HUMAN RESOURCES POLICIES OF BIGI CANADA- Natalie .G.
Bigi Canada Ltd. is a major competitor in the retail industry of men’s and women’s clothing. It operates under the familiar store name, Dynamite. The head office of Bigi Canada is in Montreal, Quebec. It has existed and catered to the Montreal community for the past twenty years. Bigi Canada is a privately owned enterprise. As a contrast to its competition, Bigi Canada does not have shares on the open market. This can be viewed as an advantage because of the personal link that the president, Giggi Sing has to his own personal investment. Another factor that gives Bigi Canada the edge on the competition is the fact that the president is a clothing wholesaler as well. Thus, most of the competition must purchase merchandise through Bigi Canada. As an organization, as diverse as Bigi Canada, with over 85 stores in Canada alone, the human resource department of the company must be extensive. Direct quotes from the interview conducted will be used throughout this paper. This paper will focus on the policies and procedures of the human resource segment of Bigi Canada Ltd.
The retail industry itself is a fast paced and dynamic environment. Hence, the policies and objectives of the retailers must mirror these changes. Antionetta De Rosa was the representative interviewed. She is the director of human resources. Bigi Canada Ltd. refers to her department as being readily able to adapt to its external environment. By external environment, she is making reference to the economy, the consumer’s needs and the competition. This is evident within the organization as the policies that they hold are reviewed and altered on a regular basis. De Rosa adds, ?…it is important for Bigi or any organization for that matter to be flexible and change with their environment.? The mission statement of Bigi Canada Ltd. is viewed semi annually. The reviews are often conducted by the vice president, the controller and the president. Reviewing the organization’s missions statement is important because it is within the mission statement that the purpose of the organization lies. In essence, a mission is a written statement that distinguishes an organization’s official objectives. The mission of Bigi Canada includes this excerpt, ?…to provide good service for all customers…provide high fashion merchandise to all our customers at affordable prices.? Having a good mission statement is imperative to an organization’s success because it provides a clear sense of purpose and maintains a certain degree of focus in strategy formulation.
Likewise, the goals of Bigi Canada are reviewed and revised on a monthly basis. The reviews of the goals are usually done by the vice president. The goals of the organization are met through a quota system. In this system, the organization as a whole has a primary quota for the month. From this point, the quota is divided and allocated to each store according to its volume, performance and location. The monthly quotas take into account each individual store budget. These budgets are formulated according to rent factors, clothing costs, margin profits and theft loss. Furthermore, the quotas for each month include 25% increase over last year’s actual sales. The objectives for Bigi Canada Ltd. for the most part are stable. The primary objective of this organization is to cater to a vast majority of people with highly fashionable and trendy merchandise at affordable prices. Likewise, another objective is to set trends in the retail industry. Also, changes to the organization’s objectives are usually made in accordance to the competitor’s policies. For example if the competitors commence to offer promotions or changes their policies to allow refunds, then the company’s policies must change as well in order to remain competitive.
The strategies of the organization are viewed and altered bi-monthly. The strategies used to achieve the target quotas differ. Depending on the situation, the strategies can be used alone or in various combinations. Possible strategies utilized by Bigi Canada range from: repeating merchandise that was high selling, offering promotions to increase sales, reduction of merchandise that fails to sell, catering to the needs of each consumer in each location and the transferring of stock internally within the organization. This includes equipping high volume locations with fast moving merchandise.
A trend in most organizations is the decentralization of authority. This is seen through shorter chains of command, wider spans of control and more lateral relations throughout the organization. (Bretton, 88) Bigi Canada Ltd. supports the decentralization of decision making and proposals through their bi-monthly Manager’s Meeting. Monthly staff and personnel meetings allow for greater input from the front line employees. Supervisors and managers are in constant contact with the buyers. Hence, the centralization of decision making is avoided.
