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Staff Retention

Human Resources Management

Chapter 1

Introduction

Employee turnover in the industry has become the custom today in the manufacturing, service and merchandising industry. Employees are moving from one form of employment to another because of several factors that the employers have not yet grasped. In this regard many industry players are busy defining ways to protect turnover of its employees. The most affected part of this is the merchandising industry. In the bid to prove influence in the fastest upcoming sector executives in the merchandising industry are fighting hard the high trend of their staff consistently changing jobs (Rueben 22). Today generating an atmosphere favorable and valued by all employees in the ever changing employee market may not be as pain-streaking as it may appear to the larger population. It engages a number of issues may make the brilliant minds that make up your staffs want to stay in the organization. A combination of this contribution may eventually lead to higher number of employees and thus reduce turnover. The contributions made above require that they be performed in tandem for observable achievement to be achieved. Grasping the skill of staff retention requires that management delve deeply into what causes turnover of staff in institutions. Many questions should be put on the table in order to ascertain reasons why one would want to work in one organization and not prefer to work in another organization. The managements should not rest at that but proceed to look into the subsequent period that the employee has been absorbed into an organization. By asking these questions it is easy to discern that there are a lot of issues that have been left wanting for a long time. I find it easy to look at these issues by sympathizing with the employee and trying to assume his shoes at the company. This in real meaning requires doing proper research on standard ethical models that might be brought on board to encourage retention of employees. In the recent past the employers used to retain employees. The confidence thus gained goes down well with those in the precincts of work thus offering them purpose and presence. Boosting the moral of workers is one way of improving confidence of staff. In this regard even the general productivity of the company of the company can be noticed. Working closely and collectively in addition grants the staff presence. Al in all it's just a matter of saying thank you as morality demands.

There are different styles of leadership in institutions that influence how relationships in the work place take place. People in leadership roles should be in the fore front in show wing proper codes of conduct to their employees, as opposed to taking the hind seat. In turn the employees may feel very motivated within the working environments that they are working. This enabling environment will thus lead to a sense of belonging by the individuals and cohesiveness thus leading to teamwork translating into a proud team. For one to retain staff he or she has to consider several important issues of the work place.

  • Background

Draper Co. Ltd. Found in 1987 is a sweater manufacturer that employs more than 100 people in Hong Kong. Since garment companies had bloomed in recent years. The role for merchandising people become more difficult and the manpower is short in the labor market. Draper is facing the problem of high staff turnover rate. In addition, with opening of the mainland market, many foreign enterprises had set up their merchandising sections in Hong Kong and some enterprises also invite Hong Kong garment companies to cope with their expanding business. As a result, the job vacancies of staff increased tremendously. Among the merchandising industry, garment sections are highest in demand for staff. This is due to the fast growing of the sectors as well as the high employee turnover rate and the lack of talent in the labor market. With the goal of identifying predictors of turnover, factors and employee's intention to leave or stay with the company will be the major issue of Draper Co. Ltd.

  • Research Problems

Initially, the establishment of the project required the involvement of different parties who would provide data and statistical analysis. The study required involvement of external organizations which would require them to allow access their staff to cooperate during the course of the research. Unfortunately some of these merchants turned down request to take part a little after the project was already initialized, it was quite unfortunate. The team of researchers contacted several nationwide merchandise groups to request them to take part in the research as a subsequent measure. Within a short period of time, two particular staff articulated formal concern and primarily arranged to play a part in the project but with the approval of the Board of Governors of their respectful organizations. The team of researchers used up considerable hours meeting with a variety of the team of people representing the staff and giving important information related to the research and showing presentations that highlight the scope of the study. An agreement was made with these staff that the research panel would conduct industry job and staff retention survey within the merchandise organization, rather than concentrating on organizational loop holes as it would imply that there are indeed loop holes, in their respective organizations which might not be the truly case. However because of various unpredicted situations including the falling ill of one of the team members who acted as coordinator of the research team and these respectful staff, the staff in the end made the decision to withdraw its cooperation, leaving operation of the research between a rock a rock and a hard place. The research team then informed the Draper Co. Ltd of the current problems and suggesting a different research method design that would still be in line aims of the project and the objectives outlined before the research was initially flagged off. In this respect, a decision was made to advertise across various merchandise outlets to secure individual people working as staff to act as respondents from different retail outlets, thus eliminating the process of approaching company heads or Board of Governors for endorsement to guarantee a speedy and effortless contact with respondents. The Draper Co. Ltd was highly involved in endorsing the submission for change in the approach for the research. The research carried out by the team concerned conducting 100 partially controlled telephone interviews with staff from different merchandising firms including own staff at Draper Co. Ltd . The research method design of the survey was cautiously designed and conversant with preceding works that dwelled on employee equality and diversity concerns all over the work environment (e.g. Sutherland and Davidson, 1997). The design of the interviews was such that it could be in accordance with the aims and corresponding objectives of the Draper Co. Ltd and eventually deal with a array of concerns as well as the recognition of possible occupational improvement barriers and the recognition of approaches for conquering these limitations, chances for education and training, job promotions and provision for leadership. The partially controlled interview timetable was then stored in secure modules and safe websites secured with passwords, which eventually made it easy for members of the research panel to enter information directly into the research database and online pages, and at the same time carrying out interviews with respondents all over the merchandising industry. The details of the research methodology and what will be contained in the schedule for the research is described in the subsequent sections.

  • Research Objective

This study was led by a research team commissioned by the Draper Co. Ltd. The research team was selected by the management of the company with advice by the legal advice wing experts. It was agreed that 16 members be brought aboard the team of researchers. The main goal of identifying predictors of turnover, factors and employee's intention to leave or stay with the company will be the major issue of Draper Co. Ltd.

The aims of the project were as follows:

To examine two sets of potential causes of job turnovers and eventual staff retention mechanisms: firstly, those that impede the retention of workers in the organization and secondly, those that speeds the exit of the players from the organizations.

Identify strategies for overcoming these barriers.

Investigate the feasibility of constructing a national database, documenting the career paths of women in the merchandise industry.

Develop, publish and disseminate good practice guidelines and recommendations using reports, conference presentations, feedback seminars, academic journals and merchandise specialist and national press.

The objectives of the project were to:

  • Investigate two sets of potential reasons for staff leaving the company: firstly, those that accelerate the exit of workers and staff and secondly, those that impede the efforts of retaining staff in the organization.
  • Identify strategies for overcoming these reasons.
  • Investigate the feasibility of constructing a company database, documenting the career paths of workers in the merchandise industry.
  • Develop a promotion system, which is more sensitive to the needs of employees
  • Develop an image of the company, which is based entirely upon team cohesion.
  • Provide a concept of role models, which can be utilized by young employees to resolve possible work life balance conflicts.
  • Produce a set of solutions, which can be applied to other retail settings.
  • Develop, publish and disseminate good practice guidelines and recommendations using reports, conference presentations, feedback seminars, academic journals and merchandise specialist and national press.
  • Research Questions

Why this company has high staff turnover rate

Why staff relationship will make new comer difficult to fit in team work

What relationship caused high staff turnover rate

How to retain staff in this company

Does the management policy affect staff retention?

Does the company is responsive to employee's needs and wants

Does company's reputation retain staff?

  • Terminologies

Merchandising

Retention

Welfare

Turnover

Respondent

Outsourcing

Glass ceiling

  • Dissertation Outlines

Chapter 2

Literature Review

2.1 Introduction

This Section looks at the main literature in this area. The first sections focus on the structure of merchandising and the broader profile of the sector. The section then moves on to its main concern which is the job retention of staff at junior and senior levels in merchandising. Merchandising is an economic sector, which has traditionally been associated with the employment of staff. Overall, 60% of staff are low skilled employees and 40% are highly skilled in terms of there educational background. Even as these figures show that the merchandising sector clearly employs a larger number of low skilled than the skilled, it is not a ‘balanced industry' (Stillsmart, 2004). The representation of low skill workers in the merchandising sector however, follows a number of important patterns. Official statistics are used to highlight the predominance of staff in part time work in the merchandising sector and the under representation of a section staff at senior levels. According to Stillsmart, (2004), official figures are general and are unlikely to provide a clear understanding of the dynamics relating to the position in which staff is employed in merchandising sector. The following sections therefore outline theories that have been offered to account for these disparities, particularly in relation to barriers for staff attempting to progress into senior management positions. An examination of managing diversity is then offered and potential mechanisms for ensuring merchandising organizations fully utilize the talents of all employees to maximize productivity is discussed.

2.2 The structure of the merchandising sector

The merchandising sector is the largest private sector employer in the Hong Kong yet it is rarely recognized as such. Stillsmart (a not for profit organization, set up and part funded by Government to identify and address the skills needs of the Hong Kong merchandising sector), suggest that this is, possibly because its workforce is not concentrated in any particular region or locality. In fact, the merchandising sector is the largest public sector employer in the Hong Kong. Furthermore, Wang XI Inc is the Hong Kong's second largest employer after the Jubilee (Stillsmart, 2004). Overall, the merchandising sector employs three million people throughout the Hong Kong, which accounts for approximately ten per cent of employment throughout the Hong Kong. However, the structure of the industry is unusual, and is described by Stillsmart, as ‘hourglass shaped'. The vast majority (95%) work in firms with less than ten employees. Consequently, there is significantly less (just over two thousand) merchandising employers with more than fifty staff, reflecting the “hourglass shape” of the industry profile.

