Magazine article Workforce

HR Leaders Stay Close to the Line

Magazine article Workforce

HR Leaders Stay Close to the Line

Article excerpt

GE Fanuc's highly involved workforce is the product of a highly involved HR.

R as strategic partner. Partnering with the line. These are the concepts that will take HR into the 21 st century as we recreate the function. GE Fanuc Automation North America, the product of a joint venture between General Electric Co. and FANUC Ltd. of Japan, shows what such partnering looks like in action. Its High Involvement Workforce (HIWF), made possible by HR, has earned GE Fanuc kudos from former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich as a best-practices company in his Model Workforce Program and attention from President Clinton as a best-practices company for his Workforce 2000 initiatives.

HR displayed its strategic partner status most visibly when, in the early '90s, it assisted the entire workforce in shifting to the HIWF model-which was an HR idea to begin with. The basic premise of HIWF is that those closest to the work have the best ideas for improvements-and so all must be empowered and encouraged to voice opinions and make changes.

The changes HIWF have wrought at Charlottesville, Virginia-based GE Fanuc have been revolutionary. Today, the shop has slimmed from seven layers of management to three. More than 40 work teams set their own goals and measurements based on the overall goals of the business. Each team exits the shop floor for at least an hour a week to measure themselves against their goals and brainstorm new ways to become more effective.

All employees attended more than 100 hours of training to ensure a smooth transition to HIWF. …

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