Analyzing Strategies For Human Resource Of Woolworths And Telstra Assessment Answer

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Question :

As HR consultants, you are required to appraise critically the Human resource strategies of two companies of your choice. You will be asked to write a report of 3,500 words

 In your critical appraisal, please answer the following questions:-

  1. Critically appraise the HR systems being used by both companies.
  2. Advise both companies as to how they should strategically align  their human resource practices with their organisational goals.
  3. Based on the HR problems and challenges you have identified, Make key recommendations on how these companies can implement HR best practices that fit their organisational needs.

You should include references to all cited sources in a single list at the end of the assignment.  A bibliography should be a single list of all consulted works placed at the end of the reference list.

You MUST indicate where information relating to both organisations has been researched. List websites, internal company documents or interviews with members of the organisation, where appropriate.

The assignment [30%] should be word processed and the font size should be 12.

The word count for the assignment is 3,500 words +/- 10%.

Deadline dated for Submission : TBC

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Answer :

Strategies for Human Resource

Woolworths and Telstra


Organisational success and human resource management systems (HRMS) share a significant link through organisational success. From the perspective of individual and organisational effectiveness, HRMS plays an important role focusing on helping organisational to achieve strategic objectives in a highly competitive business environment. An effective HRMS always provides greater priority on accomplishing works through improving knowledge, skills and motivation of employees, thereby creating substantial opportunities enabling them to raise contribution to the overall organisation (Noe et al. 2017). As organisational effectiveness has become largely reliant on employee commitment, practices and procedures associated with HR systems of different organisations have gained significant attention from both scholars and practitioners, leading this paper to investigate the strategic nature and priorities of such systems of two different organisations.

The study chooses two Australian companies from different fields of operation, i.e. Woolworths from the retail industry and Telstra from the telecom industry of the country. As one of the leading retailers in the country, the operation of Woolworths Ltd. was established in 1924 in Sydney. Since then, the company has experienced phenomenal growth through developing a premise offering high-quality products to every individual at affordable prices. Telstra, on the other hand, is the largest telecommunications and media company in Australia. It is one of the most recognised brands in the country, with diversified offerings ranging from voice, internet and mobile services to other entertainment products and technological solutions. Critically analysing the HR systems used by these two strong industry players is done with the expectation of gaining a rich understanding regarding the practical implication of modern HRM roles and initiatives.

Critical appraisal of HR systems used by both companies

HR Systems used by Woolworths

Since its inception in 1924, Woolworths has dramatically expanded its business throughout the county to become one of the largest Australian retailer providing high-quality products at affordable prices to over 28 million customers per week. The company has now established its operational hubs across more than 28 million locations while employing more than 198,000 employees to support its growing base of operation. However, concerning the modern context, Cooke, Wood and Horwitz (2015) notice that the HRM of Woolworths is increasingly experiencing the challenges in the form of managing its aging, complex and manual workforce and HR processes, threatening the organisational ability to sustain the desired pace of growth. Vision statement of the organisation, on the other hand, suggests the priority of creating the best place to work, encouraging appointment of great talents with their ability to offer high-performance. The overall scenario, therefore, necessitates the company to go ahead with an HR transformation program, helping the retailer to attain its vision successfully.

HR Transformation Process:

The basic idea behind the overall transformation efforts carried out by Woolworths was to eliminate all the complex, paper-based procedures creating challenges for the HRM while creating better opportunities for the company to provide greater attention to four specially identified areas, such as organisational leadership, operational effectiveness, talent management, awards and employee recognition. During a session at the SAPPHIRE NOW ASUG Conference, the head of HR Transformation at Woolworths, Mr Alison Merner highlighted priority of the company is developing a high-level people strategy. Based on his excerpts, Woolworths has reinforced its people strategy via implementing SAP Success Factors, an end-to-end HRMS that successfully aligns with the company’s goal of meeting customer expectations and elevating competitive edge (von Briel 2018). The fundamental purpose of upgrading the existing HRMS was driven by the necessity of simplifying the operational processes alongside achieving better results from the areas of attracting retaining and developing talents. The system also plays a useful role in developing organisational leaders while introducing better, mutually agreed methods of rewarding and recognising employees for their worthy contribution to the organisation.

Misati and Walumbwa (2018) critically observe that Woolworths did not position its HR Transformation program as an IT project due to its priority in emphasising on leaders and managers while raising accountability of employee to own and manage their careers alongside promoting two-way communication throughout the entire organisation.

