Woolworth Organization: Company Analysis

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Business organizations are finding it necessary to undertake their operations in manners that are synonymous with norms in the societies that they operate in. This is in stark contrast to the past scenario where they were only motivated to make profits and every activity they undertook was aimed at maximizing the level of earnings. This is what social responsibility is all about and it demands that organizations behave as responsible members of society to increase their long-term benefits. The concept is closely connected to ethics which will all be discussed in the paper about attitudes and formulation of strategies all about Woolworths Company.

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Introduction

Organizations have to ensure that the interests of each of their stakeholders are well attended to. This is what will increase the level of success since they rely heavily on their contributions and any inefficiency that results from the stakeholders is translated into the overall performance. About this, they continuously have to shape their attitudes right towards all stakeholders as this can make the difference between success and failure. This paper will mainly focus on the plans and strategies that organizations should formulate to attain success. It further extends to cover the concepts of corporate social responsibility and business ethics about Woolworths.

Overview

Attitude can be defined as our perceptions, emotions, intuitions, or even perspective towards life in general or any other activity or object. In simple terms, it is how we look at things regardless of our position or state at the moment. It is a small aspect of human life that makes great differences in either attaining success or failure. This is however not exclusive only to human life as it has applications in various fields such as the operations of business organizations in this case. Like humans, the chances of success or failure for an organization are greatly determined by the attitudes that have been adopted towards the stakeholders. This is the first section and we will look at the attitudes towards three major stakeholders; customers, employees, and competitors.

The second part of the report deals with planning and strategy formulation. Organizations have to anticipate the changes that are bound to take place in the external environment in order to take quick proactive measures to counter them. This will result in the capitalizing of opportunities while simultaneously hedging against the operations of threats.

The implementation of corporate social responsibility and ethical behavior has also been discussed in the final part of the report. Woolworths like many other organizations are starting to realize the importance of being responsible members of the society. They are taking actions which aim at maximizing the welfares of societies. Organizations have to survive into the future and it is only by ensuring that the future conditions of the societies and the world in general has been protected that this can be achieved.

Woolworths Company

From its inception in 1924, Woolworths has expanded to form one of Australia’s and world’s largest fresh food stores. It currently has an outlet in every major urban area in the country and serves millions of customers annually. The company also plays a major role in the labor market as it has about 180,000 employees with the figure set to rise with the new wave of expansions that have hit the organization (Round, 2006, pg 55).

The company offers consumers a wide variety of products from where to choose from as it recognizes their differences in needs and preferences. The market is characteristically homogenous implying that producers have to differentiate or even adopt other types of products to meet such wide natures of consumer needs. There are fresh foods, organic foods, healthy foods, and children and diet foods.

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It should however be noted that the company does not deal in fresh foods alone as it has also ventured into other areas. Through the numerous retail stores that Woolworths operates allover then nation, it provides the consumers with petrol, convenience products, and electronics among many others. Most recently it has ventured into the hotel business which is still a small section of its business but is slowly picking up. The discussions in the paper will revolve around the company with appropriate examples where necessary.

Internal and external environment

Attitudes towards customers

Customers play significant roles in the prosperity of an organization by choosing whether or not to consume the products and services that have been offered in the market. They make individual purchase decisions in the face of wide product or service choices from competing producers, which are influenced by many factors among which include their perceptions of the producers. Consumers can simply opt for products from companies they perceive as mindful of their interests in terms of prices, quality, and value addition all at the expense of the competing products. Having highlighted the role that consumer perceptions play in influencing their decisions, it is important that organizations strive to create that image or rapport with their consumers to gain competitive advantages in the market. All they have to do is simply have positive mentalities towards them and no doubt the consumers will reciprocate.

Woolworths is well aware of the benefits that having positive attitudes towards consumer interests can present to a company and has done everything necessary to implement and manifest it to the consumers. The company has price checks, special weekly offers, and promotions all which are aimed at increasing savings by reducing costs to the consumers. Rewards and gifts further acknowledge outstanding shoppers. In addition there is also a wide category of products which cater for every individual consumer needs or tastes and preferences. The company also provides product orientations and advice as well as online and mobile shopping and payment which are helpful in increasing value addition and convenience to the consumers (Ankush, 2010, pg 3).

Attitudes towards employees

Employees are also another category or stakeholders who are significant to an organization’s prosperity. It should be noted that the employees are the most important among all the resources present in an organization and special attention has to be paid towards their need. This is simply because other resources rely on the employees in order to accomplish their tasks and most importantly employees are human and this brings about the unpredictability nature of human beings. They have psychological needs which are as important as their other needs and a successful organization is one which is able to satisfy them.

