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You have
just been hired as the Human Resource Manager by John Maris of Maris Foods Ltd.

Foods is a small food and beverage conglomerate comprised of three companies:
Maris Beverages Inc., Cara Sweeteners and Taste of Heaven.

meeting with Maris was originally intended to be an overview of the three
companies but serious problems have arisen with the most recent acquisition –
Taste of Heaven – and Maris has advised you that your first project will be to
do some research and fact finding to determine the extent of the HR
problems/issues at Taste of Heaven and provide some recommendations as to what
needs to be done to address the problems. He has advised that he will be
assigning one of his operations managers, John Morgan, on a temporary basis to
work at Taste of Heaven. However, as John is currently on vacation with his
family in Vienna, he will not be able to report to Taste of Heaven for another
5 days. Maris has advised you that you must be prepared to debrief Morgan
regarding the HR problems along with your recommendations on his first day on
site at Taste of Heaven.

Maris begins to fill you in on what has
happened over the last few weeks. He bought Taste of Heaven without visiting
the physical premises because the price was excellent, the profit margin was
attractive and the company was a good fit with his focus on food and beverages
– Taste of Heaven packs and sells herbal teas and regular teas to big box
stores as well as health food stores and has been in business for over 20 years.
His overall arrangement with the previous owner, James Toomi, was that he (Toomi)
would stay on for a period of 90 days after the sale was finalized, and would participate
in an orderly transition to new management. Maris said that he had made several
phone call over the last two weeks to Taste of Heaven to arrange an appointment
with Toomi to work on the transition plan. Each time he phoned, he was advised
by the person who answered the call that James Toomi, was not available.
Finally, after several calls and no word from Toomi, Maris made an unscheduled
visit to Taste of Heaven and introduced himself to the receptionist as the new
owner of the company. Her faced turned red with embarrassment. She quickly
admitted that Toomi told her that she was to tell whoever called that he was
not available and not to provide any additional information. When Maris asked
her where Toomi was, she said that she thought he might have left the country. She
said that someone else in the company told her that he had overheard Toomi
telling his son-in-law (who was the operations manager but has also been absent
for the same period of time as Toomi) – that they were going to relocate the
whole family to the Cayman Islands and set up a charter boat service there. This
piece of information spread quickly throughout the company along with an
assumption that the company was going to go bankrupt. Based on this piece of
misinformation about potential bankruptcy, three key people – the office
manager, the warehouse manager and the part time bookkeeper – have all left –
presumably for other jobs. Maris indicated that he was very unhappy that the
former owner’s unwillingness to carry out his responsibility during the
transition period along with the misinformation caused the departure of some
key staff at Taste of Heaven and has left management in that company in a very
weakened state.

advised that he is proceeding on the assumption that both the former owner and
the operations manager will not be returning and that a new general manager
will need as soon as possible for Taste of Heaven.

While Maris was onsite for a brief period, he
also found out a few other things. The person who took care of HR work at Taste
of Heaven left on maternity leave about 6 weeks ago and is not expected back,
as her husband has just been transferred to Denver, Colorado. The office
manager at Taste of Heaven took over HR duties on a temporary basis but as that
individual has also left, no one has the responsibility to deal with HR issues.

Maris asked the lead hand in the packaging
group at Taste of Heaven to assume the warehouse manager’s position on a
temporary basis and to advise all warehouse staff that the company has been
sold and that operations would definitely continue. He also asked one of the Taste
of Heaven sales reps to take over the office manager’s position on a temporary
basis and to advise all office staff about the sale of the company and that
there is absolutely no truth to the rumour that the company has gone or is
going bankrupt.

has made it clear that he would like Taste of Heaven to remain as union-free as
possible (the packagers at one of his other companies are unionized) and is not
averse to paying union wages to non-union staff in order to retain good people
and avoid unionization. He feels that unions tend to reduce management’s
control over a company.

the conclusion of the meeting, Maris asked you to travel to Taste of Heaven immediately
to begin your research.

following is a summary of your findings.