SAP SuccessFactors:

The implementation of SAP SuccessFactors in Woolworths was done by considering Talent Management Suite, Employee Central and Employee Central Payroll. The particular system involves a cloud-based software allowing employees at all levels to have access to real-time information, supporting them to make realistic, sensible decisions throughout various departments of the company. More clearly, the particular systems provide a centralised view of pertinent information that accelerates day-to-day decisions related to staffing and leaves while establishing online records to employees, helping them to track work roles, objectives and job performance throughout their career at the company (Yang, Smith and Churin 2018). Practical implementation of the system allows retail store managers of the company to track annual leaves of workers quickly while approving in line with the work requirements on a day-to-day basis. With the availability of highly centralised information related to their performance and talent profiles, everyone at the workplace can access learning and personal data directly from mobile devices at their convenience.

Cost Optimisation:

Cost optimisation is another strategic objective associated with the upgraded HR systems of Woolworths. The particular system aims to lower total cost of ownership (TCO), along with positioning the data systems locally for offering and exchanging company information at a rapid pace. With the use of a cloud-based software system, the company has gradually achieved the objective of TCO while accelerating the implementation of different processes, further minimising costs of deployment. Apart from delivering outcomes at a faster pace, the particular move to cloud-based software and an innovation roadmap significantly allows the company to receive quarterly releases from SAP SuccessFactors, thereby strengthening the business commitment to adapt with market changes at regular intervals (May 2019). However, due to the growing requirement of developing compliance with international security standards, the particular software system was required establishing a data centre in Australia.

The overall analysis of the existing HR systems of Woolworths suggests the company’s capability of a smooth transition to support organisation-wide change management and align senior-level personnel to provide an increased contribution. The basic intention behind implementing such a change program was to allow managers and employees to see the bigger picture so that they intentionally adapt to the changing requirements. The overall scenario depicts the strength of particular relationship and solidity of governance associated with the relationship between Woolworths and SAP, continuing to create greater results for the human resources, as well as the company.

HR systems used by Telstra

The vision statement of Telstra suggests the need for continuous transformation of business processes to achieve sustainable competitive advantage while creating better values for the society. The need for transformation to support suitable evolution of its main asset, the human resource, the company had encountered with a greater challenge of optimising the organisational ability to attract, retain, manage and develop people. As a result, the company identified the need for shifting from an outdated and inefficient HR management and payroll system to a system that offers positive business results with guaranteeing service efficiency and consistency (Ceric et al. 2016). The company finds such a solution by leveraging DXC Technology Business Process Service.

HR Management and Payroll:

As a telecommunication provider, Telstra needs to rely mainly on its network and systems infrastructure for carrying and handling the majority of data and telephony traffic for offering domestic, as well as international services. Apart from being the largest telecom provider in Australia, the company is the premier provider of voice and satellite services across Asia. With its 1100 points-of-presence, the telecom provider has established its networks and managed services business at the global scale to cover areas throughout Australia, Europe, Asia Pacific and US. However, the global telecom industry is subjected to change at a rapid pace, requiring the company to respond to the continuously shifting marketing requirements in a mean to thrive towards the desired organisational success (Konrad, Yang and Maurer 2016). In a mean to achieve such an objective, the company seeks to optimise its human resource via transforming its in-house HR and payroll system supported by the SAP. The growth of the business can be observed in line with the implementation of the proposed system over the years. The old system, which was no longer performing at the required level due to lack of clarity and a significant volume of paper-based transactions, creating inefficiencies, was replaced with a modern system that successfully addresses the need for innovation and technologic advancements.

The implementation of DXC’s technology was meant to promote centralisation of operation and improving functional efficiency in the area of outsourcing. As part of its transition from a fully owned government entity, as reported by the company’s executive director of Shared Services, Mr Darren Fewster, Telstra transformed the company as a private operator in a highly competitive and strictly regulated telecom industry. The newly upgraded system, known as People Express, was supported by DXC though its technology solution hosting and managing the network infrastructure (Brown et al. 2016). DXC is continuously providing operational services such as application development, maintenance and hosting services to Telstra since 2010. The implementation of the system allows Telstra to overcome the previously experienced problems, thereby achieving improvement in terms of accuracy of payments, billing, service delivery, employee accessibility and levels of employee satisfaction.

Transforming HR Experience:

Apart from the above programme, which supported a smooth, feasible change throughout the organisation, Telstra provides a lot of efforts in transforming the experience associated with HR systems to promote self-service, autonomy, innovation and adaptation with changing trends of the digital economy. As part of the process, the innovative members of the HR team has fundamentally launched a wide range of apps and new digital channels over a short span of time. The likes of updated HR portal, on-boarding app, digital ticketing system and employee benefit sites are some of the notable examples of such an initiative (Lal 2015). Telstra, for example, did not overlook the demand of customers to access different services directly from their mobile devices, allowing the company to continue working on innovation and future developments.

