘Buy American’. The company continuously seeks to build and protect its powerful ‘The Wal-Mart Effect’ brand. Wal-Mart operates through various segments: Wal-Mart Stores, Sam’s Clubs, and International.
The likely problems/issues/challenges faced, using the case as illustrations of the theories/concepts
Managing change, culture, and diversity
An analysis of Wal-Mart using human resource (HR) theories and concepts reveals that even though the company has enjoyed considerable success over the years, it is still faced with several issues. First, Wal-Mart still grapples with the challenge of the best way of managing change, culture, and diversity.
The challenge of culture and diversity has been heightened by the fact that Wal-Mart now operates internationally. International business is usually characterized by several changes and an array of cultural issues. Therefore, the company must be prepared to recruit and retain employees from diverse cultures if it is going to succeed in its international engagements.
Communication and public relations
Wal-Mart strives to ensure that there is timely, regular, and accurate information for decision making by holding regular meetings. Two sets of meeting are conducted at Wal-Mart: store meetings and Saturday morning meetings held at headquarters. In these meetings, policy changes are communicated to associates.
Managers also get to hear relevant and fast hand information about the challenges faced by the associates. Wal-Mart seeks to maintain a positive image through ‘The Wal-Mart Way’ brand. This slogan seeks to communicate the company’s unwavering commitment to quality improvement.
Wal-Mart has not been left behind in the area of community involvement. The company supports Welfare-to-Work and educational programs. Wal-Mart reimburses associates and their partners for the expenditure they incur in getting GED. During the year 1999 alone, Wal-Mart gave about 3000 sponsorships to high school students on merit. This amounted to over $8 million. Wal-Mart supports youths with disabilities, fund raises for schools, and educates the public about recycling.
Staffing and succession planning
Wal-Mart is faced with the challenge of recruiting, retaining, and developing the best employees. The company’s people division recruits two categories of employees: managers and associates. Managers are salaried employees while associates are paid hourly. Wal-Mart struggles to maintain adequate staff levels for its head offices and departmental stores by recruiting over 1500 employees annually. This number is definitely high even for a big institution like Wal-Mart.
Training, development, and career progression
Continuous employee training and development is another issue facing Wal-Mart. The company conducts continuous training for store managers, their assistants, and the departmental managers. Managers are trained on-the-job as well as through book work after which they are assigned roles at the store.
Wal-Mart creates several career paths to provide opportunities for growth. These include finance, information systems, and international business. Through the Walton Institute for Retailing, the company is able to identify and nurture talent for purposes of future leadership positions.
Compensation, motivation, and employee engagement
Wal-Mart grapples with the challenge of adequately compensating and motivating its employees. The company continuously seeks to employ best reward strategies such as stock options and management incentive plans. These make employees feel proud and have a sense of belonging to the organization.
Wal-Mart engages employees by seeking their opinions and implementing the valuable ideas they suggest. To make employees feel valued and cared for, the company has implemented an open-door policy in which employees are free to approach their managers to discuss their problems at any time.
Performance management and employee productivity
Wal-Mart believes in evaluating the performance of its employees. The company believes that setting high expectations is the key to strategic competitive advantage. The company seeks to inculcate a culture of hard work, innovation, and continuous improvement amongst the employees.
All managers and associates are evaluated and outstanding employees rewarded on merit every year. The evaluation is done based on four parameters: below standard, standard, above standard, and outstanding. Wal-Mart also rewards employees who offer best suggestions on how to improve the business. This boosts their morale, leading to increased productivity.
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Why these are the problems/issues/challenges faced by the company and if there are any indications
Just like other business organizations, Wal-Mart grapples with a myriad of HR issues. These include staffing, employee retention, performance management, employee training, succession planning, and motivation among other issues. There are many indications that Wal-Mart, though successful by all standards, still has to adopt best practices in dealing with these issues.
With operations beyond America, the company is grappling with the challenge of creating an organizational culture that will give it a competitive advantage even in its overseas operations. Likewise, there are indications that the company is faced with several recruitment challenges. For instance, the company must hire over 1500 employees yearly to ensure adequate numbers of staff.
Solutions to the problems/issues/challenges and the implications of such solutions
Wal-Mart must practice strategic human resource management to address the above issues. For instance, the company can practice strategic recruitment. This implies achieving a strategic fit between the employees’ talents with the organizational objectives. Further to this, Wal-Mart must continuously seek to strengthen its culture and continue embracing more diversity.
The business must continue investing in its social responsibility initiatives, seek to further strengthen its brand, and continue to develop its employees. The implication for this is that the company will gain further acceptance within the community. This will draw more customers leading to higher profits.
Wal-Mart should continue to diversify its compensation plans to include such measures as pay-for performance (P4P). The business should also continue to diversify its ways of motivating employees and adopt strong performance management systems. All these measures will have the implication of creating a performance oriented culture, well developed workforce, more productive employees, and consequently, a more profitable business.
In order to build a reputable brand, businesses should be resilient in pursuit of efficiency and effectiveness. Furthermore, businesses should not relent in their quest for continuous quality improvement. They must embrace change and create a unique culture that promotes employee involvement and motivation while also drawing customers. The business must adopt sound HR practices that achieve organizational excellence through efficient and highly motivated, productive, and loyal employees.