Analysis – Case study of ASDA PLC

Management of human resource or “people working in an organization” is the most acute problem that faces managers nowadays. Today, it is no doubt that this is the leading cause of worries that nearly every other organization has to contend with. When the effects of organizational culture and structure; or group, or an individual are considered in light of the performance of the organization then such a study is referred to as organizational behavior. To this extent, such a study is an attempt to provide adequate definition of the efficiency and performance factors of the organization. Two most important performance factors that almost correlate are organizational culture and organizational structure, and they both principally define the desirable structure an organization should have in order to spur performance to more than average. Basically, job satisfaction and employee turnover have everything to do with the culture of the organization (Bolden, 2004).

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When an organization has a solid culture of high employee retention rate and elements of internal self-respect then this augurs well for the stability of the organization (Tracy, 2013). This paper strives to clearly delineate the association existing between the structure of an organization and the organizational culture. In order to highlight this link and to get vivid insights, we shall take a general view of a reputable firm in the UK known as ASDA plc (prime research & consultancy, 2014). In this case study, we shall endeavor to prove how the selection and recruitment process of ASDA coupled with strategies of good colleague engagement and effective leadership combine to enable the firm meet its mission and objectives.

In this study, I shall define the culture of an organization as a set of shared attitudes, values and beliefs (Jones, 2007). The employees in an organization can get directions on how work is expected to be done by taking cognizance of these factors. But in the same vein, for the general success of the organization, it is imperative to pay attention to the culture or the rituals and internal environment within the organization. The rich organizational culture inherent in ASDA greatly contributes to its success story because this is strongly rooted in the empowerment of the employees in the entire organization by stipulating how employees related to one another and how they should treat their clients/customers. The company has a strong conviction that the business can remarkably be improved when the interest of all those concerned are taken seriously into account. To this end, the major drive of the organization is to maintain exceptional customer relation management, provisional of excellent and quality services besides giving customers invaluable and unique customer experience (prime research & consultancy, 2014).

Overview of the company

The company now known as was established in Leeds as Associated Dairies & Farm Stores Limited in 1949. When the Asquith chain of three supermarkets and Associated Diaries merged in 1965, the name ASDA came into being. Often capitalized, the acronym ASDA stands for Asquith and Dairies. This is one of the most vibrant supermarket chains in Britain that specializes in financial services, general merchandise, toys, clothes and food. With a head office located at ASDA House in Leeds, West Yorkshire in Britain, ASDA also boasts of a reputable mobile phone network. In 1999, this company was incorporated into Wal-Mart, the American super retail chain, and presently, it is the third largest retail store by market share in the UK after Sainsbury and Tesco. Its share of the grocery market in the UK stood at 16.4% by October 2013 (ICM, 2014).

When ASDA joined the largest supermarket chain in the world, Wal-Mart, in 1999, it became the beneficiary of the full range of expertise and experiences that Wal-Mart had to offer apart from enabling the latter to gain a market toehold in the UK. This makes ASDA one of the largest employers in the UK with a workforce totaling over 175,000 personnel engaged in various aspects of its diverse operations while enabling Wal-Mart to employ over 2 million individuals in 27 countries worldwide. While it is still expanding its operations in the UK, ASDA presently takes part in a variety of product and service provision such as managing Superstores, distribution chains, Supermarkets, Home Office and ASDA and George Living. It recently acquired many more chains from Netto, thereby greatly increasing the number of its local Supermarkets (The Time 100, 2014).

In order to continue being a trustworthy employer and to continue being a leading retailer, ASDA relies on training its personnel to the highest standards of excellent service provision to its multitude of customers. Its driving dictum is based on the philosophy that customers will enjoy shopping with you if only your employees are also satisfied and enjoy working with/for you. As a result, ASDA stresses the need and importance of ensuring that all workers treat their colleagues equally and that all personnel love and are passionate about helping one another as often as possible in a family environment of mutual respect and trust. Amongst the many awards ASDA has won in recognition of its commitment to treating all personnel fairly and justly are Stonewall Top 100 Employers 2012, The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers, and The Sunday Times Top Best Companies to Work for (The Time 100, 2014).

With a total of 150,000 personnel whom the firm refers to as ‘colleagues’; Asda also has an additional 60,000 full-time and 90,000 part-time employees. In the various lists of ‘Best companies to work for’ ASDA has featured more times than one can bother to count on one’s fingers. And in The Times’ newspaper list of 2005, it was ranked position two.

