HRM Assignment: Case Study Analysis of Sands Corporation
CASE STUDY ANALYSIS • You should develop a report on HRM assignment of 2,750-3,000 words on the case given below.
a) Structure and organization of the report, including Harvard-style bibliography and referencing, use of annexes.
b) Use and application of key concepts, theories, and models (See Attached file).
c) Evidence of research undertaken, including relevant, current data relating to the selected company/organization
d) Use of graphics, diagrams and images to help communicate student’s ideas
e) Conclusions and recommendations arising from the research undertaken
Case: Managers And Hr Professionals At Sands Corporation: Friends Or Foes
Sands Corporation is a medium-sized company located in the Midwest. It manufactures specialized computer equipment used in cars, serving as a subcontractor to several automobile manufacturers as well as to the military. Federal contracts are an important part of Sands’ total sales. In 1965 the firm had 130 employees. At that time, the personnel department had a full-time director (who was a high school graduate) and a part-time clerk. The department was responsible for maintaining files, placing recruitment ads in the newspaper at management’s request, processing employment applications and payroll, answering phones, and handling other routine administrative tasks. Managers and supervisors were responsible for most personnel matters, including whom to hire, whom to promote, whom to fire, and whom to train. Today Sands employs 700 people. Personnel, now called the human resources department, has a full-time director with a master’s degree in industrial relations, three specialists (with appropriate college degrees and certifications: one in compensation, one in staffing, and one in training and development), and four personnel assistants. Sands’ top management believes that a strong HR department with a highly qualified staff can do a better job of handling most personnel matters than line supervisors can. It is also convinced that a good HR department can keep line managers from inadvertently creating costly legal problems. One of Sands’ competitors recently lost a $5 million sex discrimination suit, which has only strengthened Sands’ resolve to maintain a strong HR department. Some of the key responsibilities the company assigns to its HR department are: Hiring the HR department approves all ads, screens all applicants, tests and interviews candidates, and so forth. Line supervisors are given a limited list of candidates (usually no more than three) per position from which to choose. Workforce diversity The HR department ensures that the composition of Sands’ work force meets the government’s diversity guidelines for federal contractors. Compensation The HR department sets the pay range for each job based on its own compensation studies and survey data of salaries at similar companies. The department must approve all pay decisions. Employee appraisal The HR department requires all supervisors to complete annual appraisal forms on their subordinates. The department scrutinizes these appraisals of employees’ performance closely; it is not uncommon for supervisors to be called on the carpet to justify performance ratings that are unusually high or low. Training the HR department conducts several training programs for employees, including programs in improving human relations, quality management, and the use of computer packages. Attitude surveys The HR department conducts an in-depth attitude survey of all employees each year, asking them how they feel about various facets of their job, such as satisfaction with supervisor and working conditions. Over the past few weeks several supervisors have complained to top executives that the HR department has taken away many of their management rights.
Some of their gripes are:
• The HR department ranks applicants based on test scores or other formal criteria (for example, years of experience). Often the people they pick do not fit well in the department and/or do not get along with the supervisor and coworkers.
• Excellent performers are leaving because the HR department will not approve pay raises exceeding a fixed limit for the job title held, even when a person is able to perform duties beyond those specified in the job description.
• It takes so long to process the paperwork to hire new employees that the unit loses good candidates to competitors.
• Much of the training required of employees is not focused on the job itself. These «canned “programs waste valuable employee time and provide few benefits to the company.
• Supervisors are afraid to be truthful in their performance ratings for fear of being investigated by the HR department.
• Attitude survey data are broken down by department. The HR department then scrutinizes departments with low scores. Some supervisors feel that the attitude survey has become a popularity contest that penalizes managers who are willing to make necessary (but unpopular) decisions. The HR department director rejects all these accusations, arguing that supervisors «just want to do things their way, not taking into account what is best for the company. »
Critical Thinking Questions
1. What seems to be the main source of conflict between supervisors and the HR department at Sands Corporation Explain.
2. Do you believe that managers should be given more autonomy to make personnel decisions such as hiring, appraising, and compensating subordinates lf so, what are some potential drawbacks to granting them this authority Explain.
