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Harrison Brothers Corporation Essay

1. Background

Harrison Brothers Corporation is one of the largest traditional department stores in the United States. The goal of the company is to become the leading chain of department stores that sells high quality clothing to middle-class and fashion-concerned customers. Like other companies in the retail industry, Harrison Brothers are experiencing various changes in customers’ buying preferences. In addition to that, the problem of retention of well-trained, highly motivated salesman and managers has become even more challenging in the industry. James Harrison, the CEO of Harrison Brothers, knowing the importance of human resources, did a survey on human resource and other key managers at the store level.

2. Problem Definition

The survey indicates there are lots of problems in the HR department and these problems might indirectly or directly slow down Harrison Brothers’ growth in the future. The major human resource management (HRM) problem in Harrison Brothers is that HRM is still struggling in its function of maintaining personnel. For example, since there is heavy turnover on salesman, Brenda McCain, the human resource manager, conducted about 25 to 30 interviews a week, and more during the holiday rush. Further, there is only one trainer in Harrison Brothers, causing McCain to spend a lot of time on training, neglecting bigger picture HRM issues. One of the other problems is that HRM pays little attention to employees’ business skills. This is shown in the survey where HR managers ratedthe importance of both knowledge of business and skills in managing change, as 2.0 out of 5.0, while store managers rated the importance of those skills as 4.5.One of Harrison Brothers five strategic goals is to improve productivity of sales, buyers, and department heads. And corporations must prepare their employees to cope with the complexities and accelerated speed of a future economy.

If HRM perceives knowledge of business and managing change, as the least important, Harrison Brothers may have a hard time achieving this strategic goal. There are other problems as well. These include, but are not limited to, supervisors that are reluctant to assess employees’ career planning and professional development, a human resources department which is constrained by cost considerations, and low administrative efficiency. These problemsare currently existing problems. However, in the long term, if HR in Harrison Brothers remains the same, many more problems will arise. Harrison Brothers may have difficulty in talent retention, it may experience poor employee performance and low productivity, or there may be conflict in the workplace. In all, the current overall HRM practicewill not be able to meet the challenge Harrison Brothersmay encounter in the future, and will not help Harrison Brothers to achieve its long-term goal.

3. Causes of the Problem

The main cause of these problems is that there is no HR planning in Harrison Brothers.HR planning is a way to analyze needs for employee and supply of employees, and then make a plan to make sure the organization have the right amount of employees and skills. That’s probably the reason why HR department is struggling and spending most of its time on staffing and training. Another important cause of it is that human resources department didn’t see human resource management from a strategic level.As Jennifer Daft, the store manager said, human resource department seem to be struggling to keep up with the day-to-day activities. HRM should free itself from day-to-day activities and become influential in strategic decision-making process.

4. Alternative Solutions
There are several approaches to fix these problems. First of all, large-sized firms like Harrison Brothers should develop HRM from its traditional functions up to more strategic level management. This would allowsomeone such as McCainto be brought induring a strategic decision-making process, giving her the ability to make or strongly influence the decision itself. To do this, she must have the skills needed to function as a strategic business partner, which lead to the solution that follows. Second of all, McCain and her HR teammates may need to be trained to learn more about business knowledge, such as markets, finance and so on. This knowledge can enhance HR’s strategic role in the organization. Training programs need to be designed and implemented to identify, coach and develop professional skills in HR. Also, McCain might want to consider transferring the old HR department’s organization to a new one in order to meet the challenges in the dramatically changing business environment.

For example, one of many other forms of HR structure is made up of three main departments: HRBP (human resource business partner), COE (center of excellence/expertise), and SSC (shared service center). This type of organizational structure allows the HR unit to respond to the market rapidly. Surely there are many other forms, and regardless of which particular one it is, Harrison Brothers needs tofind one type of structure that meets the needs of their own strategy and allows the HR unit a crucial role to play. The fourth solution McCain might try is to measure HRM by using tools such as Balanced Scorecard, Dollar Value or benchmarking.

Assessment of HRM could give the HR manager a new and quantifiable way to view the efficiency of HRM.In this case, McCain can benchmark and analyze competitors’ staffing and hiring by calculating HR indices such as cost per hire by job level and source, time to fill and time to start. These data can give her a better idea of whether Harrison Brothers is spending more on hiring than other companies in the retail industry. The last solution, but not least, is to enhance HR administrative efficiency. A centralized HR services department or center should be established. In this way, McCain and her team can free themselves from repeated daily routines.

5. Recommendations

I would recommend trainingMcCain and her team to learn more about finance and market, as HR, finance and marketing are all important to understand how to run a business as a whole. Armed with business knowledge, she and her team can bring Harrison Brothers HR unit into a strategic level. Also, transferring HR structure and enhancing administrative efficiency will help McCain and her team to work more efficiently.

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