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The company chosen for this research is Landgut Stemmen, a four stars hotel and restaurant located in Stemmen, a small village close to Hamburg Germany. Even though the Landgut does not have its own Human Resources department, all HR related tasks are dealt by the owner Mr. Trau and his wife Mrs. Trau.
This report consists of intensive research about the HRM strategy at Landgut Stemmen but also of recommendations for the company.
The given report is based on deductive research, as two research questions have already been given:
1. What is the relation between the corporate strategy and the HRM strategy?
2. How do the existing HR tools and instruments support the HRM strategy?
In order to answer those research questions in a sufficient way, intensive research needed to be done. As a result of that primary as well as secondary research were used.
After the company Landgut Stemmen has been chosen as a research company, interviews with the owner Mr. Trau were scheduled immediately. Besides that employees, either full-time, part-time or apprentices were interviewed as well. The outcomes of those interviews served as a basis for primary research.
Next to primary research, secondary researches helped to base and compare the outcomes on theoretical standards and formulate solutions and recommendations for the Landgut Stemmen. Hereby the book "Human Resources Management" written by Gary Dessler was used as the main source, as well as the book "Competitive Advantage" of Michael E. Porter.
3. General information about the company Landgut Stemmen
Landgut Stemmen is a four stars hotel and restaurant with more than 100 years of family tradition. The Landgut is located in Stemmen, a small village in the middle of Bremen and Hamburg in Germany.
The small hotel has 32 single, double and family rooms and three meeting rooms. In the restaurant as well as in the ball room, one can enjoy typically German plain fare and celebrate its birthday, anniversary, etc. with a maximum of 400 guests.
Landgut Stemmen is owned by Johann Trau, his wife Luise Trau and their son Christopher Trau. Besides them there are seven full-time employees, four part-time employees, three apprentices and five temporary employees.
All HRM related activities are handled by Mr. and Mrs. Trau personally. However, they are currently facing a tradition change and their other son Alexander Trau will take over the business in the near future.
4. Research Questions
4.1 Relation between corporate strategy and human resources strategy
4.1.1 Overall corporate strategy
A corporate strategy is defined by G. Dessler's Human Resources Management book as the "overall scope and direction of a corporation and the way in which its various business operations work together to achieve particular goals." (Dessler G., 2010, p. 108)
Since Landgut Stemmen is working in the service sector its corporate strategy is focused on its customer service. The guests of Landgut Stemmen are the center of action. They deserve the best service either on their wedding, their birthday or at a (causal) business meeting. Therefore Landgut Stemmen's main corporate strategy is to be the "number one hotel and restaurant for any guest within the countryside between Hamburg and Bremen". (Mr. Trau, 2012)
The Landgut exists for over 100 years and is proud of its very long family tradition. The company's vision is therefore continuously keeping their rich traditions by: "Building up on customer satisfaction and loyalty, being innovative concerning customer service and stay competitive." (Mr. Trau, 2012)
4.1.2 Overall human resource strategy
A human resource strategy contains "any activities a company needs to undertake in order to increase the employee's competencies and behaviors the company needs to achieve its strategic aims." (Dessler G., 2010 p. 112)
Landgut Stemmen's human resource strategy is to "recruit, train and keep a labor force which is motivated, ambitious, communicative and committed to the company's vision". (Mr. Trau, 2012)
In order to have a value adding labor available, the recruiting process plays an important role in the human resource strategy of Landgut Stemmen. So far the hotel does not own a fixed HR department. All HR related activities are dealt by either the owner Mr. Trau or his wife. The recruitment consists of mainly advertising the job descriptions, collecting CV's and motivation letters, holding a face-to-face interview and arranges a trial day. Especially the trail day is of great importance as Mr. and Ms. Trau can see and judge whether the candidate fits into the team, is able to adapt to a family tradition environment and treats guests in a professional but kind way.
Next to the recruiting process, which is step one in selecting highly motivated, and potential candidates or future employees, the training part plays another important role. In order to adapt to the constantly changing environment, change of taste and behavior of guests but also to stay innovative and up-to-date, the employees of the Landgut Stemmen have to participate in different advanced training courses twice a year. Those courses are organized externally and in cooperation with other regionally located hotels and restaurants.
The last part of the human resources strategy of Landgut Stemmen is to "keep motivated and professional labor by creating a work environment where employees feel comfortable, where they do not only work, but also develop themselves, grow and socialize". (Mr. Trau, 2012)
How Landgut Stemmen keeps up with this strategy can be read in second research question "Human Resources Tools & Instruments".
4.1.3 Relation between corporate strategy and human resources strategy
In order to be the number one in the local restaurant and hotel business Landgut Stemmen's corporate strategy should be in line with its human resources strategy. That means that its employees should feel committed to the vision of the company.
According to Mr. Trau most of the employees of Landgut Stemmen (except for the apprentices) have been working at the company for at least five years. Over the time they have been grown together as one team. They are working towards the same goal, satisfying the customer in the best way. With the experience they have gained over the years they feel accountable for the task they are doing and they are aware of their responsibilities.
Even though Landgut Stemmen follows a long tradition strategy they try to be innovative all the same time by taken their employees opinions into account, appreciate when employees are taking initiative and sending them to regular trainings. Those trainings are not only about gaining advanced knowledge within the gastronomy sector, but also about developing and improving its soft skills. Landgut Stemmen is well aware of the fact that offering good food, a great location and extraordinary entertainment is not enough to fulfill its corporate strategy; instead they have to focus on the continuous development of their labor force.
