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Strategic Human Resource Management At Walt Disney Business Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Business
Wordcount: 5446 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Strategic human resource management is defined as the process of linking of HRM with strategic goals and objectives in order to improve business performance and develop organizational cultures that foster innovation. This has to focus towards achieving organizations goals and objectives. At Walt Disney, they are committed to fostering safe, inclusive and respectful workplaces in all their locations, across the globe. They value the fact that their heritage and reputation means they are held to the highest standard of quality, ethics, and social responsibility

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Human resource planning provides the mechanisms through which organizations can ensure that they have the right personnel, who are capable of completing those tasks that help the organization to reach its objectives. Issues such as the recruitment of staff, the retention of staff, developing staff and succession planning, as well as downsizing and relocation, need to be accommodated in human resource plans. The nature of the current ever changing business environment requires adaptable strategic human resource plans. Even at Disney, they need to strategize on how they are managing their Human resources in the current global expansions. Organizations have a range of human resources policies that explain how human resources are managed. In many cases, there is a legal or regulatory requirement that insists on the existence of these policies. The structure and culture of organizations affects human resource management.

At Walt Disney, the culture and HRM policies play a vital role. Managing cross cultures is the key factor of HRM function of the global context. HR policies are very important for any organization as it can also be very effective at supporting and building the desired organizational culture. Through regulatory HR policies, Disney has been able to manage their intellectual property rights across the organization from its employees as well as from the external parties.

Measuring the HRM is as essential as planning it. Various benchmarking and industry norms could be used to measure the same.


1. Definitions of HRM


2. Characteristics and evolvement of HRM approach


3. Human Resource Management Functions


4. Personnel Management and Human Resource Management


5. Strategic Human Resource Management


6. Benefits of HRM strategy for organizations


7. Brief about the company “Walt Disney”


8. Perspective of Walt Disney towards its employees


9. Human Resource Management at Walt Disney towards its objectives


10. Contribution of HRM Strategy towards achieving objectives of Disney


11. Human Resource Planning


12. Business factors which underpins the HR planning at Disney


13. Requirements of HR Planning at Walt Disney


14. Developing a Human Resource Plan


15. How HR plan contributes to meeting Organizational objectives


16. Human Resource Policies


17. Purpose of Human Resource Policies


18. Regulatory requirements of HRM


19. The impact of regulatory requirements on HR policies at Walt Disney


20. Intellectual Property regulations of Walt Disney


21. Organizational Structure and its impact on HRM


22. Structure at Walt Disney


23. Culture and its impact on HRM


24. Monitoring effectiveness of HRM in organizations


25. Recommendations to improve effectiveness of HRM in Walt Disney


26. Conclusion


27. Reference


Definitions of HRM

Human resources could be defined as the total knowledge, skills, creative abilities, talents and aptitudes of an organization’s workforce, as well as the values, attitudes, approaches and beliefs of the individuals involved in the affairs of the organization.

Human Capital refers to knowledge and acquired skills a person has that increase his or her ability to conduct activities with economic value

Human Resource Management has come to be recognized as an inherent part of management, which is concerned with the human resources of an organization. Its objective is the maintenance of better human relations in the organization by the development, application and evaluation of policies, procedures and programmes relating to Human resources to optimize their contribution towards the realization of organizational objectives.

Characteristics and evolvement of HRM approach

The HRM has been evolving throughout the decades and different HR guru’s has come up and suggested different approaches as time goes by.

Scientific Management Approach – Assumed that employees could be motivated by economic benefits and to be managed in a scientific way. However, this ignored social context and employees needs. Compensations were based on performances. “Man” was considered as an “Economic Man”.

Human Relations Approach – Argued that truly effective control comes from within the individual worker rather than from strict authoritarian control. Better relations with the employees could get the work done. In this approach, it was identified that for better performances, better relationships are needed. “Man” was considered as a “Social Man”.

Human Resources Approach – Assumed that jobs to be designed in such a way tasks are not perceived as dehumanizing and allow workers to use their full potential. Employees are considered as resources.

Human Resource Management Functions

In order to achieve the above objectives, Human Resource Management undertakes the various activities which contribute directly as well as indirectly to the success of the organization.

Human resource or manpower planning.

Recruitment, selection and placement of personnel.

Training and development of employees.

Appraisal of performance of employees.

Remuneration of employees.

Social security and welfare of employees.

Setting general and specific management policy for organizational relationship.