3. How should Sands ‘top executives deal with the complaints expressed by supervisors Explain.
4. How should the director of the HR department deal with the situation Explain
Sands Corporation focused within this HRM assignment is a medium sized organisation based in Midwest. The company is specialised in manufacturing high-quality and differentiated computer equipment, which are used in cars. Sands Corporation also serves as a sub-contractor to several automobile manufacturers and military. The company maintains federal contracts as important parts in total sales. In the year 1965, the company had employee strength of 130. Now, the company has employee strength of 700. Currently, Sands Corporation has started to think beyond the line managers and supervisors. The top-management of the company now believes that a strong HR department with highly qualified staffs can significantly handle the personnel matters compared to the line supervisors. The top-management of Sands Corporation has brought several important changes in the HRM activities. The top-management of Sands Corporation has adopted authoritative approach or autonomy in different HRM functions like workplace diversity, compensation, performance appraisal, and training. According to a recent survey, the top-executives of Sands Corporation has identified that majority of the supervisors are not happy with the authoritative approach of HRM professionals. Different employee management issues are identified. As a result, the top-executives are facing employee poaching challenges. In last few weeks, several skilled and performing employees have left Sands Corporation for poor job satisfaction and lack of workplace motivation. Major objective of this case-study analysis is to identify and explain the main source of conflict between HR department and supervisors at Sands Corporation. In addition, the drawbacks of the authoritative approaches are also explained in this report. Finally, some suggestions are offered to the top-executives and director of the HR department of Sands Corporation to deal with this challenging situation.
Main Source of Conflict between Supervisors and HR Department
The major conflict arises, when the top-management of Sands Corporation has decided to appoint highly qualified staffs and side-line the supervisors. The top-management of Sands Corporation recently decided that line supervisors will be given a limited list of candidates. Apart from this, the top-management of Sands Corporation also has brought authoritative changes in the compensation distribution, hiring process, performance appraisal process, and training and distribution process (Hitka et al., 2020). According to the reports of the in-depth attitude survey, the supervisors are not happy with the working conditions. Automatically, their job satisfaction has been hampered (Van der Kolk et al., 2019). The supervisors have made complaints to the top-executives of Sands Corporation that their fundamental management rights have been taken away through this autonomy and authoritative approach. This is the major source of conflict. This conflict has resulted in lack of motivation for the employees. Some of the performing employees have decided to leave Sands Corporation for better job opportunities and better job satisfaction. This particular conflict is also affecting overall performance of Sands Corporation.
It is also identified from the complaints of supervisors to the top-executives that top-management professionals of HR department are hiring those applicants, who are not fit for the job criteria. The supervisors are also complaining that newly hired staffs of HR department are not co-operating with supervisors before developing strategies and making decisions. Most importantly, it is identified that the performing employees and supervisors are leaving Sands Corporation due to poor performance appraisal and lack of pay rise despite exceptional workplace performance (Ozkeser, 2019). On the other hand, the supervisors also have complained that they cannot share their opinions on these unethical HRM activities freely due to autonomous investigation conducted by HR department. Overall, these authoritative management activities and autocratic leadership of top-management of HR department are resulting in poor workplace motivation of supervisors. These are the major sources of conflicts at the workplace of Sands Corporation, which are hampering the performance level of Sands Corporation in last few weeks (Shangareev, 2018).
Autonomy for Managers in Hiring, Appraising, and Compensating
Looking into the scenario and facts presented in the case study, it will be wise enough to admit that the managers should not give more autonomy to make personnel decisions on hiring, performance appraisal, and compensation distribution activities. Already the top-management of HR department has adopted authoritative approaches and is making decisions with full autonomy, which have created several ethical issues. These ethical issues are responsible for poor job satisfaction of supervisors (Lorincová et al., 2019). The performing employees and supervisors are leaving their jobs due to the autonomous decisions of managers. Hence, more autonomy cannot be given. Some of the potential drawbacks of these authoritative approaches are provided below.
Some Potential Drawbacks of this Autonomy
Before discussing the potential drawbacks of the authoritative approaches and autonomous decision-making processes, it will be important here to explain the challenges created at the workplace of Sands Corporation due to autocratic leadership activities of the managers. For this purpose, Herzberg’s Motivation Theory needs to be applied here.
Herzberg’s Motivation Theory and Link with the Case Situation
Herzberg’s Motivation Theory is also known as Two-Factor Theory. The principles of this theory state that every organisation is responsible for adjusting two important factors in order to influence motivation in the workplace. These two factors are motivators and hygiene factors. The3se two types of factors need to be considered by the HRM professionals of an organisation to maintain motivation and friendly atmosphere in workplace. In this case, it is quite definite that Sands Corporation has failed to adjust either motivator or hygiene factors or both of these factors to influence motivation (Hanaysha and Majid, 2018). That is why the supervisors are not satisfied and motivated in the workplace.
Figure 1: Two-Factor Theory of Employee Motivation
(Source: EPM, 2018)
First of all, it will be important to determine the characteristics of motivators and hygiene factors. Motivators are those factors, which influence employees in the workplace to work harder. On the other hand, hygiene factors do not directly motivate employees to work harder, but absence of these factors may result in poor motivation and lack of job satisfaction of the employees at the workplace. Secondly, it will be important here to decide the actual motivators and hygiene factors (De Sousa Sabbagha et al., 2018). Achievement, workplace recognition, job responsibility, career growth, career advancement, and nature of job role are considered as motivators. On the other hand, policies of a company, administrative policies, degree of supervision, relationships with management, working conditions, wage rate, salary distribution, and job security are considered as hygiene factors.