One aspect that makes this chain popular is the fact that it gives its customer a 10% discount on many basic items purchased with the exception of lottery tickets, gift cards, items associated with tobacco, and fuel stamps. One the organization persuaded about 340 personnel at a Dartford depot to drop their claims in a union collective bargain agreement by offering them a pay rise, ASDA was fined 850,000 pounds in 2006. This state of affairs was made worse by the organization’s continued efforts to formulated new working practices and working rights in another distribution outlet in Washington in Tyne and Wear soon after this incident. Fortunately, by June of the same year, some kind of amicable compromise was hammered out between GMB union and the management of ASDA with the calling off of a five day strike. Since then, the relationship between management of ASDA and GMB has greatly improved, especially when both teams commemorated the death of a worker in 2010 on Workers Memorial Day. But disaster was again to strike in 2013 when hundreds of thousands of personnel across the UK were faced with serious tax anomalies due to an error in the organization’s payroll system. Because they get their pay after every 4 weeks, it therefore means that once in every 20 years they receive their pay 14 times a year instead of 13 times. Although many organizations manage to accommodate such a pay discrepancy well, the payroll of ASDA did not capture nor reflect this properly so that many workers inadvertently ended up underpaying their taxes for that year. Consequently a few part-time employees and several full-time personnel had a demand from HM Revenue & Customs ranging between 72 pounds and 160 pounds (ICM, 2014).

Present and targeted HRM strategy of ASDA

The structure of an organization embraces its leadership, culture, internal and external environment and so on, and in this respect, every organization has some form of structure in its hierarchy which might be informal or formal. Patton and Higgs (2010) contend that the structure of the organization is the hierarchical layout and the existing chain of command. For this reason both British Airways and ASDA which are large organizations have a formal hierarchical structure thereby giving them a more strict regulations and rules and a formalized structure. Due to its clear chain of control and line of command execution, ASDA has a formal hierarchical structure where many people are answerable to more than one individual in regimented stages of decision making and multiple levels of command. This kind of formal hierarchy can only function well in a diversified and large organization such as ASDA. The major challenge that ASDA faces is the simple fact that despite the order of seniority, all the personnel working together in a section or department often do so on the same footing (Glassdoor, 2013). This kind of relations also creates room for employees to work for competitive pay based on competence and performance (primes research and consultancy, 2014).

Apart from operations, logistics finance and marketing, HRM is an important pillar of the four main functions in any organization. It comprises important aspects such as selection and recruitment of personnel, planning of the workforce, appraisal and training, recognition of employees and worker motivation. What forms the core of ASDA’s success is the culture of the organization which has been developed over a long period of time and which stipulates how employees ought to conduct themselves. This covers how employees relate amongst themselves, how they treat their most valued customers and the rest of the stakeholders from outside the company. All elements and aspects of ASDA’s operations and service provision are regulated and influenced by a culture of trust because this is an organization whose operations are based on conscience geared towards doing the right things for the community at large, its personnel and customers. Behind every decision that an employee in the organization makes is a strong conviction and belief on the working etiquette provided by ASDA, and this in turn gives impetus for the organization’s culture of excellent service provision to customers, work towards maintaining excellence, working with integrity and showing respect to all individuals regardless of designation within the organization (The Time 100, 2014).

In order to find out about what its customer thought about the organization, ASDA carried out a survey in 2009, and from the outcome, this organization was able to formulate its ‘customer promises by outlining whatever expectations customers should have of ASDA. Following the success of the promises, the company went ahead to replicate this with personnel or colleagues’ promises which were included in the yearly survey of personnel in 2013 known as ‘Your Voice’ which evaluated every personnel in the entire organization right from the Home Office, distribution channels right up to the business stores. The four promises made to the colleagues was a clear indication of the organization’s commitment to giving its workforce a conducive working environment which included fair opportunity for everyone, justice at work, pride in ASDA and respect for all (The Time 100, 2014).

The comprehensive HR strategies inculcated in the organization enables ASDA to maintain the organizational culture and to adequately ensure support and assistance for all colleagues. It incorporates elements such as ‘Star Promise’ in recognition of best customer care, best welcome or induction program, and the organization’s training and development efforts in its academy or ‘Colleague Steps’ for career advancement. This organization provides all its employees with ample opportunities for career advancement such as giving all of them the chance and support through investing in all personnel training so that they can gain the requisite skills that will in future allow them to rise to managerial roles within the organization. For instance, ASDA offers learning opportunities like George Retail Foundation Degree, the industry’s undergraduate BA Honors degrees in distribution and retail, not to mention an apprenticeship scheme that is accredited (3000 apprenticeships in 2012).

ASDA’s focus on engaging with the personnel and providing a working environment that is family-like makes the business to retain employees at a considerably higher rate apart from commanding employee loyalty. Personnel with long service ranging between 25-45 years are often awarded and recognized during the Big ASDA anniversary events. The last anniversary event that the company hosted had over 1749 employees celebrating milestones anniversaries. The company’s labor turn-over has drastically reduced in recent times due to the company’s commitment to all its employees (The Time 100, 2014).

