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HRM Assignment: Human Resource Challenges In Retail Industry

Question

Task:
You will write a report on HRM assignment on the key HR challenges for the workforce in your selected industry sector including the pre-pandemic and pandemic contexts.

This will include the following elements:

  • Introduction
  • Industry context
  • Workforce challenges for the sector before the pandemic, including:
    • Attraction and recruitment
    • Retention and development
    • Workplace health and safety
  • Workforce challenges for the sector during the pandemic, using these same themes and more if needed
  • Recommendations for HR in the post-pandemic period
  • Reference list

Answer

Introduction
The present HRM assignment is focused on the concept of human resources that generally includes the strategic management and the planning of the employees for the creation of a motivated and productive workforce. The retail industry possesses varied types of human resource challenges to deal with the customers and the employees both in the short run and long run (Hancock & Schaninger, 2020). The crucial challenges faced by HR in the retail industry include the higher turnover, the diversity of the employees, the misconceptions, and the fluctuations in the seasonal demand. This report will provide a background on the retail industry context, the workforce challenges faced by the industry before the pandemic as well as during the pandemic. Further, it will also discuss the recommendations to the HR in dealing with the challenges post-pandemic.

Industry Context
The retail industry of Australia is segmented based on the products and the distribution channel. This retail industry can be considered as the crucial contributor to the Australian economy that is on a growth trajectory from 2004 to 2019. The retail turnover of the Australian economy is 329.6 billion in 2019 that can be considered to be AUD 9 billion more than the record value that it has created the previous year (Australian Retail Outlook, 2020). The retail sector of Australia also contributed 4.1% to the GDP that led to 10.7% of the employment.

It has been found that the labour market in Australia can be considered to be highly segregated by the industry and the occupation that has persisted in the past few decades. This retail industry can be considered to be a male-dominated industry and the different types of job portfolios in this industry included the role of the regional manager, the assistant manager, and the other linked positions (Mordor Intelligence, 2021). According to the study carried out by KPMG (2020), it has been found that rental overheads, the discounting, and confidence of the consumers are crucial challenges affecting the Australian retail industry.

Workforce Challenges before the Pandemic
Attraction and recruitment

Retention and employee turnover can be considered to be the crucial challenge in the attraction and the recruitment of employees in the retail sector. With the higher rate of turnover, it can be said that this turnover is detrimental when it is associated with the succession and the training plans. The employees involved in this retail industry are not paid proper remuneration as per their work and thus this industry faces labor and skill shortages. Further, it has been found that the pay system in this industry is not open and transparent to develop a greater sense of justice among the employees (FCB, 2016). There is no such transparency related to the horizontal pay dispersion in the retail industry. However, it can be said that there is no specific qualification required to enter this industry as an individual can join the sector after completing a diploma or any other professional degree for a higher-level managerial position.

Retention and development
One of the greatest challenges faced by HR in the retail industry is the failure to retain committed staff. This makes it difficult for the HR of the retail sector to save sufficient time and thus tackle the financial cost of training and hiring the new and loyal employees in the organization to carry out the job through improved means (Nalla & Varalaxmi, 2018). The staffs in this industry are not paid with the desired amount that they should be and thus this can be considered as the vital reason of quick changing of the job by the employees in search of a hike. There also exists discrimination between the employees in the retail sector affecting the development.

Workplace health and safety
Health and safety can be considered to be challenging for the managers and the owners of the retail sector. This is because the employees in the retail industry had to witness different types of health hazards such as slips, trips, falls, fire, violence, electricity, and handling of the equipment (de Vass et al., 2020). On the other hand, the employees also face difficulty in tackling the safety vision as well as imposing and enforcing the accountability to tackle the workplace health and safety challenges in the retail industry.

Difficulty in managing the latest technology
In the retail sector, it has been found that with the changing demand and the evolvement of the latest technology, HR also witnesses challenges in providing training to the employees on the use of the latest technology (Manjunath Koliwad et al., 2018). It becomes difficult for HR to make the employees understand the usage of different types of analytic tools the POS system, the electronic inventory control system as well as the e-mail and social marketing platforms (Srivastava, 2021). It is the responsibility of the IT team along with the co-ordination of the HR to provide an improved level of training to the employees so that they can make themselves adjusted and equipped to this latest technology.