The manner in which employees are treated is translated into their performances. Woolworths recognizes this and embraces Theory Y in handling its employees as it is the most applicable and effective way of motivating them. The employees are trusted with their responsibilities which increases their level of commitment towards the organization. Furthermore this provides extra incentives for them to increase their contribution level considering that there are rewards and other benefits for doing so. The company is also concerned about their career development and progress needs and it is for this reason that it has initiated various training programs that would enable the employees to better undertake their tasks if not move up the corporate ladder.

Despite having common goals in an organization, employees are also individuals with independent ambitions separate from those of the organization. Successful managers are those who are able to align these individual employee aspirations with those of the organization such that they are attained simultaneously. The employees perceive this as management’s genuine concerns of their interests and strive to attain both these goals. On the other hand the employees will sabotage the attainment of organization goals should they perceive the management as having negative attitudes towards their interests.

Attitudes towards competitors

Competitors are among the most misunderstood stakeholders because in them most organizations see enemies that they must defeat at all costs. This is rather a harsh attitude towards competitors and not ethical at all. Organizations need to look at competitors not as enemies but as important parties to attaining their success. The focus should not be on outdoing our competitors but on treating them as motivational factors for offering better and innovative products or services in the market. Without healthy competition a company would find it difficult if not crucial in meeting the needs of consumers or employees which is an attitude that could brew trouble in the organization.

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Woolworths engages in healthy competition in the various markets that it has ventured into. The company strives to provide consumers with the best value it can afford and allows the consumers to make individual choices free of any form of unethical influence. It adheres to the various codes, rules, and regulations that are in place which offer the platform for healthy competition.

Planning and strategy formulation

Vision, Mission and values

  • Mission

The company strives to provide customers with the highest quality, value, broad choice, and memorable shopping experience at low prices. As a committed retail chain it is well aware of the needs of consumers and has strategically positioned itself to attend to them. This it does by continuous improvement of its products and services so as to suit the changing needs in the market.

  • Vision

The company is determined to be the best retail store chain in terms of quality of product and service. This will only be realized by having a well qualified workforce which it has implemented by acquiring and training high quality employees.

The values at Woolworths charter the way forward in how individuals should conduct themselves while undertaking their roles. It acknowledges the disparities in the employee values that might be present in its large and diverse workforce and seeks to emphasize those that are in line with the company values.

The company treats the employees as its most important resources as it is aware of the benefits of doing so. It provides training to the employees so as to be able to undertake their tasks effectively. This has been of help as the turnover rate in the organization has been reduced significantly.

It also places great emphasis on the satisfaction of consumer needs. It provides consumers with a wide choice of quality products to meet their different diets and preferences. It also conducts product innovations that have been critical in increasing the quality of its products as well as the level of value addition.

As a retail outlet, the company also strives to provide consumers with high quality service. The staffs are well trained and offer customer assistance in the course of shopping. Furthermore the retail stores are designed to simplify the process of shopping in addition to fast and easier access to numerous products.

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Main goals and aims

The company has set a number of goals which it aims to achieve and they are as follows;

  • attaining sales levels of $51.7 and above
  • increase pre tax profit by 9.4%
  • increase net profit by 10.1%
  • increase earning per share by 8.8%

In addition to these there are also other aspirations in terms of environment protection and they are as follows

  • reduce carbon emissions by 40% by the year 2015
  • saving water consumption by 200 million liters annually
  • attaining zero percentage of food waste by 2015

Current actions

The company has initiated a number of activities which are all aimed at increasing the chances of attaining its goals and objectives.

In 2010 it started a program dubbed Quanturn which is aimed at controlling costs by increasing the level of efficiency in the organization. This is of the essence in boosting the contribution margin irregardless of the revenue level. This will also be complemented by the expansion of business with online channels and financial services as the major points of emphasis.

The company also plans to partner with complementary organizations in order to increase the efficiency of its operation mainly in the supply chain. In addition to this it also plans to acquire small retail stores to further increase its network in the market. To show its commitment to maximizing the welfare of the society, $36.3 million is being channeled towards social responsibility which will mainly fund initiatives aimed at improving child health and access to food aid internationally.

The implementation of corporate social responsibility and ethical behavior

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

As part of the larger society, organizations are supposed to behave in manners acceptable by the entire society. Business organizations have started to identify themselves more recently as responsible members of the society which demands of them to undertake activities that improve the welfare of the society. At no point should the welfare or interests of the society or its members be compromised by their actions.

Woolworths has undertaken CSR by ensuring that its values, behavior, strategies are aligned with the expectations of its stakeholders. It aims at increasing value addition to consumers while simultaneously offering low prices that will increase their level of consumptions. To the shareholders the company only undertakes ventures that are in line with the company’s mission and vision and most notably to increase the values of their stake in the company. To the employees it ensures that it fully recognizes their individual needs and couples them with those of the organization so as to be achieved simultaneously. There is also the community which it strives to increase its welfare.

Community involvement

Woolworths is a major player in the communities which it operates and is involved in various activities that it identifies as crucial for better and healthier societies. The organization organizes its activities into three major categories which include economic, social, and environment.

