Human Resource Management at Ford Motors

Ford Motors Human Resource Management

People and culture have remained a central focus at Ford Motors right since the time of Alan Mullally. He was a charismatic leader who turned the company around during the most tumultuous times. Ford has also proved that the power of a business is its people. The 21st century is full of several such examples. It has been proved that human capital is the most important asset for a large business. A business cannot achieve a leadership position without focusing on its people and their empowerment. Ford has built a unique culture over the years.

The business is flourishing under the able leadership of Jim Hackett, the current Ford Motors CEO. Jim Hackett is known for his fondness of great technologies and great people. His focus is on building a culture of learning. Ford aims to become the mobility leader of the future. Achieving fast growth in a challenging time is possible when your people have all the right skills and are ready for the future. Ford is a vehicle maker with several major strengths from technological capabilities to a future-ready manufacturing and supply chain network. It considers its people its most valuable asset. The company has implemented several programs to enable the career development of its employees and their all-round growth.

Hiring and Retention at Ford Motors:

Competition in the automobile industry has become intense. Apart from other things, there is competition among leading players to attract and retain talented people. Brands are in a race to hire the best talent for themselves. To operate an innovative business it is important to attract smart minds. Ford tries to attract people with a customer-centric mindset and taste for innovation. The company hires people from diverse backgrounds and makes heavy investments in this area. In this regard, the brand has partnered with professional organizations and built strong relationships with several top universities. To attract the best students and recent graduates, the brand utilizes digital tools.

Ford executives visit university campuses to find out potential automotive leaders. The company also utilizes other methods of expanding collaboration in the community. Attending meetings in the local communities and connecting with local individuals and companies is Ford’s method to grow relationships with talented people. Ford has also grown its focus on induction and is using smart methods of onboarding talent. Induction at Ford has been made more streamlined and efficient over time. A web portal has made the process smoother and more efficient for Ford new-hires. The customized web portal allows new hires to complete their paperwork and tasks in an organized manner. So, rather than getting occupied with paperwork on their first day, new employees can immerse themselves in new experiences, culture and their role.

It is important to hire the best talent and it is equally important to retain them. No large company would like to waste their most precious talent. Onboarding plays a critical role in the retention of employees and so Ford has shown serious focus in this area. It has implemented a unique onboarding program called ‘Get Started’ in the US that allows the new employees access to tools and network that enable them to get productive at the soonest possible. Some of the most important features of ‘Get Started’ are company overview and corporate orientation. This program features Q and A’s presentations as well as meet and greets with the senior leaders of the company. A talent survey conducted by ‘Universum Global’ has placed Ford among the best employers of the world. This survey ranked the company based upon features like work environment, innovation, future earnings, and leadership development. Engineering students taking the survey ranked it as 12th best employer whereas the business students ranked it as 42nd best employer.

Employee Training at Ford Motors

The future in the vehicle industry is going to be highly demanding, requiring a higher focus on employee training and performance management. Technological advancements are happening at a very fast pace. It is why brands need to equip their employees with the best in class technological skills. The rise of new technologies like Automation, Robotics, and Artificial intelligence has given rise to the need for new skills at the workplace. Ford is training its manufacturing technicians in electrified vehicle diagnostics. Ford is implementing a world-class IT system and equipping its employees with software knowledge along with hardware knowledge. In order to grow with growing technology, the brand is skilling its employees with software engineering skills. To enable continuous learning it is also experimenting with new technologies. Ford uses AI, virtual reality and augmented reality to train its employees at various skills. All the while the focus is on creating a culture of learning and curiosity.

Ford has also adopted other collaborative learning practices to enable smarter learning inside its organization. It is using cohort programs for peer collaboration. Cohort programs can best be seen as a group of classmates. The programs came into being based on the importance of community in learning. Various kinds of such programs like the Global leadership summit, executive leadership summit, experienced leader program and salaried supervisor institute are used at Ford for training and learning. The brand also encourages its employees to share their learning and expertise with others in both technical and nontechnical areas.