Recruitment of the right fit in the organization
In the case of recruitment of the correct set of talent, it can be said that this process is difficult in the retail sector because the eligible candidates receive varied options. It becomes difficult to actively engage in the local talent base and thus recruit the employees. The HR of the retail sector also faces difficulties in the development of a talent pool as well as remaining engaged with the talent process (Payroll & Benefits Administration, 2020). Further, HR also experiences problems in the optimization of the job listing for tackling the local rankings of the employees in the retail sector.

Workforce challenges for the sector during the pandemic
Attraction and recruitment

During the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the changes in customer demands, there has been a spike in the hiring process of the retail industry. Due to the sudden change in the working hours or the overpressure of the limited employees during the pandemic, the HR of the retail industry is witnessing challenges in attracting and recruiting employees. Further, due to the decline in the reduction of the labor demand, it has been found that the HR of the retail sector must rethink the hiring process to make the recruitment process smooth (Boxall et al., 2018). On the other hand, another important challenge faced by HR in the retail sector includes the failure to recruit employees due to the non-availability of training opportunities because of the pandemic. Due to this failure in the provision of the training opportunities, it becomes difficult for HR to recruit the freshers or the new employees in this sector.

Retention and development
As the retail sector does not possess the opportunity to provide the work-from-home option to their employees, most of the employees are unwilling to carry out their work and thus they quit their work. This creates pressure on the other employees who are willing to carry out their work in the retail sector. In this case, it can be considered to be difficult for the HR of the retail sector to retain the employees because of the effect of the normal functioning of the business during pandemic times (McKinsey & Company, 2020). On the other hand, it has been found that although the employees of some positions are provided with the opportunity to work from home, it becomes difficult for HR to organize those employees working remotely supporting their mental health and well-being. Further, it has been found that the retailer sector in this industry did not receive any such payment from the Government to retain and develop the employees during the period of a pandemic.

Workplace health and safety
During the period of the pandemic because of the sudden shift in the work culture, the health and the well-being of the employees in the retail sector has been affected to a great extent. Stress, anxiety, and other types of mental health issues have affected the employees in the retail sector and thus it becomes difficult for HR to tackle workplace health and safety issues (Moddel & Smith, 2018). Moreover, it has been found that as a large number of customers visit the retail store and thus it becomes challenging for the HR to provide safety to the employees from the large crowd. The safety of the employees must also be taken into consideration by HR in such a case and thus this will assist in protecting the health of the employees involved in the retail sector.

Changes in the rules and regulation of the company
This can be considered as one of the crucial challenges faced by HR in the retail sector during a pandemic. In the dynamic business environment, changes are considered to be constant and thus die to this pandemic, there have been sudden changes in the rules and the regulation of the retail sector (Onik et al., 2018). The HR of the retail sector has faced difficulty in managing the changed rules and regulations during the pandemic. These changes in the rules affect the retention and the hiring of the workforce in the retail sector. Moreover, HR must also refer to the governing corporate rules so that it becomes easier for them to tackle the employees as per the changed rules and regulations of the retail organization.

Management of the remote work
The transition of the remote work culture in the retail sector cannot be considered seamless during the period of COVID. This is because it is difficult to operate the retail sector by carrying out the task by work-from-home. The remote working strategies have not been encouraged in this sector because of the huge customer flock or the online order of the customer. The staff had to manage the orders and the queries of the customers, because of which the work-from-home option in this sector cannot be considered to be feasible (Wilson et al., 2020). The HR of the retail sector has faced difficulty in enhancing the productivity and the engagement of the employees. Further, HR has also faced difficulty in providing training as well as providing support to the employees related to the remote work-from-home option. Further, due to the poor level of agility, it has been found that HR also faces difficulty in responding to the queries of the staff as well as the employees during the period of a pandemic.

Recommendations for HR in the post-pandemic period
As the pandemic situation can be considered to be precarious, the HR of the retail industry must focus on training the front-line retail sales personal because they are more closely connected with the customers than the management. The human resource department must also arrange the training sessions for the front-line employees so that they can manage the task accordingly. There has been the development of concrete succession planning policies in the retail sector (Mkansi et al., 2018). As there has been an increase in the number of layoffs, the human resource management must try to rationalize the manpower through improved ways. On the other hand, it can be said that with the help of succession planning, the HR of the retail sector is trying its best to replace the employees or control the layoff due to downsizing. The human resource management must try to execute the entire task with justice and equity thereby ensuring the reputation of the organization.

