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The following proposal, authorized on January 25, 2010, is about the current problems with the backroom environment at Tommy Hilfiger #7866 (TH #7866). Aside from analyzing these issues, this proposal aims to examine how a renovation project is the ideal solution. The research evidence that supports my recommendations includes a review of employees' opinions toward the workplace environment, face-to-face interviews, as well as on-site observations. This proposal shows that immediate action must be taken in order to provide a better workplace for TH #7866 employees.
There is an urgent need for TH #7866 to implement a renovation project targeting the break area and the inventory storeroom. This need is indicated by (1) health and safety issues, (2) low employee morale, and (3) inefficient inventory management. The recommendations provided in the proposal are feasible and specific tactics that TH #7866 should consider in order to resolve the current issues and to prevent future problems.
I hope this proposal provides a thorough assessment of the problems TH #7866 is facing and a clear explanation of how they can be resolved with my recommendations. I would be more than happy to discuss with you further the details regarding this proposal. You can reach me at 604-726-1838 or by email at <[email protected]>. I look forward to speaking with you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TRANSMITTAL MEMORANDUM ii
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY iv
Purpose of the Proposal 1
Scope of the Proposal 2
Sources and Methods 2
Assessment of PROBLEMS AT TH #7866 2
Break Area Cleanliness 2
Storeroom Organization 3
RESPONSES TO WORKPLACE ENVIRONMENT 4
Survey Results 4
Interview on Inventory Management 6
Interview on Break Area Maintenance 7
EFFECTS OF THE RENOVATION PROJECT 7
Health and Safety 7
Inventory Management 7
Employee Satisfaction & Company Image 8
APPENDIX A - Employee Survey on the Workplace Environment 11
APPENDIX B - Employee Survey Results 14
LIST OF FIGURES
Breakdown of employee positions within sample 4
Results on employees' satisfaction with the TH #7866 backroom 6
Employees' agreement to the statement 6
Low employee morale and inefficient inventory management, combined with recent discoveries of unsafe and unsanitary situations, have led to this review of the workplace environment at Tommy Hilfiger Store #7866 (TH #7866). The purposes of this proposal are to (1) assess current issues that have arisen as a result of the backroom environment, and (2) examine renovation as a solution to these problems.
Findings have shown that employees at TH #7866 are concerned with the break area cleanliness and storeroom organization. Most employees regularly use the break area and the inventory storeroom, but have been plagued with worries about health and safety, disgust with the unsanitary surroundings and frustration at the inefficient organization of inventory. In general, the staff team is unsatisfied with the backroom environment and strongly agrees that there is much room for improvement. A small-scale renovation project designed to revamp the backroom is the best solution to eliminate concerns regarding employee satisfaction, health and safety, inventory management, and company image.
The following are recommendations that TH #7866 can consider:
Renovation of the inventory storeroom
Increase number of shelving units
Rearrange shelving units to increase aisle space
Attach sliding ladders to each shelving unit
Renovation of the break area and washroom
Repaint walls and fixtures
Increase seating space
Replace old appliances
Increase storage space
Contact pest control
If the current problems at TH #7866 are left neglected, they may escalate in severity. Hence, it is crucial for renovation and reorganization to be implemented at TH #7866 in order for it to remain a reputable fashion retailer.
Employee morale and efficient management of inventory are key goals that each retail business should strive to achieve. Often, however, retailers may be too obscured by short-term profitability to address these fundamental issues. Overlooking employee morale and inventory management may lead to dissatisfied employees and wasted resources, ultimately translating into serious impediments in long-term profitability.
At Tommy Hilfiger Store #7866, low employee morale and inefficient organization of inventory have been problematic issues for several months. Improvements in employee morale and management of inventory at Tommy Hilfiger Store #7866 can be achieved through a store renovation project, focusing particularly on the backroom. A renovated backroom can increase the useful capacity of the store, sales staff productivity, and employee comfort and safety.
Purpose of the Proposal
Tommy Hilfiger is an international premium fashion icon whose growth can be attributed to its commitment and dedication to its employees. Particularly at Tommy Hilfiger Store #7866 (TH #7866), which is positioned at the busy Richmond Centre mall, the store's success is in large part due to a strong and enthusiastic team of staff. Currently, the management and staff at TH #7866 are working towards transforming this location into a flagship store. As a flagship store with larger retail space and more merchandise volume, TH #7866 will become the preferred shopping destination for mainstream customers in the Vancouver Lower Mainland area. Thus, problems with the workplace environment at TH #7866 may pose as significant hindrances in the store's pursuit of flagship status.
