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The performance appraisal at Interdean is a process performed on an annual basis, all the employees have a meeting with their relevant superior in order to discuss the performance through, the performance appraisal takes place usually in March.
Interdean takes seriously all the performance appraisal process; according to the HR director: the performance appraisal helps the manager (reviewer) encourage the development of skills and capabilities that are required in the company.
Interdean is actually using a 360 degree feedback where all the stakeholders of certain position take part of the performance review; according to Peter Ward:
'The 360 degree feedback has become popular recently because of changes in what organizations expects of their employees, increasing emphasis on performance measurement, changing managing concepts and more receptive attitudes.'
The performance appraisal in my company is being held once a year on the month of March; although for the new hires, the company evaluates the performance after the initial three months; I wouldn't call a performance appraisal but the new hire receive a one side feedback from a direct manager and this is internally called as a "trial period" where the new hire has to meet the company's expectation.
The appraisal is leaded by a direct manager, during the appraisal meeting the employee and the manager discuss the issues below.
Note that the appraisal is mainly valid for the employees of the company; I wanted to highlight this because since the nature of the business is relocation, the organization works with many different providers (housing providers, hotels, embassies, etc.) therefore the organization is permanently using third parties to complete some services; these third parties are not being evaluated individually but the manager or the supervisor opinion is always relevant to either maintain or improve the level of service.
Administrative issues - Where the manager and the employee identify opportunities to improve, in this point the manager address any training requirement.
Developmental issues - The manager tries to understand what are the employee's goals and based on this both need to define a path to achieve the employee development.
Compensation issues - The manager explain to the employee what is going to be the new salary increase taking into consideration salary levels in the organization and in the industry.
The appraisal meeting takes about one hour and normally takes place in a private environment.
During this meeting the manager takes notes and by talking about the items above both discusses learning and training opportunities to achieve a common goal.
Once the meeting ended the manager gather all the information and include comments in the review, the employee can see this review a day after and then the employee needs to sign electronically confirming that the performance appraisal meeting has been done and what is included in the system has being discussed with the manager.
The assessment of the employee can fall in any of the following categories: Outstanding, above the average, average, below average.
I can sump up that the performance appraisal in this organization is taken for consideration in terms of promotion decisions, human resources planning, human resources development.
I highly believe the organization is following an effective performance review and it's helping to improve the employee and the group performance.
Recommendations for improvement
Although the process has been implemented five years ago I believe that the following improvements have to be followed:
Using the internal appraisal system as a new employee is considerable difficult because of the lack of explanation of some terminology so I suggest to create a booklet or a manual which should contain a definition of some of the terms used in the system.
The system is friendly and it's easy to go through to the process however the time limitation is a constraint, the user has complete the performance review by the end of March; however the assessed employee always get the initial feedback the last week of March therefore the time sometimes is not enough when you have queries about a specific evaluation; I believe the company can increase for a week the process so the employee can have more time to coordinate a feedback discussion with the relevant supervisor/manager.
Unfortunately the tool is only available in the company's intranet due to security and privacy issues; I highly believe the organization can take these items into account and allow the employee to access to the performance review system from any external source via internet using a secure website or portal.
thE COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS
The studied organization has a defined compensation program based on levels and bands that are being evaluated on a yearly basis, each band or level has a related compensation and bonus scheme as below:
The level of compensation has been designed taking into consideration the role that each employee is doing, after a job analysis is done a certain level of compensation is assigned.
The levels below six are not considerable for bonus purposes; however all the levels are considered for the indirect compensation program in the company.
In the following paragraphs I am going to explain what the company's indirect and direct compensation approaches are.
In order to determine a compensation level the company uses benchmark and this ensures that the pay levels determined by the organization are not extraordinarily misaligned with the market practice.
According Lance A. Berger in his book The Compensation Handbook:
'The compensation benchmark provides useful insights on compensation administration and pay delivery practices such as prevalence in practice in the use of different types of compensation, performance measures, performance results, benefit plan design and compensation administration guidelines'.