Conclusion
Thus, it can be said that the HR in the retail sector had to witness different types of challenges both during and after the pandemic in managing the employees. As the retail sector of Australia contributes a major share in the GDP of the country, the HR of the retail sector organization must take proper steps in checking the effective functioning of the organization. Further, HR must also take careful steps in tackling the challenges faced by them in the retail sector. Therefore, to enhance the goal of HR, there should be enhancement of the communication and the employee's productivity in the workplace.

Reference list
Australian Retail Outlook. (2020). KPMG. Retrieved 11 May 2021, from https://home.kpmg/au/en/home/insights/2020/02/australian-retail-outlook-2020.html

Boxall, P., Bainbridge, H., & Frenkel, S. (2018). Styles of HRM in Australia and New Zealand. In Handbook of Research on Comparative Human Resource Management. Edward Elgar Publishing. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Hugh_Bainbridge/publication/323573161_Styles_of_human_resource_ management_in_Australia_and_New_Zealand/links/5afa9c63a6fdccacab16bb82/Styles-of-human- resource-management-in-Australia-and-New-Zealand.pdf

de Vass, T., Shee, H., & Miah, S. J. (2020). Iot in supply chain management: a narrative on retail sector sustainability. International Journal of Logistics Research and Applications, 1-20. https://www.academia.edu/download/64019287/IoT%20in%20supply%20chain%20management% 20a%20narrative%20on%20retailers%20.pdf

FCB. (2016). Top five issues for retailers this year. Retrieved 11 May 2021, from https://www.fcbgroup.com.au/news/top-five-issues-retailers-year/

Hancock, B., & Schaninger, B. (2020). McKinsey & Company . Retrieved 11 May 2021, from https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/hr-says-talent-is-crucial-for-performance-and-the-pandemic-proves-it

KPMG. (2021). Australian Retail Outlook 2020. Retrieved 11 May 2021, from https://assets.kpmg/content/dam/kpmg/au/pdf/2020/australian-retail-outlook-2020.pdf

Manjunath Koliwad, D. S. A. (2018). Review of human resource management in retail industry. https://www.ijrar.org/papers/IJRAR1944675.pdf

McKinsey & Company (2020). The next normal for Australian industries and workforces. Retrieved 11 May 2021, from https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/public-and-social-sector/our-insights/the-next-normal-for-australian-industries-and-workforces

Mkansi, M., Eresia-Eke, C., & Emmanuel-Ebikake, O. (2018). E-grocery challenges and remedies: Global market leaders perspective. Cogent Business & Management, 5(1), 1459338. https://www.cogentoa.com/article/10.1080/23311975.2018.1459338

Moddel, L.& Smith, P.K. (2018). A challenging time for employers in the Australian retail market? Retrieved 11 May 2021, from https://www.twobirds.com/en/news/articles/2018/australia/a-challenging-time-for-employers-in-the-australian-retail-market

Mordor Intelligence. (2021). Australian Retail Sector. Retrieved 11 May 2021, from https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/retail-industry-in-australia#:~:text=Market%20Overview,recorded%20in%20the%20previous%20year.

Nalla, B., & Varalaxmi, P. (2018). Human resource management practices in organized retailing–A stydy of select retailers. South Asian Journal of Marketing & Management Research, 8(7), 15-28. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.1069.5286&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Onik, M. H., Miraz, M. H., & Kim, C. S. (2018). A recruitment and human resource management technique using blockchain technology for industry 4.0. https://arxiv.org/pdf/1812.03237

Srivastava, A. (2021). Learning Light. Retrieved 11 May 2021, from https://www.learninglight.com/retail-training-elearning/

Wilson, B., Webster, B & Martin, C. (2020). Article. Retrieved 11 May 2021, from https://www.mondaq.com/australia/operational-impacts-and-strategy/988740/retail-under-pressure-managing-workforce-and-cash-flow-in-a-challenging-environment

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