TH #7866's neglected workplace environment is one of the sources of low employee morale and poor inventory management. Several complaints have arisen amongst the employees, particularly concerning the cleanliness of the break area and efficiency of the backroom. For example, one extreme case occurred recently where a mouse was discovered crawling through the backroom, particularly close to the area where employees normally spend their meal breaks. Furthermore, employees are often found engaging in dangerous acts of climbing the shelves in the backroom to get hard-to-reach clothing for customers as the use of ladders is difficult in such limited space.
The purposes of this proposal are to:
Report existing problems with employee morale and inventory management
State how these issues may be of significant impact to the company
Make management aware of the staff's concern about the workplace environment
Examine renovation as a solution for improvement
Recommendations for improving the workplace environment at TH #7866 will be based on the findings of this proposal.
Scope of the Proposal
The proposal focuses on the following:
Current problems with the backroom at TH #7866
Employees' response towards their workplace environment
Effects of renovating and reorganizing the backroom
The study does not include detailed cost analysis, as it is difficult to obtain the relevant figures to calculate predicted costs and revenues from commercial renovation projects due to variability and confidentiality. Further, the data collected from employees through interviews may be subject to biased reporting due to fear of non-anonymity.
Sources and Materials
The assessment includes:
A survey conducted anonymously with participants from TH #7866
Two short interviews carried out employees from TH #7866
A compilation of direct observations of the backroom environment at TH #7866
assessment of problems at th #7866
The findings of this proposal will be presented in two categories: (1) break area cleanliness, and (2) storeroom organization.
Break Area Cleanliness
While the break area is designed to be a space for employees to relax during their meal breaks, the cleanliness and sanitation problems in this area have made it an uncomfortable environment to be in. Since the break area is a very small space shared by around 35 employees, it is not uncommon to find used plastic bags, utensils and containers left lying on the counter. This may be due to inadequate space in the communal refrigerator, the shelving units, and the lockers, coupled with a lack of pride of ownership of this shared space. Leftover food scraps and crumbs can frequently be found on the counter, in the microwave, or on the floor, while the garbage cans are constantly overflowing. All of this filthiness has also caused nauseating odours, contributing to an overall unpleasant experience in the break area.
The restroom at TH #7866 is always untidy and malodorous throughout the day. Restrooms are a major breeding ground for bacteria, and many people try to keep contact with the toilet and the sink to a minimum by crouching and using more paper towels to touch the flush handle and the faucets. Consequently, the toilet becomes extremely dirty, paper towels are littered on the floor, and soap solution is smeared all over the sink.
To make matters worse, the role of janitor is left as each employee's personal responsibility. Without providing clear incentives or making it part of their job descriptions, employees have little motivation to take the repulsive tasks of washroom cleaning and break area maintenance into their own hands.
Presence of mice
Finally, the unsanitary break area has also attracted some unwanted guests - mice. In a bulletin posted by the U.S. General Services Administration, the Integrated Pest Management program found that "mice can potentially contaminate food or surfaces with Salmonella bacteria", and that "the primary damage caused by mice in most public buildings is disruption of operations" (U.S. GSA, 2002). Since the sighting of a mouse at TH #7866, employees have expressed their concern for break area cleanliness and the need for professional janitorial services.
The storeroom houses all overstocked inventory, organized into five aisles of tightly arranged, movable shelving units. Though this setup increases TH #7866's storage capacity, it does not allow for employees' easy access to the inventory or adequate walking space. In a warehouse design and layout guide published by The Sims Consulting Group, it was found that a storeroom design that balances space utilization and picking (selecting inventory for the sales floor) is the most ideal (Phillips, 2009). Thus, it is clear that such a high-density layout does not maximize efficiency for employees to pick and move inventory from the backroom onto the sales floor. This causes employees to either forgo sales opportunities due to inaccessibility of overstocked inventory, or to take shortcuts in acquiring inventory quickly, such as overreaching or climbing shelving units.
Working at Height
In his article titled "Heightened Safety", Roderick Dymott introduces the idea that those who work at height often assume their competence and feel that they are working safely; however, accident statistics clearly prove this belief to be wrong (Dymott, 2009). In fact, it has been found that the most common causes for falls include those where the individual overreaches, slips from a ladder, the ladder wobbles or the ladder breaks (HSE, 2009). At TH #7866, the space between two shelving units is so narrow that employees often must spend several minutes merely trying to put the ladder in a safe position. Even when it is properly set up, the ladder may still not be of sufficient height for the employee to reach products on the topmost shelves.