The indirect compensation includes the following items:
Holidays- The employee is entitle to twenty four vacation days per year; note that these holidays are pro rata so if an employee starts in July the number of days will be different.
Flex Benefit- The employer is offering a program called "Flex Benefit" for all the employees which covers a private medical plan and a life plan.
Company car - This benefit is only available for level nine and onwards, it's a taxable benefit but the company bares its cost, note that the employee can elect to take cash allowance instead of a company car; if that's the case the employee should bare the tax liability. The company car levels vary based upon the seniority of the employee.
Parking - The Company provides a free parking to all the employees during business hours.
Note that the items above are considered as fringe benefits, according to Brian Ashwell,
'There are three elements essentials to a benefit being held to be a fringe benefit, first there must be a benefit, second the benefit should be provided by the employee. Finally the benefit must not be excluded under the fringe benefit tax provision'.
Recommendations for improvement
As explained above, the bonus scheme is only for those employees above the level six, I highly believe the company should start considering a low bonus program for some of the levels below the sixth; this would help some employees to perform better and get a compensation related to the company's performance.
Although the salary levels include the concept of promotion and demotion, the last concept is hardly used; I believe the company should use it in exceptional circumstances based on the current economic climate and the performance of the employee.
TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT
The company takes seriously the training and development, training is related to acquiring new skills and development is related to the extension of skills, in the following lines I will explain the delivery method used by the organization to implement the training and the development.
In 2007, Interdean introduced theÂ Interdean AcademyÂ and opened its Interdean Academy training centre which is now located in Brussels, Belgium. The Interdean Academy's training programmes have been written by Interdean's HR and training team, who are also qualified trainers. The programmes are designed to cover all areas of the relocation service and for all areas of the business. In a time where most businesses are cutting back, Interdean is bucking the trend. With its entire staff enrolled at the Interdean Academy, and their own training and development schedules in place, Interdean is looking to the future.
Based on the words of the CEO, James Collins who was a key part of the implementation of the Interdean Academy
'The consistency and standards of our business are defined by the attitudes, knowledge and skills of our people. The Interdean Academy, our processes and our Mobius Continual Improvement programme are therefore critical to ensuring long term customer satisfaction.'
The company uses different approaches to perform the training and development of its employees; in the following lines I am going to analyze all these approaches:
The employee is given prescribed lists of articles or books to read in relation to specific topics. My organization is using this approach as a previous step to the formal training, and taking as an example new employee who is going to work packing household goods the reading material is given a week before the formal training; the content of the reading material is related to security measures and plans for emergency exits.
I believe that reading can be a very passive way of learning; according to Michael Pots,
'Scanning text doesn't necessarily lead to absorption by the brain; supplementary activities such as marking text or making notes are often encouraged as a way of reinforcing the learning'.
Although the above methodology is considered as passive I also think that it's a very flexible methodology because this can be done in different locations.
The lectures are organized by the management and usually given to a group between ten and twelve employees. The lectures are prepared using the multimedia facilities of the company.
Interactive Training - Online
This methodology is mainly used by most of the employees at Interdean, there are some mandatory trainings that have to be taken on a yearly basis (Ethical training) and some other optional trainings available at anytime.
Interactive training comprises the individual interacting with a PC, the specific program goes through various scenarios and invites the learner to follow certain steps and choose an answer, the option selected affects the outcome and this is fed back to the learner.
The topics covered by this methodology are wide, from learning how to use Microsoft word to dealing with different case scenarios.
Recommendations for improvement
Although the company has invested a high amount of resources in the creation of the Interdean academy this is not being used by all the employees and it is being used mainly for personnel working directly with the import and the export department where a clear legislation is vital for the day to day work. I think the company can promote the use of this online tool by uploading new courses and sending email invitations to different areas of the business.
I think the organization could increase the selection of courses frequently, at the moment the courses are being changed or updated once a year; however a higher frequency could create more interest in the employees.
Recruitment is so far a key HR function for the organization, the roles in the mobility industry are usually well known and the recruitment process is considered difficult for senior positions because the demand is very specific and the experience can only gained in a few countries: UK, US or Singapore.
