United Parcel Service’s Human Resource Practices and Organizational Change

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Introduction

Human resource practices go beyond traditional hiring aspects and employee communication. They can significantly influence a company’s culture and competitive advantage in the long-term. This paper will consider how HR practices and company initiatives are used at UPS enabling it to create a unique work environment and culture that is behind their enormous success. It will then be discussed on steps and practices that management can undertake in ensuring successful and smooth organizational change.

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Human Resource Practices

The human resource practices described in the case study aimed at internal promotion and broad assignments have one direct objective for UPS which is to ensure that employees are familiar with various elements of company functions and operations. With strong knowledge of the company and its culture, employees are efficient and effective, particularly as they rise through the ranks, upkeeping the key standards and strengths of the company to ensure consistency in service. Furthermore, because employees are promoted from within and deeply integrated into the UPS culture, they are not just employees, but business partners that are invested in the success of the company, often being shareholders or otherwise incentivized to perform well (Soupata, 2001). Employees can apply elements of work learnt during fulfillment of broad duties to their work or management, finding effective solutions to perform their job well while collaborating with other teams.

UPS demonstrates on what is known as internal labor orientation, focusing on long career-building within an organization and human resource practices that are aimed at building loyalty and commitment through a sense of stability and security. This long-term approach offers significant strategic benefits such as the ability to develop needed professionals and being able to forecast skills and capabilities that would be available in the employee pool in the future. There are also numerous cost-saving benefits internal orientations as expenses for recruitment are reduced (Stewart & Brown, 2019). As with the case of UPS, the strategic human resource practices contribute to strong interactions and relationships within the company, indirectly influencing coordination and cooperation that typically takes years for teams in a regular company to achieve. When that is applied on the global scale of UPS, in an industry where tight-knit collaboration is crucial to maintain efficiency of a time-sensitive service – the added value of internal orientation practices cannot be understated.

Workplace Culture

As mentioned earlier, the practices contribute to organizational loyalty and collaboration. As a result, the company culture evolves to be more cohesive and tight-knit. Internal practices, which have become almost a ritual for UPS, such as the Prework Communications Meeting (PCM) are an example of the impact of the HR practices on culture. First, employees are introduced to the tradition and taught company values starting with their entry to the UPS workforce. Secondly, managers who are promoted from within, often themselves starting as drivers, loading dock workers or some other entry-level position have a greater understanding of the needs of their employees. There is a communication policy in place that encourages face-to-face meeting and despite the company spending hundreds of millions on training and development of company values as well as potential lost productivity, the culture within fosters openness, understanding, compassion, and teamwork (Soupata, 2001).

Rohman et al. (2018) found that promotion tactics can significantly influence a company culture. Effective management of promotions stimulates workers to work more effectively and establishing the belief that leaders act with integrity is vital to establishing trust which is critical for high-performing companies. Strong promotion processes help elevate the leadership potential in employees while demonstrating to the company what type of results and behaviors are valued (Rohman et al., 2018). UPS continuously demonstrates the values it supports through both practical experiences and training materials. Each large workforce consists of diverse beliefs, skills, behaviors and personal experiences. UPS seeks to be encompassing while at the same time unifying. By using practices that stimulate cooperation and dialogue as well as some specifically targeted programs such as the Community Initiative Program (CIP), the company inherently allows employees to personally experience the benefits and challenges of their co-workers and the importance of being in each other’s shoes from a professional, cultural, and personal points of view.

Organizational Change

Successful Initiative and Smooth Transition

The first step undertaken would be to ensure competent, timely, and comprehensive communication. Employees should be warned ahead of time, given time to prepare and adjust, and be aware of details regarding ongoing changes. The second step would be to involve employees in the organizational change, including but not limited to having employees participate in surveys regarding the changes, be part of the development and planning process of the changes, and collect feedback once changes are publicly announced. Both communication and employee involvement are key elements of Lewin’s Change Model which follow stages of change of unfreezing, implementation, and refreezing (Hussain et al., 2018). Another step would be to provide very specific steps and objectives that have to be achieved, essentially breaking down the process into small incremental changes. This allows both for more systematic approach to the change as well as making it much easier to adopt and implement. Finally, it is necessary to demonstrate strong but compassionate leadership. Without a clear direction and a leadership authority to whom employees can look up to, the change process can become chaotic and unpredictable, along with being met with much higher resistance. Change-oriented leadership has a positive direct effect on implementing planned change (Al-Ali et al., 2017).

