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The purpose of this paper is to show the recruitment and selection procedures of BNSF Railway Company, and their Human Resources Department of dealing with ethical and legal issues and practices. Job recruitment and selection are important for every job and are used for "job analysis and job descriptions for things like training programs, and deciding what types of people to recruit and select for job's within the company." (Dessler, 2011) Human Resources play a significant role in job recruitment and the selection process by helping the company find future hires that will compliment the company as a whole. They are also set up to help develop laws and regulations to keep current and future employees ethical and lawful and make sure the company is treating them right. Human Resources also make sure that a company is not discriminating its employees in anyway. BNSF's vision statement is "to realize BNSF's tremendous potential by providing transportation services that consistently meet our customers' expectations." (BNSF Railway) They choose to follow this vision because they want their employees to share a set of values that listen to their customers, empower one another, and continue to improve by striving to do the right thing both safely and efficiently.
Overview of Dylan Berry
Our group interviewed BNSF's terminal manager, Dylan Berry. He took time out of his busy day to meet with us in this office in downtown Amarillo at the BNSF yard office on Pierce St. Mr. Berry's current job duties are to manage Amarillo's current management team, which includes fifteen trainmasters and four yardmasters. Mr. Berry also has administrative duties that include dealing with local employees and BNSF polices such as attendance, rule violations, and deals with accidents, injuries and rail incidents. Mr. Berry also interviews final round new hires with a Human Resources representative, but is the deciding factor on all hiring and discipline of operating employees in the Amarillo Terminal. At the beginning of his day Mr. Berry creates an operating plan for the Amarillo Terminal which includes servicing local industries and providing general instructions to all daily managers on duty of the entire daily task that need to be completed.
Mr. Berry has been at his current position for one year and six months. He's had many other positions with BNSF, which have all dealt with managing the company's employees and now his current position is to manage the Amarillo location's managers and hourly employees. Mr. Berry has a high school diploma and several hours of college education. Mr. Berry works with Human Resources when an issue arises. He stated that the company's human resources office is based out of Kansas City, Kansas but make themselves' readily available very easily by phone or email. He said that human resources is quick to respond and very good at dealing with the issue at hand which might be a hiring issue or even a personal issue that an employee might be having such as FMLA, personal or family sickness or even grievances with other employees or managers.
Overview of BNSF
BNSF Railway is the top transporter of products and materials that help feed, clothe, supply and power communities throughout the United States. BNSF's headquarters are located in Fort Worth, Texas. They are "the product of nearly 400 different railroad lines the either merged or were acquired over the last 160 years." (BNSF Railway) They employee about 40,000 people and are located in twenty-eight states and two Canadian providences. BNSF is one of North America's leading freight transportation companies with railway networks of 32,500 route miles across the United States.
Recruitment and Selection Processes
The recruiting process begins with Human Resources posts a job vacancy to the BNSF website for the general public to view. The general public can fills out an online application which is viewed and screened by Human Recourses to make sure all the basic requirements are filled before they go to the next step of the review process. A basic requirement is the applicant must have a high school diploma or GED. There are many other requirements that are checked before Mr. Berry gets involved. Once all basic requirements are filled applicants are invited via email to attend an aptitude testing session. If the applicant passes the aptitude test they are once again invited for an in person interview. If the applicant fails the aptitude test they are disqualified from the hiring process and notified via email. If they pass the aptitude test they are rewarded with an interview. During the interview a drug screen is taken and Mr. Berry gets to ask questions and talk to the applicant jointly with a representative from the Human Resource Department while looking at their job history, which is provided by Human Resources. Mr. Berry stated "he has never recalled seeing information such as race, color, religion, sex or national origin on any of the paperwork provided to him from Human Resources," which could cause an issue to arise with Title VII of The Civil Right Act of 1964. (Berry, 2012)
During the interview process every applicant is asked the exact same standard questions and Mr. Berry takes notes and then chooses whom he wishes to have continue on with the hiring process. The structure of interview is standard and meets all legal requirements and Mr. Berry is sure to only ask questions required to assess the applicant's ability to fill the job position he or she is applying for. Human Resources then compile all the information such as background checks, medical history, and other things and then they inform Mr. Berry of the results on each applicant. Mr. Berry informed us that neither he nor does the BNSF Company uses social media, such as Facebook or other web sites, for gathering information on applicants during the hiring process. Mr. Berry than narrows his list of possible new hires using his notes and review of the final applicants and decides who would be a good fit for the job at the Amarillo location, and then informs Human Resources whom he wants to hire.
Once the final applicant is chosen Human Resources then contacts the applicant to discuss location of employment and salary or wages. All non-exempt employees are hired according to union contracts and wages and all exempt employees, which are trainmasters and managers, work under a salary band set up in levels by BNSF according to the position and the experience necessary to fill that position. If the applicant accepts the offer of employment then a start date is set and the process of orientation and training begins.