4.1.4 Sub conclusion and Recommendation
Mr. Trau directs the Landgut Stemmen for over 40 years. Over the years many things have changed and Mr. Trau and his team expanded successfully in different areas. However, he did not expand his corporate and human resource strategy well enough. Even though Landgut Stemmen possesses both strategies they are mostly superficial and not really precise. It is recommended to update both strategies and document them immediately. An articulation of both, the corporate as well as the human resources strategy, might help to visualize the companies vision and to clarify it better towards the employees.
Further Mr. Trau needs to keep an eye on the greying workforce. According to Mr. Trau more than half of the employees have been working at the Landgut for 20 years. Therefore it is recommended to start recruiting younger people as soon as possible in order to have professional successors as soon as they are needed.
4.2 Human resources tools & instruments at Landgut Stemmen
4.2.1 Functionality of those tools & instruments
In order to follow a successful human resources strategy it is essential to make use of excellent human resources tools. According to Mr. Trau Landgut Stemmen currently uses the following tools:
Informal recruiting process with a focus on the candidates soft skills rather than on recommendation letters
Equal treatment for all employees
Offering several apprenticeships and internships a year
Two teambuilding events a year
Advanced training sessions
Combining career and family
Focus on low turnover rate
4.2.2 Human resources tools in relation to human resources goals
Looking at the above mentioned human resources tools at Landgut Stemmen one can see they are mainly based on their human resources strategy but also on the very long family tradition and the experiences they have gained over the years.
All in all one can say those tools are all necessary and helpful in order to fulfill its human resources goals (recruiting, training and keeping professional staff). However Landgut Stemmen needs to adapt its human resources tools continuously. Many of those tools have been in existence for many years and needs urgently be refreshed. Nowadays it is important to be a leader who possess emotional intelligence, meaning recognizing and understanding not only one owns emotions but also the ones of other people. In order to recognize other peoples wishes and needs it is essential to hold regular meetings with its employees. Those meetings serve to be an opportunity to discuss the employee's process and development, his/her strength and weaknesses but also the opportunities and threats. As a result of that Landgut Stemmen needs to hold those meetings with their employees at least twice a year.
4.2.3 Proof of achievements/Proof of failure
The booked out hotel rooms on the weekend, the many weddings scheduled almost every weekend, the business meetings booked during the year and many other booked events show that Landgut Stemmen's overall human resources strategy and its tools are successful. Guests feel treated well and often come back for vacation or meetings. It can be clearly said the staff of Landgut Stemmen is well trained, professional and kind at the same time. Mr. Trau mentioned in the interview that the staff enjoys working at the Landgut; otherwise the employee turnover rate for full-time employees would not be that significantly low. Since most of the employees have been working at the Landgut for a long time the relation between employer and employee is very informal. "Working schedules are more or less flexible and tailored to the employer's family life." (Mr. Trau, 2012) Further the team building events twice a year proves to be a good opportunity to get to know its colleagues and strengths the team spirit.
Even though the employee turnover rate for full-time employees is very low, the turnover rate for apprentices is much higher. According to Mr. Trau it is getting more difficult to find enough apprentices. Further Mr. Trau mentioned that most of the young people are not aware of the fact that working in the service sector also means working especially on the weekends. "Sometimes we have five different events on the weekend and we only sleep six hours in two nights". (Mr. Trau, 2012). This high turnover rate proves that Landgut Stemmen relied many years too much on their full-time employees, who were always used to those schedules but did not concentrate well enough on successors who might have difficulties adapting to that working atmosphere.
4.2.4 Sub conclusion and Recommendation
Landgut Stemmen is well aware of its human resources strategy as well as of its human resources tools. Nonetheless, the human resources tools are out of date. The current ones are all important and should be kept but some others need to be adjusted. Because of the long family tradition Landgut Stemmen tries to avoid changes: "It has always been like that. Why would we change it?" was stated by Mr. Trau during the interview. (Mr. Trau, 2012)
Another recommendation is that Landgut Stemmen needs to start with job rotations quickly. In order to keep the turnover rate low and the workforce satisfied family Trau need to offer a bigger job variety for the employees. The result of an interview with an employee of Landgut Stemmen showed that she is looking for change, for a new challenge in order to develop herself further. (Ms. Wahlitz, 2012)
Another recommendation is to give employees the chance to become empowered in the task they are doing. Currently all management and organizational decision are being made by Mr. and Ms. Trau. By empowering their employees, they would feel much more needed and have finally the opportunity to show how they can handle responsibility. Further it would give them the opportunity to prove their abilities even more and they get more motivated.
Since so many employees have been working in the hotel for so many years a certain routine affect the daily business and employees feel not appreciated and recognized anymore. In order to avoid that and show the employees that every single one of them is needed it is recommended to reward them.
Concerning the high turnover rate for apprentices it is recommended to make an apprenticeship at Landgut Stemmen more attractive. Right now Ms. Trau is supervising the apprentices but since she is very busy with all her other responsibility the apprentices get the "short end of the stick". It is therefore advisable to appoint another supervisor who has more time for the apprentices. Further, the apprentices should have the opportunity to work more often in different departments in order to really learn as many different aspects of the hotel and restaurant business as possible. Last but least apprentices should be more financially supported, i.e. by financing their public transportation card.
Interview with Mr. Trau, owner of Landgut Stemmen (25/10/2012)
Interview with Ms. Wahlitz, employer of Landgut Stemmen (25/10/2012)
Dessler, G. 2010, Human Resources Management, 12th edn., Pearson, Florida, pp. 108-112