2.3 Job Retention and improvement Strategies

The welfare reform programs of the 1990s moved many families from cash assistance into the work force. The strong economy provided an abundance of entry-level, low-skill job opportunities to support this transition. For most of these families, however, finding a job is only the first step in the difficult path toward self-sufficiency. Like other working parents, adults who leave welfare (“leavers”) often encounter barriers to job retention and advancement. Between 1994 and 2002, the welfare caseload declined drastically, by more than 2.5 million cases (or 50 percent). Simultaneously, the number of single mothers either divorced or never married— in the work force increased by more than 1.2 million (or 22 percent). Government welfare programs have been instituted to help keep women employed and off welfare. Job retention and improvement strategies are becoming increasingly important to state policymakers as unemployment rates rise and slowed economic growth, corporate lay-offs, and hiring freezes limit job opportunities for parents who are moving into the work force. Current and former welfare recipients and those who don't have a strong attachment to the work force may find it more difficult to gain employment in hard economic times, thus increasing the demand for job retention and improvement services for those who currently are employed.

2.4 Present profile of turnover of employees

Employment expectations have risen slightly in (Q1) from an already high level in Q4. Of the 514 sales executives surveyed, 54% expect to increase their hiring which is slightly up from 53% the previous. As the years go by, expectations have remained solid. The 54% planning to grow headcount this year is at the same level as Q1 2004, though there are some variations between the sectors surveyed. Companies are extremely confident about how they will perform in the next six months with 95% of respondents forecasting their company's performance to be excellent or good in the first half of 2007. Respondents in Hong Kong report higher levels of staff turnover than in any other market surveyed in Asia with 37% stating that turnover in the last twelve months has exceeded 10% (Hudson, 2007). Hudson, one of the world's leading professional recruitment, outsourcing and capacity management solution providers, today released findings of its broad quarterly Hudson Report for Asia. With a status as a key socio-economic indicator in the present market since its Asia launch in September 2000, the survey has been built on the premise that employers' expectations of an increase or decrease in staffing levels represent a significant indication of their optimism in the growth of their organization and their industry as a whole. The Hudson Report represents the expectations of over 1450 key employment decision makers from multinational organizations of all sizes in all major industry sectors, with 400 of these executives based in Hong Kong.

2.4 The general profile of employees in the merchandising sector

Traditionally the merchandising sector is associated with the employment of low level and unskilled workers, the vast majority of whom work in the lower ranks of the organizational hierarchy. The profile of employees in merchandising also follows a number of other patterns. The merchandising sector for example employs a large proportion of young people. According to recent estimates 29% of those employed in the sector are between the ages of 16 to 24. This is compared to the overall economy figure of 14%. It has been suggested that this figure may be due to the popularity of merchandising as a part-time occupation for young people and students (Stillsmart, 2004). Merchandising is also a popular choice for older workers (persons over 55). In terms of ethnic minority employment, the merchandising sector employs a similar fraction to those figures available nationally (Stillsmart, 2004). Recent research has shown however, that certain recruitment practices may prevent ethnic minorities from gaining employment in merchandising organizations. For example a study for Birmingham and Manchester cities in Britain for example, found that employers might specify jobs as a matter of course that require the staff to work on Saturdays without realizing that a large pool of potential workers would be unable to work on this day as it is their Sabbath (Vector research, 2003).

2.4 The trends common in the merchandising sector

Merchandising is an economic sector, which has customarily been associated with the employment of diverse people of different background. Overall, 55% of merchandising employees are women and 45% are men (Stillsmart, 2004). This gender factor in the merchandising sector remains fairly consistent throughout other nations and regions of the Hong Kong and this profile has been fairly consistent over the last 10 years. Skill level has also played a bigger part in influencing how long an employee is wiling to stay in a given organization. Better salaries in other organizations may lead to employees moving from their respective place of work in pursuit for better opportunities (Hudson, 2004). Level of qualification gives workers a broader scale of work opportunities that they willingly take into considerations. Stillsmart (2004) suggest that Hong Kong's larger ethnic population is likely to be the source of this greater proportion of the workers in the capital run by ethnic minorities may proprietorship driven by highly skilled male people. It is important to note however, that the representation of retention in the merchandising sector follows a number of important patterns discussed in the subsequent sections. Firstly the prevalence of staff turnover in the merchandising sector will be discussed. Secondly, evidence will be presented to show the under representation of employee needs at senior levels within the merchandising sector.

2.4.1 The prevalence of staff turnover in the merchandising sector

Statistics from Stillsmart (2004) indicate that merchandising sector employment occupy three quarters of all employment in the Hong Kong economic sector, which accounts for 40% of all employment. This is a significant figure when, compared to the economy overall, where only 25% of people are employed permanently. The other majority of those working are part time workers employed in sales and customer service occupations. Figure 2.1 outlines the proportion of full and part time employment in the merchandising sector by gender.

Source: Survey by National Employment Institute

2.4.1.1 Job retention in the labor force as a whole

The prevalence of staff turnover when compared with other sectors of the economy is particularly evident in the merchandising sector. This trend is also reflected in employment across the Hong Kong, particularly in the service industries. The numbers of staff entering the labor market has dramatically increased over the past thirty years and this rise in numbers has mainly been in by young people with low skill (Burke and Nelson 2002; Davidson and Burke, 2002). Because of this influx of young energetic minds quickly induces training for the staff. After gaining much needed experience then leave the industry for more lucrative jobs in other sectors. Youthful persons in the Hong Kong are far more likely than middle and old aged persons to work as part-timers (EAC, 2004). According to the National Office of Statistics, in 2005, 42% of young employees in the Hong Kong worked in the sector compared to just 9% of old people. Interestingly, the number keeps on increasing in the industry whereas companies are reporting a high staff turnover hence posing a big threat to company survival in the highly competitive industry (EAC, 2004).

Source: Survey by National Employment Institute

2.4.3 Explanations for the prevalence of staff turnover among staff in the merchandising sector

Traditionally, the predominance of staff turnover is largely attributed to the level of education and other academic qualifications (e.g. those with degrees go for more lucrative jobs in other lucrative industries vacating there positions) traditionally occupied by them which limits the productivity of the company (Thompson, 2004; Stillsmart, 2004). When addressing the merchandising sector specifically, Lynch (2003) comments that it is the very nature of the merchandising industry that contributes to the high proportion of turnovers. In the merchandising industry, recruitment is largely secured from the local labor market, staff requirements vary due to seasonal demands and employees are often required to work unfriendly hours as outlets open longer. These are all factors that lead to the reduction of morale and interest in the jobs within any organizational sector, and specifically the merchandising sector. In addition, Lynch (2003) further suggests that due to these delimiting factors in the industry and the continuous fluctuation of workforce in particular, potential merchandising companies are provided with an available pool of labor that accepts inferior terms and conditions of employment, as staff attempt to resolve their need to educate and retain their staff.

2.4.3.1 The under representation of staff interests in the merchandising sector by executives and senior officials

Official statistics show that there is a higher proportion of college educated in managerial and senior occupations in the merchandising sector than in comparison to the economy a whole. It is important to note, however, that if the representation of staff; male and female, skilled and unskilled were equal throughout the sector. Furthermore, low skilled staff tends to predominate in certain types of management positions including personnel, which are roles traditionally associated with low skilled.

2.5 Recruitment and Retention of Paid Staff

It can be surely asserted that, paid staff is a vital part of the retail and merchandising sector. Lynch (2003) further suggests that almost half (40%) of Canada's estimated 161,000 nonprofit and voluntary organizations has least one paid staff member. The sector as a whole employs just over 25% of the total economy. Twenty percent of paid staff in merchandising organizations is in permanent positions and 56% work full-time. The survey asked all organizations involved about the challenges they face recruiting the type of paid staff they need. Twenty-eight percent of organizations said that this is a problem for them; 8% said that the problem is serious. Organizations with paid staff were also asked if they have problems retaining staff. Nineteen percent said that they do, with 8% saying that the problem is serious. As a group, problems relating to paid staff were reported less frequently than other types of capacity challenges. Nevertheless, challenges relating to paid staff are significant for some organizations.

2.5.1 Size of Paid Staff Complement

In general, the more paid staff an organization has, the more likely it is to report problems with staff recruitment and retention. Forty-one percent of organizations with 13% of paid staff members reported problems recruiting paid staff. This rises to 30% among organizations with 20 to 50 staff members, 63% among those with 100 to 500 staff members, and 73% among those with 1000 or more staff members. The relationship between the number of staff an organization has and staff retention problems is less pronounced. Seventeen percent of organizations with one to four staff members said this is a problem for them. This increases to 26% among organizations with 100 or more staff members (Stillsmart, 2004).

Source: Survey by National Employment Institute

2.5.2 Reliance on Paid Staff

Lynch (2003) suggests the greater the percentage of an organization's workforce that is comprised of paid staff (As opposed to volunteers), the more dependent on paid staff the organization can be said to be. The more reliant an organization is on paid staff, the more likely it is to report difficulties employing and retaining staff. Lynch (2003) further suggests that this relationship is particularly strong for staff recruitment. For example, among organizations in which staff makes up one-third or less of the workforce, 15% said that staff recruitment is a problem for them and 19% said that staff retention is a problem. Nevertheless, among organizations in which staff comprises two thirds or more of the workforce, 54% said that staff recruitment is a problem and 20% said that staff retention is a problem (Stillsmart, 2004)..