An important aspect of human resources is the ability to attract a quality work force. The recruitment process of any organization attempts to bring employment opportunities to the attention of those individuals whom possess the appropriate skills for specifications. (Bretton, 57) Bigi Canada Ltd. uses both internal and external recruitment procedures. The company tries tries to attract a quality work force through advertizing the vacancy in newspapers and on signs within the location that requires help. When recruiting managerial positions, Bigi Canada Ltd. has a distinct approach. They recruit potential managers through their competition. This is known as raiding. Raiding is taking your competitors workers and putting them into your company. By doing so, the supervisors would shop around at their competitors stores anonymously, and while shopping make a mental note whether the service they received was good and if the employee conducted themselves well, then they would offer them a job with Bigi Canada. Incentives would need to be incorporated within the rehiring of the ex-competitor’s employee to get them to switch and work for your company. Cash incentives work best. Ms. De Rosa adds, ?…this way we can see the service that our competitors employees are providing for us as their customers…? This enables them to acquire the experience and good sales performance necessary to be a successful manager at Bigi. Employee referrals are also another manner by which Bigi Canada recruits employees. Recruitment is also done internally. This is done as the supervisors make the present employees aware of the possible positions. The procedure that Bigi utilizes to inform its employees of the vacancies is usually through memos from the head office. Likewise, pressure is also put on the managers to recommend subordinates for promotions and advancements. Internal recruitment is preferred by Bigi Canada. his is such because not only is it inexpensive, but it also offers a degree of motivation for its members. Ms. De Rosa states that, ?…internal recruitment offers motivation to our employees to increase their effort at work in hopes of being promoted.? Furthermore, the employees are simply being promoted thus they are aware of their past sales performance and their goals. Just as recruitment is an important function of the human resources department, so to is the training process.
The training process that Bigi Canada utilizes is similar to most other retailers. They hold a Policy and Procedure Booklet and a Sales Course Training Book in each location. These books are used as references by managers and their subordinates. The training that is done within the organization is done on a personal basis. Seminars are offered to managers at their monthly meetings. At the Manager’s Meetings, speakers deliver presentations on the management of the store, motivation of employees and how to increase monthly sale figures. It is through these presentations that the managers are kept up-to-date and informed. This information is then relayed to the subordinate through the bi-monthly staff and personnel meetings. Newly hired employees are usually coached by managers of staff development trainees. This coaching is done on a personal basis to work on improving personal weakness’ and strengths’. An orientation to the organization is given by the supervisors to each employee upon hiring. In order to train managers, Bigi Canada has developed a few training stores. These are locations which are high volume and where there is a competent and efficient staff. These training stores offer the new manager a simulation of the obstacles and situations that they may face within their own location. Therefore, they are able to become familiar with the company’s policies and procedures. In these training stores, an experienced manager would mentor the new one. Hence, developing and instilling them with the necessary problem solving skills and thought patterns. Ms. De Rosa adds, ?…we at Bigi Canada have found that our training stores are extremely effective because no speaker can really prepare you for what you will face each day, only experience can do that….? Bigi Canada does not only offer any off the job training to its employees, but prefers their employees to have completed a grade twelve diploma. Likewise, managers are preferred to have completed a Retail Management Course, but these are not prerequisites. As Ms. De Rosa states, ?…in this business the most important thing is not so much education, but the interpersonal and communication skills necessary to be successful with the customers.? The skills that are necessary for management within the organization are leadership skills, reliability, good management style and good customer service. Therefore, they encourage a team work setting for their stores. Upon hiring, Bigi Canada conducts regular performance appraisals on all employees. Like most retailers, Bigi Canada offers on the job training to its employees. However, the area that they lack in is in off the job training and courses that could develop their skills. Thus, not much effort or funds are allocated to carefully train their employees or in their continued education.
Performance appraisals in Bigi Canada serve two purposes. The first is to evaluate the performance of it’s employees. This allows the organization to show the employee where they stand relative to the objectives and standards of the company. The second purpose of performance appraisals is development. It involves assisting in the training and continued development of the personnel. The manager and subordinate are able to identify any performance obstacles and any training needs. Ms. De Rosa states that, ?…performance appraisals at our company are not so much a disciplinary function, but one that the employees need to be aware of their weakness and improve them.? Hence, the organization is able to document past performances and predict future performances. Upon being hired each employee is subject to a three month probationary period. After successful completion of the probationary period, the organization conducts semi-annual performance reviews. Ms. De Rosa states that, ?…one would hope that performance appraisals are done on a more regular basis, but due to limitations of time and funds we merely do them formally twice a year.? These appraisals are usually conducted by a manager and the supervisor. The subordinates are not only evaluated based on their sales performance but a personal evaluation is conducted. In the personal evaluation the subordinates are evaluated based upon tardiness, attitudes with customers, team spirit and co-operation. Bigi Canada Ltd. finds that performance appraisals serve an important function in the success of their organization.
