Challenges Faced By Hr At Royal Mail Management Essay

This report is on the analysis of the challenges and issues faced by the management of people at work. It has critically analysed the application of strategic HRM models, and theories and different approaches in practice. Report evaluates the impact strategic approach can have in contemporary organisations to people management.

Report includes all the discussion of several HR models and identifies the similarities and differences between them.

Based on my own work experience in Royal Mail and research on the company’s HR, report shows detail HR functions and models used by Royal Mail. It then recommends that will add value to Royal Mail’s and its HR structure.

Royal Mail Introduction:

Royal Mail PLC is the national postal service of the UK. Royal Mail is almost 500 years old dated back since 1516. It covers every inch of the UK delivering letters and parcels. It carries out an important public service and has a duty to deliver postal mail throughout the UK. Royal Mail has researched the market in relation to designing and deploying an approach to Ethical Standards in which People are priority. Royal Mail currently employs 200,000 staff and has annual turnover of around £8bn.

Models for HR Roles:

Observations suggest that majority of work organization have not adopted the HRM models, others have implemented only elements of the model, and others have emphasized different features of the model to build a high performance workplace. These differences suggest that HRM is a proactive strategic management activity and it is different from the traditional personnel management.

Legge (1978):

Conformist innovators go along with the organization. Their expertise is used to improve the position of their department. They have to do as they are told to satisfy senior management.

Deviant innovators attempts to change by accepting different set of tasks for the organization success and gain credits for their contribution. They come up new ideas but are driven by social values.

Problem solver has very contingent role as they have to keep changing according to the circumstances.

“HRM contains ambiguities or paradoxes at several levels. Major changes in role of personnel professionals resulted in a more complex set of roles. Old ambiguities and negative counter images of the past still remain”- Legge, 1989. The process of role change from traditional personnel to new comprehensive HR role can therefore be uneven and incomplete.

Storey (1992):

Little evidence of the strategic integration of HRM policies with corporate plans was found by Storey (1992).

Change makers were interventionists with a strategic agenda focused on both the hard realities of business performance and designed to enhance employee commitment and motivation. It was this new role that perhaps most clearly differentiated HRM from traditional personnel management.

Advisers assumed a facilitating role, acting as internal consultants offering expertise and advice to line management while operating in an essentially non interventionist manner.

Regulators were interventionists involved in the traditional and essentially tactical role of formulating and monitoring the observance of employment rules and policies. These were managers of discontent seeking order through temporary, tactical truces with organised labour.

Handmaidens provided specific services at the behest of line management; their attendant role was essentially reactive and non interventionist.

From this model, we can say that in this dynamic market, Changemakers role has grown significantly and has become part and reality of business performance. Adviser role is more closely associated with development individual business unit and has low strategic agenda of HRM. Regulators role seems to have a down turn. And it will be difficult for Handmaiden role with the increase demand on outsourcing. Or can say that HRM has undermined the integrity and professional status of a function that was done by senior management.

Wilkinson and Marchington (1994) HR Model:

According to Wilkinson and Marchington’s model four roles described are:

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Change Agent Board level, high visibility and we can say engine of change.

Hidden Persuader: strategic but low profile. Mainly behind the scene and support senior managers

Internal Contractor: mainly operational level but relatively high profile.

Facilitator: also operational level and low profile, routine admin and supports line managers.

From this model we might be able to know external situation under which each of these roles are created. But HR professionals are unlikely to be able to choose board level in the same way that other people cannot choose to be on the board. It may be in some firms that HR presence is an unrealistic goal in the perceptions of senior management. However, working ethically within the boundaries by increasing credibility and developing skills we can enlarge this boundaries.

Ulrich Business Partner Model:

Many of the questions and issues concerning the future role of HR professionals have been addressed by Ulrich’s work. His work is mainly informative and prescriptive, rather than practical; it provides one of the most systematic frameworks for capturing the emergence of new HR roles.

