In November, the UC SHRM members visited the R.A. Jones Company. John Tamishasky, vice president of human resources, greeted the group. R.A. Jones is a packaging technology company with approximately 500 full-time employees and their customers include Anheuser-Busch, General Mills, Kraft Foods, Hewlett-Packard, and many other well-known companies. Basically, R.A. Jones designs and installs the machines for product packaging. The chapter members toured the offices including finance, project management, sales and service, and adminstration and then met in the conference room for a brief video on R.A. Jones. During the tour of the plant, students witnessed bottle packaging, laser packaging, paper product packaging, and a host of other equipment and processes. The most impressive part of the visit was the candid and detailed conversation with the HR staff. College classes often stress the increased role HR plays in the strategic management of a company. The staff at R.A. Jones took the students' classroom knowledge and converted it into a practical on-the-job demonstration.
Human resources is fully integrated into strategic planning at R.A. Jones. The VP of HR is a member of the Executive Leadership Training committee that meets weekly with the CEO. In addition, HR has implemented a 360 degree feedback program for managers to give feedback on performance to individuals and upper management. Over the last year, HR has begun psychological testing on current and future employees to eventually create a profile of the ideal R.A. Jones employee. It was obvious to every member of the group that HR is not only a strategic partner with upper management but actually a trusted advisor to the CEO.
Communication with employees and their spouses is a prime example. The company conducts quarterly business meetings with all employees, utilizes focus groups of 20-25 people for feedback sessions and is implementing monthly luncheons with the CEO. New hire orientation is conducted quarterly and the spouses/significant others are invited to participate. It was enlightening for the UC students to find such a progressive company with an aggressive human resources department. John and his staff answered all the students' questions candidly about a variety of HR functions and even gave them a few hints about achieving HR goals and objectives. This "requirement" of the student chapter Merit Award program enabled the UC chapter to combine textbook learning with real-life experience. The group is looking forward to their next company tour.
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