Application of this two-factor theory in this given case scenario can significantly indicate that the adopted managerial approach, decision making process, and leadership style of the top-management professionals of HR department of Sands Corporation are creating challenges for the company to influence both motivators and hygiene factors at the workplace (Hitka et al., 2018). As a result, the supervisors and performing employees are least motivated and willing to leave their jobs for better job opportunities.
The top-management professionals of HR department of Sands Corporation have failed to integrate motivators in the human resource management practices. For example, the achievements of the line supervisors are not supervised after the autonomous decisions of the HR managers. In addition, the opportunity of growth and advancement of supervisors also has been limited due to this autonomy of the managers in decision making process. The transparency in performance appraisal process has been hampered, which is creating challenges for career growth of supervisors (Jensen, 2018). Hence, it is clear from this explanation and analysis that the performing employees and supervisors are facing challenges due to the authoritative approaches of managers because motivating factors are overlooked in the decision-making process.
Now, it is also important to discover whether the hygiene factors are comprised or not due to this autonomous decision-making process of the HR managers. The degree of supervision has been hampered because the freedom of the supervisors has been compromised. The supervisors are given limited list of candidates and these supervisors are not entitled to opine their views. Hence, degree of supervision is hampered and it is nothing but compromising the hygiene factor. It is also clear from the facts presented in the case study that the relationship between supervisors and HR professionals are not hygienic (Nguyen et al., 2020). The HR professionals are only responsible for this unhygienic relationship with the supervisors because supervisors are not treated friendly and ethically in the workplace. This is another example of compromising hygiene factor in the workplace. The work condition is poor in which the employees cannot share their opinion on workplace dissatisfaction or poor workplace motivation with the top-executives. Apart from these, it is also identified that the level of remuneration and salary is unhygienic because the supervisors and some of the performing employees are not promoted to the next salary scale or job position due to autonomous decisions of the HR managers of Sands Corporation (Beltrán-Martín and Bou-Llusar, 2018). This is another example of compromising hygiene factor.
The two paragraphs above have significantly explained and analysed how the autonomous decision-making style of the managers of HR department is compromising motivators as well as hygiene factors. Due to these challenges, employees are not motivated and are deciding to leave the company for better career growth with other organisations.
Potential Drawbacks of Further Autonomy and More Authority
First of all, lack of employee motivation can be considered as a potential drawback of the adopted authoritative approach. The professional as well as personal needs of employees are not fulfilled despite their efforts. In addition, the work-life balance of the supervisors and performing employees are also hampered due to the autonomous decisions of the company. This affected motivation and job satisfaction is hampering the performance level of entire workplace, which can gradually affect the sales growth rate of Sands Corporation in the near future. In addition, it is also important to consider that skilled and performing employees are potential assets for any company (Pererva et al., 2018). Due to the authoritative approaches and autonomous leadership style, the management of Sands Corporation is losing its potential staffs. This might also hamper the performance level of entire workforce of Sands Corporation in the near future.
Secondly, it is clear from the case facts that several unfit applicants are hired for a specific job role without any consultation with the supervisors. There is not any doubt that such decision has hurt the ego of the supervisors, but for the bigger picture, this particular autonomous decision-making process of the managers of HR department of Sands Corporation can weaken the potentiality and competency of workforce (Kauppila, 2018). Making of a skilled and competent workforce is the major objective of the top-executive of Sands Corporation, but such authoritative and unethical approaches in autonomous decision-making process can weaken the skill and competency level of entire workforce.
Thirdly, appropriate compensation is not given to the performing employees. Compensation, salary, and financial rewards based on good workplace performance are known as tangible motivational elements for staffs. Due to this autonomous decision, the performing staffs and supervisors are performing beyond their limits and responsibility. Despite their good performance, the staffs are not promoted to the next level or paid higher. This aspect will automatically affect motivation level of entire workforce and it might create a challenge of employee poaching. The business environment has become highly competitive and such unethical treatment towards the employees can give the competitors the opportunity to poach the performing but unsatisfied employees against better compensation (Jungert et al., 2018). This might be another drawback of the authoritative approaches of the managers of HR department of Sands Corporation.
In terms of performance appraisal, the supervisors are not involved in giving their opinions. The supervisors feel that the staffs of HR department are proving to be less competent. Therefore, majority of the performing employees are not happy with the appraisal. The absence of supervisors in performance appraisal process also has resulted in the poor employee retention aspect for Sands Corporation. Supervisors have stated that they are feared of autonomous investigation of HR department, which the major reason behind the prompt actions of such supervisors. However, further autonomy or authoritative approaches might create more challenges as it is already identified that employees are not paid well or appraised well (Paais and Pattiruhu, 2020). Hence, more autonomy to HR department and more absence of supervisors may create more conflicts in the workplace of Sands Corporation. These are the potential drawbacks. Therefore, the managers of HR department should not be given more autonomy in hiring, compensation management, and performance appraisal activities.