“It is an inspiring and sometimes disconcerting vision: HR professionals must become champions of competitiveness in ‘delivering value’ or face the diminution or outsourcing of their role (Ulrich, 1997)”

Ulrich defines four main roles for the HR professional along two axes: strategy versus operations, and process versus people:

Strategic Partners help to successfully execute business strategy and meet customer needs

Administrative Experts constantly improve organizational efficiency by reengineering the HR function and other work processes

Employee Champions maximize employee commitment, and competence

Change Agents deliver organizational transformation and culture change.

This model represents a broader attempt to overcome the negative image of personnel function and give a new set of proactive roles for HR. Ulrich’s mission is a new plan for professionalization. But it is difficult in this prescriptive approach.

Similarities and Differences between HR models:

Both Legge and Storey make insightful observations when they suggest that what may be more significance is not the message, but the messenger; HRM represents the discovery of personnel management and the message itself has not changed but it is being received more seriously.

Ulrich’s model sounds very attractive to be operated at higher level but it might not be possible in all circumstances. There may be worries on the clear focus on firms contribution detracts from the independence to make decisions. Employee champion atleast points out that HR do not serve only one senior manager.

On comparing Storey’s analysis with Ulrich’s model, Ulrich’s model actually provides a similar framework and it does not provide solution for resolving issues of role ambiguity and role conflict.

To control this process of redesigning, Storey’s original four box model is experientially re-examined and contrasted with Ulrich’s model on HR roles. This provides a useful analytical counterpoint for examining the complexities of the role change.

Storey’s role model does not take into the account of increasing complexity and comprehensive nature of HR roles, While Ulrich’s model recognizes the multiple and flexible nature of HR roles. However, its role types often overlap with Storey’s to such a degree that it is sometimes difficult to differentiate the roles.

One of the problems with the Storey’s original model was that it appeared to treat each personnel role as a generic type. While, Ulrich highlights the multiple roles the HR professional should undertake. However, Ulrich’s model for role reinvention minimizes the issues of role ambiguity related with personnel roles. Also, role conflicts often appear when a person performs more than one role.

HRM model is itself not a logical, observable fact. It is in reality a representative and is not mutually dependent upon each other but also from the new political context.




Number of roles







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HR Roles carried out in Royal Mail:

The Job Titles and job responsibilities in HR in Royal mail are as follows:

HR Change Manager:

Develop and deploy a change strategy to support Royal Mail’s Modernization Program

Develop a change management strategy including communications, engagement and cultural change activities and design unit change plans for offices.

Design and deliver change management and communications workshops and coach line managers in the process of change

HR Project Manager:

Produce and manage project plan, risk analysis and stakeholder management plan and budget.

Provide ongoing support and communication for area management team, regional HR team, regional advisors, mentors and maternity.

Research and develop proposals for the Organizations vision, culture, structure, product offering and job descriptions.

Design communication materials including newsletters, knowledge portals, recorded audio and video podcasts, design support materials for line managers and manage Q and A database.

HR Director:

Guide and manage overall provision of HR services and policies for the whole company

Talent management strategy including workforce planning, recruitment, training and succession planning

Employment law compliance and compliance to regulatory concerns

Managing external employment agencies, recruiter and temporary staffing agencies.

Analysis of the effectiveness of all human resources efforts.

Able to provide useful and strategic advice and input across the company

HR Service Manager:

Provide HR services across Royal Mail by conducting cases, notetaker role, case managing and coach on key services including recruitment, training, employment law, investigations, mediations, conduct, absence, dismissals, appeals, grievance and harassment and bullying, talent and leadership, reward and recognition, advice and support.

Manage resource plan for teams and design and implement a new ways of working change program

Design forecasting, scheduling, workload analysis and skills matrix tools

Manage budget and performance system including appraisals, development plans, scorecards and people policies.

Factors might influence HR roles:

HR will continue to build a professional level of diagnostic and enabling skills and a core of problem solving experts with the aim of raising and meeting these expectations. However, it is important to keep relevant external and internal factors while determining HR strategy.

In the recent news, Government is planning to sell of the Royal Mail which could create privatized monopoly and will push up the prices of stamps. This will have a huge impact on the whole organization and its brand and its staff.