Personnel Management and Human Resource Management

In various industries, traditional manufacturing units had personnel managers whereas the services firms have HR managers. Personnel Management was effective in the “smokestack” era and HRM is effective in the 21st century and this definitely reflects a paradigm shift in the practice of managing people. It is clear from the above paragraphs that HRM denotes a shift in focus and strategy and is in tune with the needs of the modern organization. HRM concentrates on the planning, monitoring and control aspects of resources whereas Personnel Management was largely about mediating between the management and employees. Many experts view Personnel Management as being workforce centered whereas HRM is resource centered. In conclusion, the differences between these two terms have to be viewed through the prism of people management through the times and in context of the industry that is being studied.

Strategic Human Resource Management

Strategy can be defined as the company’s long term plan for how it will balance its internal strengths and weaknesses with its external opportunities and threats to maintain a competitive advantage.

SHRM defined as the process of linking of HRM with strategic goals and objectives in order to improve business performance and develop organizational cultures that foster innovation

Benefits of HRM strategy for organizations

Strategic HRM enhances productivity and effectiveness of the organization through succession planning, Effective training systems, result oriented performance evaluations, providing clear job descriptions, attractive compensations, etc.. If effective SHRM is being practice in an organization, such companies can ensure that they have skilled, committed and motivated employees to achieve a sustained competitive advantage. Also through SHRM, its will optimum utilization of resources my allocating the right resources at the right place at the right time. Integrating the SHRM to the business strategy enables organizations to achieve their Goals and objectives in an effective and efficient manner.

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Brief about the company “Walt Disney”

The Walt Disney Company is one of the largest media and entertainment corporations in the world. Founded on October 16, 1923 by brothers Walt and Roy Disney as a small animation studio. Today it is one of the largest Hollywood studios and also owns eleven theme parks, two water parks and several television networks, including the American Broadcasting Company. Disney’s corporate headquarters and primary production facilities are located at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, and currently there are over 150,000 employees working over 40 countries to make the company a success.

Perspective of Walt Disney towards its employees

The Walt Disney Company’s values focus on the human element of their business – not only their guests, consumers and audiences, but also their employees and cast and crew members. Disney is committed to fostering safe, inclusive and respectful workplaces in all their locations, across the globe. They value the fact that their heritage and reputation means they are held to the highest standard of quality, ethics, and social responsibility. For many employees, that is the reason they chose The Walt Disney Company as an employer. And for Disney, it is how they strive to treat their cast members and employees.

Disney views the development of a diverse workforce as a business imperative and a catalyst to achieve better performance. They embrace diversity, in other words, to better serve their consumers by better reflecting the communities they serve. They believe that a diversity of opinions, ideas and perspectives enhances their internal creativity and the company’s vitality. As such, they have been building a workforce representative of the global marketplace in which they operate, while fostering an inclusive environment for their employees and their families.

Human Resource Management at Walt Disney towards its objectives

“It’s not the magic that makes it work. It’s the way we work that makes it magic,” says former Walt Disney World® EVP Lee Cockerell.

According to Lee Cockerell, there are 06 principles Disney follows when managing htier Human resources.

Everyone Is Important – Disney uses the acronym RAVE for Respect, Appreciate, and Value Everyone. Greet people sincerely, reach out to everyone, and be available.

Break the Mold – Disney’s structural changes have opened many opportunities for the company and its employees. Integrating and aligning interlinked department worked well for Disney in the longer run.

Make Your People Your Brand – When hiring, recruit the perfect candidate.

Create Magic Through Training – Training and development is very strong at disney. All new cast members begin with a course called “Traditions.”

Eliminate Hassles – One responsibility of leaders, is to identify problems in the way things are done and act quickly to fix them

Learn the Truth – Great leaders are always in the learning mode. Get out and learn about things and experience them.

At Disney, employees are aware of their prime objectives and they have freedom to think beyond limit and come up with new innovative ideas as they are encouraged to do so by compensating for the new ideas. The company has adopted the phrase “Dream as a team” which works really when in achieving its business objectives. The concept of independency tempered the control over each department. Managers here do the great job of encouraging the imaginers and encourage the average employees to be imaginers. Imaginers have a brainstorming session called “Blue sky” where new and innovative ideas are captured to implement in the future line of the business. Disney president Frank Wells believes that “If a good idea is there. You know it, you feel it, and you do it, no matter where it comes from”.

Contribution of HRM Strategy towards achieving objectives of Disney

The mission of Walt Disney is “”To be the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world”.

