Central Garden and Pet (Central) is a publicly traded organization, ticker CENT, which was founded in 1980 with its headquarters in Walnut Creek, CA (About, 2015). The organization has grown into a network of leading brands in the consumer pet and lawn and garden industries through extensive acquisition activities (About, 2015). Central manufactures and distributes its products to third-party retailers through the United States. This organization was selected due to extensive personal experience within the organizational structure. With over eight (8) years in the organization as a member of the Retail Sales and Service team, my personal insight pertaining to internal HR functions and processes in conjunction with comprehensive analysis will allow me to gain a stronger understanding of the critical impact of HR on the organization.
With over 2,500 employees in the United States, Central’s Human Resources department must be able to adapt quickly to maintain its competitive advantage in the market. Central’s HR department creates and maintains a competitive advantage through training, continuous learning initiatives, an extensive performance management process, and participation in high-level strategic planning processes.
The proper training of organizational employees is crucial to sustaining organizational competitive advantages. Development of intangible assets into knowledge workers through training can benefit an organization’s ability to have shareholder returns that exceed market averages (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gebert, Wright, 2015). One way to create knowledge workers through training is the implementation of a centers of expertise strategy. In this strategy, individuals, or business units, within an organization act as experts for a given task or process (Urich, Younger, & Brockbank, 2008).
Central utilizes a centers of expertise strategy in the training of employees through yearly sales meeting interactions and periodic online training sessions. Each year, individual business units will hold functional sales meets to go over previous performance as well as future opportunities. In terms of the Retail Sales and Service business unit, these interactions deal with the listings of new items in customer accounts and new products being launched in the market. Company individuals within the Brand and Development divisions leverage their expert knowledge of the new products to make sure that each team member is well trained to answer relevant questions that may arise in the field. Additionally, periodic training sessions are held, via the Internet, on a wide variety of topics to include product knowledge, computer skills, or selling skills that are taught by peers in the organization that are deemed experts in each particular tasks or process. This creates an organizational competitive advantage by making sure that employees are current in the requisite knowledge to be successful. It also creates an advantage by empowering employees to strive to become knowledge workers and can help facilitate the creation of a well-informed, competent staff.
Historically, HR is instrumental in identifying and supporting individual competencies that benefit organizational capabilities (Urich & Brockband, 2009). From the HR perspective, continuous learning engages employee’s ability to learn new functional skill sets, increase general knowledge bases, or simply re-examine current assumptions, values, or methods currently in practice (Continuous, 2015). The continuous learning process can include many different forms of participation including:
Participation in training courses
Finding and using new learning resources, i.e. articles/Internet research