Taste of Heaven

  1. Taste
    of Heaven is made up of approximately 150 employees: 65 in packaging, 5 in shipping/receiving,
    10 in various other warehouse and maintenance jobs, 15 drivers reporting
    to a warehouse manager. The balance of employees work in purchasing, sales,
    expediting and office administration and report to the office
    manager. There are currently no
    unionized jobs in the company.
  1. As
    Maris had indicated, the office manager, part time bookkeeper and
    warehouse manager positions are all vacant as these staff members quickly
    left when they thought that the company was going to go bankrupt. Maris
    asked the most senior lead hand in the packaging group to take over the
    warehouse manager’s position on a temporary basis and asked the most
    productive sales rep to take over the office manager position on a
    temporary basis.
  1. The
    lead hand has told you that he is really enjoying the temporary job as
    Warehouse Manager but has had no training that would prepare him to deal
    with various problems. He would
    like to know when he could meet with you to discuss some fairly serious
    HR-related issues. Although you did
    not have time to get extensive details from him about the problems he is
    facing, he shared the following with you:

of Heaven is temporarily short of three packagers – the lead hand in packaging
is replacing the Warehouse Manager, and two other experienced packagers have
been off three weeks due to a warehouse accident. One of the packagers was opening a new bottle
of chemicals to clean the machines and was overcome by fumes. The second
packager who came to her aid, did not take time to put a mask on as required,
and suffered the same result. The latest
information received is that some lung damage has occurred, and the return to
work date of both packagers is now unknown.
This shortage of packagers has resulted in a three week backlog of
orders (normal backlog is 48 hours). Staff are working overtime three nights a
week and this is still not enough to eliminate the backlog. The acting
warehouse manager is concerned that the overtime might be starting to cause
some burnout among staff who work most of the overtime.

has called a number of times for the Health and Safety report related to the
accident but the office manager who normally took care of accident reports and
other HR related matters, has left the company.
The current acting office manager from sales does not know how to
complete the report or even conduct an accident investigation. You asked if there is an active health and
safety committee and the acting warehouse manager told you that there was one a
long time ago. Some of the people on the
committee have left the company and they were not replaced and the committee remaining
has not met in close to two years. When you asked about the frequency of
accidents, the acting warehouse manager tells you that they have about two per
quarter that require medical treatment of some sort. Both you and the warehouse manager agree that
this accident rate is far too high.

acting warehouse manager tells you that he caught the head shipper in the men’s
washroom sniffing cocaine a couple of weeks ago. He told the shipper he was
going to report him to the owner but the shipper begged him not to as he would
probably lose his job. He told the acting warehouse manager that he was just
going through a bad time right now – marital problems and a terminally ill
mother. You ask the acting warehouse manager if the company has an option in
the benefits package to support a referral for the shipper to professional
counseling and he tells you that he is not aware of anything like that.

learn there is a very high turnover among the drivers and that the company has
problems recruiting and retaining drivers. The acting warehouse manager thinks
that this might be due to the wages (drivers have told him that the company is
paying below the going rate) and also due to safety issues with the trucks
(there are frequent breakdowns on major highways). Of the 15 required drivers, four
have been with the company less than three months and there are currently three
vacancies that need to be filled. Because of the staff shortage in this area,
some of the drivers have been working overtime over several weeks and this has
cost the company considerably more than it would have paid if drivers had been hired
and paid regular wages. There is a rumour floating around that some of the
drivers have been approached by CUTE (Canadian Union of Transport Employees)
about becoming unionized but the acting warehouse manager does not know if it
is true. The acting warehouse manager has also received complaints from drivers
about the differences in wages from one driver to the next and there are
situations where drivers with less experience are being paid more than drivers
with more experience. The warehouse manager said that the owner did the hiring
and that he is at a loss to explain why this kind of discrepancy exists.

acting warehouse manager advised that the packagers at Taste of Heaven found
out a couple of days ago that the unionized packagers at one of Maris’ other
companies are being paid $3.00 more per hour and the union rep from this
company has had at least one informal after-hours conversation at the local bar
with some of the packagers about the possibility of becoming unionized. You did
a quick check and also discovered that current packagers at Taste of Heaven are
definitely being paid below the going rate for non-unionized packagers in the area
and that there is also considerable differences in the rates at which the
packagers at Taste of Heaven are paid. You find out that the previous owner
tended to offer packagers 50 cents more per hour than they were paid on their
previous job but he only gave raises if people specifically asked for them and the
raises were very small. This has led to a lack of consistency in compensation
for packagers.

