Thursday, June 17, 2010


When the first Marks and Spencer store was opening up in Mumbai the Human Resource Head from Marks and Spencer-UK had come to visit the site to audit the standards of the infrastructure made available to the employees. She took me by surprise when she asked me where the rest rooms are available for the employees as she wanted to scrutinize the hygiene and sanitation of the restrooms. She wanted to make sure all the essential requirements of the employees are fulfilled before the opening of the store. Such is the commendable culture of Human Resource in the western countries.
Till a few years back human resources in any retail organisation in India used to treat employees within the organisation as just one “employee number” and there used to be no emotional bonding between them. Here as far as I have experienced the human resource department is yet to develop in a very professional manner. Here for many the role of human resource means nothing but administration work such as preparing salaries on month ends and recruiting staffs. It portrays itself as a Harassment Resource team rather than a Human Resource team. Slowly this notion is dying out and most companies have started utilising this department in a more productive manner. Now the administration part is either outsourced or a separate department is created for the same so that the human resources team can concentrate and develop their role in the corporate. They have now started understanding the importance of employees and started developing various methods to retain them.

In a retail store the sales associates or the frontline team is the backbone of the business. Hence the HR team needs to really take care of them and take care of their daily requirements within the store. Because this team needs to continuously stand on the shop floor they tend to get tired and subliminal very easily, and so the HR needs to take care of their health, need to create vibrancy, develop eloquently motivational factors like incentives or perks to continuously motivate them and also impart knowledge to them and train them periodically so as they become more efficient in their work. If the employees are taken care of they will in turn automatically take care of the organisation and thus build a fiduciary relationship.. As more time is spent on the shop floor it becomes their second home and hence they tend to become like a family and expect more security, hope and of course love from the HR. A strong faith and trust needs to be developed between the HR and the employees and at the same time strike a good emotional bond between them. They also need to create a productive bridge between the management and the employees. If the same is missing it is reflected on their day to day performance and due to this the business gets affected. The HR needs to come up with new initiatives for the welfare of the staffs. They should provide recreational facilities to them, so as they are not stressed out at the end of their shift. Within a store I strongly feel that at-least once in a month the store HR needs to interact with every individual employee and address to their personal issues, and need to highlight the same to the management. During festival seasons and sale period when the store is busy with activities I feel the store HR also need to be involved with the team, understand the effort they are putting in while working for extra hours, around fifteen to eighteen hours.
The store HR’s job is a tough job as he has to cater to employees coming from different background, with different grievances or queries, need to be able to reply or solve them very positively without creating any imbalance within the shop floor, thus creating harmony. At times it becomes very difficult for an HR to handle such situations. Experience and everyday learning makes one perfect in this field. One needs to be personally very strong as an individual to handle this role or you tend to lose very early.

I have seen many store HR’s who have joined as executives and then get promoted as managers in the Corporate office after getting exposed to tremendous knowledge and experience in handling employees. They have then started training; mentoring and guiding the sales team on the shop floor.

HR deals with HRM and OB within an organization.

HRM covers all the technical areas while OB takes care of the inter-personal skills.

What is HRM?
HRM in short means Human Resource Management, and is the new avatar of Personnel and Administrative Department. HRM refers to the way people are managed in an organization.

HRM has evolved because:
1. The Retail Industry is a Service industry and people are its most critical resource.
2. It has built a very competitive environment
3. People management is very critical as it involves cost and revenue generation.
4. In India, it is a growing industry.
5. Provides employment to large numbers of people
6. Skill set required varies as it involves both skilled and unskilled manpower

Role of HR in retail store

1. Human Resource Planning during a set up of a new store

a. Hiring and retaining people
b. Transferring people
c. Procurement and logistics

