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SNOW Mountain Case Study

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    Integrated Case Study
    -SNOW Mountain Hotel-



    The aim of this report is to clarify the new strategic orientation of the parent organisation to all the HR team from SNOW Mountain Hotel about recent changes. Nowadays Human Resources needs to be more integrated to the business and add value to the organisation. It is known that HR functions must become more strategic and business linked, that is why a change for the better is necessary. (SBP) For the HR function to operate strategically, some people within the organisation, the line managers, will need to work with day to day HRM issues. It will be analysed in this report the importance of the new Business Partner Model and the use of Shared Service Centres and the new task and roles of the Line Managers engaged in HR responsibilities.

    Human Resources Service Delivery

    Business Partner Model

    Times have changed! Organisations are now operating in a much more complex, competitive and challenging environment. All these changes put pressure on the HR departments because they directly target the human side of a business. (Bamberger and Meshoulam, 2000) The experts are suggesting that a business partner model is the new solution for all the problems organisations can struggle with in terms of Human Resources. The term of Business partnering was first introduced in late 90’ and developed in 2005 by Ulrich and Brockbank. (Brockbank,2005) The business partner model incorporates a diversity of jobs covering all the HR functions subdivided into: “Shared services” , “Centres of excellence” and “Strategic Partners”. The main purpose of this model is to make the HR more strategic in close connection with the organisation’s objectives. (Brown et all.2004) Organisations are thinking now how to make out most of the HR and add a real value to this.

    This new model will raise the HR purpose and priorities. (Storey, 1989) There is a number of internal and external drivers lead to this choice. Having a Business Partner Model can reduce the costs of the organisation and this is one of the internal drivers. While in the UK the business partnering is driven by cutting the cost, in the US this scheme is implemented to have a smarter and better HR team. Externally, there are many factors, all of them under the name of PESTEL which stands for Political, Economical, Socio-cultural, Technological, Legal and Environmental. All this are seen as help for the organisation’s improvement. For SNOW Mountain Hotel implementing the new Business partner model will help the organisation to cope with the “fluctuating number of visitors throughout the year”. The line managers and Shared Service Centres working together will be able to make a better selection of personnel. As the HR Director is saying “This HR strategy is underpinned by a number of guiding principles and values [….] an intent on promoting the best experience for past, present and potential employees.” (Tyson,2006; SNOW Mountain Case study) HRM policies are changing now because of the globalisation. Organisation must know how to attract and retain employees from all around the world, from different cultures. This will make the integration between soft and hard HR harder. For the lines managers, adding together both “hard” and “soft” HRM will be the challenge. While the hard HR is mostly based on scientific and strategic management, the soft one is more about the human relations. The role of HRM within an organisation is crucial. By proving that HR is providing a cost effective service it is view as an add-on service.

    Shared Services Centres (SSC)

    As discussed earlier, shared services centres are part of the Business Partner model. The main role of these centres is to provide help to the organisation in many sectors such as IT, finance and HR. The HR shared service centres are helping the organisation with common routine tasks of HR administration such as payrolls, recruitment and training procedures but also with more complex ones. They can offer full support because they are serviced-focused. (CIPD,2013b) The shared service centres can be found in house in the smaller organisations or with a network of partner employers that can be reached by phoning the call centre or online on a special internet platform dedicated to the organisation. SNOW Mountain is still discussing whether to implement a shared service centre or not. They are driven by the thoughts that by doing so the whole HR services quality will get better and they can implement the business partner model. Because SNOW Mountain Group is choosing to deliver more HR responsibilities to the line managers, having a shared service centre is very beneficial because the advice received is helpful for the line managers so they can do a better job in managing HR responsibilities.

    The advantages of this new HR “tool” are a shared know-how which means that if one of the HR department employees is unable to give a prompt and correct answer to a certain question or problem he/she can easily and quickly ask a SSC (Shared Service Centre) colleague. This improves the quality of work done by the HR department and also reducing costs. By having a limited number of employees in one location that can respond to all the queries, the organisation is saving money not duplicating the same task for more people (in house HR Department). (Robinson,2005) Also a good aspect of a SSC is that the HR team is not over called by employees so they can focus on more important issues as will be the case for the SNOW Mountain Group. Removing the HR personnel from the routine tasks is also beneficial for the organisation because they can do more strategic activities. The drawbacks of the SSC are firstly that there will be no local knowledge available for the line managers that are going to undertake some of the HR team responsibilities. There are also hidden costs involved. The line managers need proper training so they can know how to resolve the possible issues that might appear.