Labor Market and Technology

All people have been brought into a smaller world by the proliferation of technology in every sphere of our lives (Burke and Cooper, 2007). In large organizations such as ASDA the impact of technology has been particularly great such the dispersal of workers covers a wide geographical sphere of the workforce. Many of the projects that company has are carried out by remote workers who are connected and rely on technology, especially the internet. This enables the company to carry out all its activities 27/4 from anywhere in the world despite distance and time, and this makes the business to be more productive. The positive effects of technology are mainly felt in areas such as need for trust, team work and structure, cooperation, coordination, leadership and so on. This makes it imperative for ASDA to first understand and appreciate the members of the team, their cultural orientation and how they relate to the benefits of technology to carry out their various responsibilities (prime research & consultancy, 2014).

The impact of technology varies from team to team, according to a study carried out in Florida. This is largely dependent on the members of the team and the nature of their responsibilities. However, other researches hold that in a virtual environment the performance of diverse teams grows in a slow pace, but even so, with the passage of time and improvement of organizational synergy as team members gradually begin to understand one another by cooperating and sharing information the progress in performance takes an upward spiral of growth. This infuses a lot of positive results in the organization despite a few problems and bottlenecks here and there. The performance of individual teams increases due to the specialist quality technology imparts and with the increase of a cadre of specialized workers in an organization like ASDA the level of effectiveness with in the organizational structure also improves. One important objective of ASDA is to limit the geographical distances by taking advantage of the benefits that technology provides (prime research & consultancy, 2014).

Rationally, it is generally accepted that a solid organizational structure contributes to increased performance. A strong service orientated in organizational culture is important for maintaining a competitive edge and good customer care in a fiercely competitive environment like the one ASDA operates in. Another accepted norm is the fact that more of organizational efficiency results from a stable and consistent organizational culture (Gilmore and Williams, 2009).

But it is important to bear in mind that appropriate and solid culture is a matter that is largely relative in nature. Organizational culture as espoused in one organization might not necessarily be suitable for another business organization. For this reason, ASDA formulates its culture in such a way that will enable quick accomplishment of duties and contribute to general efficiency. In an organization running its operations in multiple countries and cultures, some of the major limitations are coping up with changes and unifying a diverse workforce (Thomas, 2009).

It is therefore important to create a culture that is easily adaptable in order to guarantee success. In the face of rapid changes, an organization such as ASDA needs to create and maintain a highly adaptive culture that is flexible and so cultures that adhere to proactive practices such as risk taking, team work, trust and honesty are quite essential for an organization like ASDA plc (Prime research & consultancy, 2014).

ASDA HRM recommendations

In order for the management of ASDA to accomplish a duty with the aid of their team, their focus should be on developing team spirit that effectively holds due to the myriad challenges that working in teams occasion. They should, however, work towards attaining their set goals without losing sight of the problems. Categorized below are some of the most essential factors that ASDA needs to identify in order to make working in teams more effective.

Communication: Open and honest communication amongst the teams working for ASDA should be mandatory. While working for the organization, all team members should be free to share information, give suggestions and raise any queries

Trust: It would be almost impossible for ASDA to promote and develop any meaningful strategies or arrive at fair decisions in the absence of trust because without this, employees might not willingly take risks or share information, and this may subsequently lead to the failure of the organization

Workforce Diversity: Since people from diverse cultures, regions, ethnicity, gender or religion reason differently, it is imperative, in the case of ASDA, for coming up with innovative and creative ideas so that diversity is seen as uniformity.

Leadership: a good leader should be able to drive his team towards a faster achievement of the set goals. To facilitate a quicker work by the team, good leadership is essential for directing the employees of ASDA, help in resolving conflicts amongst the team members and to help them coordinate their activities.

Positive Attitude: The project is likely to fail in case members of the team face challenges while no one makes any effort to eradicate the problems. This calls for a positive attitude to their responsibilities by all employees working for various teams of ASDA. They need to do their best till a project is successfully accomplished. And it is incumbent upon ASDA to ensure that all team members get enough training, skills and motivation to their respective assigned task (prime research & consultancy, 2014).


The understanding and appreciation of group and individual behavior, and the efforts made to develop efficiency in any organizational structure is the most important element of success in any business set up. This can only be made possible by motivating the personnel through directing them to accomplish their various tasks, and by ensuring that they cooperate, share information and work in an environment of utmost trust. When we consider all the factors mentioned above, it is only fair to conclude that ASDA plc is moving on the right track towards the right direction since the major goal of the organization is to maximize the advantages of proper organizational structures and culture that contributes to employee satisfaction. It is for this reason that every effort is made to appreciate the culture of the employees, their needs and the fulfillment of the same in the best ways possible (prime research and consultancy, 2014).


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