Job analysis
Ø Awareness of Job description and KRA (Key Result Area)
Example: Job description of a sales executive within a retail shop floor is to attend to customers, convert potential customers, and achieve sales targets.
KRA: Most of the HR Managers confuse KRA to Job Description. A KRA is valid only if it can be measurable.
In this case the KRA of the sales executive can be given as:
Conversion: 5 customers in a day
Sales achievement in quantity: 5 shirts
Sales achievement in value: 8000/-
KRA can be given on daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, half yearly or yearly. It depends on the size of the store, volume of business and other parameters related to the organization. But the important fact is there should be a KRA attached to each and every job role.
Depending on the size of the number of vacancies or for that matter if it’s a new store opening then campus recruitment is done or recruitment done through recruiters and consultants. For shop floor sales requirement advertisement is put up in the local news papers.
Based on the position selections are done based on group discussions, interviews. Some retailers take an entrance test followed by group discussion and personal interview.
Here at this level it becomes very important for an HR to be aware of the job description of the post for which a candidate is being selected for. At this level most of the HR Managers take the help of the department expertise and involve them during the selection process.
Performance management

Performance management is one of the important sub systems in HR. Its impact is significantly high because it is the only system directly tied to rewards and incentives– both monetary and non monetary. Performance is linked mainly to efficiency, profitability, and revenues.
Hence all organizations need to have a set of KRA’s which have to do with quality, process improvement etc. It is important that KRA’s should be qualitative and quantitative.
Once KRA’s have been set, the employees need to have the wherewithal to meet the goals. They need support and resources --- both financial and non financial. They also need to be provided periodic feedback.
Finally, their performance has to be evaluation and the recognition and reward has to be given.

Performance appraisal

It is one of the most controversial systems within human resource.
No one in any organization is ever happy with the system because it touches the heart of motivation and explores the bitter truth of an employee.
It is inherently conflict based because it is subjective and there are perceptions involved
There are assessments involved and in most cases tied steeply to increments, rewards and recognition

Training and development

Retail industry has finally taken shape in India, and is experiencing a rapid growth. Since organized retail is growing tremendously procuring trained human resource for retail is a big challenge. The talent base is limited and with the entry of big retailers in the market there is a huge demand of trained and skilled professionals in this sector.
This has led many retailers to introduce Learning and Development department within the organization. As the name suggests this department is entirely responsible for the development of the employees.


• Compensation is payment for services rendered to an organization by an employee
• Different types of compensation
– Direct: that part of the compensation which is paid in cash
– Indirect: that part of the compensation which is paid as a benefit
It is a motivator for employees at all levels

Rewards, incentives and recognition
Every retailer is looking at various ways to motivate their employees and reduce attrition rate. Introduction of rewards, incentives and recognition of employee is increasingly becoming popular within the industry.

Retailers like PRIL have launched PERK- Performance Enhancement Reward Kit and Star Performer of the month in their stores.
They are used to reward performance at the individual, team and organizational level
Awards and incentives are mostly in cash and kind.

Career planning

It is a formal, organized, planned effort to achieve a balance between individual needs and organizational requirement. It is managed by HR department as a part of HR planning process Career planning of employees lead to improving organizational effectiveness.

Employee discipline

It is a management tool handled by HR to correct employee behaviour
• Any violation of a policy needs action to be taken
• Get employees to conform to a acceptable standards of behaviour
The most common disciplinary problems noticed within a retail store are:
Attendance problems
• Unexcused absence
– Chronic absenteeism
– Chronic late coming
• On the job behavioural problems
– Insubordination

HR should also be aware of statutory compliances, labour laws and legal terms. Discussed in detail in chapter…..


OB- Organizational Behaviour involves managing interpersonal skills within an organization like:
1. Personality
External appearances: height, weight, looks etc

Behaviours : aggressive, assertive, punctual, hardworking, easy going

Attitudes: negative, critical, positive, never say die, encouraging

Beliefs: hard work, success, achievement, growth, learning, respect

Values: are about right and wrong, good and bad….




Decision making

Emotional Intelligence



Power and influence


Managing conflicts and collaboration

Organizational culture


Ebert said...

Very-very good post

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aliah said...

management is very important...i think when customer visit to your store..give him or her your exclusive attention..listening closely to whatever they may be saying to you..this is one the main points when it comes to retail management..
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tim watson said...

Wonderful post. Informative as well.

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