acting warehouse manager also happened to find out that the warehouse manager
at one of Maris’ other companies is being paid $10,000 more per year than the
previous warehouse manager at Taste of Heaven and that this person is responsible
for fewer staff than the warehouse manager position at Taste of Heaven. As he
hopes to get the warehouse job at Taste of Heaven on a permanent basis, he
would like to know if he will be paid a salary equivalent to that of the
warehouse manager at the other Maris company.

  1. The
    sales rep who took over the job as office manager appears to be a nervous
    wreck. Her hands were shaking and she started to cry during the interview
    with you. She tells you that she absolutely
    loves sales but doesn’t feel cut out or equipped to do a manager’s job. She said that she doesn’t know what to
    do about a lot of the issues and that the job seems to be comprised of one
    problem after another. She is
    dealing with a serious health problem with one of her children and while
    she wants to be a good corporate citizen, she tells you that things have
    gotten to the point where she can’t sleep without taking pills. She says that she needs to be able to
    return to her regular sales job as soon as possible.
  1. The
    receptionist advised that the part time bookkeeper worked at home all of
    the time. She (the bookkeeper) was a single parent Mom and the owner had
    told her that the bookkeeper had some kind of disability and that he was
    allowing her to work at home 100% of the time and that he arranged to have
    work dropped off at her home every few days. Because the bookkeeper was
    never onsite, the receptionist had been asked to take care of petty cash.
    Only 4 people had access to petty cash – the owner, the office manager,
    the head shipper and her. She said that for quite some time, she has not
    been able to balance the petty cash fund on a consistent basis. Often the
    fund was short anywhere from $50 to $200. She had reported this to the
    office manager but he never did anything about it. The shortages have
    continued even though the owner and the office manager are no longer with
    the company. She believes that the head shipper has been stealing money
    for quite some time and that you should call the police and report the
    theft right away.
  1. In
    talking with various employees, you learn that hiring is done exclusively
    by word of mouth and that an inordinate number of people in the company
    are related in some way – cousins, mothers and sons, brothers, etc.
  1. Lack of annual
    increases appears to apply across the board and the only staff who have
    obtained increases are those who have gone directly to the previous owner
    to ask for an increase. The increases appear to have been given without
    any reference to performance. In fact, there appears to be no systematic
    approach to performance evaluation and management and you have not been
    able to locate one single example of an employee evaluation.
  1. One of the
    things you are surprised by is the mess in the office. There are boxes in the aisles and
    equipment stacked up all over the place – in fact you tripped over some
    cables on your way into the office.
    In addition, you become aware of a bad smell coming from a part of
    the building. Apparently a toilet
    backed up and flooded a storage area in the warehouse with sewage about a
    week ago and all of the equipment in the storage room (some of which
    appears older than the planet) was just transferred to the office and left
    there. The workers in the area tell you the smell has been there since the
    flood, even though the sewage in the washroom and in the storage room was immediately
    cleaned up by one of the workers in the warehouse. Apparently sewage seeped into the wall
    between the storage room and the office, but nothing has been done to
    address this problem. When you ask the sales/office staff if they have
    spoken to the acting office manager about the smell, they just grow silent
    and there are some nervous laughs. The accounts payable clerk was in a
    very serious accident about a week ago, is off sick indefinitely and the
    receptions said that she heard that this employee may be confined to a
    wheel chair. You note that the premises are not wheelchair accessible.
  1. The current
    accounts receivable clerk is pregnant and due to go on maternity leave in
    two months. The receptionist indicated that she has been taking accounting
    courses at night for a couple of years and that the previous owner had
    repeatedly promised that she could temporarily take over the accounts
    receivable duties while the job holder is on maternity leave. However, no
    training has taken place to allow this to happen.
  1. Payroll has been
    contracted out to ADP, a company that specializes in payroll services. The
    former bookkeeper was responsible for communicating information about
    payroll to ADP via her internet connection at home and there have been an
    abundance of overpayments and underpayments to staff which have not yet
    been corrected.
  1. Overall, morale
    seems to be quite low at TH because key employees have already left the
    company. Some or all of the
    remaining staff may have been operating under the assumption that the
    company was about to go bankrupt. They have not been advised about their
    potential future with the company and have been told that the new owner
    would be meeting with them shortly. Various staff members tell you that
    they are starting to look for work at other companies because they are
    still feeling uncertain about the future of the company.
  1. To gain a better
    understanding of the organizational structure you ask to see an
    organizational chart, job descriptions or job specifications and you are
    told that none of these things exist. You note with little humour that
    once an org chart is developed it might end up looking more like a family
    tree than a standard org chart because of the number of staff who are related
    to other.
  1. You ask what
    orientation or onboarding new staff receive and staff don’t seem to have a
    clue what you are talking about – you take this to mean that there such
    programs do not exist at TH.