Two steps that can be implemented to ensure employees have a smooth transition are to offer support and reward acceptance/adherence to the change. As part of effective organizational change management, providing a support structure is critical in assisting employees to adjust to changes both from a practical standpoint and emotionally. Depending on the scope the change, it may take time to adapt and build the proficiency of behaviors and technical skills to achieve the same level of efficiency and results as before the change. This may include elements such as not punishing errors or mediocre results, but rather providing the training and guidance necessary for adjustment. Supervisor support allows buffering the negative stressors from occurring change (Day et al., 2017). Meanwhile, rewarding acceptance is a tactic that encourages faster transition and garners mass support for the change. Publicly rewarding those that embrace change with a good attitude while doing so (not sowing division in the workforce) can help to limit resistance and reinforce the idea that change represents positive opportunities (Gleeson, 2016).

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Human Resource Practices

HR plays a critical role in organizational change, as it takes on a challenging task of dealing with employee resistance and angst that typically occurs during periods of change. However, for employees to embrace change, they have to understand its purpose and management’s vision that ultimately should benefit the organization, and by extent them personally as well. HR typically oversees initial communication to employees about the changes, utilizing practices that may be fitting to an organization’s culture, such as UPS utilising the PCMs to announce and answer employee questions regarding their IPO, one of the biggest changes a company can undergo. HR can also conduct risk and readiness analysis before change, virtually assessing readiness of an organization to make transitions at the human level and analyzing subsequent impacts. Finally, HR practices include developing training programs and materials that ensure employees have clear guidance regarding the transition in full detail and any work processes that may change with it (SHRM, n.d.).

Conclusion

Based on the discussions presented in this paper, it becomes evident on the critical nature of HR practices in the functionality, operations, and culture of any given organization. It is an aspect that is often overlooked by management, but companies that have been able to adapt successful HR initiatives can achieve vital organizational adaptability and a cohesive culture.

References

Al-Ali, A. A., Singh, S. K., Al-Nahyan, M., & Sohal, A. S. (2017). Change management through leadership: the mediating role of organizational culture. International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 25(4), 723–739.

Day, A., Crown, S. N., & Ivany, M. (2017). Organisational change and employee burnout: The moderating effects of support and job control. Safety Science, 100, 4-12.

Gleeson, B. (2016). 8 steps for helping your employees accept change. Forbes.

Hussain, S. T., Lei, S., Akram, T., Haider, M. J., Hussain, S. H., & Ali, M. (2018). Kurt Lewin’s change model: A critical review of the role of leadership and employee involvement in organizational change. Journal of Innovation & Knowledge, 3(3), 123–127.

Rohman, J., Onyeagoro, C., & Bush, M. C. (2018). How you promote people can make or break company culture. Harvard Business Review.

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SHRM. (n.d.). Managing organizational change.

Soupata, L. (2001). Managing culture for competitive advantage at United Parcel Service. Journal of Organizational Excellence, 20(3), 19-26.

Stewart, G. L., & Brown, K. G. (2019). Human resource management (4th ed.). Wiley.

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BusinessEssay. (2022, September 19). United Parcel Service's Human Resource Practices and Organizational Change. Retrieved from https://business-essay.com/united-parcel-services-human-resource-practices-and-organizational-change/

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BusinessEssay. 2022. "United Parcel Service's Human Resource Practices and Organizational Change." September 19, 2022. https://business-essay.com/united-parcel-services-human-resource-practices-and-organizational-change/.

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BusinessEssay. "United Parcel Service's Human Resource Practices and Organizational Change." September 19, 2022. https://business-essay.com/united-parcel-services-human-resource-practices-and-organizational-change/.