Compensation and benefits is another important aspect of the human resources department of Bigi Canada. These compensation and benefit systems help attract talented and qualified personnel and helps the organization retain them. Also, it motivates the employees to put forth every ounce of effort while working. These systems are attractive and competitive in the industry, therefore Bigi Canada becomes a more desirable workplace. The base compensation with the organization meets the Ontario Employee Standards Act. Part-time and full-time employees receive minimum wage, which presently stands a $6.85. The starting salary for all managerial positions is $24 000. An added incentive for the employees is the fact that Bigi Canada offers commission on top of hourly wages. The way that the commission policy works is that the employees earn one percent on their total sales until $1800, if their sales exceed $1800 they earn two percent commission. This system motivates employees to maintain their quotas. As Antionetta De Rosa states, ?…the employees are receiving an extra incentive for simply doing the job they are getting paid to do. It’s really quite nice.? Reasonable staff discounts are also offered by the company. Each staff member is entitled to 35% discount off the lowest marked price after the three month probationary period. Bonuses are also offered by the company to the highest sales performance within each store. They are distributed bi-monthly, in the amount of $50. Ms. De Rosa explains that, ?The bonuses that the company offers rewards the top seller in each location. It sort of spurs a competition between the employees.? These factors all motivate the employee to increase their sales. Hence, making Bigi Canada an attractive place for employment is important. The benefits that the company offers its full-time employees also make Bigi Canada an attractive work place. The employees receive full coverage on all prescriptions, 80% of dental care is covered and life insurance is offered. The coverage also extends to spouses and dependent children as well. The way that the benefit package works is that a percentage of pay is deducted bi-monthly to cover these medical plans. Although Bigi Canada does not indeed meet the standards set by legislation such as the Employment Standards Act, it does not surpass these standards. It offers exactly what the competition offers. According to Statistics Canada, ?…the average wage of a retailer employee per week is $660.15.? (Statistics Canada) The average pay of an employee at Bigi Canada is $440. Though Bigi Canada is offering the standard salary, it seems that on average they exceed the standards in order to attract highly skilled employees.
The policies for promotion and terminating employment are also under the control of the human resources department. Promotions within the company are made by consulting the managers in the organization. Here they can elect a subordinate who has show high sales performance, and whom has the qualities necessary for the position. The individual then must undergo a performance appraisal. Throughout this evaluation not only is their performance evaluated but they are evaluated personally as well. This identifies the employees goals and objectives for the future. Upon completion of the evaluation, a decision is made on whether a merit increase is earned. Usually as an individual is promoted within the organization, they do receive a merit increase. A supervisor must then complete an evaluation for the changing of position. It is this evaluation that the supervisor must ensure that all qualities and skills are present in order to adequately comply with job specifications. Procedures for terminating an employee comply with the Employee Standards Act. A system of progressive discipline in Bigi Canada. Under such a system, the penalties vary according to the severity of the disruption and the frequency of it. The employer must follow this procedure when disciplining an employee. The first warning is verbal, the second and the third ones are verbal as a second notice and the final warning is a written two-week termination notice given to the employee. If the employee chooses not to work for the two weeks then severance pay is given. Reasons for terminating employment range from: low sale performance, lack of motivation, conflicts of interests, theft and continued absenteeism. According to the Employment Standards Act, notice of termination depends on the period of time that the employee was working for the company. During the interview Ms. De Rosa did not specify and generalized the procedure. Once again although Bigi Canada meets the standards set out by the legislation, it by no way attempts to exceed them.
Retirement policies within the organization is not a major concern because approximately 60% of it’s staff is grouped between the ages of 16- and 25 years. Notwithstanding, the company does offer some plans to its employees if they desire them. A small bi-monthly percentage of pay is transferred into a RRSP, which compounds over the years. Also, the company offers a program where they directly deposit a percentage of pay into additional RRSP investments. Since Bigi Canada is a solely owned enterprise they do not offer any ?golden handshakes? or sums of money to the employee upon retirement. Bigi Canada rates fairly poor in this category. It does not offer any sort of retirement plan that would attract qualified people to their company.
Overall Bigi Canada Ltd.’s human resource department is merely average. Bigi Canada comply’s within the standards set out by legislation. Likewise, they only change their policies when the competition does, in order to maintain a degree of competitiveness. They do not however take the initiative to make the standards in the retail industry. They fail to offer an enriching environment to their employees. Due to the aforementioned reasons Bigi Canada suffers from a high turnover rate. Although they are able to recruit the employees because they offer what every other retailer does, they have difficulty retaining them. Bigi Canada holds a defence strategy of social responsibility. They seek to protect their organization by doing the minimum legally required. The company conforms to legislation and to the competitive market pressures. Hence, it can be stated that Bigi Canada offers what it does to its employees because of its external pressures. Thus, it must be stated that the company is socially responsible. Although, in the future efforts should try to be made to make their workplace more desirable and more than simply average.
De Rosa, Antionetta, personal interview, December 19, 1998.
Brenton, Bill. Management: The Competitive Advantage. Toronto: John Wiley ; Sons Canada Ltd., 1997.
Ontario Labour and Employment Legislation. Ottawa: Canada Law Books Inc., 1997.
Working In Ontario: An Employee’s Guide To Workplace Law. Ottawa: Ontario Ministry of Labour, 1996.