Changes in many industries are occuring in an effort to increase productivity. Re-designing jobs, integrating information technology, and increasing HR training efforts are all critical. One example illustrates what happens when jobs and work are changed.
R. R. Donnelley is a leading U.S commercial printing firm. One of its primary facilities is in Roanoke, Virginia, where 3.5 million books a month are produced with about 300 employees. To improve productivity and profitability, Donnelley focused on lowering costs, improving workplace safety, and reducing errors. Because making numerous changes was likely to increase employees' concerns, significant time and effort were spent communicating with employees about the need for change, improvement in quality, and higher productivity. Training for all employees on quality and workflow changes was conducted that focused on specialized methods such as Six Sigma and other process improvement means. In addition, greater use was made of digital technology to receive and make printing film and plates, which changed numerous jobs at the plant and required employees to learn a number of new methods and technologies.
The payoff of these changes is seen in a number of ways. The production time for printing four-colour books has been cut by 50% or more. Productivity is up 20% in the past three years. In fact, the increase in productivity has been great enough that Donnelley did not have to set up an additional production line, saving millions of Dollars. For Donnelley employees, their fears that Roanoke plant might close were reduced. They have been trained in new technology, have changed jobs, and work in highly successful plant.
1. Discuss why Donnelley had to coordinate HR activities with the changes in jobs and work.
2. Identify examples of how technology has changed jobs, and which HR activities were handled well and which poorly.