The Human Resource Function of Harrison Brothers Corporation COMPANY HISTORY Harrison Brothers Corporation n was founded in upstate New York on...
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The Human Resource Function of Harrison Brothers Corporation COMPANY

HISTORY Harrison Brothers Corporation n was founded in upstate New York on September 15, 1898, by Aubrey and William Harrison. Harrison Brothers is a multi-line tra store tha t cares mainly men's, wome expanded to include household furnishings and other items for the home. The long-term goal of the company is to become the leading chain of department stores in the Northeast, selling moderate- to higher-priced merchandise to middle-class, fashion-conscious customers Harrison Brothers is one of the largest privately owned retail stores in the United States. A majority of its twenty stores are located in the Northeast. Its largest store is located in a major urban center and has 950 employees. The company is highly decentralized and maintains a very small corporate office. en's, and children's clothing. In recent years, the store has INDUSTRY CHALLENGES Traditional department stores like Harrison Brothers are beginning to experience the effects of a number of changes in the retail industry. Not long ago, major department stores succeeded by being all things to all customers. However, today's customer is looking for both value and specialization. Superstores and giant discounters are also popping up. At the same time, the industry faces the challenge of keeping a well-trained, highly motivated sales staff and management team. James Harrison, CEO of Harrison Brothers, describes the company's strategic challenges for the next five years: "We can no longer continue to do the same old things that gave us a reputation for fair value. We must reposition ourselves-floor to floor- offering exciting brand names, excellent sales help, and frequent sales. We need a sales staff that knows the merchandise and understands customer preferences. Buying expertise is also critical because fashions and consumer tastes never stay the same. We have five strategic goals: 1. Convert non-selling space into revenue-generating selling space. 2. Build up underdeveloped merchandise categories 3. Invest aggressively in pri 4. Reduce costs through vate brands like Polo, Nautica, and Tommy Hilfiger. the use of advanced computer systems to project sales and manage inventory s. Improve productivity of sales associates, buyers, and department heads took over the business after earning an MBA at a prestigious business James Harrison school in the Northeast. Unlike preious lamily members, he wanted to take deliberate approach to charting the future of Harrison Brothers. To this consultant to assist in assessing the company's strengths and weakness a much es. Harrison felt the would be one of the keys to the future. As part of his mployee quality ata t sought to learn more about the human resource function within He decided to interview a few' of the huma resource and other key aire of their analysis, the consultant sought to learn agers at the store level. Both groups were also asked to a questionn responsiblities of the human resource function (see Exhibit 1.4). Case 2 The Hama
EXHIBIT 1.4 Results of Questionnaire Completed by HR Managers and Non-HR Managers HR Responsibilities Staffing Training and Development Performance Management Store Managers HR Managers 4.5 3.5 4.5 3.0 2.5 2.0 2.0 4.5 4.0 3.5 2.5 4.5 4.5 Knowledge of Business Managing Change espondents were given a list of human resource responsibilities and asked to rate their importance to store performance using a scale of I foot very important) to 5 (very important. The rsponses were aggregrted for all stores. The numbers in me table represent the mean ratings for each dem. The questionnaire was completed by al the human resource manaagers and store managers at each store. THE WESTPARK STORE Brenda McCain has been the human resource manager at the Westpark store for the past four years. Prior to her employment at Harrison Brothers, Brenda had several years of experience in retail stores and came to Harrison Brothers after being a buyer at one of its competitors. McCain has a degree in fashion merchandising from a college in New Jersey Currently, there are 950 employees at the Westpark store. The staff includes salespeople, sales support employees (dock, marking room, clerical, and accounting), maintenance, security, and management. The human resource department consists of five people (see Exhibit 1.5) During the peak holiday season, a number of people are hired as floating sales staff. These temporary workers may number close to 100. major THE HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGER'S JOB McCain talked about the human resource department's areas of responsibility: "Our business has really grown in the last two years. We are carrying more specialty and designer clothing lines and have added items we hope will appeal to moderate- to high-income customers When I came here four years ago, I found too many of the human resource operations being performed by the operations manager, Pat Hartlake, and one of the department heads, Rich Jenkins. Since that time, I have attempted to set up procedures and policies to assure propet staffing of the store. I spend most of my time just managing t I think it is important to keep abreast of the performance of workers, and I like to observe the human resource work habits regularly. I also spend a good deal of time on selecting applicants or the average salesperson at Harrison Brothers is either part-time, an older employee, or one in-between jobs'- if a better job came along, they would sales and support jobs. There is heavy turnover on the sales floor in our business, and the who is snap it up immediately. For example, of the 119 part-time people hired in the last four months, 65 have left" McCain went on to explain their selection procedures: "The main sources applicants are newspaper ads and word-of mouth by present or past employees. bo 0 people based on how well they do in the interview. Right now, I conduct about 25 of our interviews a week and perhaps more during the holiday rush. I have enough exper 10