According to the American Management Association,
'Recruitment is the process of sourcing qualified applicants to meet the employment needs of an organization.'
Interdean always try to source the resource needs internally when its possible; however in case the company requires to go to the market to acquire talent they usually use specialized webpages (www.relocate.co.uk) or diverse groups in Linkedin.
I just wanted to point out that the company only uses external recruitment to recruite talent when the they don't find internal resources available; recruitment and selection work together and basically both functions are focus in find an ideal candidate to perform a specific job and help him/her to become effective as quickly as possible.
I believe that the recruitment process starts when the organization creates the position and assign a specific level/band; once the position has been created the organization needs to create attraction from applicants; they usually do it via the internal website, secondly the recruitment team selects the best candidates and then they offer a role to the most qualified candidate and negotiate with the employee the terms and conditions of the labor contract. Although some people might think the process ends here, in reality at Interdean the process continues with an induction and then a performance review after the third month.
I've included an example of how the company adds job postings outside and inside the organization, in this case using Linkedin and the company's corporate webpage as main tools:
Recommendations for improvement
Although the company takes the recruitment process seriously they are not auditing the final process, what I am trying to say is that if an employee leaves the organization it might be a signal that something is not working during the recruitment process, what I suggest is having in place an exit interview where the organization can outline the reasons of the resignation formally.
Interdean has a defined induction process for each position, in my personal case the induction length was two weeks and involved several meetings with different members of the organization; most of the meetings were informal but I had two formal meetings; one was with my direct director and the second one with the members of my team.
The induction process is by definition according to David Evans in his book Supervisory management:
'Is a process by which a newcomer to an organization is introduced to his job and integrated into the work group to which he or she belong, in such a way that the newcomer settles down into a productive, efficient and satisfied employee. At the same time, the newcomer's new colleagues have to accept the new employee into the group.'
In the studies organization the induction process included detailed information about the entrances and emergency exits and I wanted to highlight this issue because the company has a household goods warehouse in the surroundings of its offices which contains lots of flammable materials, my induction included a guided tour in the warehouse and although I don't work directly with that team I found it useful.
In general I can summarize that my induction process included the following information: Information about the entrances and exits, Location of fire appliances, departmental safety rules, locations of toilets; in addition to the safety information I was also told the role that I will play in the company and the also allocated a "buddy" in my team who was mainly elected to help me in the process.
Recommendations for improvement
I highly believe that the induction process at Interdean is highly complex and helpful but I experienced the return of a colleague who was on maternity leave for about ten months and she experienced some difficulties adapting herself to the new system and the new procedures implemented in the company so I think the organization can offer an induction package to returning employees also.
career planning and development
Planning a career in an organization is something that creates ties to the employee in a long term basis and helps create commitment to the organization therefore I believe that a career path is essential for the success of a company ; according to William J. Rothwell in his book Career Planning:
'Succession planning consists of a systematic, long term approach to meeting the present and future talent needs of an organization to continue to achieve its mission and meet or exceed its business objective.
Nowadays we are facing insecurity caused by layoffs and downsizing which marks a lack of control over the employee's career goals, I believe the current economic situation creates insecurity to the employees and that's why more than ever, the organizations should offer a clear career planning to all its members.
In my chosen organization the career planning process has been implemented four years ago; according to the HR Director, Paul Kernohan who worked in the implementation process stated that the main reason for implementing this methodology was to offer on a first stage an international career option; since the company relocates people globally they have all the knowledge to do this inside the organization as part of a career progression plan; during the last year, the company had one hundred twenty expatriates working in Europe based on secondment agreements.
The career planning in my organization includes different factors; one of the main important factors is personal interest of the employee, the organization recognizes that the interest of an employee changes over the time and that's why the career plan is being revised every year during the performance review process.
To sump up, I think the company is offering an excellent program with a unique international approach in its industry.