Source: Survey by National Employment Institute

2.6 The Glass ceiling theory

The under representation of minority group in management positions in the merchandising and other occupational sectors has led theorists to assert that a ‘glass ceiling' exists. The minority in this case includes: physically handicapped, less educated and women. The term ‘glass ceiling' is used to reflect the ability of and minorities to view the world above them but the metaphorical ceiling prevents the minorities from accessing the better opportunities they can view. This glass ceiling effect occurs when minorities with equivalent credentials as the other employees, i.e. those who traditionally occupy positions of power within organizations, are prevented from accessing top jobs simply because they have particularly weaknesses (Davidson, 1997; Powell, 1999; Konrad, Prasad and Pringle, 2004). Nevertheless, the proportion of minorities in management has increased over the past three decades in almost all countries and legislation in some countries (e.g. Affirmative Action Legislation in the U.S. and Canada) has contributed to this trend (Powell and Graves, 2003). Despite this encouraging increase, recent research by Catalyst (2005) has shown that the glass ceiling is firmly in place. In the U.K., seventy-eight Financial Times Share Index (FTSE 100) companies in 2004 had physically challenged directors, up 13% from the previous year. However, only eleven FTSE 100 companies had female executive directors, which was below the 2002 figure and twenty-two of the FTSE 100 boards in 2005 were all-male (Singh and Vinicrombe, 2005). These statistics largely reflect the experiences of white staff. It is important to highlight that black and ethnic minority staffs across the globe often face significant hurdles. Although there is a general lack of data on ethnicity and employment or physical handicap and employment, ethnic minority employees are under- represented at senior and professional levels in the labor market (Commission for Racial Equality, 2004). In Hong Kong in 2004 for example, 17% of ethnic minority men were managers or senior officials compared to 10% of ethnic minority staff. The highest percentages of staff and men in these positions were Indian and Chinese (Commission for Racial Equality, 2004). Research has highlighted that a glass ceiling exists even in occupations where staff predominate. Approximately 90% of nurses, for example, are female but male nurses often experience greater career success than female nurses (Nursing and Midwifery Council, 2005). The number of women studying merchandise in England now outnumbers men (Davidson and Burke, 2004) but partners of top merchandise firms continue to be predominantly men. An examination of data from the top 10 ten merchandise firms in the Hong Kong in 2005 revealed that on average, 15% of female partners in the top 10 merchandise firms are women (The Merchandise Society, 2005). Recent research has highlighted that whilst women and physically challenged are now achieving more senior roles, they are more likely than men to find themselves on a ‘glass cliff' (Haslam, 2005). According to Haslam (2005), this is because staff are more likely to secure positions of leadership when organizations are not performing at their optimum level. This means that their appointments are made under more risky circumstances which make them more uncertain. This suggests that not only do staff experience hurdles to achieving senior roles; they are placed under greater scrutiny and face increased pressures when they do reach leadership positions. The disadvantaged experience of the glass ceiling is an important area of study and has implications for the future development of talent in organizations of all sectors including merchandising. Research has shown for example that frustrated by the glass ceiling, many workers quit and start their own businesses (Powell, 1999; Davidson and Fielden, 2003). This can have a detrimental affect within organizations as competent and experienced staffs remove themselves from the selection pool.

2.5.1 Pay Differences

However, research shows that staff leaders and staff at all levels of the workforce are generally paid less than men with equivalent skills, training and experience, for performing the same roles. In 2005, the percentage difference between the average hourly earnings of staff working full-time in Great Britain for example was 17.1 % (Equal Opportunities Commission, 2004). In the US, staffs earn approximately 77 cents for every dollar earned by men (Retailer's Bureau data, 2000, in Nelson and Michie, 2004). The Equal Opportunities Commission in the U.K. (2005) highlights three main reasons for this pay difference. Firstly, there is discrimination in pay systems. Staff are paid less than men for performing the same roles. Secondly, ‘occupational segregation' exists. Many employees is concentrated in low paid jobs. Thirdly, staffs assume caring responsibilities for children and other relatives/dependents, which affects their progression at work due to the lack of flexible working.

2.6 Perspectives on barriers to staff in management

Authors have identified an array of complex factors that contribute to the existence and pervasive nature of the ‘glass ceiling.' Three main perspectives have been offered to explain the adversity facing staff aspiring to senior levels within organizations. These are commonly referred to as the ‘person centered' or ‘gender-centered' approach (Powell, 1999), the organizational structure perspective (Fagenson, 1993; Kanter, 1977) and the social systems perspective. It is widely acknowledged that the glass ceiling is a result of a culmination of these three main perspectives (Omar and Davidson, 2001).

2.6.1 The personality-centered approach

The first perspective focuses on the ways in which staff differ from others and hypothesis that the characteristics, attitudes, behavior, skills and education of men, places them at an advantage. According to this perspective, gender differences are attributed to men and women's biological difference and their different socialization patterns. The predominance of men at the upper echelons of organizations is a result of stereotypical beliefs that women lack the motivation, attitudes, commitments and skills to be good managers (Fagenson, 1993). Women, when compared to men, are regarded as deficient and therefore not as suitable as men for management positions. This, in turn, limits their career development. This has led researchers to identify the ‘think manager, think male' syndrome (Schein, 2001), which is a global phenomenon and prevalent even in countries with equal opportunities programs and legislation such as the UK and the US (Powell, Butterfield and Parent, 2002). This pattern implies that management is perceived as a masculine role, a role to be performed by dominant, aggressive, decisive and competitive individuals; attributes that are more suited to the male sex. Rather, management should be regarded as a role that can be performed by anyone with the appropriate skills and education. Although female leadership characteristics, such as interpersonal communication, nurturing, and mutual respect are beginning to warrant more value, they are yet to be regarded as important and effective (Wilson, 2003; Still, 2004). In a study conducted by Powell and Butterfield (2003) the researchers found that undergraduates and graduates still considered that masculine characteristics were predictive of aspirations to senior management. These results surprised the researchers who had conducted the same study 25 years previously and expected to find different results in their contemporary repetition of the study. According to Peck (2004), for female characteristics to warrant more value, men are required to re-evaluate in positive terms, behaviors that they have previously been critical of (Peck, 2004). Research evidence shows little or no difference in the traits, abilities, and education of professional persons (Powell, 1993). Therefore in terms of gender, women in the UK for example outnumber men as registered students (Wilson, 2004). Further research findings have shown that even when women are equally as qualified as men, their progress remains slow (Davidson and Cooper, 1992). Rather, female managers often complain of having to do better or over-perform at the same level of management as men (Davidson and Cooper, 1992; Davidson, 1997). These issues may be exacerbated for black and ethnic minority persons who may experience both racial and sexual discriminations (Davidson, 1997).

2.6.2 The organizational perception theory

The next theory, the ‘The organizational perception ' point of view, suggests that the organizational work environment in which staff operate influences the career development of staff in management rather than their own traits, skills and behaviors. Staffs are prevented from progressing in the same manner as their counterparts in other industries because they encounter organizational blockages imposed by power elites in organizations. Staffs are held back due to an array of organizational impasse including their lack of opportunity in organizations, tokenism, and lack of access to mentoring and lack of access to organizational networking (this is not an exhaustive list of organizational impasses, rather a reflection of potential organizational impasses). In some cases for example, low skilled staff are denied access to challenging assignments, which may enable them to prove their ability and potential for more senior roles. In addition, the merchandising inability to engage in challenging assignments means they remain less visible in organizations. Ragins, Townsend (1998) survey of over a thousand executive staff in the U.S. who held titles of vice president or above found that the female executives in their study had managed to navigate these barriers. The researchers found that the staff identified four career strategies that were vital to their career success. These were: consistently exceeding performance expectations; acting in a style with which managers identified, proactively taking on difficult or challenging assignments and having influential mentors. The research highlights the potential blockages staffs need to overcome to reach senior positions and raises issues with regards to culture change if barriers for staff are to be eradicated.

2.6.2.1 The organizational perception on tokenism

Kanter (1977) hypothesized that whenever minority and challenged staff form only a small proportion of a total category in any organization (less than 15%) they would be labeled as ‘tokens' because of their uncommonness in the organization compared to their other counterparts. Research has shown that the heightened visibility afforded to such ‘tokens' often places them at a disadvantage as they are more likely to be highly criticized for mistakes, experience performance pressure and become isolated (Davidson, 1997). When ‘token' staff experience failure, it may be the case that decision makers are less willing to appoint another person with similar characteristics to the same position. Thus, some staffs are often used as test cases for the employment of future staff at senior levels (Cooper et al, 1992).

2.6.2.2 The Culture of Employee Mentoring

Mentoring is increasingly regarded as an essential career development tool that aids individual development and contributes to a successful, progressive organization. The landscape of today's business environment is rapidly changing. As the ability to learn, grow and adapt becomes more essential to organizational effectiveness, organizations are increasingly recognizing the benefits of life-long learning through mechanisms such as mentoring (Allen and Poteet, 1999). It has been suggested that mentoring relationships are particularly crucial to the career development of staff (Davidson and Burke, 2004; Ragins and Cotton, 1996). In their study of 461 top-ranking female executives in Fortune 1000 companies, Ragins et. al. (1998) revealed that all the executives surveyed reported having a mentor during the course of their careers and the vast majority (81 per cent) regarded their mentor(s) as a critical or fairly important factor in their career success. Furthermore, mentoring was identified as a specific strategy that they employed to break through the glass ceiling (Ragins, Townsend and Mattis, 1998). This has led to Ragins (2002; 46) claim that mentoring may be the ‘ice pick' for breaking through the ‘glass ceiling.' Research has however highlighted that staff are likely to encounter barriers when acquiring mentors. This may be due to the under representation of senior staff for aspiring junior staff to choose from. In addition, staff may face damaging innuendos from others in the organization if approaching senior men to be mentors. For these reasons, formal mentoring relationships may be particularly useful when addressing issues of diversity (Woolnough, Davidson and Fielden, 2004). It is also important to note that mentoring is a reciprocal relationship and that mentors can learn a lot from their mentees, particularly in relation to career barriers (Woolnough, Davidson and Fielden, 2004).