How the current HRM function operates and their strengths
Mr. Berry stated that the "HRM functions were extremely solid, and the department itself was extremely good." (Berry, 2012) He also indicated that one of the biggest strengths of the department was its process for recruitment and selection, as well as training. The selection department is in depth, with multiple aptitude tests, as well as multiple interviews and orientations. This is good way for Human Resources to see which candidates are actually going to be good a selection for the job listed, and how they will compliment the company because of how intricate the hiring process is. Also, it is very standardized in the fact that all of the tests and interview questions are the exact same, meaning that each potential candidate has a fair chance of landing the job. Another large strength of the HRM department of BNSF Railway is the way they implement their training protocols. According to Mr. Berry, "each employee is subjected to a very formal training program, depending on which position they are in." (Berry, 2012) There are training classes dedicated to each different position at BNSF, making it very specific, and very effective. Along with the training program is the Code of Conduct certification program that is completed each year. This program was implemented by Human Resources to specify certain legal and ethical issues, and to keep the BNSF's top management from discriminating against anyone and to keep them lawful when interviewing candidates. Mr. Berry stated that the "Code of Conduct certification program consisted of reading a very detailed document dealing with HR issues, as well as conflict of interest issues and other ethical and legal issues the top management should be aware of." (Berry, 2012) Once the document has been read and understood, the managers have to take a quiz over the document certifying that they have read the document and understand the Code of Conduct. Finally, they should submit any perceived conflicts of interest that they have with the company, so that these issues are brought to the attention of Human Resources, so the issues can be solved. This, as well as the formal training for the employees, is a very strong and well thought out program, and it seems that the HR department is very thorough in these matters.
The biggest problem with the Human Resource Management function of BNSF was that the employee job descriptions are not updated very regularly. He stated that his job description had been last updated in late 2011, or early 2012. This can have a highly negative effect on the company, especially in the event of a legal issue. Janet Flewelling states "If you don't keep it up-to-date and you have [an employment] claim against you, that non-updated job description can do as much damage as a good one could benefit you. It can work to help in your defense or it can work to help the employee filing the grievance" (Tyler, 2013). This is an accurate statement because job descriptions are, in one way or another, a type of employee 'handbook'. When being hired, a potential employee should always have access to a job description. Job descriptions gives them the guidelines for what their job will consist of, and what they can expect. This being said, if they are not updated regularly, in the event of a legal issue, the employee can use this to their advantage and hurt the company tremendously.
Another issue brought to our attention through Mr. Berry was that the HR Department for BNSF is based out of Kansas City, meaning all human resources work and HR related issues are outsourced. This can be a big problem because it becomes difficult for one department to handle so many HR issues. This can lead to some work and issues not being addressed with full detail, causing more problems to arising.
BNSF should begin taking the steps to find solutions to these problems soon, but without disrupting current operations. The sooner they are able to implement solutions, the sooner they will be able to improve the company as a whole. The first problem identified is that job descriptions are not updated on a regular basis. One reason for this is that there are multiple steps that need to be taken to rewrite a job description and it tends falls on the backburner. The first step to this is forming a job analysis by interviewing current employees and/or supervisors to understand what kind of tasks are performed and what the employee does. From there, an HR manager should be able to put together a full job description with items such as a job summary and the job responsibilities. The easiest solution to this problem would be to update the job description regularly, as in every 6 months to a year, or even more frequent if the job calls for it, or if HR deems it necessary. A simple way of updating these may even be just sending out periodic surveys to the current managers and selected supervisors to note any significant changes. Feedback from managers is incredibly important so in the future they will be able to hire the appropriate people for the right job. They may find that they need to open new positions necessary to improve the company. They may also find that some positions have duplicated tasks and they may be able to combine job descriptions and reduce unnecessary positions. This way the Human Resources Department can stay up to date and if a description needs to be changed they can do it quickly and accurately.
The second issue discussed is the human resource's department is based out of Kansas City. The easiest way to solve this problem would be to hire a human resources representative into each major BNSF facility. This person can handle each major facilities human resources issue quickly and individually, but still be in contact with the corporate human resources department in Kansas City. This would make it less stressful on the corporate HR department, and issues could be looked addressed in full detail, minimizing problems. With our proposed solution of hiring in a Human Resource's Representative into each BNSF branch, the company would be able to communicate HR related issues easier. If each branch had their own representative to go to, branch employees could report to them and that representative could then report to the main Kansas City branch, if needed. Having a HR Representative on site would allow easier access, customer (employee) friendly access, and thereby provide a better service to employees. Being able to have a face-to-face connection with an HR representative would be beneficial to all employees involved. Although, adding that many salaries can be a very high expense for the company as a whole. Another less expensive option would be to have a regional HR Representative based out of the Kansas City office. This representative would travel to each office in its region at regularly scheduled visits. This way, managers will know when the representative will be at their office and they can have a compiled list of concerns ready to be discussed. Another way to keep costs lower would be the cut down on regional representatives visits and add an online self-service HR website. This type of website allows employees to view their benefits, pay history, job descriptions and vacation and sick leave. This would also allow for additional job postings within the company that all employees would have access to viewing.
The interview with Dylan Berry of BNSF Railway Company gave our group a good perspective on how the Human Resource's Department works within the company, and how the company's recruiting and selection procedures are handled. BNSF is driven by people's needs and their satisfaction and expectations.
The common theme of the paper was how the company handles all issues, both legal and ethical, with their HR department and how they recruit and select new hires. Another common theme of the paper is the problems that lie within the hiring processes of BNSF Railway Company, and the solution our group thinks they should consider.
The biggest lessons our group learned is how much of a impact the Human Resources Department has on the hiring and training processes of new employees. Without a proper understanding of what the positions need to be filled, what selection processes should be used, and what job the employees are going to be doing, employees would not have a good understanding of what would is expected of them and how they can effectively contribute to the success of BNSF Railway.