Innovative, Creative and Profitable are the key words of this mission statement where the company must consider when strategizing their plans involving business as well as Human recourses development. With the current practices which Disney is initiating and following, I feel that they have identified this need and properly integrated these strategies in order to achieve the objectives. The philosophy of “Dream as a team” sets the initiate amongst all employees to dream bid and work as a team towards those dreams. Also the other initiatives such as “Blue sky” brain storming sessions will also bring out the best of the employees and also it gives an opportunity for them to contribute towards the future of the organization whereby it creates a sense of ownership/belongingness. Another aspect of Disny’s HR strategy is that the employees are very clear and very much aware of their job roles and prime objectives and they have the freedom to think beyond their limit, hence they understand the importance of the same and become very independent and the level of productivity will be on a high level. Also with high concentration given on training and development of its employees, Disny’s employees are well equipped with required technical, professional, managerial/Leadership and other individual career/skill development knowledge.

Human Resource Planning

The process by which management ensures that it has the right personnel, who are capable of completing those tasks that help the organization to reach its objectives. There are 02 types of HR planning’s

Aggregate Planning – Anticipates needs for groups of employees in specific, usually lower level jobs and the general skills employees needs to ensure sustained high performances

Succession Planning – Focuses on key individual management positions that the organization needs to make sure remain filled and the types of individuals who might provide the best fir in these critical positions

Business factors which underpins the HR planning at Disney

There are many factors which contribute for HR planning and some of them are:

The business growth of the organization – according to the annual report of 2011, there has been a revenue growth of 7% and net income growth of 21% than the previous year.

Business change – investing in new of business such as theme parks and animation studio. This requires the employees to be on continuous training cycle.

Labour cost control – Sustained increases in costs of pension and postretirement medical and other employee health and welfare benefits may reduce the profitability of Walt Disney which has work force approximately around 150,000

Location of operations – Disney is planning to expand their global presence hence manpower forecasting and planning is very vital.

Impact of technology – with the new technologies in animation and other related areas, it is important to plan on training the relevant employees on the latest technologies.

Labour market competition – Since Walt Disney has established a strong reputation in the industry as innovative leaders and developing their employees, there will be a situation where these employees would be rated high in the current labour market. Hence retaining them is very vital as they have already invested on them.

Requirements of HR Planning at Walt Disney

Attract and retain the correct number of people required with the appropriate skills and competencies in order to have an effective work force with high productivity.

Anticipate the problems of potential surpluses or deficits of people and make arrangements to recruit/retrench or reassign them other possible areas.

Develop a well trained and flexible workforce, thus contributing to the organization’s ability to adapt to an uncertain and ever changing environment.

Reduces dependence on external recruitment when key skills are in short supply by formulating retention, as well as employee development strategies.

Improve the utilization of people by introducing more flexible systems of work.

Developing a Human Resource Plan

When developing an HR plan, there are 06 steps which should be followed in order to develop an effective and accurate plan.

Step 1: Understanding Corporate Goals & Objectives- initially in is very important to deeply understand the corporate vision, mission, goals and objectives as the HR plan should be aligned with these goals and objectives.

Step 2: Carry out a work force analysis – this assessment is being done to understand the demographics and employment characteristics, skills and competencies, internal workforce trends, etc..

Step 3: Environment scanning – this is to evaluate your environment. It has 02 components.

Internal scanning – Identify internal factors which can influence HR capacity. E.g. geographical change, new policies and regulations, etc..

External scanning – Identify external factors which could influence HR capacity. E.g. Economic growth/decline, Government policies and regulations, etc…

Step 4: Carry out GAP analysis – based on the above assessments, the company has to understand the “GAP” (shortage/surplus) in related to HR. It is important that the company identifies current and future HR needs.

Step 5: Priority setting and work plans – once the strategies and other plans are developed, these must be prioritized and break down in to action plans. For this you need to answer 02 questions.

What are the major human resources priorities?

What strategies will achieve the desired outcome?

Work plans may include strategies on: Recruitment/staffing, Leadership development, Organizational design, Change management, Training & development, Performance management, Competency / Skills development, Values and ethics, Workforce accommodations

Step 6: Measure, Monitor and Report on progress – once the strategies are prioritized and work plans are being auctioned, it is important to monitor the progress being made against the agreed plans. Also proper measurements must be identified and implemented to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation of the strategy. Finally reporting of the progress made is very important as this feedback will allow the management to have a view on the current status.