Aside from existing inventory, weekly shipments of new inventory are dropped off at the storeroom as well. These shipments have reached amounts of over 90 boxes at a time, resulting in boxes being stacked up in dangerously high piles. Moreover, walking spaces in the backroom become so narrow that workers must slide sideways to get past the hazards.
Employees have reported high levels of annoyance and frustration at this inventory organization, not to mention general concern about health and safety in their workplace environment. For the management team, an inefficient system of inventory may translate into wasted time and effort that could be spent on customer service.
ResponseS to Workplace Environment
In order to collect data on the attitudes of the workers at TH #7866 towards their workplace environment, I have conducted an anonymous survey and two short face-to-face interviews.
To obtain the opinions of my fellow coworkers, I developed a three-page survey (Appendix A) and distributed copies of them randomly to a sample of 20 employees at the store. The surveys were completed anonymously, and most workers were enthusiastic about being able to provide feedback. The survey is composed of questions designed to evaluate employees' attitudes towards different aspects of TH #7866's working environment, their habits for cleanliness and sanitation at work, and their frequency of using the break area and the inventory storage room. The results are included in Appendix B.
The random sample consists of a proportional number of individuals in each employment position (see Figure 1), thus it is representative of all employees at TH #7866.
Figure 1: Breakdown of employment positions within sample
Source: From an anonymous employee survey
Upon analysis of the survey data, I have discovered the following key findings:
45% of employees spend approximately 2 hours in the break area per week. On average, each employee spends approximately 2.4 hours in the break area per week. Since TH #7866 employs 35 staff members, this is equivalent to a total of 84 hours spent in the break area per week. Given such a large amount of time spent in the break area, it is obvious that this area is an important part of the workplace.
50% of the respondents reported that they use the washroom about 3-4 times each week. Again, this washroom is shared by 35 staff members. Clearly, washroom cleanliness and sanitation standards are very difficult to maintain.
80% of the workers surveyed bring food from home to work at least once per week. Most of the time, they must utilize the refrigerator and the microwave to store and heat their food. This amounts to extremely high usage for the kitchen appliances. Though 90% of the sample either agreed or strongly agreed that they clean up after themselves after eating at work, it is obvious from the observed food waste left on the counter that this is may not be entirely true.
The employees' satisfaction with the adequacy of appliances, personal storage space, and seating space was generally low. 60% of the sample disagreed that seating space was adequate, while 50% disagreed that appliances were adequate, and 40% disagreed that personal storage space is adequate. For each of the above situations, a few employees chose "Strongly Disagree", while no employee selected "Strongly Agree". In fact, 65% of the sample disagreed with the statement that the break area was a comfortable place to be in, clearly indicating an urgent need for improvement of the break area.
With regards to inventory storeroom usage, 70% of the sample reported using the storeroom 9 or more times per week. However, only 1 out of the 20 surveyed employees reported using the ladder 9 or more times per week. In fact, 85% of employees use the ladder 4 times or less, indicating that working at height without a ladder is a prominent problem.
In addition, majority of the surveyed employees do not agree that the inventory storeroom has an efficient layout or adequate storage or walking space. 40% also reported that the shelving is not easy to use, and 60% reported that the inventory is not easy to access.
Overall, though most employees surveyed (70%) agreed that they felt safe at work, 40% admitted that they were unsatisfied with the backroom at TH #7855 (see Figure 2). Indeed, 11 out of 20 people strongly agreed that the backroom could be improved, and the same number of people agreed that better workplace comfort and safety could improve their work performance (see Figure 3).
Figure 2: Results on employees' satisfaction with the TH #7866 backroom
Source: From an anonymous employee survey
Figure 3: Employees' agreement to the statement:
"Workplace comfort and safety can affect my work performance"
Source: From an anonymous employee survey
Interview on Inventory Management
In addition to the employee survey, a brief interview was carried out with a part-time stockroom staff member at TH #7866. Since this employee spends most of his shifts dealing with products in the stockroom, he was able to provide valuable insight about the store's inventory management system. For example, he indicated that in order to process the inventory at a fast pace, it is more convenient to reach the higher shelves by climbing rather than using the ladders. Further, he reported that the design of the shelving units does not allow a lot of room to position the ladders safely. During periods of time with large shipments, he reported that "there are so many boxes that even [his] working area becomes overcrowded with inventory", limiting his efficiency greatly.
