Critically review the situation at RestaurantCo and identify the strengths and weaknesses of its approach to managing human resources
Critical Essay for Introduction to Human Resource Management Student name:
This essay analyses the case of RestaurantCo, a large non-unionised restaurant company with over 300 branches across the UK, and more than 7000 employed staff members (Suter & Marchington 2011). According to Brad and Gold (2012, p.401) the term non-unionised is a ‘workplace, where managers have flexibility in designing work, selecting, promotion and training people, and determining rewards and other human resources (HR) practices.’ As briefly defined managers carry out many duties and responsibilities for the business. In order to have a better understanding of the role of line managers and employee relations at RestaurantCo it would be necessary to explore and outline the strengths and weaknesses of the company. To be more specific, this essay will explore and outline the main strengths and weaknesses in the working style of branch managers and the structural centralisation within the organisation, the formal and informal employee involvement and participation (EIP) practices, the working relationships between front line managers and employees, and the competitive effectiveness of the organisational HRM system and capability framework for branch managers. This case study of RestaurantCo focuses on the organisational problems that stems from the centralisation of corporate decision making and monitoring. The company regarded itself as a high quality restaurant business with a strong focus on positive employee relations thus reflected in their history of informal employment relations approach (Suter & Marchington 2011). However, since the change in ownership the company had to implement new business strategies and HR practices as well as make further enhancements to the restaurant environment. For instance, the changes in the restaurant environment included refurbishments, expanded food and drinks menus, and cost savings by integrating the supply chain with other restaurants owned by the group (Suter & Marchington 2011). Consequently, some of these changes were seen as quite extensive and problematic for restaurant managers. For instance, some of these organisational changes were somewhat inefficient and costly in terms of deliveries and that mistakes were frequently made in the order and supply of ingredients (Suter & Marchington 2011). Managers were no longer able to order directly from suppliers but instead were instructed to direct their orders through the supply chain department, whose understanding of the needs of individual branches were seen as limited (Suter & Marchington 2011). There were also additional changes in improving customer service such as the introduction to the ‘Mystery Customer’ initiative (Suter & Marchington 2011, p.213). This program initiative was seen as a form of corporate centralised monitoring and control of service, which somewhat contradicts the supposed given autonomy to branch managers. This demonstrates senior management distrust in its branch managers’ abilities to meet or fulfil their duties and responsibilities. This form of control violates the ‘psychological contract’ between the branch managers and employers which is also known as a ‘two-way exchanged of perceived promises and obligations between employees and their employer’ (Bratton & Gold, 2012, p. 12). In this case, senior management had infringed on the trust between its branch managers by having a ‘centralised monitoring system’ in placed to gather customer information and business performance, thus in turn violating their psychological contract (Suter & Marchington 2011). Consequently, creating a negative ‘low-trust and low-commitment’ relationship compared to a ‘high-trust and high-commitment’ participatory relationship...
References: Marchington, M & Kynighou, A 2012, 'The dynamics of employee involvement and participation during turbulent times ', The International Journal of Human Resource Management, vol.23, no.16, pp. 3336-3354 viewed on 2 September 2013, Ebsco database.
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