How HR plan contributes to meeting Organizational objectives

Identifying and rectifying HR gaps’ through the HR planning process can be considered as achieving objectives. Once these GAP’s are being identified, set of objectives must be developed to rectify these GAPS’s. These objectives must have SMART characteristics and must be aligned with the organization’s main objectives. Otherwise the HR objective/plan will not contribute in achieving the organizational objectives. Hence it is important that proper consideration is given and proper analysis is being done prior to setting these objectives.

It is important that the organization has the correct resources allocated to the correct job with correct skills and competencies at the correct time. If this is being dealt with, achieving organizational objectives would be much easier.

Human Resource Policies

Human resource policies are systems of codified decisions, established by an organization, to support administrative personnel functions, performance management, employee relations and resource planning. All organizations have HR policies and there are 2 sets of policies:

Overall policy – This defines how the organization fulfills its social responsibilities for its employees and sets out attitudes towards them. In other words it is an expression of its values or beliefs about how people should be treated.

Specific policies – Specific policies are usually expressed in relation to equal opportunity, managing diversity, age and employment, promotion, work-life balance, employee development, reward, involvement and participation, employee relations, recruitment and selection, new technology, health and safety, discipline, grievances, redundancy, sexual harassment.

Purpose of Human Resource Policies

Drafting company HR policies needs complete understanding about the company’s Business and Operational strategy that includes Vision, Mission, Goals and Objectives.HR Policies are systems that guides the employees and it must be unbiased and transparent. HR policies allow an organization to be clear with employees on the following areas:

The nature of the organization

What they should expect from the organization

What the organization expects of them

How policies and procedures work

What is acceptable and unacceptable behavior

The consequences of unacceptable behavior

Each policy should include all the elements needed for easy revision and effective implementation and must be carefully researched and reviewed before implementing. These should be developed thorough analysis of underlying management issues, and comprehensive legal documentation with clear explanations must be in support for each policy. HR policies are very important for any organization as it can also be very effective at supporting and building the desired organizational culture.

Regulatory requirements of HRM

Human resources management must comply with all employment, health and safety and other relevant legislation applicable to the jurisdiction where the organization operates. This includes federal, state , local and international laws that pertain to various areas of HR such as recruitment, benefits, labor relations, holidays, working hours, grievances, participations, health & safety, working environments and termination. Keeping up-to-date with legislation ensures that the organization remains compliant and avoids costly penalties. Some of these policies: – Employment Act 2008, Employment Relations Act 2004, Work and Families Act 2006, Employment Rights Act 1996, Sex Discrimination Act 1995/1997, Race Relations Act 1992, Race Relations Amendment Act 2000, Equal Pay Act, 1970, Disability Discrimination Acts 1995 and 2005, European Working Time Directive, National Minimum Wage Act 1998, Data Protection Act 1998.

The impact of regulatory requirements on HR policies at Walt Disney

The Walt Disney Company incorporates best-in-class business standards as well as strong HR standards to its business practices. They strive to foster safe, inclusive and respectful workplaces wherever they do business. Disney’s workplace policies and practices include commitments to non-discrimination and freedom from harassment, and require that the Company refrain from knowingly entering into relationships that, directly or indirectly, expose Cast Members and employees to undue health and safety risks, or that use child, prison or forced labor, or other similarly exploitative practices. These policies are detailed in their Standards of Business Conduct. Disney provides its Standards of Business Conduct to employees and periodically provides training to employees on topics covered within the Standards. The company has introduced compliance trainings on various aspects of regulations, including training regarding the Company’s Standards of Business Conduct and ethics, is provided to employees and Cast Members worldwide through the Company’s learning management system known as Disney Development Connection. It is the Company’s intent, through its compliance training, to ensure that all of its employees and Cast Members have the knowledge and training to act ethically and legally, in compliance with the Company’s Standards of Business Conduct.

Intellectual Property regulations of Walt Disney

The Walt Disney Company and its subsidiaries own the intellectual property rights to the characters, brands, titles and properties popularly associated with the Disney name and with Disney’s affiliates. This includes a large number of titles, characters and other elements from Disney’s television programs, feature-length motion pictures, animated productions, publications, games and music. Disney takes the enforcement of these rights very seriously. They protect these rights so that they can continue to provide quality entertainment that measure up to the standards that their audience has come to love and expect. Intellectual Property act – World intellectual property organization (WIPO) is responsible for the promotion of the protection of intellectual property. In EU region, two multi-country arrangements have been made as “Patent Cooperation Treaty” and “European Patent Convention”. Once the patent is approved, the patent had the same effect has a national patent in each individual country designated in the application. In addition, in EU trademark regulation has been approved. These trademark protection is valid for 20 years and is renewable, however if the mark is nor used for five years protection is forfeited

