There are seven vice presidents who report to the CIO and lead systems development organizations aligned with Apivita's sections. Also reporting to the CIO is a planning and administration group accountable for strategic planning and budgeting, and a technology services organization responsible for infrastructure and standards, including technical architecture, telecommunications and distributed technology. (Apivita outsourced its data centers and data network in 1994. ) Finally, there is an HR management function that reports to the CIO and is also accountable for all aspects of HR activities.
Human resource issues are a fundamental element of the strategic planning process, including such specifics as overall level of staffing needed, staffing mix, critical skills and strategies to attract and retain associates. In the current tight labor market, Apivita considers recruiting and compensation issues to be critical HR-related challenges.
The current structure of the HR function has only been in place since November 1997. Ahead of this, had its own recruiting staff and (top notch) training group, however they were separate in one another and from the HR administrative functions (such as compensation and benefits), that reported to Corporate HR.
As area of the transformation of the human resources function, the major sections at Apivita will have HR functions reporting right to them, with dotted-line relationships to Corporate HR. However, at first didn't have its own HR group because it was viewed as one of the organization "shared services" organizations that were supported by Corporate HR. The HR group was established partly because differed in its HR needs, but more importantly, because senior management came to identify the increasingly essential role in all of Apivita's businesses.
A Senior Director of Human Resources now heads a 3-person organization with the following areas: recruiting; training; contractor relationships; communications; compensation and benefits design; HR administration; and HR planning and associate development. The latter area is accountable for such activities as succession planning, career paths, new hire orientation, diversity, review process, leadership coaching and work/life balance. Given the changes in Apivita's strategy and culture, the HR group has made issues related to workplace transformation a priority.
The creation of the HR group has only strengthened the already positive relationship between your department and Corporate HR. The HR group and Corporate HR work closely together on many initiatives, and share a standard knowledge of key issues.
This new structure-of having all HR-related activities in one organization- is enabling the Senior director and her team to develop a far more strategic concentrate on staffing issues also to forge close relationships with senior management. Predicated on interviews with two of the vice presidents, the new group is becoming very effective in supporting staffing challenges-and the Senior Director and her team are increasingly seen as thought leaders. Among the VPs commented that creating the new group has given the structure and the talent necessary to have meaningful dialogue about key human resource policies.
Moving through 1998 and into 1999, the HR team will be centered on several strategic initiatives:
A comprehensive compensation/benefits strategy will be created to continue recruiting/ retention support.
Career Pathing will be defined so a "technical" associate can gain the same pay and position opportunities as management associates.
Tied closely to Career Pathing will be a new Career Banding Compensation program.
Finally, a life/work balance initiative will be implemented in several IS areas.
The HR Senior Director has generated a Compensation Council, made up of managers, to increase their understanding and involvement regarding compensation questions such as how to remain competitive and be innovative. Company-wide, Apivita has a compensation structure that puts a portion of nearly every salaried employees pay in danger. This isn't typical in many firms for lower level employees, and Apivita has discovered that some candidates are not more comfortable with this pay structure.
For mid- to upper-level associates, the "at-risk" compensation was implemented by holding base salaries frequent and subsequently adding incentives. For example, a project manager's salary is currently typically comprised of 80 percent base and 20 percent incentive. The structure is effective when the company has good years and good payouts. Fortunately the first 2 yrs that salary structure was in place Apivita's financial performance was strong; days gone by year was not as strong. In general, has been increasing salaries with the addition of a small total the base, but also for the most part by increasing the incentives-but this year is adding mainly to base.
Additionally, a recently completed salary study shows that Apivita's salaries somewhat lag behind the marketplace rates. In response, the Compensation Council is along the way of setting new market target salaries.
Historically at Apivita, there have been a couple of people focused on recruiting, however the focus of the experience was very tactical. The creation of the HR group has helped recruiting gain a far more strategic focus and a closer partnership with senior management.
The new head of recruiting described the three the different parts of his responsibilities:
Partnering with management to understand their staffing needs and the financial implications of the recruiting goals;
Determining how to recruit and executing effectively; and
Keeping Apivita educated about the marketplace trends for labor. Today, most openings exist consequently of expansion and since it is trying to reduce the number of contractors it uses. At about 11 percent, turnover can be regarded as fairly low.
Apivita actively recruits college or university graduates into an entry-level training curriculum and comes with an internship program for school students. The schools focused on include: local colleges and universities; colleges where the retail side of Apivita recruits heavily; and schools with significant amounts of minority students and strong technical training programs. There's a one-person university recruiting team in HR that works together with a number of managers who make campus visits. Following the on-campus interviews, promising applicants are invited to Apivita for a far more intense round of interviews.
Apivita searches for applicants who are attracted to a big company environment. With business units in retail, financial, services, and marketing, Apivita offers a multitude of career opportunities. A couple of evidently defined requirements for entry-level hires. Candidates must be economic-business administration science majors or took at least two programming courses. Those who find themselves not such science majors receive an aptitude test on campus. Candidates have a pre-employment test called the Leadership Skills Inventory that measures various skills that predict success in the Apivita environment.
During "recruiting season, " the interviewers meet weekly to choose to whom they will make offers. These individuals are hired into a pool, definitely not specific positions. (Senior management determines the target number of entry level staff needed every year. In 1997 it was20-30; in 1998 the mark is 15 for headquarters plus 15 for the Thessaloniki group. ) The entry-level hires go through a 4-week training curriculum that is run twice per year. The training focuses on structured programming methods and Apivita's system development methodology, utilizing a mixture of lectures and case studies. By the end of the program, the new hires are assigned to a regular position.