Workforce Guardian:

Workforce Guardian, a subscription-based HR software, is used by Telstra for the past ten years to offer a substantial number of streamlined HR solutions. Workforce Guardian constitutes some of the major features and benefits directly allowing an organisation to hire, manage and exit employee confidently while complying with the legal rules and guidelines of the Australian workplace laws (Ahmadian et al. 2017). With an affordable annual subscription of multiple categories of features and functions, the particular system allows Telstra to manage its human resource in a compliant manner.

Advise on strategically aligning human resource practices with organisational goals

HR challenges faced by Woolworths:

Woolworths owns a chain of supermarkets to form an effective part of the retail industry of Australia. HRM of the company provides greater attention to building customer-oriented culture across its retail stores to provide increased importance on customer needs while considering their opinions and coming up with newer, innovative measures to keep shopper engaged. The dedicated loyalty program, on the other hand, plays an important role in customer engagement through continuously updating the offerings to provide a wide range of choices for the shoppers to choose from (Tuckey et al. 2017). However, in an industry, which is extremely customer-oriented, issues in the areas of job analysis and job design are highly likely to create significant difficulties for the HRM. As retail employees across various stores of Woolworths supermarkets are tasked with contacting customer directly, HRM needs to overcome the burden of creating a highly motivated and efficient workforce, capable of shouldering the relative job requirements, thereby assisting the organisation to achieve corporate goals.

Concerning the complex requirements of retail workforce due to rapid changes in the respective environment, managing workforce motivation, job satisfaction and employee engagement have become burdensome for the HRM. The problem is worsening as increasing number of staff are leaving the workforce to seek better opportunities, leaving the organisation to encounter significant challenges in retaining talented individuals with their ability to generate leads from potential shoppers (Grimmer et al. 2017). In the wake of online retailing, in particular, Woolworths has faced considerable difficulty in upgrading the existing HR interface through strategic change management. Such a change must support the objective of customer-client interaction in the retail environment while gaining overwhelming support from the retail managers and employees. Therefore, the HRM is liable not only to address employee concerns related to changes in policies and systems but also to ensure achievement of strategic objectives of the business.

Advise on strategic alignment:

In order to enable suitable alignment of change policies and initiatives as part of the existing HR systems with the strategic goals and objectives of the organisation, the HRM must be comprised of competent individuals having a clear understanding of organisational vision and mission. As suggested by Bailey et al. (2015), such an understanding greatly allows HR teams of the organisation to carry out strategic planning process to determine long-term objectives and set out corporate goals necessary to achieve those. An in-depth assessment of current and anticipatory position of the organisation essentially encourages the HRM to propose policy changes and operational reforms to affect organisational ability to achieve its mission.

One of the important suggests regarding the strategic alignment is based on providing superior attention to developing a proper business strategy to support formulation of the future-oriented plan, helping the organisation to create and maximise competitive advantage alongside attaining the mission statement. The HRM needs to prioritise and categorise the functional areas of responsibilities, such as operations, production, finance and accounting, sales and marketing and information technology. The HRM, in particular, should exert specific attention to talent acquisition, performance management, training and development, employee retention and engagement, compensation and benefits to support comprehensive execution of strategies (Kurnia et al. 2015). The organisation-wide communication plays an integral role in success of overall alignment.

HR challenges faced by Telstra:

Due to the rapid influx of technologies, constantly shifting buyer behaviours and uninterrupted emergence of alternative services, HR departments in the telecom industry is undergoing an immense transformation. As part of the workforce transformation strategy, the country’s major telecom provider also seeks to gain an increased understanding of the key challenges facing its HRM department in achieving the corporate goals. Based on the survey of (Marchington 2015), it has been discovered that top challenges across the industry include recruitment, utilisation and retention of competent employees, building leadership commitments at all levels of the organisation and creating a suitable culture that supports a great level of employee satisfaction and engagement.

Telstra for a long period was using formal strategies for managing and administering employees towards the achievement of organisational goals. However, in the wake of digital revolution, HRM is faced with a tougher challenge of encouraging employees to use their skills in the right direction so as to achieve professional, as well as organisational development. One of the most important challenges faced by the operation of Telstra in Australia, in this case, involves the promotion of business process automation in collaboration with both internal and external environmental requirements (Abubaker and Bagley 2016). Additionally, telecom providers often need to develop a tech-savvy presence throughout the market. However, often these operators fail to develop a robust governance strategy due to the implications of failed strategies of change management, thereby unable to address future trends of the industry.