Organizational Structure and its impact on HRM

Organization structure refers to the framework for getting things done. It shapes the behavior of its members. Max Weber (1947) expanded on Taylor’s theories, and stressed the need to reduce diversity and ambiguity in organizations. The focus was on establishing clear lines of authority and control. Weber’s bureaucratic theory emphasized the need for a hierarchical structure of power. It recognized the importance of division of labor and specialization. Weber put forth the notion that organizational behavior is a network of human interactions, where all behavior could be understood by looking at cause and effect.

There are popular 5 types of structures:

Functional – arranging the business according to what each section or department does

Product based – organising according to the different products made

Geographical – geographical or regional structure

Divisional – where different divisions are operated separately

Matrix – the matrix structure groups consists of employees by both function and product

When designing the organization structure, the core business of the company, the business strategy and the operational strategy should be considered and then the structure must be designed. The HR strategy and planning will depend on this structure as the recruitments, succession planning, training and developments, job descriptions and job roles must be aligned to these structures.

Structure at Walt Disney

There are four main divisions to the Walt Disney Company. These divisions include media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, and consumer products. The Walt Disney Company is united by a central CEO and President. He should ensure smooth relations and operations between the multitudes of branches that make up the Walt Disney Company. He should also be responsible for company public image. Disney’s management is primarily split into two units. These units are Corporate and Business Units. Corporate management is management within the overall Walt Disney Company while Business Units deal with the individual branches of the Walt Disney Company.

Culture and its impact on HRM

Culture is not something you can manipulate easily.  Attempts to grab it and twist it into a new shape never work because you can’t grab it”- Prof.John P. Kotter

Organization culture refers to shared values and beliefs that enable members to understand their roles and the norms of the organization. It will enable the organizations to incarnate dominant values that the organization advocates and expects participants to share, such as high product and service quality, low absenteeism, and high efficiency. Culture also can affect the management of organizations through activities such as Decision Making, Safety vs. Risk, Individual vs. Group Rewards, Informal/Formal Procedures and Organizational Loyalty.

When applied to cross cultural management of organizations such as Walt Disney, different corporate and national cultures should be identified and proactive solutions must be developed to ensure compatibility between all parties and its cultures. Training and socializing current employees to be more receivable for the coming alien cultures is very important. At Disney, each of their companies has a unique ability to harness the imagination in a way that inspires others, improves lives across the world and brings hope, laughter and smiles to those who need it most. Together as one team, Disney employees embrace the values that make The Walt Disney Company an extraordinary place to work. “Innovation, quality, community, storytelling, optimism, and decency” are values which they value most and try to incorporate in everything they do.

Monitoring effectiveness of HRM in organizations

There is no point in implementing Human Resource Management policies if some measure of their effectiveness is not made. Feedback must be provided to managers to see how the HR management is working and where improvements can be made. For these separate KPI’s must be developed for the HR department and industry norms or benchmarking could be obtained for this purpose. There are several methods of measuring the effectiveness of HRM policies. The most popular of these are – Absenteeism Rates, Staff turnover or labour turnover, Productivity of departments and individuals, Bench marking HR practices, Customer satisfaction surveys, Employee satisfaction surveys, early leavers’ rate, staff welfare.

Recommendations to improve effectiveness of HRM in Walt Disney

Looking at the current context of HR practices at Walt Disney, it is noted the current HR practice which is in place is somewhat effective and above the industry norms. Especially the training and development of the employees stands out from all other organizations in the world.

However there are some areas where Disney could improve their HR management and one major factor is Disney still having a high employee turnover rate. If they could manage this high turnover rate, it will allow them to curtail their recruitment cost as well as training and induction cost of new employees.

Also it was noted that at Disney, all employees are not being given the equal opportunity as employees are routinely assigned to jobs according to age and appearance, a process which is officially known as “casting”. The most “presentable” get the most popular “front-line” jobs and the best shifts. Others get the remaining work allocations. E.g. – old ladies sell the merchandise, old men work in security, Haitian women work in housekeeping, Puerto Rican young people work in food services and preparation, African-Americans work as cooks or stewards or in food preparation.

At Disney, there is only one Service Trade Council Union (STCU), a consortium of six unions, is the only workers’ organization recognized by the Walt Disne


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