Recommendations for improvement
The organization has recently implemented a clear career plan for all the employees, the employee's goals are usually discussed during the performance review process and entered into the HRIS system; at this moment there is an option to choose taking your career internationally which is clearly one of the main advantages of this program; although the career planning is working at the moment I reckon that this option should be available for the temporary employees and not only for all the permanent employees.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Interdean takes safety seriously since the premises in London have office and a warehouse where workers can suffer injuries from the incorrect operation of forklifts and by products that are not stacked correctly, I wanted to point out that the warehouseÂ environmentÂ is particularly at risk for fires when safety practices are not followed. Warehouses are enclosed spaces with many materials that can catch on fire (i.e. cardboard boxes, lumber, straw and other packing materials). Because of the risk of fire, chemical spills and other hazardous conditions in the warehouse Interdean train these employees in the proper use of lockout procedures and in the correct way to evacuate the building in the event of a fire.
Note that the health and safety procedures are also being followed by the people working in the offices, Interdean organize periodical alarm test where employees have to evacuate the building following standard procedures.
I want to point out that during the induction process to all the new joiners Interdean also prepares a guided tour through the warehouse where the new joiner wears special protective equipment when they are being introduced to the main security concepts and rules.
Even though the company takes the responsibility of educating its employees about the health and safety issues they also emphasize that it's the employee responsibility; the best way to reflect this shared responsibility is with the following phrase that was handled in one of the walls of the warehouse:
'Employees have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health, safety and welfare at work, and that of others who may be affected by their acts or omissions'
To sump up, Interdean International Relocation has just attained OHSAS 18001 accreditation which is the esteemed and internationally recognised assessment specification for occupational health and safety management systems, I have included a graph below where the company announced this achievement to all the employees.
According to its corporate webpage, Interdean's dedicated Health & Safety management team have worked hard to achieve the qualification, realising that, in a competitive relocation market, customers are looking for more than just keen pricing from their suppliers.
The organization is conscious about high Health & Safety standards as a requisite for success and I believe Interdean is able to demonstrate that its businesses are managed efficiently and responsibly.
Recommendations for improvement
The company has a serious commitment with health and safety and the rules are being respected by the employees; although this is in place I usually find hard to find an special chest required to get inside the warehouse; sometimes employees from other departments have to go to the warehouse to coordinate a client's special requirement and frequently the employee needs to wait until there is a chest available (this is because the warehouse has a limit of "visitors" at the same time), I believe the company could increase this limit.
By working at Interdean I can personally say that people in general are motivating with their role, from my personal experience I can say that the team I work with tries to accomplish a common goal by providing a high level of customer services to our stakeholders, something that it's important to mention is that there is a time during the year which is called a "busy season" where all the employees in my area have to work long hours, the busy season last for about two months and it's difficult to accomplish all the goals during this season if the team is not motivated.
The company prepares an annual evaluation questionnaire where all the employees have the opportunity to provide feedback about the organization, in this particular questionnaire the organization has included many questions about personal motivations and the main purpose of this tool is using the outcome to evaluate what needs to be improved in every office in Europe.
Interdean is actually measuring the motivation of an employee taking into account the following factors that are measured once a year during the performance review process:
Amount of work
Measuring the amount of work in my area it is a relatively straight forward process since we work for different clients allocating certain amount of time to each one, sometimes we have more work to do with a specific client and collaboration between teams is a clear prove of the motivation in the workplace.
Every piece of work prepared for a client is carefully revised by the direct manager, the effort included in certain project is directly reflected in the final piece of work, if the final product has a high quality then the manager won't spend much time reviewing and making corrections.
At Interdean the employees need to be positive about what they do by getting a sense of satisfaction from their work and enjoying the time working with a specific team.
Recommendations for improvement
The current economic situation has affected the company directly and therefore some positions have been made redundant which elevates the level of stress in the employees; as a direct result the amount of work, effort and enjoyment decreased by the middle of 2008; however by the beginning of 2009 the organization opened new positions which could be interpreted as a new growing cycle; I believe the organization should implement a clear communication program during any eventual downsizing cycle and somehow maintain the motivation of most employees.