At IBM we believe that in order to build a great brand, we must first be a great company. And the key to being a great company is hiring, supporting and retaining great employees.
Across the world there are more than 430,000 IBMers. These employees represent our brand, they embody our values and they drive our success. They are IBM. And that is why the work of developing their full potential is never complete. Within the human resources function at IBM, we are constantly crafting new strategies to meet our employees’ needs. In 2010, we launched a virtual dialogue, called HR ThinkFuture, to envision the future of work and how HR, as a profession, can help IBM move towards that future. One of the first steps in creating this future was to reflect the evolving trends and organizational needs for people at IBM in the HR strategy. IBM HR ThinkFuture brought together IBM’s HR professionals through workshops, Jams and brainstorming sessions, and resulted in a series of commitments that address the strategic goals of the HR function:
- deep, thoughtful leadership and collaboration
- doing what is best for the company when there are no guidelines or policies to follow
- thinking strategically and in ways that will help take the company to the next level
- reflecting on how the world of work is developing and how people practices need to evolve
- embracing technology and social media
A premise in meeting these commitments is that the HR strategy is well understood and the HR community embeds behaviors reflective of the HR strategy in how they work. To do so, we launched several programs in 2011. The first is our HR Ambassadors program—champions within HR—who engage local teams in ongoing dialogue to build a working environment where employees feel engaged and committed to IBM. HR Ambassadors represent between five and ten percent of IBM’s worldwide HR organization. They attend regional workshops to help them understand the strategy, interpret what it means to them and communicate it locally.
The program is further supported by the HR Hub, an HR-wide online Connections community where HR Ambassadors leverage social tools to engage others in strategy discussions.
The HR professionals are embracing the technology and social media through the HR Hub as well—it gives the entire IBM HR organization a forum to intersect with IBM leadership and to learn about future strategic priorities in a way that emphasizes dialogue over simply disseminating information.
In 2011, we also began changing our approach to understanding employee issues and concerns through a more contemporary approach leveraging technology and data analytics. Our traditional company-wide employee survey has been useful for gaining a high-level view of employee satisfaction. But it did not allow for a tailored view on specific local issues to address the needs of the business. Starting in 2011, we’ve deployed a mix of methods and flexible ways of understanding employee’s sentiment such as:
- Surveys tailored to local needs or focus areas, to enable the business to move more nimbly and to act more incisively (targeted surveys focused on specific business issues and outcomes)
- Employee Advisory Panels that allow a number of IBMers to review and provide feedback on certain programs and policies
- Predictive models to anticipate and better respond to workforce trends and to move from a reactive to a proactive mode of addressing workforce issues
- Web-based surveys to gather data on current or “hot” issues enabling quick turnaround and specific data relevant to the business issue
These types of targeted data analysis pinpoint pockets of problems, enabling us to intervene more quickly and effectively and timely address the needs of IBM’s workforce and business.
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