Work Culture and Employee Motivation

The automotive industry is going through a phase of fast change. To get ready for these advancements the brand needs to make changes to its culture and bring both the old and the new together. Apart from bringing forward the best of its past, the brand will also need to adopt new practices to move in the direction of the future. For this purpose, Jim Hackett has decided to use a people-centered design that keeps Ford’s human capital at the center in everything that Ford does including its human resource practices. It released a program called HRRev in 2016 that is aimed at transforming its HR products and services in a manner that significantly improves the employee experience. The company is trying to take its employee experience to the next level. In this regard, the brand has decided to add new features. It will launch a new portal called Life@Ford in 2018. Apart from that, it will also launch three new “People First” service centers that will support its global workforce.

Employee engagement and satisfaction is also an important focus at Ford. Communication is key to engaging its people and with a large and global workforce, two-way communication is important to keep people engaged. There are several communication channels that the brand uses to achieve this including its website, intranet site, Annual Reports, Jim Hackett’s video blog etc. The company also uses social media channels and webcasts to communicate with its audience. The brand has developed a metric called employee satisfaction index score to measure its employee’s satisfaction. The company conducts an annual Global Pulse survey that encourages the employees to provide honest feedback about their jobs and their overall satisfaction about their company. The survey results are used by the company to understand its overall performance in HR and make informed action plans on its basis. The company’s employee satisfaction index score was 72 in 2017 and employee engagement score 84.

Diversity and Inclusion at Ford Motors

Diversity and inclusion are also important areas for Ford Motors.  They have always been an important part of its culture and history. The brand hires people from diverse backgrounds with diverse opinions and experiences. This has helped it build a truly collaborative workplace. Ford is also strictly following anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies. There were complaints about discrimination and harassment at its Chicago plant and the brand took instant action to bring the situation under control. It is now conducting human rights saliency assessment to ensure that all people work in a discrimination-free environment. In its first assessment, the company identified that discrimination and harassment were the biggest issues that it needed to tackle. It has identified eight more issues that it plans to tackle and has started implementing action plans to overcome them.

Health and Safety of the Employees

Ford takes the health and safety of its employees very seriously and therefore the brand has enacted policies and procedures that ensure a safe working environment. Health and safety are also among the nine important challenges that the brand has identified in its human rights saliency assessment. Ford has implemented a strong workplace safety culture and uses its various communication channels to support this safety culture. Regular talks and events focusing on safety issues are conducted through these communication channels. It also encourages the employees to report any accident, safety hazard or dangerous event to the management through one of the communication channels. 

The company also uses external benchmarking to achieve best in class results in terms of safety. Apart from that, to gain information on safety practices, it participates in multi-industry groups beyond the automotive sector and explores new areas of collaboration. ‘Lost Time Case Rate’ or LTCR is a key safety metric that the brand uses to measure its effectiveness in terms of workplace safety. In 2017, its LTCR was 0.38 and Ford is planning to reduce it to 0.36. LTCR measures the number of workdays lost due to a work-related injury or illness.  To further strengthen its safety culture the brand has implemented an annual wellness program. In 2017, 80% of its US-based salaried employees participated in this program.

Due to the heavy competition in the automobile industry, vehicle brands are focusing on better human resource management to help their employees perform at their best. Ford is a leading automobile brand and it is focused on efficient management of its HR. It has adopted several best practices in this area and is considered one of the best employers. Apart from workers’ motivation, the brand has also focused on their health and safety as well as efficient training for their career development. Human resource management is now one of the central pillars of business strategy.  Businesses world over have realized that without proper human resource management, it is impossible to achieve a leadership position.

A people-centered strategy helps maximize performance and avoid roadblocks to superior growth. Focusing on your human capital and helping them manage their performance enables business organizations to move faster. Business organizations and most importantly the large and global organizations should focus on communication for engaging their employees better. In this area, Ford has taken some smart steps and used web-based tools and technologies for connecting with its employees.

Leaders remain connected with the followers using these tools which can be a great source of motivation for the employees. Bringing synergy across the entire organization is not difficult and Ford has proved it several times in history. Now when it has decided to take a firm step forward towards a technology-enabled future, it can leverage its past to manage its results in the near future more efficiently. The automobile industry is undergoing a fast phase of transition caused by technological growth and changing demand patterns worldwide. During this period Ford is working on growing one of its most critical competitive advantages, its human capital stronger.