Interview on Break Area Maintenance
Another interview was conducted with a full-time sales associate as well. As a frequent user of the break area and appliances, she stated that "the counters and floor are so messy and dirty all the time". She pointed out that since the mouse sighting in the backroom, she has felt so uncomfortable being in the backroom of TH #7866 that she would rather eat her lunch and use the washrooms at the mall food court. When asked how the break area could be improved, she suggested that perhaps more regular cleaning procedures should be implemented; as well more shelving, individual lockers, and newer appliances should be added.
Based on the above results, it is undeniable that improvements to workplace comfort and safety at TH #7866 will boost the staff team's performance and satisfaction levels, leading to higher employee morale, more efficient management of inventory, and ultimately increased profitability for the business.
Effects of The RENOVATION Project
A clean, comfortable and safe backroom can provide a strong foundation for high employee morale and high inventory efficiency which can yield a variety of positive effects.
Health & Safety
With the recent cases of diseases and a growing health craze, health is one of the biggest concerns for the working class worldwide. In an article from Entrepreneurs.com, the author mentions that with better workplace sanitation and cleanliness, "employees and employers could potentially cut absenteeism in half" (Edelhauser, 2007). According to the Canada Labour Code, "all Canadians are entitled to work in a healthy and safe environment, yet every year work-related injuries and diseases cause nearly 1,000 deaths in companies and organizations under federal or provincial jurisdiction" (Canada Labour Code, 2010). Proper health and safety measure are not hard to implement and will help TH #7866 prevent costly lawsuits and damaged reputation.
According to Graham Burgess, a supply chain logistics expert, an ideal warehouse layout can yield improvements to higher inventory turnover, reduced operational running costs, increased worker productivity and improve workplace safety (Burgess, 2003). With a more efficient inventory management system, stockroom staff can process inventory quicker, sales associates can find requested clothing more easily, and customers can get their products faster. This amounts to more profit for the company in a shorter period of time.
Employee Satisfaction & Company Image
Muhad Ali mentions in his article that "a dirty and ugly workplace will reduce overall morale and increase turnover of employees" (Ali, 2007). With a comfortable and appealing working environment, employees will take more pride in their workplace. High employee satisfaction is reflected in better customer service and higher sales profits. High employee turnover is costly since TH #7866 will incur increased hiring costs and face increased risk of losing valuable senior employees. Having a satisfied, strong team of staff can help Tommy Hilfiger boost its company image and remain competitive with other fashion retailers.
Despite the fact that commercial renovation is a substantial capital investment for a specialty store such as TH #7866, all the benefits derived from the renovation project can result in higher profitability for the company. Besides, given that Tommy Hilfiger is a high-end fashion retailer with elevated prices and profit margins, the cost of a small-scale renovation project limited to only the backroom is within the company's financial means. In fact, such a simple renovation project can be completed with a small budget, a flexible schedule and minimal disruption to daily operations.
A commercial renovation can be a rewarding and profitable experience if the important decisions are made before the renovation begins. I propose that at minimum, the following changes should be made to TH #7866's backroom:
Increase quantity of shelving units
Rearrange shelving units to space them further apart
Sort and label all shelves and aisles
Store shipment boxes behind the shelving units rather than in the aisles
Attach sliding ladders to each shelving unit
Break Area & Washroom
Repaint to increase aesthetics of this area
Increase seating in the break area with padded seats
Add more shelves above the kitchen counter
Replace old, dirty kitchen appliances with new ones
Purchase cleaning supplies
Replace large lockers with more space-efficient, smaller lockers
Assign each employee to a locker
Contact pest control services
Contact floor cleaners and janitors
The workplace environment has been less than ideal at Tommy Hilfiger Store #7866. Many issues with cleanliness, comfort and safety have impacted the staff team negatively for the past several months. The company's investment in a backroom renovation project is the best solution to this problem. Revamping the backroom is a simple project, yet it is a move that will significantly improve employees' satisfaction, health and safety, and efficiency of the inventory system as well. In addition, the current strategies to maintain the backroom at TH #7866 are clearly ineffective and short-term. By executing a renovation, TH #7866 can focus its business strategy in the long-run and continue to build strong relationships with its employees and its customers.
This proposal has presented evidence of the tremendous effects the workplace environment can have on a company and its employees. A revamped workplace can result in:
Better physical health
Fewer safety hazards
Higher inventory turnover
Greater job satisfaction
Increased employee efficiency
Lower employee turnover rate
Better company image
Increased company profitability
In conclusion, an immediate improvement of the workplace environment is critical at Tommy Hilfiger Store #7866. If the current workplace issues are not resolved immediately, they will accumulate into more severe problems. With a simple renovation project and proper maintenance procedures in place, I believe that TH #7866 will successfully become a reputable, iconic flagship store in the near future.