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GlaxoSmithKline Company’s Human Resource Strategy


The company under analysis has been one of the leading pharmaceutical providers in the world. It employs over ten thousand staff members and therefore serves as an ideal organisation for analysis of the role of HR in strategy formulation.

How HR services are provided in Glaxo Smith Kline

Glaxo like any other organisation in the corporate environment needs to recruit its members; therefore the most fundamental service offered by its HR team is its recruitment process. (Sparrow, 2008) Usually, this company advertises its vacancies in various media outlets and then employs a rigorous process to ensure that the right members are allowed to work for them. The HR team is also responsible for the induction of new members into the organisation. As GSK is a complex firm with a series of micro functions, then new personnel have to be shown how they can use their specialties to contribute to organisational well being. (Sparrow & Sadler, 2008)

Not only does the HR team participate in this process as well, it is also engaged in the process of succession planning. Whenever a certain manager or individual is due for promotion or plans on leaving the company, then HR personnel normally plan who may get involved or take over. Even before some of their staff leave for greener pastures, HR members are often planning for succession so as to have a general direction of how this will be done. (Glaxo Smith Kline, 2009)

Talent management is another critical service offered by human resources. Usually, the company dedicates its time to developing and growing its team. Training and development programs are critical in this arena. Also, employees are usually given opportunities to try different areas of expertise so as to achieve the most that they can from those positions. (Greenwood & Weir, 2008)

Personal development is highly responsible for placing this company on the map. It believes in offering rewards that motivate its human resource personnel to achieve certain goals and aspirations. For instance, the company has set out specific times in the year when it reviews and examines an employees’ job, duties and responsibilities. Employees are then asked what their plan is for their careers and this is incorporated into succession plans as well future plans within the organisation. (Balain & Sparrow, 2008)

Organisations that pay attention to employees’ need for incentives have been shown to record very positive responses in performance. Glaxo Smith Kline has realised this and included it in its business plan. For instance, the company offers health services to its employees because it believes that this will boost their engagement levels to the company. When its employee’s mental and physical conditions are in good shape, then chances are that the organisation will perform much better than had been anticipated. (Hesketh, A. & Fleetwood, 2008) In fact, the company has been measuring employee output before and after institution of health services and it found that productivity has gone up by a substantial twenty percent. This approach is a holistic view of HR management in that companies do not just focus on monetary based methods to boost performance but they take advantage of a series of options that may be available to them at any one time. (Sparrow, 2006)

In line with the latter argument is the fact that the company offers its members a series of holiday packages and bonus schemes. It also believes in making the working environment as friendly as possible. This is why it has instituted a diversity program to prepare its members for the global system that is well represented within the company.

Employee relations issues are another service offered by the HR team as this function is responsible for making sure that issues such as group conflict or personal differences do not come in the way of achievement of strategic goals. (Jackson & Schuler, 2007)

The extent to which HR has been regarded as strategic in Glaxo

It is a well known fact that the goal of any human resource team is to assist companies in meeting strategic goals by ensuring that the right employees are attracted and hired. There must be a right fit between the employees as well as the organisation.

GSK has a very ambitious growth strategy in that the company wants to grow its products and operations to very high levels. In order to do this, the company must attract global talent into its organisations. HR services within this company have been uniquely tailored to cater to this strategic goal by ensuring that recruitment efforts bring in a diverse workforce. (Burnett & Gobbs, 2008)

The company has also been interested in making its operating model simpler. (Cooper & Dewe, 2007) The human resource function has contributed towards achievement of this strategic gaol owing to the fact that it has looked at the strategic capacity of its members and then worked its way to reducing unnecessary workload. David Ulrich has four functions that are utilised in describing HR services and these are: administration, change management, strategic business partner and employee champion. According to this HR model, the latter mentioned function of streamlining operations can be categorised as the strategic business partner role. (Sparrow & Brewster, 2008) On the other hand, the first role that had been mentioned can be seen as a change management function as it contributes towards more feasible environments for work. (Sparow & Zimmerman, 2008)

Various types of labour markets and how Glaxo can be optimally staffed

Companies have the option of drawing their human resource personnel from either the primary labour market or the secondary ones. In the primary markets, employees may either come from the independent sectors or subordinate ones. Independent primary labour markets are those ones where staff members are salaried, professional or technical and there may also be line employees. This is classified as the white collar middle class job. (Feetood & Hesketh, 2006) Such an approach allows workers to possess autonomy, job security and internal promotions. On the other hand, a company may choose to source its employees from the subordinate primary sector where production workers are unionised. In other words, this is the blue collar category. Workers here usually do manual tasks and motivation is wage based. Lastly, companies have the option of sourcing employees from the secondary labour market. Here, very low skills are required and there is no room for advancement. Such workers are classified as the working poor. There is a very high level of turnover and such members are not treated as assets to the firm since they can be disposed off at any time. (Hesketh & Fleetwood, 2009)

Glaxo has the option of increasing its levels of production by growing its primary labour markets especially the white collar class jobs. This is because most recent HR theories are focusing on how the employee can be granted autonomy at work and how this can be effectively achieved through other methods. Also, it can empower its subordinate primary group as well since the latter category represents the largest share of workers. This can be done by dwelling on a series of incentives offered to them as reward based systems have often been linked with such kinds of employees. (Birdi Clegg & Robinson, 2007)


Glaxo Smith Kline has demonstrated how HR is indeed a useful tool for attainment of strategic objectives. The company offers both decision centred as well incentive based tools to motivate their employees.


Glaxo Smith Kline (2009). Human resource. Web.

Sparrow, P (2006). International management. Organisational psychology and international industrial review. 21(3): 189-266

Burnett, S. & Gobbs, P. (2008). Well being at work. Occupational psychology and medicine handbook.

Greenwood, W. & Weir, D. (2008). How organizational DNA works. Strategy and forecasting in research handbook.

Hesketh, A.& Fleetwood, S. (2009). Understanding performance of HR services. Cambridge: CUP publishers.

Sparrow, P. (2008). International management rewards. London: Routldege.

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Sparrow, P. & Zimmerman (2008). Lessons for study of expatriation. Journal of International management of organisations 37(3): 64-88

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Balain, S. & Sparrow, P. (2008). Talent proofing an organisation. NY: Routledge

Jackson, S. & Schuler, R. (2007). Strategic HRM. Oxford: Blackwell publishers

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Sparrow, P. & Brewster, C. (2008). Contemporary issues in HRM. London: Routledge

Sparrow, P. & Sadler, E. (2008). Intuition and organisational decision making. Oxford: OUP

Cooper, C. & Dewe, P. (2007). Measurement and research in work related stress contexts. Organisational psychology and international industrial review. 22(3): 140-192


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