2.6.2.3 The Factor of Role Models in the Organization

Research has shown how role models are vital to the successful development of younger staff and minorities. According to Shapiro (1978), role models are individuals whose behaviors and styles and attributes are attractive to others are therefore emulated. Singh, Vinnicombe and James (2004) state that unlike mentors who are in some form of relationship with junior members of staff due to the nature of that particular developmental relationship, role models are often not acquainted with the individual that regards them as a role model. Role models therefore have a powerful influence without being known to the role model user. From their in-depth interviews with young professional staff, Singh et. al. (2004) found that the staff in their research utilized multiple role models and preferred close or near role models to those more distant and not personally known. Importantly, the staffs interviewed in the study were not inspired by male business leaders. This has important implications for organizations as if staff and minorities do not have role models to aspire to within their immediate environment, the attractiveness of more senior roles for talented and competent staff may be reduced.

2.6.2.4 Promotional procedures

Powell and Graves (2003) highlight the lack of systematic promotional procedures for entry into top management positions in organizations. Rather than being a fair and just process, cases are handled on a makeshift basis and the promotional process invariably goes un-checked. As a result, biased decisions can be made without question. This is in contrast to lower-level managerial positions. Promotional decisions in these instances tend to be more structured and based on clearly defined skills and characteristics, such as education, that staffs are equally capable of acquiring. It has been argued that staffs are disadvantaged when promotional decisions are made for ‘top' jobs because decision makers tend to evaluate those they regard as similar to them in a positive way. This is opposed to those they regard as dissimilar, who are consequently less likely to receive positive evaluations. As most decision makers are highly skilled technocrats, they tend to gravitate towards maintaining the status quo. Kanter (1977) characterized the results of such a preference in top management ranks as ‘homo-social reproduction.' She argued that the primary motivation in bureaucracies is to minimize uncertainty. This is because uncertainty is regarded as risky and has the potential to prove costly to the organization. Authors have confirmed this theory, reporting that women and low educated staff are more likely to be hired and promoted into a particular management level when their matching staffs already occupy these positions. In these cases, the prospect of adding more staff into positions of power is less fraught with uncertainty, as some male and highly skilled managers are likely to be more accustomed to working alongside lower cadre staff. Thus, the main challenge is to get staff into positions of power in the first place (Kanter, 1977; Stroh, Langlands and Simpson, 2004). This is not an exhaustive list of organizational blockages that may impact on the career development of staff in work in general and management in particular. Rather, it highlights the main obstacles within organizational systems that may occur to prevent staff from accessing senior positions in the same way that men do.

2.6.3 The Social System perspective

This perspective refuses the assumption that organizations are gender neutral. This perspective asserts that the way in which organizations operate reflect some basic, taken for granted social beliefs about gender. In contrast to the two perspectives previously discussed, this perspective maintains that female merchandising behaviors and their abilities to acquire certain jobs are influenced by the social and institutional systems in which organizations are embedded. According to Wilson (2001), patriarchal social systems and expectations are part of everyday organizational realities and consequently impact on the ability of women and persons with disability to rise through the organizational hierarchy. Researchers have shown however, how the minority experiences are multifaceted by nature (Omar and Davidson, 2001). According to Gray (1994), many of the experiences of women in management only exist in theory and cannot be substantiated through any means.' Indeed women's experiences at work generally and in management specifically, are multifaceted and complex (Powell and Graves, 2003). In line with the complex and multi-faceted nature of issues highlighted in the research of staff in management, a useful framework for future research is based on theory proposed by Fagenson (1993) that incorporates the above perspectives (Omar and Davidson, 2001). The Gender-Organization-System (GOS) framework highlights the complex person-organization-societal interaction, whilst acknowledging the integral significance of local social context that can determine the extent to which issues for women in management are prevalent and in turn, result in the under-representation of women and even the people with disability in management. The GOS approach asserts that:

‘An individual and his/her organizations cannot be understood separately from the society (culture) in which he or she works; and when the individual, the organization or the system in which they are embedded changes, the other components change as well' (Fagenson,1993). The GOS framework has been utilized by more recent researchers examining the experiences of staff and minorities in management in light of the complex nature of the glass ceiling (Omar and Davidson, 2001).

2.7 Educational differences in representation of career advancement

Merchandising career development does not simply lag behind that of employees but it may proceed in a completely different manner' (Mavin 2000:13). It is also important to note when addressing the issue of barriers to promotion for staff that in relation to career development differs to that of other employees. Most research on career theories however, has adopted the view that models of career improvement should be the same for all and sundry, particularly if staff are entering the same occupational vocations similar to persons in other industrial sectors in view of their abilities and ambitions. The traditional college going graduates career model of education, continuous full-time career and retirement, has formed the focus for judging career progress in most organizations. Subsequent work has however suggested that staff and men may experience career development differently due to the nature of the industry. The personal, organizational and societal influences on people, impacts their career development which has led to a call for a new approach to understanding their personal careers (Burke and Nelson, 2002; Davidson and Burke, 2004; Mavin, 2000). Powell and Mainerio (1992) suggest an approach to understanding employee careers that is significantly different from traditional models of men's careers. Their approach incorporates three unique elements:

It includes both work and non-work issues;

It uses both objective and subjective measures of career success;

It includes the influence of personal, organizational and societal factors on personal choices and outcomes and it does not assume that a person's careers go through a predictable sequence of stages over time.

Kirchmeyer (1999) compared the career progression of men and women managers using a longitudinal design. The groups of men and women in her study were selected to have similar education and experience profiles. Kirchmeyer (1999) found evidence to support the theory that staff's careers unfolded differently than men's. In particular, staff experienced gaps in income and their number of promotions widened over time. Kirchmeyer (1999) found that training was associated with greater income for educated and job tenure had a positive effect on perceived success for them only. Some Staff reported a lower payoff from education and experience than did people with high education. Her results led her to conclude that attempting to understand career choice using the traditional model is ‘a case of comparing apples and oranges.' The differences in perceptions of career success are also an important factor in an examination of the career development of staff. Both objective and subjective assessments are used to evaluate career success, although most research studies consider objective variables when measuring career success. These include pay and promotion. Subjective measures include job satisfaction, work-life balance and job security. People tend to use different types of measures in assessing their own career success with others focusing on more objective measures and staff focusing on subjective measures (Sturges, 1999). Although not focusing on gender specifically, Heslin (2005) argued that there is a need to be sensitive to the criteria that people in different contexts use to judge their own career success. This has significant implications for the career development of staff and suggests that organizations need to be more adaptable to the way in which employees view success, which ultimately impacts on their choices with regards to their career development.

2.8 Barriers to employee promotion in the merchandising sector

The following sections have highlighted contemporary theories offered by researchers to account for the disparity of staff in senior positions. The following section addresses empirical research directly relating to the under representation of staff in senior positions in the merchandising sector. Generally there is a lack of recent experimental work addressing the lack of high school graduates, women and the physically challenged in merchandising. Broadbridge (1998) in her quantitative research addressing barriers to the career development of retail managers found that women face more barriers in their career development than men for any of the reasons documented in gender theories highlighted in some studies. In Broadbridge's study, women were significantly less likely than men to consider that they had been given the same opportunities as men to develop. In addition, the lack of child-care responsibilities and flexible time together with the long anti-social hours of merchandising was highlighted as a barrier (Broadbridge, 1998). This reflects the need for a shift in organisational culture, particularly in light of the fact that 57% of female employees and 23% of male employees in the United Kingdom use one or more of the following work arrangements: part-time, flextime, annualised hours, term-time working, job share and home working (EAC, 2004). In a more recent study conducted by Benigson (2005), similar issues were raised as in Broadbridge's (1998) research. The study also shed some light on why there is few very senior “minorities” in management in merchandising. In her attempts to uncover why there are only three female chief executives among the 66 merchandising store groups listed on the London Stock Exchange, Benigson (2005) surveyed around 40 staff managers on the board or just below in merchandising. The writer found that around 40 % of female managers did not want to be CEOs. This was because women were unwilling to sacrifice their family life, for them to be perceived themselves as less aggressive than their male counterparts and were less concerned about their job status than men. A further explanation for the lack of female chief executives offered by the author is that many female board directors are from human resources or communications department, which are not traditionally breeding grounds for future CEOs. Interestingly, supermarkets were perceived as the most male dominated at senior management level and therefore the most difficult to penetrate of all merchandising environments, largely because of the direct contact with male dominated industries such as meat and farming necessary in the supermarket sector. Although not specifically focused on the merchandising sector, Hewlett and Luce (2005) reflect these findings and state that successful low educated people and the female gender are ‘off ramping'; the term they use for the fact that this group is leaving the corporate world in greater numbers than men. Particularly concerning is that when these group decide to move back into the corporate world, none of them stated they would return to their previous employers. Singh et. al. (2004) call for the reorganization of how work is conducted and an end to the lack of flexibility due to the client focused nature of work to counteract this loss of talent. It is important to note that often there is no shortage of goodwill towards the provision of equal opportunities for staff. Brockbank and Airey (1994) in their survey of 42 mixed merchandising employees, using a postal interviews and personal interviews from 16 companies found this to be the case but despite this, they again found that working conditions in merchandising, the absence of senior role models and the problem of balancing family and career remained problematic for many especially female staff. Research has also shown that occupational segregation exists even when variables between male and female employees are considered equal within the organization. Tolich and Briar (1999) looked at task segregation among male and female employees in American supermarkets. The male and female employees in the supermarkets under review had identical job descriptions, the same pay, formal promotion opportunities and fringe benefits. Yet, the staff reported a very different experience and quality of working life compared with their male counterparts. According to Tolich and Briar (1999), this was largely due to line managers who allocated different tasks and responsibilities to male and female employees. This led the staff in the study to experience frustration as they were fully aware of their differential treatment. The study suggests that the problem of sex discrimination in the workplace is not eliminated by the sheer presence of company policy. Rather, organisational reality means that gender and educational differences may still be prevalent. Furthermore, Lynch's (2002) case study research of three multiple store merchandising organizations in the UK highlighted that line managers played a key role in maintaining the staff segregation of the workforce. The segregated nature of the workforce in the case study outlets was perpetuated by the personal attitudes and stereotypes of store level managers. These perceptions often undermined organisational equal opportunities policy across all three case study sites and were prevalent across all three organizations. Although this section and the study in general is focused on the social structure and how it influences job retention in merchandising, other minority groups also face significant problems. In his study of lower cadre staff workers in the merchandising sector, Hahlo (2004) found that barriers to career development existed. The respondents perceived barriers to exist in the form of, among other things, family pressures at home, racism, the existence of young children, access to job rotation, cultural values and beliefs, flexible shift work and personal assertiveness. Furthermore, Sheridan (2004) states that every one also experience career barriers. The dual emphasis on gender norms and long working hours can place people with children, for example, at a disadvantage. In this respect, men may feel unable to take advantage of flexible working arrangements to spend more time with their family. Little is known as to the extent to which this may be the case in the merchandising sector.