Advise on strategic alignment:

In order to enable strategic alignment of the change management process, as part of the newer initiatives of HRM, with the organisational goals, the HR department of Telstra has identified the need for going ahead with cultural transformation, which plays a fundamental role in influencing employee behaviours throughout the workforce. However, developing such a workforce culture is not an easy task for the HRM, especially when the company is going through the path of continuous business expansion to seek opportunities from the promising international markets. In order to facilitate the management to adopt most suitable leadership style across different functional departments, HR professionals of the organisation must commonly emphasise on both customers, as well as employee experience, indicating the need for enhancing the relationship between the two (Bain and Taylor 2017). A large telecom provider like Telstra should focus on increasing employee engagement in an era dominated by technologies for improving customer loyalty, thereby helping in achieving corporate aims and objectives. The telecom business is advised to enhance employee engagement through promoting workplace collaboration, contributing essentially to increased productivity, retention, developing a customer-centric attitude and recruiting like-minded individuals to the organisation. As one-to-one direct linkage can be observed between employee and customer satisfaction, the need for extending the collaboration across different supply chains significantly contributes to the business development goals of the highly competent telecom operator in both domestic and international marketplaces.

Key recommendations on implementation of best HR practices

Recommendations to Woolworths:

As retailers are facing enormous changes in the Australian retail environment, mainly driven by the emergence of business model transformation and rapidly shifting consumer tastes and preferences, employees of retail organisations are continuously required with developing their existing skills and knowledge to use updated systems and methods. Additionally, the continuous aging workforce in the retail industry is also creating a significant concern for a large-scale supermarket chain like Woolworths. As a result, the company needs to continuously work on recruiting and inducting new staff with adequate skills and expertise, indicating the need for adopting transparent recruitment and selection process alongside robust workplace culture, attracting capable individuals (Price 2016). Additionally, the company must develop dedicated talent management systems for managing staff performance, analysing their current skills and offering a suitable path to proceed with future career aspirations, thereby promoting worker engagement in a highly customer-intensive retail environment. Suitability of such a system, for example, necessarily encourages retail store managers to engage in effective interaction with staff, which in turn, create an opportunity for filling an existing gap in their skillsets. Implementation of such a system also increases the scope for training and development of employee to enhance work performance, thereby helping Woolworths to achieve and maintain a competitive advantage.

Basterretxea and Storey (2018), in this case, principally identify the need for identifying and advancing high-performing staff with the aim of fulfilling continuously growing workplace requirements. While departmental or store managers can play a valuable role in identifying top performers in their operational areas, offering them rewards and benefits for their contribution beyond the job requirements can drive engagement and enhance performance productivity to support achievement of common organisational goals and objectives. Factors such as promotion and career development opportunities must be leveraged largely by Woolworths to elevate the chance of success in a highly competitive retail environment.

Recommendations to Telstra:

The workforce of Telstra supports recruitment and retention of talented employees, mainly driven by its specific focus on developing a rich and engaging workforce culture. Apart from creating learning and development opportunities and strengthening recruitment and retention strategies, Telstra, however, should require providing special attention to the diversity management strategy since the operation of the company is rapidly expanding into the overseas markets (Abraham 2016). Such an initiative will require the company to increase the strength and stability of its organisational culture by establishing key systems supporting communication and feedback. Shifting an increased focus on diversity will allow the company to reap through the opportunities available as part of the expanded network infrastructure and business process services.

Moreover, due to the degree of competition throughout the telecom industry in both domestic and international marketplaces, Telstra must provide superior emphasis on employee commitment through preparing suitable policies (Shonubi et al. 2017). These policies must enable mutual trust and respect among each organisational member while promoting their commitment with the organisation to raise integrity of services and operation.


The overall assignment reflects the importance of developing robust HR systems by organisations in a mean to extract opportunities from the available human capital while raising competitive advantage in the highly dynamic, rapidly globalised marketplaces. It is principally observed that the particular system is formed on the basis of HR policies covering different areas in line with both internal and external requirements, necessitating HR professionals to develop an increased understanding of current trends, preferences and key legislative requirements. Developing a high compliant HR system has become an onerous task for large organisations, such as Woolworths and Telstra, both from separate business industries in Australia, especially due to hefty costs associated with different change management projects. Because of constant advances of technologies, resource requirements of a competently feasible organisational project is becoming huge and complex, thereby creating some genuine problems for the organisations. These change projects, on the other hand, must also support the best practices of HRM, as well as provide a stimulus to achieve primary corporate goals and objectives in a highly competitive marketing environment. Hence, organisations must rely on strategic planning to picturise their long-term strategic objectives, supported by a feasible approach to talent development and job execution.