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Emphasizing a Social Mission in Retaining Young Talent? Human Capital Management at GreenPrice

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At 25 years old, Terence Hon found himself spending most of his time thinking about how to retain the young staff in his company. As a second-year student at the University of Hong Kong, Terence had cofounded GreenPrice, Hong Kong’s first sustainable supermarket, with teammates Allison Chan, Ben So, and Cherissa Hung. The venture had found its target customer base among middle-class consumers who were attracted to the concept of purchasing short-dated products at heavily discounted prices. Each GreenPrice store had 1,000 to 1,200 stock-keeping units (SKUs) at any given time, and the supermarket chain saved over 2.55 million items that were set to expire annually. While the eight stores in GreenPrice’s retail network were profitable, the high turnover rate among the nearly 100 employees at GreenPrice was keeping Terence awake at night. Terence and his cofounders pondered whether they should have emphasized GreenPrice’s social mission more in the recruitment and retainment of its staff, since the commitment to sustainability could be a means to attract young people. They needed to determine whether GreenPrice should favor those who were most capable but were not interested in sustainability or those who were less capable but cared deeply about the environment.

Learning Objective:

This case was developed for undergraduate and postgraduate students taking courses on management, organizational behavior, human resources, and entrepreneurship. This case lends itself to the following teaching objectives. After discussing the case, students will be able to:

1.         Discuss how start-ups driven by social mission such as GreenPrice can attract and retain talent, drawing on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Ryan and Deci’s self-determination theory, and other theories of motivation.

2.         Analyse how GreenPrice could enhance job satisfaction among its employees using Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory.

3.         Understand the challenge of designing reward systems and suggest how GreenPrice could establish a formal reward system that positively reinforces desirable behaviors for different roles.

4.         Leverage Hackman and Oldham’s Job Characteristics Model as a framework to suggest how GreenPrice could improve the core job dimensions of skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback to achieve high internal work motivation, high quality work performance, high satisfaction with the work, and low absenteeism and turnover.

Year of Publication: 2024
Ref. No.: 24/789C
Discipline: Organizational Behavior and Leadership
Industry: Retail & Wholesale
Country: Hong Kong SAR
Company: GreenPrice
Languages: English
Pages of Text: 9