2.9 The management of diversity

In the UK ‘equal opportunities' is the term predominantly used by organizations to describe their approach to managing difference, discrimination and disadvantage (Davidson and Fielden, 2003). These policies tend to advocate treating everybody the same. More recent academic debate has moved towards the concept of managing diversity based on the premise that people are not the same and that difference should be recognized and celebrated. Diversity therefore consists of visible and no visible factors, which include personal characteristics such as sex, race, age, background, culture, disability, personality and work-style. According to Davidson and Fielden (2003): ‘Managing Diversity initiatives seek to fully develop the potential of each employee and turn the different skills that each employee brings into a business advantage… Having a diverse workforce not only enables organizations to understand and meet customer demand better, but also helps attract investors and clients, as well as reduce the costs associated with discrimination'. Advocates of diversity management highlight that good diversity management leads to increased profitability and this business case for managing diversity is gaining credibility. A survey of HR professionals conducted by SHRM and Fortune Magazine reported that the majority believed their diversity initiatives had improved the organization's culture, employee recruitment, relations with clients, creativity and productivity (Bowl, 2001, in Stockdale and Crosby, 2004). Valuing diversity within organizations however, still has progress to make. A recent CIPD annual survey of training and development for example reported that although an increasing number of employers identifying diversity training as important, it was still regarded as the least important of any of the training provided and 10 per cent saw it as being of no importance at all. Research in the merchandising sector has also highlighted differences in the interpretation of the management of diversity among line managers which leads to disparities in its implementation. In their qualitative research in a large long-established British merchandising company, Foster and Harris (2005) found that the concept of managing diversity was unclear among line managers both in terms of what it is and how it should be implemented. The researchers call for more diversity training to increase understanding and improve the quality of implementing diversity initiatives in organizations.

2.10 Summary

This section has outlined the main literature in relation to how to solve staff retention in the merchandising sector. There are many efforts being made to encourage employees to participate in organisational restructure disregarding their status and although the status quo will, for the most part, be slow to change, advances are being made. Changing family roles and expectations, supportive company policies and practices including flexible working and improved labour market conditions have all opened up new opportunities for staff (Davidson and Burke, 2004). To assist merchandising organizations in their growth and profitability, their workforce at all levels needs to reflect the customers they serve and the society in which we live. Embracing diversity and implementing diversity initiatives will ensure barriers for staff and minorities are broken down, thereby harnessing rich talent and adding to the future success of merchandising.

Chapter 3

Research Method

3.1 Interviewing

Research design specifies the methods and procedures for conducting a specific research project. It is a detailed blueprint used to guide the implementation of a research study towards the realization of its objectives (Wong, 1999). According to many authors (Churchill, 1999; Wong, 1999; and Zikmund, 2000), there are three types of research design, namely the exploratory research, descriptive research and causal research.

Exploratory research is known to be the best suited for situations that have relatively little or nothing known about the study. The essence of this research design is to focus on two main ingredients - listening and discovering, in order to provide a great understanding of a concept (Wong, 1999) and to clarify and define the nature of a problem (Zikmund, 2000). These authors also pointed out that exploratory research can be conducted with four approaches which are literature search, experience survey, focus group discussion and in-depth interview. These open-ended, flexible and interactive qualitative approaches help to formulate problems more precisely but not providing accurate statistical information.

Descriptive research aims a describing the characteristics of the population under the study such as the behaviors of employees. It is primarily concerned with the gathering of numeric, measurable data and it is recommended when the research purpose is centered on providing accurate, statistically reliable data. Descriptive research is being broken down into both longitudinal and cross-sectional studies (Zikmund, 2000 and Wong, 1999). Longitudinal studies involve panels (Churchill, 1991) and provide measurements at successive points of time of an event. On the other hand, being the most common and familiar (Churchill, 1991), cross-sectional studies describe an event at one particular point of time and it is useful in facilitating comparisons between different population subgroups (Wong, 1999).

Finally, causal research is to explore and establish a cause-and-effect relationship, if any, between variables through laboratory and/or field experiments (Wong, 1999, p58).

Cross-sectional study was chosen for this study. This is because cross-sectional study relies on a sample of elements from the population of interest that are measured at a single point in time (Churchill, 1999) and it can at best yield measurement data (Wong, 1999, p. 57). Hence, this research design suit in this study because it attempted to measure how consumers make decision.

3.2 Study Aim and Objectives

The main aim of this study was to investigate career development issues in the retail sector and explore the experiences, barriers and problems to career advancement faced by women and men in management in the retail sector across England. The study also included shop floor workers to determine any barriers female and male employees at shop floor level encountered to accessing retail management positions. Findings from this study were used to formulate preliminary recommendations for policy changes and to develop further exploration of these issues. The project fully addressed the aims and priorities set out in the HE ESF objective 3, theme 4: ‘Research into gender discrimination.' More specifically, the overall objectives were to:

  • Investigate two sets of potential reasons for staff leaving the company: firstly, those that accelerate the exit of workers and staff and secondly, those that impede the efforts of retaining staff in the organization.
  • Identify strategies for overcoming these reasons.
  • Investigate the feasibility of constructing a company database, documenting the career paths of workers in the merchandise industry.
  • Develop a promotion system, which is more sensitive to the needs of employees
  • Develop an image of the company, which is based entirely upon team cohesion.
  • Provide a concept of role models, which can be utilized by employees to resolve possible work life balance conflicts.
  • Produce a set of solutions, which can be applied to other merchandising settings.
  • Develop, publish and disseminate good practice guidelines and recommendations using reports, conference presentations, feedback seminars, academic journals and merchandise specialist and national press.

3.2 Interview Design

Wong (1999, p.54) pointed out that descriptive research requires a reasonably large number of respondents (i.e., sample size) to supply the required information.

Although it is recognized that a convenience sample is not always truly representative of the population, the author of this study had decided to adopt this method due to time restraints. The author adopted convenience sampling of non-probability sampling as it aids convenience and efficiency and also generates a large number of sample sizes. This is because it involves the selection of people who are most conveniently available to the interviewer (Wong, 1999). Due to time constraint, the gathering of responses for this study would be greatly base on convenience. Convenience gathering of responses and ability to contact the respondents (if necessary), has allowed the author of this study to choose both Marketing Institute of Singapore's (MIS) part-time and full-time students as the main target respondents. In addition, friends, colleagues and family members of both the respondents and the author would be approached as well.

3.3 Data Collection Method

According to Wong (1999), marketing data may be classified into two basic types: primary data and secondary data. Primary data refer to those collected to meet the specific research needs at hand. Secondary data on the other hand, refer to existing information which has previously been collected and reported by some individual or organization, and which are other than the research problem at hand. Thus the distinction between primary and secondary data lies in the original purpose of data collection.

3.3.1 Secondary Research

Secondary data is an essential element of almost all research carried out. According to Churchill (1999, p. 253) secondary data possess significant cost and time advantages. This is because, the existence of secondary data can in many instances dismiss the need for potentially expensive and time-consuming field work as secondary data exists aplenty from internal and external data sources (Wong, 1999). Apart from time-saving and cost economics, secondary data is less subject to intentional bias. Also as certain types of information may be impractically or virtually impossible to gather through data approach, secondary data are the only alternative (Wong, 1999). Therefore, secondary data enable this study to avoid biasness that might be made unintentionally by the author during the development of the hypotheses. Hence in this study, journals from electronic databases such as Emerald and Ebsco were reviewed to aid the development of the study. The use of journals was to serve as a basis to draw the hypotheses of this study.

However, Wong (1999) pointed out that one of the disadvantages of secondary data is that it became outdated easily in an ever-changing environment, and often, there were differences in classification or measurement as well as lack of accuracy. The above appeared true to the author as some of the journals being reviewed appeared to be outdated and inaccurate due to different areas of focus.

The author also found that there was limited access to many online research websites and the availability of journals on store atmosphere in the retail context was also limited. Therefore both the retail and service context were being reviewed in the process.