The company has set out to increase the welfare of the communities in Australia and New Zealand by maximizing the interests of its key stakeholders. It has increased the level of job creation to absorb more employees into the organization. There is also effective undertaking of strategies such as product innovations which have increased the levels of return for the organization. As a result the shareholders who are also part of the community have had the values of their investments increased significantly. The company is also involved in infrastructure development and upgrading initiatives with emphasis on social amenities which it believes increases the standards of living for the entire society. Furthermore in recognition of its role as a major retailer and participant in the economy of the region, Woolworths has positioned itself as a reliable customer of agricultural and manufactured products in the regions. The company relies on local supplies which have increased employment opportunities and economic initiatives to be undertaken.

Woolworths is also involved in consumer education processes which aim at increasing the level of awareness for the entire community. It provides training for both employees and consumers on safety and new technological improvements to enable them to maximize the utility in various products. The company is also involved in charity events by partnering with the local charity organizations. It funds them and also aids them attain additional resources from its various stakeholders by conducting fundraising drives.

Protection of natural environment

Woolworth is a proactive organization in the protection of the natural environment and is also a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol as it believes in the protection of the world from the harmful effects of pollution.

Furthermore, the company has also launched a sustainability strategy to be implemented in the period between 2007 and 2015 and will increase the level of environment conservation efforts for the organization. This will first assess the environmental impacts of its materials and other processes so as to know its current position as a green company. This will be followed by the setting of targets and other commitments which are all aimed at improving its awareness and conservation of the environment.

Consideration for social welfare of employees

Woolworths is aware that the employees also have their individual lives outside the organization which to a great extent impact on their performance in the organization. In relation to this, there are certain social initiatives that Woolworths has undertaken to increase the chances of motivating them (Global news, 2010). There is an organized provision of medical, insurance, and education to the employees.

The medical attention under the general insurance and it is concerned with health related issues that might arise in the course of employees undertaking their tasks in the organization. This gives the peace of mind that is sought by many as they will not need to worry about illness, injuries, or other mishaps that could possibly befall them. The general insurance on the other hand is meant to cover different aspects of employee life including health. Most notably is the possible loss of employment which might reduce their financial stream on income greatly. For this the insurance cover will compensate employees for loss of income and at least they will have something to fall on in the event they lose out of reasons other that theirs like was the situation for many employees in the just concluded global financial and economic recession.

The company also provides education to its employees by training and retraining them so as to instill in them skills necessary to fulfill their tasks. With the emergence of new technology, an organization might be faced with the challenge of low skills level in employees to complement it. It therefore has to train the employees just like Woolworths does for its benefits as well as those of its employees.

Consideration for society

In the course of capitalizing on the opportunities that are available in the society, business organizations must also consider maximizing the interests of the societies in which they operate. This is the latest trend in management and running operations as organizations have realized it is the only way to increase long term success of their ventures. Organizations heavily impact on the society in the manners which they undertake their operations. While it might be difficult or impossible to totally do away with the side effects of conducting business it is important that they reduce the effects to lower levels as much as possible. They have to manifest to not only the stakeholders their full commitment to doing so but to the entire society and world through proactive initiatives to maximize the welfares of societies.

There must be equal opportunities for all the diverse people that are present in the society. Organizations must ensure that no for of discrimination or on the other hand favoritism is practiced in acquiring employees or providing products and services in the society. Woolworths passes as an organization that is considerate of the general society as this has been implemented successfully in the environment. Furthermore it has also initiated projects to conserve the environment by economical use of resources as well finding clean sources of renewable energy. The world has become much more polluted with the advent of industrialization and the only way to restore the benefits that have so far resulted from this is to keep the environment clean for the future generations.

Conclusion

The attitudes that an organization has adopted towards various stakeholders can make the difference in whether or not they attain their goals. They have to motivate every stakeholder particularly the consumers and employees and also not forgetting those in the external environment. These must be manifested in the plans and strategy that have been formulated in the organization. Woolworths has clearly chartered the way forward and is positioned for a successful future. With its effective proactive approach towards corporate social responsibility and ethics all that remains is for the management to stick to the plans in order attain success in the market.

References

Ankush, Chibber. (2010). “Australia’s Woolworths Launches Reloadable Prepaid Card.” Cardline 10, no. 50: 3. ProQuest: ABI/INFORM Complete (XML Gateway), EBSCOhost.

Global news. (2010). “AUSTRALIA: Woolworths “workers strike over pay dispute.” just – food global news ProQuest: ABI/INFORM Complete (XML Gateway), EBSCOhost.

Round, David K. (2006). “The Power of Two: Squaring Off with Australia’s Large Supermarket Chains.” Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics 50, no. 1 (2006): 51-64. EconLit with Full Text, EBSCOhost.

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