EXHIBIT 1.5 Harrison Brothers Organization Chart Executive Vice President and General Manager Branch Store Manager Human Resource Operations Manager Sales Manager Sales Manager Sales Manager Human Resource Head Department Head 8, 10, 11, 12, 14 Department Head 1, 5, 6,7, 13 1,2, 4, 9, 15 Teainer Payroll Clerk Security Accountirg Department Identification 1. Children's (boys, grls, infants) 2. Shoes 3. Dresses 4. Men's 5. Women's coats 6. Fashion accessories 7. Intimate apparel 8. Furniture/Carpet Bedding Each department head supervises several sales clerks) 9. Cosmetics 10. Domestics 11. Chinaletc. 12. Housewares 13. Fine jewelry 14. Sporting goods 15. Toys retail to know what it takes to be a good salesperson. We place a lot of weight on their motivation, personality, and drive. Little or no useful information is gained from high school or college records or references. I do check their application forms for an indication of job stability, though. "The training of new salespeople occurs every two weeks and every week during the who cannot effectively complete them to selling techniques and how to properly interact with customers. Although we have a trainer, I do spend a good was a continual bone of contention between the employees holiday season. Now and then we get some employees the cash register training. Our trainer, Joanne Flymn, tries to expose th deal of time with her and vwill help out if the training dasses are too large. "When I came here, discipline and supervisors. Employes telt the present procedures were inconsistently enforced and applied. Each supervisor was interpretation of the problem. I discuss the alleged wrongful act with the employee's supervisor to assess the administering punishment depending on his or her own I discuss the alleged wrongful act with the employee's supervisor o all disciplinary a ase 2 The Hman Resource Function of Harison Brhes Corpenation
this way, we have better consistency in the application of disciplinary rules. Any who receives three disciplinary actions is eligible for dismissal the act. I then talk with the employee before deciding upon the appropriate While we hire our salespeople at the minimum wage, we do perform an evaluation of their performance to determine merit increases. We use sales productivi the major criterion. Performance is evaluated on average sales per hour. For exampke employee works in an eight percent department. The hourly quota would be l annual by receives a point, dividing the hourly wage by the percent level. This determines how much the sales de would have to sell to break even. For any sales above that level, the clerk commission. At evaluation time, if the clerk's sales per hour are above the breakeven the new hourly wage is determined by multiplying the sales per hour by the percent example, assume that a salesperson works in an eight percent department and hour. The employee would have to sell $100 per hour to break even. Any sales above that level would receive a commission. If sales at evaluation time were actually $150 per hour hourly pay would increase to S12 per hour (150 times 08). We have had moderate success with this system, although I'm not sure how much it helps us to retain gou employees level. For earns $8 per "For our sales support staff, we have supervisors basically evaluate the employee's quality and quantity of work. Last year, though, we incorporated a form of employee development into the evaluation process. Supervisors are required to discuss the employees' career opportunities and professional development with them. I initiated this as a form of career planning and hopefully as a way to keep good employees. Unfortunately, supervisors have been slack in doing the assessment. They seem to be more anxious to get the performance evaluation completed Several employees came to me to say they had not received a professional assessment' since the program was instituted There is a lot more we need to do here in human resources, but we are somewhat constrained by cost considerations and the realities of the retail industry. The turnover in the sales areas gives me little free time to develop new programs and ideas INTERVIEW WITH THE STORE MANAGER Jennifer Daft recently joined Harrison Brothers after being recruited from a major specialty retailer. Jennifer had a number of years of experience interview, she talked about her perceptions of the human resource department in her "I think they are too internally focused most of the time. Brenda and the rest of her staff sem in management and retail. During the store to be struggling to keep up with the day-to-day activities. I don't know if they are understatine. or not. Our store has experienced very high turnover. With the new strategic direction o company, however, I need human resources to be more of a key player. It's not hard to get merchandise we want to sell, but we need people who know how to merchandise it and how t sell it to customers. There are a lot of changes going on in the company. It's not going to smooth ride for a while. We're all going to have to learn how to do things diferently and better to stay competitive. Our human resource people are no exception." INTERVIEw WITH THE OPERATIONS MANAGER Pat Hartlake, the operations manager, talked about interactions with the human resour department: "I have a good working relationship with the human resource department, Bop took some time to develop that relationship. McCain has a good understanding of the and I am impressed with her knowledge of store operations. They operations. They have been 12
somewhat slow in filling the vacant sales positions, and they don't always as they should. They seem terribly understaffed and overworked most of the time. n't respond as quickly "Let me give you an example of what I mean. A few weeks ago, employee situation that was evolving to the point where I felt termination I went to the Human Resource Department to discuss the case to be sure faced with an was necessary. I had covered all I was g decisions. They never to be able to produce answers to questions without hedging. I had to wait almost two employee d to deteriorate. I can understand their reluctance to terminate sales staff because of seem weeks before I got any help from them. In the meantime, the situation with the continue ty in recruiting new people. In a way, however, the old system seemed to be a lot to handle situations that came up in their less complicated. Department managers knew how departments. Don't get me wrong! I know that as we continue to grow we're probably going to need an even larger human resource department." QUESTIONS
SGirca the organizatoncvaluethederdmentof he human resource function at Harrison Brothers. What problems do you see? How could its major human resource functions be improved?

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