With the difficulties mentioned above, it was anticipated that the secondary research found would not be sufficient to fulfill the objectives of this study. As mentioned by Churchill (1999), when problem is not yet resolved with secondary data, the researcher should proceed to primary data. Therefore, the author of the study moved on to gather primary data for the completion of this study.

3.3.2 Primary Research

Primary data prove its importance when the required information for marketing research/evaluation may not be available from secondary data sources. For the purpose of this study, the author had decided to use quantitative research. This is because, according to Wong (1999, p.110), quantitative research is used when the primary objective is to derive numeric or quantifiable data which is statistically accurate and reliable. Quantitative research is also recommended when there exists a need for accurate numeric data.

Due to time constraint, the author decided to avoid open-ended questions and adopt close-ended questions on the interviews. This is because, close-ended questions are easily administered by an unskilled interviewer compared to open-ended questions and it is also much easier and faster for statistical data tabulation and data comparison. In addition, the checklist of responses in the interviews helps reduce difficulty in memory-recall that respondent might encounter in responding open-ended question (Wong, 1999). On the other hand, the checklist of responses may not be as comprehensive and alternate responses that appear in the checklist may create position bias, which will cause the respondent to be unable to freely express him or herself, and often detailed information is being missed (Wong, 1999, p.138).

3.3.3 Interviews Development

The interviews used for this study consists of three sections, namely demographics, Closed-ended questions (Dichotomous questions & Multiple-choice questions) and Scaling questions (Agree-disagree questions).

Section A served to gather data on respondents' personal particular such as gender, age group, highest education level attained occupation and monthly Income level.

Section B aimed to gather data on respondents' view towards the impact of store atmosphere on consumers' emotions, purchase and repatronage behavior. It will determine to what extent each atmospheric elements influence respondents' mood and purchasing behaviour. Five-point Likert-scale statement (1=Strongly Disagree and 5=Strongly Agree) was being used to allow respondents to rank and identify the degree of influence of each of the atmospheric elements. Responses were also sought regarding issues affecting different stakeholders in the company.

3.3.4 Pre-testing

The objective of pre-testing is to ensure that the interviews used in this study is easily understood and not misinterpreted by the respondents. There should also be minimal possible difficulties faced by respondents in answering the interviews. For the reliability of this study, pre-testing is vital to ensure the accuracy of the data collected.

The interviews were pre-tested via a small-scale pilot test with 5 respondents and subsequent changes were made. The author approached 5 respondents and they where asked to carry out the interviews and provide comments and feedbacks. After gathering the feedbacks and comments, the interviews was being modified and refined to meet the objectives of this study. In order to improve the clarity of the interviews, redevelopment of the interviews was required. The interviewer had to refine the sections of the interview and rephrase some misleading questions. Some questions that were being duplicated and confusing to the respondents were omitted. New questions were also developed and integrated into the interviews to achieve the objective of the study.

3.3.5 Final Data Collection

After redeveloping the interviews, the new interviews process was ready for the actual implementation and data collection. The interviews were being done both online and offline to company part-time and full-time employees as well as their friends, colleagues and family members. Naturally, young respondents are more responsive to the completion of the interviews. This is because they tend to complete the interviews the moment they start it until completion. Although interviews enable wider participation and easier distribution, it is commonly view as a waste of time and ignored by receivers. Therefore, there were a total of 85 responses that served as primary data for this study.

3.4 Data Analysis Method

Statistical data captured from the interviews was initially analyzed using the on-line analysis tool from the web surveyor package, specifically designed for this study. Further in depth statistical analysis was performed using Microsoft Office Enterprise Excel application. Categorical data was analyzed using Chi Square analysis to demonstrate differences between groups. Qualitative data was analyzed using the systematic method of content analysis. The method employs a human based coding system that codes either words or phrases, depending on the responses of the participants. The coding of interview material is critical as it is considered to be the heart and soul of the analysis process. According to Miles and Huberman (1994), ‘Coding is analysis.' The coding process was guided by the themes developed from the initial in depth review of the literature. Pre-analysis of the interview materials began with the process of familiarization. This involved immersion in the data where the main objective was to gain an overall understanding of the meaning of the data. As the data analysis progressed, themes emerged and headings were developed to represent the data. Attempts were made to keep individual comments in isolation so as not to disregard any useful data.

3.5 Summary

The methodology employed semi structured in-depth interviews to obtain quantitative and qualitative data. The questions were generated from a broad review of the literature regarding human resource management in general and merchandising industry in particular. Quantitative and qualitative data was captured and analyzed to generate robust results.

Secondary data such as journals and textbooks were being reviewed before conducting the actual primary research. This was to allow the author to further understand the review on Store Atmospherics, mood and repatronage behavior before developing the interviews for primary data collection and to develop the hypotheses of this study. A total of 89 responses were collected via online and offline distribution to used for statistical analysis.

Chapter 4

Findings

4.1 Recruitment

4.1.1 Recognition of Recruitment Challenges

Even companies known to be leaders in retail industry human resource development are experiencing recruitment challenges, especially for entry-level store employees and for store managers. When asked about their company's major challenges in recruiting employees, almost every person states that “finding the right talent” is the top challenge, followed closely by the perception that retail jobs are not “good jobs” (i.e. economically rewarding, personally challenging). They always speak about company culture in the recruiting process. In some companies, the culture is a major draw for talent. In all cases, finding people who share company values and would thrive in the particular culture of their retail company is cited as a critical recruitment factor on an ongoing basis.

Some specific responses of interviewees to questions about recruitment:

  • Finding the right talent that is willing to commit over the long-term is a big recruiting challenge for us;
  • We suffer from bad press that portrays department outlets as dinosaurs;
  • Minority representation in higher levels and minority retention are challenges for us;
  • Making career paths clear to new talent is our biggest challenge;
  • Transportation can be a factor (positive or negative) in recruitment and thus affects the make-up of our store employees. Access to public transportation or the lack thereof, affects our ability to recruit and retain new talent;
  • The company's pace is challenging - we want to grow quickly and need people to be competent. Competition and diversity are challenging too; everyone is looking for the same highly-qualified employees;
  • When asked about cost/benefit metrics, most interviewees respond that their company tracks the costs of recruitment programs, though only a few perform any sort of cost-benefit analysis or try to quantify the benefits of their recruitment programs and efforts. A representative answer is:
  • “We track costs, not benefits. We have cost reporting metrics to review performance against goals. The first year that we try a strategy, we track results, and then set metrics after we have enough data and work to tighten performance.”

4.1.2 Employing Strategies to Recruit Workers

When asked about recruitment methods to help overcome the industry's challenges, most companies say that their methods are fairly or moderately successful. Some think that their company is very successful in finding ways to attract talented employees who would do well in that company's retail culture.

Specific recruitment methods cited included:

Branding of the company in the overall employment market - communicating its attributes (such as inclusive, competitive, fast-paced, goal-oriented, values-based, having high integrity, graceful under pressure, fun, entrepreneurial) in a way that distinguishes the company from competitors;

Using websites for posting positions - a company's own website as well as major job listing websites, such as monster.com and hotjobs.com

Targeting intranet postings at current employees so they can see where new opportunities are available;

Promoting employee referrals - often with bonuses for referring new hires that stay with the company for at least a prescribed period of time, sometimes with a differential between the bonus for a full-time and a part-time employee;

Direct recruiting - on college campuses, at community gatherings, from other employers, and at job fairs;

Using intermediary organizations as partners for recruitment and training;

4.2.3 Fit with Company Culture and Values

The culture of each of the retail companies we interviewed is distinctive. Cultures are diverse, ranging from those that are structured, numbers-driven and performance-focused to those that are less formal, relationship-oriented, non-hierarchical and full of “company folklore.” The culture of a company, its values, and the way in which attributes are expressed and demonstrated appears to be a significant factor in employees choosing the retail company for which to work. It is also important to company managers who select employees for their temperaments as well as their skills.

In most of the companies in this survey, the culture was established by the company founder or leadership (recently or many years ago). In others, the culture is evolving, either as a result of mergers or because of growth in recent years. Interviewees were, for the most part, proud of their company's culture, as evidenced in a selection of their responses to questions about their business culture:

Our culture is well-defined, fast-paced, and fun. There is a ton of variety in jobs.

I would describe our culture as externally competitive, numbers-driven, having a strong work ethic, high goal orientation, self-critical, apolitical, respectful of the individual, and insistent on excellence.

This company is inclusive and competitive. Our emphasis is on performance and achieving results. We support diverse perspectives. We encourage moderate risk-taking. We support employee development and community involvement.

We are results-driven. Employees are expected to show leadership behaviors and a team orientation.

Our company is very values-based. We are customer-driven and provide a culture that is empowering to the sales associate.

This is a performance culture - partnerships, integrity, customer service are important elements of our culture.

I would say our culture emphasizes teamwork, integrity, grace in change, and a willingness to embrace differences. Employees are encouraged not to be afraid to make decisions and to learn from their mistakes.

This company is not hierarchical. We place an extremely high value on respect, trust, service, and completion.

This company is the result of the merging together of many cultures, due to acquisitions. Our ongoing interest is to identify and share best practices across the company from the various companies we have acquired.

This is a company that is fast-paced, entrepreneurial, fun, demanding, rewarding, and performance-driven. We are score-keepers (among outlets and versus competition). There is a big teaming element here. We are driven and determined.

4.1.4 Evaluation of Use of Intermediary Organizations

Most of the companies interviewed did not use intermediary organizations for the recruitment and training of employees. One noted that such organizations are most apt to come into play when outlets are being sited and built and a large influx of new employees is needed. However, a few intermediary organizations in particular were.Companies that do not use intermediary organizations generally have their own internal staffing organization and believe they do not require these services from an external organization. One company representative said that “the culture of the company is so unique, and employee fit within that culture so important, we prefer to do our own recruiting and training.”

