Human resource practices in shell uk limited



Current markets are very much dynamic, however at the same time they are very fragile. They are facing threats like credit crunch and recession which has made it very much difficult for the businesses to survive. Therefore, the role of each and every department of an organization is cut out and i.e. that each department has to perform efficiently and professionally in order to make sure that there are no false decisions made and errors of any kind are avoided in order to make sure that the business is on the right track. Human Resource department is one of the most important departments for any organization. This is the department which deals with all the employees from bottom to the top level or senior management. It would not be wrong if it is considered as the backbone of an organization. (Ahmad, 2003)

The Selected organization:

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The organization that was selected in order to complete this task is Shell UK Limited. Shell is a very big and well known name in the markets all over the world, especially in the oil and petroleum industry. Shell has been one of the top profit making Companies for the last couple of years in the UK. Unlike many other organizations Shell do not espouse the "Soft" version of Human Resource. But before the study goes in further detail, this study will provide an easy definition or understandings of both the "Soft" and "Hard" versions of the Human Resource Management. (Appelbaum, 2000)

"Soft" Version of HRM

This model of Human Resource Management is concerned with both the organization's performance and at the same time with the well being of workers. This version basically concentrates on all the stakeholders starting from the Shareholders, to the workers, as well as the labour unions. This is simply done in order to satisfy the worker's working with in the business and facilitate them as much as possible. This helps the organization to ensure the workers that they are an important asset of the business. This as result augments the confidence level and performance of the employees. (Wilkinson, 2006)

"Hard" Version of HRM

This version of Human Resource Management is mainly associated with the trade presentation and or performance plus it is broadly acknowledged as taking little notice or giving less importance to the employees and their concerns. This model mainly focuses on the income, profitability and well-being of the business. (Beardwell et al., 2007)

Both above mentioned versions of HRM are very much different from each other but are equally used by different organizations in order to make sure that their profitability and achievement graphs are going up. The answer to the question that may come to one's mind that which one of the two versions of HRM shall be used by an organization depends very much on the nature of the business. (Ahmad, 2003)

Shell UK Ltd is among those companies that use the "Hard" version of Human Resource Management. This is simply because the choice for Shell is very limited. Fuel prices are touching the sky, the margins are get lower and lower while the competitors are trying very much hard and using different exciting strategies in order to make sure that they stay on top of each other and survive in the current fragile market conditions. (Truss et al., 1997)

This study will mainly concentrate on Shell UK Ltd and its Franchises in order to make it easier for the reader to understand how and where the use of "Hard" model is in practice. Few years back Shell UK Ltd use to allot on fuel station to one retailer, but then thinking in advance and sensing the threats like credit crunch and recession Shell decided to allot up to nine petrol stations to one retailer. This not only saved Shell huge amount of money but at the same time this idea of downsizing saved them a lot of budgeting and other costs. After this decision was made and necessary steps were taken, the issue now for Shell was how to improve the performance both at the Headquarters and at the same time at all the Franchises in order to stay at the top of competitors. (Stredwick et al., 1998)

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In order to achieve this target Shell espoused the "Hard" version of Human Resource Management, where everything is about achievements. The use of Navigator boards and other performance measuring tools were started in order to make sure that each and every worker be it a cleaner, cashier, supervisor, manager, retailer, area manager, regional manager or any other related personnel all have to perform well if they want to be part of the organization. The margin for errors was set to minimum and it was made clear to all the workers to make sure that the company stays on top. To achieve this target Shell also introduced training sessions and audit session on regular basis. (Beardwell et al., 2007)

Shell is keener on its position in the market and less concerned about the staff concerns. Though the health and safety of the staff is one of the main priorities at Shell but any other concerns that the staff may have are overlooked by the company on most occasions. This does not at all means that Shell doesn't care, however it can be said that Shell is keener to spend each and every minute on improving and to increase the profits and avoid different kinds of losses rather then getting stuck with staff issues. There are few incentives and vouchers given to the staff on good performances but they really have to work hard to get those incentives and vouchers. (Torrington, et al., 2005)

The "Hard" version of Human Resource Management may look unfair or very much narrow at times. But it is used by most of the organizations purely because it saves them a lot of time and money. Unlike the "Soft" version this version mostly or totally avoids the workers concerns at times. While the "Soft" model of the human resource management focuses more on the employees concerns and tries to resolve and accommodate them. This needs more time and resources and at times proves to be very costly. But, many researchers recommend this version of the human resource as most of them believe that this version though is very much time consuming and a lot of effort is required in order to avoid the concerns of the workers however, the returns and outcomes are very much fruitful at times. (Butterworth et al., 1995)

A part from that it can also be assumed that the matter of selection of the two versions of HRM depends on the nature and size of the business, and at times depends on the type of country as well. If the business is small the focus will be to avoid any stoppages and increase profitability. To achieve this, the main focus of the management will be to avoid in concerns that the employees may have related to the workplace. This will avoid any kind of stoppages or failures to the business. (Guest, 1989)


Modern markets as mentioned earlier are very much dynamic. The way people perform their tasks and most of the businesses are run these days totally are different to the ways that businesses were practised few years back. Businesses heavily rely on its personnel and management to perform well so that the business can survive and stay alive in the modern markets. Organizations are enacting different strategies in order to make sure that they are on top of the list of successful business. Different techniques are adopted to improve the overall performance of the employees. Human resource management is the department which has to go through a lot in order to make sure that right person is working on the right place at the right time. With the passage of time more and more organizations are enacting the "Hard" version of human resource management. This is purely done to keep the staff on their toes so that they have little or no time to waste and can concentrate more and more on improving the performance of the organization. (Wilkinson, 2006)

Businesses would do anything to stay on top of the competitors. Especially in the current fragile situation as one wrong decision may result in an over night shutting down and or huge losses on regular basis. Therefore, the Human Resource department have to make sure that right people are hired for the right jobs. And apart from that right version of HRM has been adopted depending on the nature of the business and its employees.

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