American Plastics had fared rather worse than its competitors during the economic downturn. With revenue, quality, and productivity down, management set several goals to reverse the company’s fortune. One area in need of improvement was human resources and “Janet,” the newly appointed HR Director faced a daunting challenge: to quickly re-invent the Human Resources function, reposition it a strategic partner to the business, and improve employee perceptions of her department. Her predecessor retired after leading a major reduction in force causing a significant exodus of key talent, some unexpected. Janet was charged with finding a way to retain top talent and develop a steady but highly-qualified stream of candidates to fill regular as well as critical positions. The CEO agreed with her that differentiating the human resources function was essential for the company’s strategic plan to succeed.
In her first two weeks on the job Janet discovered:
- Job descriptions were inconsistent, long but vague lists of high level “duties and responsibilities” and qualifications
- Job titles didn’t reflect the work people did, used instead as a framework for budgeting and compensation as many were doing unique work requiring different knowledge and skills.
- Aside from providing a coordinating function, human resources had outsourced recruiting to third parties who presented candidates based on their internet postings and other sources. No matter the level or criticality of the open position, human resources rarely conducted interviews or assessments before or after handing over the third party resumes to the hiring organization and would get involved again only when a candidate was selected.
- HR’s participation in the onboarding process of new employees was limited to having them attend a half-day orientation session where, between a video and a slide presentation about the company, they filled out benefits-related, payroll, ID and other paper forms.
- Training and Development (T&D) had largely been outsourced to several companies that provided generic on-line courses.
- The recent departure of several mission-critical employees disclosed no systematic means of capturing expertise from employees; when they left, their knowledge left with them.
- The Performance Employee Evaluation Program didn’t align with anything, was viewed by managers and individual contributors alike as a burdensome annual chore that interfered with people’s “real jobs.”
The management of talent is one of a handful of strategic services human resources can offer. The decline of traditional HR functions through automation, self-service, and outsourcing demands a “culture change” within human resources: adopt a business focus by an organization still structured largely around benefits administration, time and attendance reporting, labor cost processing, and similar transactional operations.
Write a communications plan not to exceed 1,050 words to support the strategy of American Plastics.
Justify why they were important for your strategic HRM planning process.
Recommend how to address these considerations.
Focus on resolution of the human resource management challenges in order to support operational strategies.
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