Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Human Resources: We Can Solve All of the Company's Problems

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An example of effective Human Resources (HR) contributing to the success of the company is within the AT&T Corporation. The company's goal is to turn the domestic long distance form into an "any distance, any service" global company (Miller, 000). Mirian Graddick-Weir, the head of AT&T's HR, is responsible for making sure that the momentum toward the goal never loses speed. The responsibility is normal, but the manner in which Graddick-Weir goes about accomplishing the responsibility is not. Most experts, like Robert Bacal, feel the function of Human Resources is to be a support department in an organization, providing assistance to other departments in a manner in which those departments can remain functional and profitable. Experts do not consider Human Resources' function to be a leadership role. Unlike most companies, AT&T's HR is responsible in leading the company in the transformation to globalization. Through leadership, AT&T's HR department decreased expenses, took advantage of technological innovation, fulfilled attrition requirements and yet still maintained morale. AT&T's HR managed to complete these separate and effective accomplishments when most departments in a company cannot manage even one accomplishment. AT&T's diversion from the norm, by placing the HR into a leadership role, proved to be instrumental in the company's massive transformation into a global conglomerate.


The first accomplishment began within the HR department itself. AT&T's goal was to cut annual costs by $ billion, so the HR team began by reinventing the department into a high-value, low-cost strategic service to the company. The Human Resource Department reduced itself by a 5 percent head count, cut department expenses by 48 percent, and reduced the HR cost per employee by 4 percent. The model Human Resources devised estimated expenses to be lowered by $40 million over a two year period. Through the Education Council, a group of HR and business unit leaders, $ million was saved in company training expenses.


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The Human Resource Department at AT&T determined that the trick to cutting costs and maintain effectiveness was in making an investment in the infrastructure of the company. Although the company's goal was to cut annual costs, the HR team had the company spend $0 million on automation and technology in order to alleviate HR duties. AT&T's hiring process is now 8 percent electronically processed. The automated system also reduced the process time for filling positions from 10 days down to 48 days.

The HR department's direction toward automation includes an intranet for employee services. Training, benefits, policies, pension and payroll information are offered on the intranet. Intranet options are preferred and utilized by 80 percent of the staff for payroll processing, 0 percent for savings plans and 55 percent for benefits and 5 percent for training. A toll-free number is available for employees without web access. Fortunately, the $0 million investment that HR led the company into is justified through the ability to measure the benefits.

Serving the Employees

Graddick-Weir has made sure that AT&T's HR maintains the primary function of the department's role serving the needs of the company members. AT&T's HR department's philosophy is to put the people first. The department understands that the true role of HR is to be a coach, advisor and a good listener. AT&T's Human Resource Department does not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach when working with company members and solving problems. Although the company objectives are a priority, the HR team makes the employees the top priority. Human Resources has made placing stock options into the employee hands a major goal and does so by giving employees grants through options and business unit pool allocations. With support from officers, the HR team is attempting to break the bureaucracy, cut down on the hierarchy and make the employees feel more like owners of the company. The HR department is also trying to change compensation to a market based structure in order to attract and retain top talent and withhold realistic programs sensitive to the job market. Cutting corners in the investment in staff is not an effective way to cut costs for a company and still maintain a reputable business with a respectable profit margin.

When AT&T Human Resources had to take 10,000 employees out of the company, the department came up with the Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program. Leaving the company was less traumatic on a voluntary basis and had plenty of incentive to make it worthwhile. Human Resources gave employees pension incentives, a more liberalized retiree health-care package and offered career resource assistance. Employees that started their own business received $10,000 as assistance. In addition to the information provided through the intranet, the HR team organized huge financial seminars for the employees. The seminars covered any information the employees would need to know about their pensions and investment.

HR at AT&T is taken very seriously. The department has a two-day training event to further HR knowledge when supporting the staff. The training covered subjects like defining HR's role, translating business issues into HR interventions and leading change to achieve company-wide objectives. The material covered is far from the norm. Most Human Resource training covers defining the department's role, usually in subjects like sexual harassment, state and federal employment laws and workplace safety. AT&T has broken the mold and defined the department's role as one of leadership in helping the company transform in a number of different areas. Human Resources at AT&T demonstrated outstanding innovation, structured leadership and excellent follow-through. Instead of being a support department to other departments, the HR team has become a fundamental department to a company willing to try new ideas. The department mastered keeping pace with business changes while undergoing reinvention and doing more with less. HR at AT&T was so successful with the policies and changes implemented that it has become a prototype for the company's cost-cutting goals. Rather impressive for a department that the experts claim should be seen and not heard.

Bacal, R. (000). From the corporate file the role of the Human Resources

Departments. Retrieved June , 00 from the World Wide Web http//

Miller, R. (na). Human Resource executive of the year going the distance. Human

Resource Executive. Retrieved June , 00 from the World Wide Web http//

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