4.1.5 Exposure to Career Paths

All companies in this survey have visible career paths. Most companies have formal and established career paths, especially at the store/field level. There are also informal career paths. “People know how to get ahead here” is a frequent response when company officials are queried about career paths and advancement.

These leadership companies have different career path models which that are aligned with the company's culture, approach to employee communications, size and available opportunities, and management approach. Three different models emerged:

  • Vertical career paths: Career paths are formalized and well-articulated. The path from the current position to higher level positions involves moving up a career ladder to positions of increasing authority, responsibility, title and pay.
  • Position enlargement: In companies using this model, the retail associate's responsibilities tend to enlarge and their earnings increase within the context of the existing position, as opposed to moving “up” to a different position such as buyer or manager.
  • Developmental career pathing: As the sales associate moves into the corporate structure, the employee's career path is designed to facilitate the learning of key skill sets for future positions. Under this model, a corporate employee returns to the field (or shifts laterally to other positions within corporate headquarters) in order to develop capabilities needed for future career growth.

People in the companies with whom we spoke are interested in knowing more about the process of determining how to fit pieces of a career ladder together, and in looking at specific issues regarding employee advancement and retention in their own companies.

4.1.6 Diversity

Various company strategies are in place to reach out to diverse and/or underserved communities and populations who may be potential retail employees. A representative sampling of survey responses to questions about strategies highlights retailers' ongoing work to address diversity issues. This is especially prevalent as regards advancement of business line staff and management. Responses about diversity from the survey are noted below:

  • We have an internal diversity program, working with national organizations such as National Black MBA Association, National Hispanic MBA Association. In addition, we have other activities in local communities.
  • We are extremely involved with INROADS retail training institute which targets minority students; we have strong minority representation figures.
  • We have many diversity initiatives. There is a corporate head of diversity and diversity councils in each division. We recruit at colleges with traditionally large minority populations. We do lots of work in the community.
  • Our diversity partners include the National MBA Association, National Hispanic MBA Association, many minority organizations such as National Urban League, Multi-cultural Food Service and Hospitality Alliance, and Women's Food Service Forum.
  • We have a huge commitment to diversity; it's not just a veneer for us. Our Diversity Affairs Group reports directly to President. We have outreach and connections to community groups to help with our diversity efforts.
  • Every district manager has diversity numbers that they are responsible for. Diversity is also built into our succession planning process. We try to mirror the community. Our summer intern program targets minorities. We have senior minority leaders visible on campus for recruiting.
  • We're committed to diversity, especially in inner cities. We participate in job fairs in inner-city churches, for instance.
  • We formed a diversity committee at the home office (cross-functional and diverse team). We examined what could be done to speak (internally and externally) to a more diverse group of people. Our culture promotes respect for diversity, but we need our advertising and other public materials to reflect how much we value diversity.
  • We have no special efforts to reach diverse candidates - the representation in outlets comes from having accessible locations and choosing communities with diverse populations. We would like to reach a broader pool to improve applicant flow and yield, and to ensure that all levels of the store population reflect the community.
  • There are some activities in recruitment and advancement that address diversity issues. One challenge of being our type of retailer is that people perceive the typical employee as not diverse in terms of race or gender. We are working on this - we just brought on a diversity director at the corporate level to help strengthen our diversity strategies and programs.

4.1.7 Efforts That May be Used to Attract Employees

  • Direct recruiting through internships, college recruiting, direct recruiting from other retailers, Black MBA Association and other sources of minority talent, recruiting from top business schools, job fairs
  • Intranet, websites, postings through agencies, training regional managers to make openings visible;
  • Employee referral program;
  • Showing wages associated with career paths, show career paths and opportunities, internal promotions, internal job fairs;
  • Classified ads, signs at shopping malls, radio ads, brochures, message on sales receipts
  • Publicity, such as Fortune magazine “Great Places to Work” recognition, word of mouth

4.1.8 Efforts to Select Employees

  • Use of a written or documented skills assessment for match to positions;
  • Networking among employees and customers - e.g. group interview cards given by employees to customers who express an interest in working at the company;
  • Use of intermediary organizations;

4.2 Retention

4.2.1 Recognition of Retention Challenges

High retail turnover is acknowledged as an accepted but inefficient practice. Aon Consulting's “Loyalty Institute 2001” study points out that over one-half of retail employees indicate that when they leave their current job, they will leave the retail industry. Most of the companies we interviewed consider the impact of their recruitment strategies on employee retention rates. While turnover has tapered off somewhat with the current economy, it is still an area of concern. Turnover for the non-management positions at the companies we interviewed hovers around 100%. At the store management level, rates were reported to be at the 15% - 35% range. One company reported a turnover rate of less than 10% for full-time positions at all levels. The turnover rates vary significantly by company and by retail sector, making it difficult to draw any conclusions from this data. Entry-level store turnover appears to be high across the board. It generally decreases as employees move into full-time positions versus part-time positions, and as they grow into management positions. Commissioned sales positions tend to have lower turnover rates than non-commissioned positions. High turnover “has historically been a killer for retailers in their ability to develop and retain talent, but also, more importantly, to drive higher levels of profit,” according to one company representative. Managers are forced to spend time on recruiting and screening new talent, rather than in growing the business. The impact of turnover also affects the experience levels of employees who are interacting with customers and, therefore, may also impact the quality of service and the quantity of sales.

4.2.2 Responsive Retention Strategies

The companies that we spoke with address retention issues through different strategies, which they generally have found highly successful. Companies may pay a premium, if needed, to retain people who “bring a lot to the table,” that is, they are likely to succeed in the company's culture. Some companies use intermediary organizations to better screen job candidates, in an effort to predict job success. Several companies are improving their screening tools and processes in an effort to more effectively match job candidates to job requirements, company culture, and expectations. According to one company executive, “Every position has a retention strategy.”

A study recently completed within a large retail company identified the need to provide employees with:

  • sufficient hours of work - and flexibility in the scheduling of those hours to meet employees' personal needs as well as those of the company;
  • fairness/equitable treatment;
  • better hiring processes and improved efforts to meet employee training needs;

The study also found that the retailers need to strike a balance between meeting customer needs and managing labor costs. Several human resources managers made reference to the uniqueness of the retail wage structure. They noted that, while entry-level retail employees paid less relative to entry-level positions in other industries, management staffs are paid more. To keep their people, the retail companies we interviewed take every opportunity to tell employees about the career paths and opportunities that exist to move ahead and earn more money. Communication and recognition are essential components of retention strategies. One company holds “retention talks” with individual employees to find out “how things are going” and to “teach them how to manage themselves appropriately for this environment.” In several companies, surveys are used to obtain employee feedback and information on job satisfaction. Some companies measure managers on their retention figures. In other companies, acknowledgment of performance is built into regular “recognition meetings” where top-performing associates are recognized in front of their peers. A growing number of retailers use, or are considering using, a very structured set of matrices to measure performance, so that employees are clear which performance quartile they fall into. This allows employees to see that top-quartile performers are able to advance quickly within the company.

Many companies note the importance of a clear, unambiguous alignment across the functions of selection, assessment, and evaluation. One example of this is a retailer's “bench planning” process that is repeated every four weeks and features a review of the performance, development needs, and goals of each field staff person (management and front line employees). In this company's system, the importance of helping employees plan their careers for the next several years with the company, as well as the identification of their related developmental needs, contributes to better-than-industry-average staff retention for this company. Special assignments, rotations, and training are other strategies used by leading retail companies to keep their employees. While these companies share a strong emphasis on performance, they also provide the support needed to assure the employees will be successful in their positions. This is accomplished primarily through a variety of ongoing training activities.

4.2.2.1 Training and Development

Leading retail companies of all sizes make an investment in training. Several whom we interviewed for this project noted that they view training as a part of their competitive edge. As one executive responded, “Some of the key retention strategies for entry-level workers are competitive pricing [wages] and giving them the right training and tools.” In some companies, the impact of training on the bottom line is statistically quantified. Among leadership retail companies, the nature of the training investment differs, but the level of investment is significant. While many of the companies interviewed were either not able or willing to share their allocated training budget per employee, of those that did, costs ranged from $100 per employee per year ($80 million total), to $10,000 per year for selected employees. Investment in training time for associates typically ranges from 40-64 hours per associate per year. In an atypical company, each new full-time employee receives 235 hours of training in their first year, and 160 hours in each succeeding year.

The strategies used for training and developments include:

  • Distance learning
  • Self-directed, self-paced learning centers
  • Extensive formal education programs
  • Extensive e-learning systems;
  • On-the-job coaching and mentoring;
  • Access to Retail Skills Centers;

Most of the companies gear their training to specific competencies required for the positions within the company. At some companies, each job progression is accompanied by training requirements the incumbent must fulfill. Management training programs also may be available; they are more common than is training for front-line workers. In some programs, employees self-nominate to a management training program. In others, management selects “high potential candidates.”