    Line Managers and the new HR Responsibilities

    By implementing the Business Partner Model along with Shared Service Centres the Line Managers will be also taking major new responsibilities. Because the on-site HR team will focus on other tasks, the Line Managers will need to cope with HR work they never done before. For the SNOW Mountain Group this raised lots of negativity, starting from the general manager who tends to be a traditionalist. He, along with the Line Managers are implying that “…line managers should focus on running the business and making a profit and my HR people should focus on the softer HR management and administration issues”. By giving the line managers more HR responsibilities, possible issues would be resolved quickly. They will no longer need to contact the HR department and wait for an answer if they will be given the correct training related to HR day to day matters. (D’Annuzio-Green,2002) For SNOW Mountain Group it will be a positive thing regarding the employees. Line managers already have ownership and commitment over their teams, so the communication with the employees will be better. Because the SNOW Mountain Hotel is high on employee turnover, this is the best idea to make better decisions in recruiting the right personnel. As the HR Director said, the recruitment strategy at this time is more reactive and focused on “getting the numbers right” now this has to change in “getting the right people in”.

    The line managers from SNOW Mountain Hotel are although not happy with the new responsibilities: “I am not an HR manager and I’ve got bigger priorities than looking at application forms and preparing for interviews”. (SNOW Mountain Case study) Because HR is part of the management it is believed that managers should do some of the tasks related to this activities, but in SNOW Mountain Hotel the line managers are not happy with this: “More than 40% of my time is taken up with HR-related work and I have no time to run my own department” a line manager declared. By giving them more responsibilities they will become more disciplined and more planned. (Whittaker, Marchington 2003) But all this advantages will have a number of impacts on both the organisation and individuals, line managers and the employees. The Line managers will be less reactive; having too many responsibilities and the relationship between them and the employees can change. (CIPD,2013a) So, as drawbacks of this new scheme, one of the most important one is that line managers will need to be trained in order to deliver the correct practices and procedures of HR. This can increase the cost by hiring the right people to train the line managers. (Francis et Keegan,2006) Because the HR is regarded “soft” it can be viewed less important by some line mangers, therefore they will deliver a poor quality of this job. (Beer et all 1984) Another drawback is that line managers will be more stress and this can have an impact on both the managers and the employees. Also, a problem can be the position power because they might use their position to get the things done and without monitoring this situation, this could lead to discriminatory practises. Because HR is not viewed as part of the job by many managers there will be a lack of clarity at first. All the line managers are task focused and this is why they will need to learn how to work with HR. The HR Director of SNOW Mountain Group top priority is to make sure that a new recruitment process is being implemented. This will allow the line managers to adjust the working patterns in line with the fluctuating demand levels of personnel.


    In this report were analysed different points of view, both theoretical and practical regarding the new HR strategy of the parent organisation of SNOW Mountain Hotel. SNOW Mountain Hotel mangers might find difficulties at first in receiving the new model of work but with adequate communication between them and the Shared Service Centres the results could be a better internal organisation. This model is implemented so the organisation performance and success will do better in the long term, as the HR Director says. (word count 1852)


    Bamberger, P., and Meshoulam, I. (2000) Human Resource Management Strategy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Brockbank, W. (2005). The HR Value Proposition. Boston: Harvard Business Press Brown, D., Caldwell, R. and White, K. (2004) Business partnering: a new direction for HR. A guide. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Beer, M., Spector, B., Lawrence, P. R., Quinn Mills, D., and Walton, R.E (1984). Managing Human Assets. Free Press. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Front line managers and HR. CIPD fact sheet (a): London , Available at: Accessed [01.11.2013] Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Business Partnering CIPD fact sheet (b): London , Available at: Accessed [01.11.2013] D’Annuzio-Green, N. (2002). Human Resource Management: International Perspectives in Hospitality and Tourism. London: Thomson Learning Francis, H. and Keegan, A. (2006) The changing face of HRM: in search of balance. Human Resource Management Journal. Vol 16, No 3. pp231-249. Whittaker, S. ,Marchington, M. (2003) “Devolving HR responsibility to the line: Threat, opportunity or partnership?”, Employee Relations, Vol. 25 Iss: 3, pp.245 – 261 Robinson, D.G. (2005). Strategic Business Partner: Aligning People Startegies With Business Goals. San Francisco:Bernett-Koehler Publichers Storey, J. (1989). New Perspectives on Human Resource Management. London. SNOW Moutain Case Study (2013) – Available on Moodle

    Tyson,S. (2006). Essentials of Human Resource Management. Oxford:Butteworth-Heinemann

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