The top-executives along with the director of the HR department of Sands Corporation are rejecting all the accusations and arguments of the supervisors. It will not be wise enough to reject all of these complaints because it is the fact that the performing employees are not happy with the appraisal process and compensation standards. Hence, following recommendations will help in dealing with the situation in an appropriate manner.
Suggestions for Top Executives to Deal with the Complaints Expressed by Supervisors
The top-executives of Sands Corporation have understood that the supervisors are not happy with the autonomy of HR department and the employees are also not happy with the hiring process, appraisal process, compensation standards, and training activities. Hence, the top-executives need to adopt some strategies to deal with the situation.
First of all, the top-executive of Sands Corporation should take the autonomy of the attitude survey and conduct the survey in a transparent manner to decide whether the supervisors are reflecting actual concerns or not. Most importantly, the top-executives of Sands Corporation should equally involve HR professionals and the supervisors to decide whether all the aspects of hiring, compensation, appraisal, and training are transparent or not.
Secondly, it will also be important for the top-executives of Sands Corporation to maintain good working condition for the employees. Supervisors are also important parts of the workforce and the complaint against the high workplace stress as well as low remuneration of the employees should be verified for the executives of the company. The top-executives should directly interact with the lower level management and employees to determine whether they are happy with the HRM approaches or not.
Last but not the least; the top-executives of Sands Corporation should consult with the top-level leaders of the company as well as director of the HR department of Sands Corporation to reduce the level of autonomy for the managers of the HR department. Too much autonomy can create organisation communication issues and hamper the relationship with the employees. As a result, the performance level of the company might be hampered. Therefore, it would be important for top-executives to take entire control of all HRM activities for an initial period of time and interact directly with the staffs regarding their motivation level in workplace. In this case, both supervisors and HR managers should be involved to verify transparency of the complaints made by supervisors. In addition, it will also be important to consult with higher authorities regarding changes in decision making style on HRM strategies.
Suggestions for Director of HR Department to Deal with the Situation
First of all, the director of the HR department of Sands Corporation should immediately focus on the change in the decision-making style. It is identified that the managers of HR department are taking autonomous decisions bypassing employees’ views and supervisors’ opinion. Hence, it will be important to introduce participative approach in which the director will allow the participation of all the staffs, managers, and supervisors in the strategy development activities. Hence, participative or democratic leadership style should be adopted. This will definitely help the management of Sands Corporation to deal with the situation. Secondly, the director of the HR department of Sands Corporation should adopt decentralisation in decision making activities. In decentralisation, the top-executives, employees, and other important stakeholders also can be involved. Only the autonomy of HR managers can hamper the decision-making approach, by which issues like poor employee motivation and poor job satisfaction of employees might be created. Therefore, it will be important for the director to integrate decentralisation, which will allow the employees to directly deal with the management. The complaint made by supervisors is on poor employee management. Hence, employee engagement due to decentralisation will automatically help the management to determine whether the company is facing any employee motivation challenge or not.
Last but not the least; the director should adopt a two-way communication approach in which the employees also can have the management rights to share their criticisms or views against any of the HRM strategies. These strategies will definitely help the director of HR department of Sands Corporation to overcome the ongoing issue gradually.
In last few weeks, several performing employees have left Sands Corporation for poor job satisfaction and limited workplace motivation. The supervisors have made complaints to the top-executives against the HR department of Sands Corporation that their fundamental management rights have been taken away due to autonomy and authoritative approach of HR managers. This conflict has resulted in motivational issues for the employees. Some of the performing employees have decided to leave their jobs of Sands Corporation for better job opportunities and better job satisfaction with future organisations. Most importantly, the performing employees are leaving Sands Corporation due to poor performance appraisal and zero pay rise despite good workplace performance. The supervisors also have complained that they cannot share their opinions regarding unethical HRM activities freely due to autonomous investigation power of HR department. Overall, these authoritative management activities and autocratic leadership of top-management professionals of HR department are resulting in poor workplace motivation for employees and supervisors. Several unfit applicants are hired for a specific job role without any consultation with the supervisors, which is affecting the standard of performance. Such decisions have hurt the ego of the supervisors. For the bigger picture, this particular autonomous decision of the managers of HR department of Sands Corporation can affect the potentiality and competency of workforce. Making of a skilled and potential workforce is the major goal of the top-executive of Sands Corporation, but such authoritative approaches in autonomous decision-making process can weaken the potentiality of entire workforce. The autonomous decision-making style of the managers of HR department is affecting the motivators as well as hygiene factors. Due to these challenges, employees are not motivated and are deciding to leave the company.
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