4.2.3 Efforts that may be used to Retain Employees

Providing good work environment with clear values and goals;

Ensuring equitable pay and fair treatment;

Demanding results while caring about people;

Giving frequent, direct and honest feedback about performance and opportunities;

Discussing and mapping employees' careers 18-24 months in the future;

4.3 Career Advancement

4.3.1 Recognition of Advancement Challenges

Opportunities for career advancement can be an important selling point to attract top-notch talent, according to our respondents. This confirms the finding of the earlier-cited Aon Consulting study of 6,000 employees: 48% reported that opportunities for growth and advancement were the primary reason for taking the job they did, while only 33% reported that wages were the primary reason for taking the job. Nearly all of the companies we interviewed reported that they use their career paths in their recruitment efforts. As one company executive put it, “It's a ‘big seller' to show the paths available to employees and what the company growth can mean to them.” For many of the companies, this is part of the way they “brand” their company in the employment market. As one executive stated, “There are too many people chasing too little talent.” In this environment, showing that a company offers the employee a bright future provides a competitive advantage in recruitment. The retail industry is generally thought to offer less-than-competitive wages. In fact, the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the average hourly earnings for non-supervisory retail employees in 2001 were $9.77. And retail offers compensation that exceeds other industries at the managerial levels. While about one-half of the companies interviewed were not willing to disclose salary information, those that did reported that a store manager's compensation ranges from $30,000 to $70,000 plus bonus. So, the challenge for many of these employers is getting employees to take a longer-term perspective, typically 18-24 months out, to begin to realize their retail career aspirations.

4.3.2 Career Paths

The degree to which the career paths are established and visible varies from company to company. One company executive reported that “In the field, they are strong, visible, and well-articulated. We are working to develop cross-functional career paths for managers. We have a program for hourly employees to self-nominate into a management training program.” Another remarked, “Career paths and opportunities are visible and shared constantly.”

In all of the companies in this survey, there is a strong “promote from within” ethic, an ethic amply illustrated by the number of top executives who worked their way up the ranks to their current position. As one executive stated, “Every regional manager has progressed through the store from the ground-level up. Essentially, no senior manager or buyer is hired from outside.”

In many companies, informal career paths predominate. “The culture is such that people know how to get ahead in our company,” we were told by several respondents. For instance, in one company, “Every employee has regular discussions with his or her manager about expectations, opportunities, and training. People can have the same title and position, yet be given increasing levels of responsibility and compensation.” At another company, “Outside-the-box thinking is encouraged among managers to look at and value people's natural abilities vis-à-vis requirements of store operations, rather than the same rigid career path for every store employee.” The respondents we interviewed seem to suggest a continuum for career advancement, whether formal or informal. At one end, the career paths are well-defined and formalized, and the person's skills are developed to meet those requirements. At the other end of the continuum, the career paths are more informal, and the career advancement opportunities are developed to fit the employee's talents and interests. In all companies interviewed, employees were expected to be motivated to reach goals, have an interest in advancing in the company, and demonstrate their ability and enthusiasm to help the company grow. This “can do” attitude seems critical to career success in the retail industry, regardless of the company.

4.3.3 Company Commitment to Internal Promotion

Training programs are specifically geared to promote career advancement, so that a company with a strong training component is literally investing in the career advancement of their employees. In a few companies, the vast majority of their open positions are filled by internal promotions. In some others, performance appraisal systems are used to guide the flow of talent into critical positions. Occasionally, companies have “back-ups” for each critical position. In these cases, the performance appraisal process is used to look at employees' readiness for promotion as well as their developmental needs. All of the companies surveyed identify critical positions for success of the business. The majority specifically cited operational positions - such as store supervisors or managers - as critical positions.

4.3.4 Developing Talent and Succession Planning

Talent flows into these critical positions using a number of different strategies. In companies with clearly articulated career paths, internal promotion along these paths is the norm. As one company reported, “We have tons of examples at the store level and the corporate level of people rising quickly thorough the ranks, taking on challenging opportunities and being successful and rewarded for that.”

Some of the companies interviewed have a succession planning process, where employees are groomed to take positions with a several-years lead time. Such a process is typically used for management positions. However, the concept has merit for field positions as well as utility in supporting employee retention. Companies use a variety of ways to communicate career paths and opportunities to current and potential employees. These include:

Advertising; Intranet postings; Website; Internal postings; Discussions at time of hire or in recruitment process; Performance evaluations and ad-hoc discussions; Self-administered skills assessments; Recruitment materials; Networking and other forms of direct referral; Store postings; Internal career days.

4.3.5 Efforts to Advance Employees

  • Clear and explicit performance expectations, opportunities for employee input and discussion, and performance feedback that is done on a frequent basis, whether formal or informal;
  • Companies strategies tailored for employees' career advancement and aligned with the company's overall philosophy and approach to employee management;
  • Recognizable advancement opportunities;
  • Stated expectation of and rewards for outstanding performance;
  • Career Ladders;

4.3.6 Summary

The major findings from the analysis of data were presented in this section, and many interesting and current topics were obtained from the analysis. For example, topical issues such as flexible working, equal pay and culture of long hours were identified. They will be discussed further in relation to the development of policies in subsequent sections

Chapter 5 Conclusions (1000 - 4000 words)

5.1 Background (point out the research objectives again)

The main aim of this study was to investigate career development issues in the retail sector and explore the experiences, barriers and problems to career advancement faced by women and men in management in the retail sector across England. The study also included shop floor workers to determine any barriers female and male employees at shop floor level encountered to accessing retail management positions. Findings from this study were used to formulate preliminary recommendations for policy changes and to develop further exploration of these issues. The project fully addressed the aims and priorities set out in the HE ESF objective 3, theme 4: ‘Research into gender discrimination.' More specifically, the overall objectives were to:

Develop a promotion system, which is more sensitive to the needs of women.

Develop an image of a senior manager, which is not based entirely upon a male image.

Provide a concept of role models, which can be utilized by women to resolve possible work life balance conflicts.

Produce a set of solutions, which can be applied to other retail settings.

Mainstream and disseminate findings and recommendations to inform policy bodies and retail organizations.

The main issues identified here are similar to those found across sectors, e.g. by Opportunity Now and Catalyst (2000) and also retail specific literature e.g. Broadbridge (1998). In this section the main issues identified in each results subsection are summarized, with a set of recommendations developed from the main findings. These recommendations are intended to be advisory and realistic to enable organizations to implement them, and in doing so, to address and successfully rectify areas for development and improvement.

5.2 (Answer of the research questions)

5.3 Recommendations

It is intended to present here recommendations based on the results from this project. These recommendations are regarded as realistic and manageable in terms of the scope of their implementation, in order to ensure that the topics identified here can be addressed successfully. The outcomes of implementing these recommendations would benefit all employees within retail organizations, those working in functional roles and store management.

Develop more flexible working practices: job sharing, part time working at managerial levels (meets objective 1).

Be more open to promoting and developing individuals with skills/management styles which are not necessarily currently valued, e.g. people orientated skills, consultative vs. directive leadership styles (meets objective 2).

Implement a role model/mentoring system for all staff looking to progress into management chain, and those already within the chain looking to progress further (meets objective 3).

Ensure effective communication of vacancies and promotion opportunities across the organization(s) for roles at all levels, to ensure that selection procedures are objective and fair, with access for all employees (meets objective 4)

Implement a career development system incorporating succession planning, appraisals, and identification of training needs to enable staff development and promotion from the shop floor through to management

(Meets objective 4)

Increase wage budgets for managersin relation to increases in opening hours. This would enable managers to ensure they have enough staff to cover opening hours and therefore be able to work fewer hours themselves, enabling them to have more work/life balance (meets objective 4).

Consider the extent to which child care responsibilities impact on individuals' career progression or their self-selected opt out of this for certain periods of time, i.e. career breaks. This is directly linked to the opportunity for individuals to request more flexible working patterns (meets objective 1).

Develop channels of communication of information to employees and implement appropriate systems to monitor issues affecting them, e.g. Staff surveys, open forums (meets objective 4).

Effectively implement working time regulations - thereby outmerchandiseing the ability to opt out of this, and ensuring that regular breaks for managers and the number of hours they work per week are in line with working time regulations (meets objective 4):

The basic rights and protections that the Regulations provide are:

A limit of an average of 48 hours a week which a worker can be required to work (though workers can choose to work more if they want to).

A limit of an average of 8 hours work in 24 which night workers can be required to work.

The right for night workers to receive free health assessments.

The right to 11 hours rest a day.

The right to a day off each week.

The right to an in-work rest break if the working day is longer than 6 hours.

The right to 4 weeks paid leave per year.

Retailers and policy organizations to be pro-active in changing the culture of long hours working which permeates not only in Retail but wider British industry (meets objective 4).

5.4 Limitations

Described research is based on research activities carefully chosen in association with established research practices. This study, however, holds three methodological limitations:

Firstly, the study's survey was only in English. That avoids the misinterpretations of questions when the survey is translated to other languages. In addition, English is widely considered as lingua franca. The survey has been limited to those responders who were competent in English. This event implies that there was ‘self - selection' of sample. A researcher could be argued that results were only representative for English. To translate the visitor survey to other languages and perform further research, it might be interesting.

Secondly, the study's hypotheses on the respondents who took part in the study have tested by sample. Staff who were examined might not be representative in another other organizations. Parallel to this, the survey took place exclusively and directly carrying out the survey without permission of other companies that employ the respondents that took place in the survey.

Thirdly, although need to improve the turnover figures that are tabulated through out the year, the interviews with respondents were only concentrated in the months of June and July of 2008. It is in our opinion that other external factors would provide a different trend of responses from respondents

5.4 Future Research

The participation of the local respondents in the making of decisions should clearly contribute to the attainment of sustainable job retention in the merchandising sector. Through the interpretations of their career trends, the employees can preserve evidence of a way of life that might be passed on from generation to generation. The future research should concentrate on industry's aspect in that they are the only ones who know how it has been done from time to time. The aspect of job retention in the future research should hit directly on the industry's means of preservation of employees and how certain issues have been deliberated from time to time.

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