The main objective of the company is to be the most successful airline in the world, and to realize this vision; the company has made huge investments in its Human Resources, which is considered as the most valuable asset of any organization. The organization recruits highly skilled and intellectual personnel and replaces them with more supportive and resourceful ones which I believe is an effective Human Resource Management (HRM) technique. HRM mainly refers to the planning, development and the utilization of workforce in an organization so that it can achieve better productivity as it tries to attain its objectives.
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This paper is an attempt to evaluate the current human resource management practices at the company using the Storey Model.
The Storey model considers a more humane approach to human resource management and in many respects, managing this approach to Human Resource can be quite difficult among many organizations (Boxall, 1996, p.5). While other management models try to promote positive attitudes through increasing employee responsibility by means of promotion and increased salaries, cultural change as per the Storey Model mainly concentrates on attitudes of employees and aims to promote commitment rather than resigned behavioral compliance (Truss, 1997, p.15). As a result, the managerial tasks may become more difficult compared to other models of HRM, where cultural change is required. Even by today’s standards, The Company has managed to significantly improve its corporate culture compared to its early days. For instance, during the 1980s when the airline was facing challenges, the company’s productivity was below its main competitors, forcing it to incur huge financial losses. It seemed employees were becoming increasingly discontent, evidenced by increasing customer dissatisfaction which made it one of the airlines to be avoided as per the advisory of the International Airline Passengers Association in 1980 (Bertillo et al., 3013, p.213).
However, Bertillo (2013, p.215) notes that by the mid-90s, this situation had been completely reversed making not only the most profitable airline in the world but also among the top favorites that most graduates wanted to work for. Five years later, another survey declared the airline the second most admired company in Europe (Stewart, 2017, p.132). Much of these can mainly be attributed to the company’s cultural change which was played a significant role in shaping the attitudes of the staff as well as placing more attention on customer care as the primary focus activity (Harvey and Turnbull, 2016, p.76). It was largely successful due to the management’s focus on creating a vision that would inspire the company’s employees including gaining their commitment. At the heart of this success was the ‘Putting People First’ training programme that was initiated by the new management (Robertson and Cooper, 2015, 64). Though it was initially intended for staff who interacted directly with customers, it was later attended by all the forty thousand employees the company had at the time and aimed to influence their attitudes.
In sharp contrast to the old culture of the company, employees were required not to attend the training in uniform, and once in the course, they were instructed to group into cross fictional and cross-grade groups. The training program was consciously designed to modify behavior, and attending employees were required to adopt a more positive attitude towards themselves, taught how to set personal goals, how to cope with stressing situations and trained on how to build confidence as well as how to get what they wanted in life (Stewart, 2017, p.140). This approach was self-consciously indocrinative in nature, especially in how it was designed to attain self-commitment of the staff.
Apart from the success in getting the staff to be more committed in their roles at the company, one other significant process in cultural change at the organization was the way in which existing recruitment policies and practices were adjusted to fit the new culture at the company, that also included a new emphasis on the new practices and programmes (Jackson et al., 2014, 25). Not only were team briefings and integrated teamwork introduced, but they were also developed and refined in accordance with the new culture. The rostering of cabin crews was changed in order to provide a more flexible work environment and make the cabin crew feel happier. Besides, managerial bonuses were raised to almost 20 percent of salaries and were determined by exhibiting desired behaviors and achieving set objectives (Nickson, 2013, p.312). Awards of excellence and other similar activities encouraged employees to continue performing better. Over three decades since the implementation of these initiatives, The company is still reaping from the success of these programmes. In fact, it is difficult to believe that without these structural improvements the company would still be thriving today (Stewart, 2017, p.135). Equally, the structural interventions might have played a key role in enhancing the corporate culture at the organization (Storey, 2014, p.223).
A growing service sector and an increasing focus on customer service in most industries call for more emphasis on the service process, of which most employees are part of, which clearly shows the importance of the company’s new culture (Storey, 2014, p.346). To date, the company still conducts these programmes, such as the Customer first campaigns and Putting People First program that are meant to make the 20, 000 plus employees of the company become more customer focused and breakdown bureaucracy among employees. Besides these, the company has also invested in employee development programs that are geared towards encouraging employees to continue learning by providing them with access to major learning programs. The first of these is based on the principles of open learning, which provides a number of progressive stages and qualifications and can eventually allow an employee to graduate with an MBA (Aswathappa, 2013, 237). The second program is the ‘Top Flight’ Program which provides a series of learning stages in steps and is designed to allow participants to progress to an executive position (Aswathappa, 2013, 240).
Recent surveys still show that customers are still satisfied by the services offered by the airline, and have continued to develop more positive attitudes towards the kinds of services they receive as compared to surveys in the 80s and early 90s (Bamber et al., 2013, 254). This success can be largely attributed to the company’s Human Resource planning and development over the years that have had a direct impact on its good performance (Stewart, 2017, p.219). Moreover, the employees of the company today are more satisfied with their salaries, work flexibility, career development opportunities at the company as well as the ability to participate in organizational strategic decision making which results in a more favorable working environment and this increases their commitment to work for the company (Storey, 2014, p.250).
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