1. Individually
or in groups of up to 4 people, please fully complete the charts found on the
next 2 pages. Your project submission
must be uploaded by clicking on the link for the Course Project in Week 13 and
uploading your project file by not later than Saturday November 30th
at 11:00 p.m.

USE Word Perfect, Wordpad or Open Office. I am often not able to open these

3. The file
name for your submission must be your full last name, followed by your first
name and PR,

e.g. Green Janice PR. Do not use commas in the file name.

4. If you do
your project with someone else, submit it ONCE.
It does not matter who submits it but it must have everyone’s name on
it. In this case, the name of the file
should include everyone’s last name only and PR. e.g. Jones_Smith _Patel PR.

5. There is a
space on the project for your name. Please
fill it in
. When you submit your
project, only submit your responses and not the project outline. This keeps the file smaller for
printing. Please complete the issues and
recommendations separately as they are shown in the charts.

6. When doing
your project, the issues section has close to 35 issues. The weighting of marks varies with the

In Recruitment, you need six (6) correct
issues for full marks (10) for this HR area

In Compensation you need six (6) correct
issues for a full marks (10) for this HR area

In Health and Safety you need six (6) correct
issues for a full marks (10) for this HR area

In Training and Development, you need three (3)
issues for a full marks (10) for this HR area

In Labour/Staff Relations and Employee Discipline,
you need four (4) correct issues for a full marks (10) for this HR area

The “Other” area is treated as a bonus marks area
where you receive 1 mark for each appropriate issue that does not belong/is not
a primary issue in one of the other 5 areas noted above. This will top up your
mark if you are under 40 marks in total for the above 5 sections. If you
already have full marks for the above 5 areas, no marks will be given in this


7. Do not roll
up issues into overall conclusions
. While a
number of issues might lead to a certain result, marks are provided for the
individual issues and not the rollup.
For example, rather than saying that compensation needs some work, list
the actual problems that lead you to this conclusion.

8. Every issue
that you identify should have a solution to it and some solutions may
overlap. Again, it is important not to
use overall recommendations. Be

9. Your project
will be marked and returned to you within 7 days of the due date of the
. This means that you will
receive your marks by Saturday December 7th. If you submit your
project early, every attempt will be made to return it to you sooner, but there
is no guarantee.

10. If you
choose to work with a partner(s), each of you will receive the identical
grade. You are responsible for your own
group dynamics and I will not become involved.
As a result, please ensure that you align yourselves with others who have
the same goals as you do with respect to quality of work, timetabling, etc.

11. If you
decide to break up your group, this must be done well before the project due
date so that members can go on and complete a project by themselves, prior to
the due date. This means that you should
establish expectations within your group right up front, and deal with issues
as they arise.

12. If you have
questions, don’t hesitate to send me an email.

1: Worth 40% (each of the 5 areas is worth 8
marks) NAME:




(expand the chart to
accommodate your information)



HEALTH AND SAFETY(need 6 valid issues)


4 valid issues)

BONUS MARKS(up to 3 bonus marks)

PART 2: Worth 50% (each section is worth 10 marks)


to accommodate your information)






BONUS MARKS(up to 3 bonus marks)

PART 3: Worth 10%




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