2015 ICM Problem C：Managing Human Capital in Organizations
Building an organization filled with good, talented, well-trained people is one of the keys to success. But to do this, an organization needs to do more than recruit and hire the best candidates – they also need to retain good people, keep them properly trained and placed in proper positions, and eventually target new hires to replace those leaving the organization. Individuals play unique roles within their organizations, both formally and informally. Thus, the departure of individuals from an organization leaves important informational and functional components missing that need to be replaced. This is true for sports teams, commercial companies, schools and universities, governments, and almost any formal group or organization of people.
Human resource (HR) specialists help senior leadership manage personnel by improving retention and motivation, coordinating training, and building good teams. In particular, leaders seek to create an effective organizational structure, where people are assigned to positions appropriate to their talents and experience, and where efficient communication systems are in place to facilitate development of innovative ideas and quality products (commodities or services). These talent management and team building aspects of HR management are remaking many modern organizations.
Managing the fluid network of human capital within an organization requires understanding personnel loyalties to the company and to subgroups; building trust in the workplace; and managing the formation, dissolution and retention of formal and informal ties between people. When people leaving for other jobs or retiring are replaced, the resulting turbulence is collectively termed organizational “churn”. Your team has been asked by your HR manager to develop a framework and model for understanding churn within the Information Cooperative Manufacturing (ICM) organization of 370 people.
ICM is in a highly competitive market place, leading to challenging issues related to effectively managing its human capital.
The HR manager wants to map the human capital in the organization by building a network model. Here are some issues your company faces:
- ICM aims to identify the risk of churn in its early stages, as it is cheaper to gain the loyalty of an employee early in their carreer rather than have to improve the culture once it has soured. It is more productive to have a motivated workforce from the start rather than having to provide incentives to prevent people from leaving.
A worker is more likely to churn if he or she was connected to other former employees who have churned. Thus churn seems to diffuse from employee to employee, so identifying those that are likely to churn is valuable information to prevent further churning.
One HR issue is matching employees to the right position such that their knowledge and abilities can be maximized. Currently each employee gets an annual evaluation based on performance as judged by the supervisor. These ratings are currently not used by the HR office.
ICM recognizes that middle managers (JuniorManagers,Experienced Supervisors, Inexperienced Supervisors) often feel stuck in their jobs with little opportunity to advance, causing them to leave the company when they find a comparable or better job. These mid-level positions are critical ones that unfortunately suffer high turn-over (twice the average rate of the rest of the company) and seem to need filling all the time.
Recruiting good people is difficult, time consuming and expensive. ICM usually has only 85% of its 370 positions filled at any time and, because of administrative delays and office capacity and internal promotions, the HR office is actively hiring about 8-10% of the ICM positions (about 2/3 of the current vacancies).
In order to move up into the higher management-level positions, people are currently required to have several years of experience in the company at specific levels and types of positions. This can pose major obstacles for the HR department.
The churn rate has been increasing steadily, especially for middle managers. The ICM HR manager sees this as the biggest challenge the company faces. The CEO panicked when hearing that the current churn rate is 18% per year.
Because ICM is always worried about being short-handed, margin al and poor employees are allowed to stay on in an attempt to lower the churn and, therefore, very few employees are relieved or fired. This results in lower quality employees who often stay with the company for a full career. This quality issue is causing concern with the management, but no one seems to have a solution.
Your organization is proud of its modest CEO-to-worker salary ratio (i.e.,the CEO salary is approximately 10 times the median of the salaries of all the employees in the organization as compared to hundreds of times the median as found in many companies).
The ICM HR manager has recently put together a comprehensive organizational graph (Figure 1) and detailed statistics describing the basic structure, staffing, recruiting costs, training costs, and salaries of the company employees (Table 1). The company has never conducted any analyses, modeling or simulation of the HR functions of the company. Therefore, she feels that now is the time to automate and analyze the HR elements of ICM using network science.