One of the factors that can affect Royal Mail HR is the Culture in the company. HR teams in Royal Mail seem to concentrate on their own activities rather than community. They work in culture where value is added in terms of individual unitization rather than individual contribution. Keeping culture in mind indicates that behaviors that are important in the new world and can help to build a new culture.

Royal Mail being a huge organization, it has insufficient recognition for the level of contribution and effort provided by each employee. They are worried about the pay that it is not commensurate with performance. This might happen in Royal Mail, when poor contributors receive raises because of some other personal reason.

An employee is applicable for promotion and does not get the job because promotion system might not be fair and also employees are not aware of what next opportunity.

If Royal Mail experiences a downturn, employees will be concerned with management and future in the company. Insecure will think negative and worst to happen and management might have to work hard to gain their trust again.

Future success on Royal Mail depends on ability to manage a diverse community that can bring innovative ideas to work. Royal Mail might not be able to capitalize this mixture of talents with different backgrounds. Royal Mail’s environment might not be able to support diversity broadly and hence can risk loosing talent to competitors.

Increasing competition can affect HR and its strategy should enhance Royal Mails profile as first choice employer in the sector.

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As UK and EU legislation continually changes, HR will be affected by new laws and its strategy should benchmark developments with other courier organizations.

Size of Royal Mail can affect HR. If it is planning to increase its operations will need more staff and new staff should be recruited and hence will incur cost. HR might not have enough budgets.

New Technology like sorting letters machines will need trained and experienced staff.

The economic environment including the competitive situation determines the external supply of and the demand for managers. Legal and Political constrains requires Royal Mail to follow laws and guidelines issued by Government for example Health and Safety at work place and Equal Opportunity.

Analysis of the Model of the HR Roles in Royal mail to Ulrich and Storey’s Model:

In Royal Mail, people are at the centre, making good HR is their top priority. Royal Mail’s HR team is split into three key areas:

HR Services:

HR Services department deals with recruitment, learning, reward and recognition, corporate social responsibility, health and safety and advice and support. Also, offers the services like data analysis, project management, stakeholder management, management information, and business planning and process improvement.

Business Partners:

Business partners are the HR Directors for each business area and they work closely with business leaders to apply strategic HR initiatives and interventions in line with corporate goals. This is the heart of the operation, consulting with operational teams, applying HR solutions and trouble shooting in high impact areas.

Expert Teams:

Expert teams develop Strategic HR solutions in specialist areas such as organisational development, diversity, Talent management and learning and development. This role gives high level exposure to business HR strategy and deeper understanding of one of the expert fields.

The emerging model is more like a three-legged stool. One leg of the stool being administrative service center, the second leg being center of excellence (or expertise) and the HR business partners make up the third leg.

Most HR functions, if not already operating with a full – fledged three box structure, are considering whether, or how, to implement one. The current recession is exacerbating the need for change. For certain, it is creating pressure for cost savings; whilst in some sectors, it is driving a fundamental shift in the business model which entails new thinking about HR added value.

This suggests something versatile and complex nature of HR roles and how difficult it is to fit roles within the boundaries. Not being able to identify main role will recommend that some personnel and HR will experience some conflict. Role conflict is now very common anyway between HR, senior and line managers.

To Add Value to Royal Mail should use the positive aspects of both the combing Storey’s and Ulrich’s models.

Advisor will offer HR advice and Expertise to Senior and line management.

Service Provider to support line manager in specific HR roles

Regulator will monitor the performance of personnel and HR policy

Change Agent will push forward culture change and transformation.

This approach will help Royal Mail to overcome the complexity of HR roles and will fulfil the roles missing from the previous model used.


Certainly the basic principles and apparent benefits of the model are simple to comprehend and thus have a strong appeal to HR leaders wishing to enhance their function’s performance. At the heart of the model lies the notion of a set of HR professionals, embedded within line businesses and working on processes and outcomes that are central to competitive success, but supported by both efficient processes to handle the more transactional aspects of HR work, and more strategically-orientated centers of excellence.

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