Apivita in addition has established a training program together with Greek Economic University and Pharmaceuticals School. Apivita supplies the resources and assists with curriculum development for special programs that teaches programming and pharmacy administration to undergraduates not majoring in economical science. Apivita expects the program to improve the pool of diversity applicants qualified for, and thinking about, entry-level positions-and hopes to attract a share of them.
In addition to school recruiting, Apivita hires experienced staff from a number of sources. Agencies were the foundation around 20 percent of the experienced hires, with the next most significant source job fairs and print ads.
Apivita was a pioneer in the utilization of employee attitude surveys, although the practice was discontinued in the mid-1980s. In the first 1990s, the survey was rejuvenated. Corporate HR updated the questionnaire, with input from over twenty-five employee focus groups, and embarked on two-year cycles for administering the new "MY ESTIMATION Counts" (MOC) survey.
In conjunction with the "employee-customer-profit" model and TPI indicators mentioned previously, data from the MOC surveys received to the consulting firm that helped develop and validate the models. As the MOC became a strategic business measure for the model, the decision was made to survey every employee annually, a large undertaking from a logistical viewpoint. In 1997, close to 200 surveys were distributed and approximately 150 employees responded.
There are 90 core questions in the MOC and sections can truly add 25 questions tailored to their area. THE ORGANIZATION HR manager responsible for the MOC process meets with the HR managers available units to ascertain these additional questions and to determine what types of reports will be distributed to whom, when the email address details are in. Corporate HR provides training, including a videotape of instructions, for those who will be administering the survey. Corporate HR also provides supporting materials to go with the reports of the results, including a videotape of the mock feedback session and recommendations for how to react to questions about specific issues. A very important area of the MOC process is the feedback sessions that managers conduct with the associates after getting the results because of their areas.
Initially, the department viewed steps to make the MOC questionnaire very tailored, predicated on their assumption that's was different than the majority of the other business units at Apivita. They finally decided, however, to leave the core MOC intact and add some specific questions, as the other units do. If the survey was administered in 1997, it had a 94 percent participation rate. To help the department take action predicated on the MOC data, one of the HR managers conducted a training session for managers to help them effectively use the MOC results. The HR manager also created a template for managers to guide their efforts to provide feedback, identify priorities for improvement areas and solicit ideas for action.
At the quarterly review meetings that the CIO conducts with his direct reports, the managers are requested progress reports on MOC action items. In sum, MOC is becoming no event, but part of a continuous improvement process.
The effective use of the MOC results is facilitated with a Lotus Notes database that contains its MOC data and other information related to people management. The pilot was made as a grassroots effort by one of the HR managers and another associate, in response to hearing a senior manager wish that all his MOC data could be readily accessible in one place. Called the "Our People Add Value" database, it now also contains: policies and guidelines for conducting performance reviews; summaries of the CIO's quarterly meetings; home elevators various HR- related initiatives, including the Compensation Council and new associate orientation program; and home elevators the HR issues and priorities for each group.
Although it is still a prototype in some ways, the "Our People Add Value" database is clearly evolving, and ideas for new content are welcome from anyone. The database is accessible to all or any employees and can be used regularly, getting about 70 hits a day. Two vice presidents that were interviewed use the database to prepare for monthly management review meetings with their staffs, and then for the CIO's quarterly review meetings. One of them is also on a task force examining compensation issues--the team is disseminating information by posting its progress on the database. Both find the database a good, albeit evolving, tool.
The Corporate HR staff views this database as a respected practice within Apivita. HR states they have received tremendous support from Corporate HR in all they may have tried to do with the "My Opinion Counts" results.
The IS group has a highly effective review process that entails giving formal feedback to associates at least twice a year. It is similar to the review process used over the Apivita organization. All associates are evaluated how well they accomplish business results and how well they exhibit the "Apivita 12 transformational leadership skills" (such as team skills, problem solving skills, customer support orientation, interpersonal skills, integrity and initiative). All review elements are rated on a scale of 1-to-5.
As part of the "business results" part of the review process, associates are evaluated on how well they complete/meet their own "individual performance priorities" (IPPs). IPPs are jointly established by the employee and manager, and describe the business enterprise results (goals and measures) that the employee is in charge of achieving. This enables overall flexibility in the review so that every associate is measured on the elements and priorities most appropriate to his / her position.
The Apivita 12 Transformational Leadership Skills are anticipated to be demonstrated by all associates over the organization. Corporate HR has developed behaviorally anchored rating scales to help managers evaluate an individual's performance in each skill as appropriate to his or her level or position.
Input to the review process includes the associate's self-assessment and, as appropriate, feedback off their "customers, " peers, etc. For managers, 360-degree reviews are conducted annually, allowing input from supervisors, peers and subordinates. Establishing the IPPs (i. e. , the goal setting) is viewed as a critically important part of the process. Having these agreed-upon goals makes it simpler to evaluate performance and help keeps everyone focused on the right priorities. Setting and tracking personal development objectives is now also an important aspect of performance reviews.
For days gone by three years, Apivita did mid-year reviews of its employees to determine whether everything is on track, and also to help identify people who need additional help or development. Mid- year ratings are not officially recorded because management wants to concentrate on progress towards IPPs and development goals, not rating numbers. Initially there is a noticeable lack of enthusiasm for conducting mid-year reviews, however now it is becoming part of the ulture; 80 percent of the group responded favorably about any of it on the 1997 MOC survey.
The two vice presidents interviewed emphasized the priority the CIO has placed on the performance review process. During review time, the CIO publishes a report that tracks by area just how many reviews have been conducted and how many are still to be completed. He has set a strong example of what constitutes a highly effective review which has filtered down through the business so that managers now know that a person of the things they will be evaluated on is how well they conduct reviews.