Herman Miller Company was founded in 1923. It studies, designs and manufactures innovative solutions for the office furniture, providing the work for individuals around the world. Herman Miller is a global company that has sales offices and dealers in over 40 countries in the North America, Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America. The main office is located in Zeeland, state Michigan (Nelson-Horchler, J. 1991).
Since 1986, due to the research carried out by FORTUNE, the company has been recognized as one of the best companies, and has been included to the list of the 500 most respected companies in the world. Herman Miller Company pays much attention to its service, warranty and timing. In addition, it is known to be an innovator in the field of the furniture design and a provider of environmental products. Due to its unique design, the company`s profit constitutes $1.6 billion in 2011 (HMC 2011).
Having the good name in the world marketing system, the company pays much attention to the human resources. The special subdivisions were created to control the field of human recourses. Thus, the implied strategies have three main tasks: to build employee capabilities, to build employee commitment and to improve the professional capabilities (DePree 1987).
Building employee capability is the essential part in organizing the high quality work in the company. This goal demands a systematic managing treatment in order to improve the major workforce planning. The general mistake of other companies is hiring the great amount of people without checking their building capabilities. Herman Miller Company, in order to avoid the further inconveniences with the workers, checks carefully the workers’ ability in resource management, performing management, communication and working in the team (Meyer & Allen 1991).
Building employee commitment is another key to success. According to O`Reilly and Chatman, commitments is “the psychological attachment felt by the person for the organization; it will reflect the degree to which the individual internalizes or adopts characteristics or perspectives of the organization” (O’Reilly & Chatman 1986). Employee commitment includes the commitment to support the main strategies and the goals of the company, and the commitment to retrain the membership of the workers (Angle & Perry 1981). According to Meyer and Allen the employee commitment is the key to success because of “employee’s emotional attachment, identification, and involvement in the organization; an awareness of the costs associated with leaving the organization; and a feeling of obligation to continue employment” (Meyer & Allen 1991).
Improving the professional capabilities is the last key to the company`s success. The worker can be employed without the skills needed to complete the task. The variety of techniques that improves the professional capabilities will lead to the development of the individual worker, and, as a result, company`s development in general (Nelson-Horchler 1991).
To conclude, Herman Miller Company is in the process of its constant developing due to the right human resource management strategies, which are greatly implied in the general production.
Building Employee Capability
Employee Competency Identification and Development
Employee Competency is the core aspect of the mentioned strategies. In order to have the sustainable development, this aspect should be taken to consideration (Morrison 1981). That is why; Herman Miller Company has recently organized the whole model on the development and identification of the employee competency. The model has been already completely used in all the subdivisions in the company. It is used in selection, performance, development and recruitment offices (Herman Miller Inc. 2011).
The workers have been provided with the special courses that develop their competency. These courses are based on improving the professional knowledge and skills of the workers. The specific objectives of these trainings are: ensure effective implementation of new tasks; improve the level of flexibility of management; promote the willing to become the leader; develop new professions; increase discharge and employees` adaption to new techniques and technologies. The main objectives of these programs are to teach employee to think independently, solve complex problems and organize good work in the team. The programs provide knowledge that goes beyond the position and form desire to learn. The peculiarity of them is that workers that already have some knowledge and practical skills to do their job can relate to critical educational material and evaluate their work from the new perspective (Zaun 2007). Planning of trainings is based on the analysis of the work according to the following steps: defining the basic requirements (presently and in the future); analysis of existing skills and knowledge; simulating the profile of existing skills, identifying differences, training needs and priorities (Schlosser 2006).
As a result, this model will be intended to all levels in the company. Thus, each sector of the company will improve its knowledge and develop its competence; this can help the firm to become more competitive. In addition, according to the calculations of the experts, the effectiveness of investment in this program is up to 800% (Herman Miller Inc. 2011).
Building Employee Participation
Participation of workers' representatives in the management of organizations is an important element of political stability in the modern market society. Necessary condition for equitable cooperation between labor and capital is considered to be one of the manifestations of social partnership (Blake & Mouton 1986). However, the idea of industrial democracy has been recognized by Herman Miller Company not immediately: it was necessary to overcome the traditional approach to relationship between employees and employers as the relationship of confrontation, and create the new one. Democratization of all spheres of life has raised the question about the necessity of partnerships between employers and employees at the enterprise level (DePree 1987).
Recently Herman Miller Incorporation had created the program under the name EVA (economic value added) (Birchard 2011). This program is recognized to be the significant step in the HRM of the company. What is more, HM spends much effort in building employee participation. The right of workers to participate in the management system in HMI can be realized in two main ways:
1) directly (at a meeting, conference, by submitting proposals to the employer, etc.);
2) through their representative bodies (other workers that were elected at a general meeting as representatives) (McClory 1985).
Workers in the management of organization are primarily engaged in the development of the views of the employer and decision-making on issues related to the labor in organization, the definition of the terms and conditions, and other issues in the workplace. According to HM`s policy the building employee participation in the company has lots of advantages. Firstly, worker participates in decision making process and this directly affects him/her. It can lead to increasing productivity and a decreasing level of confrontation between the leaders of organization and its staff. Moreover, understanding the methods and forms of worker participation in management helps to evaluate a wide range of issues related to relationships at work and organization in the industrial society. Secondly, this policy improves the quality of the employee`s work. The main strategy is that when the person feels him/herself needed in the company, he/she will become the one who is needed (Meyer & Allen 1991). Different treatment will lead to different attitude. According to the recent statistic, 84% of HM workers in Zeeland considered themselves as very important figures in the company, moreover, 91% of them believed, that they can make changes to the company’s policies and general organizational system (Herman Miller Inc. Annual report).
Building Business Literacy
HMI takes to consideration the fact that in order to have qualified workers in the team the process of building business literacy should be improved. Thus, the company provides its employees with lots of training programs and courses to develop their business skills.
Already mentioned program EVA, has variety of sources that teach the basic leaders skills for superior workers and business concepts studies for inferior workers. What is more, EVA program is going to be extended due to the results of the recent survey, which was carried out among the workers. 69% out of the responded said that they are interested to receive advice and training in the area of personal finance in the workplace. Another research question was: “How does a person want to receive counseling at work?” The results are the following (Herman Miller, Annual Reports):
- consultation by e-mail in real time (44.8%);
- placement of articles on various issues of personal finance on the corporate portal companies (43.1%);
- personal consultations in the office (39.7%);
- seminars (34.5%);
- distribution of books and pamphlets on personal finance to employees, free of charge (29.3%);
- consultation by telephone (27.65%).
It turns out, that most of the employees prefer the distance education. Most likely this is due to confidentiality issues. People do not want to admit that they poorly understand some issues. What is more, it is very convenient. The other statement that can be done judging from the survey is that personal counseling was more important than the telephone and seminars. That is why, it can be considered that the strategies of building business literacy in Herman Miller Company soon would be changed. Herman Miller Company stresses on the necessity of building business literacy for the several reasons. Firstly, the employee should always think about cost optimization. Employee should be always aware of new strategies in the business market and be able to evaluate them. Secondly, today`s marketing business opens new problems and difficulties in operating the business, that is why for the superior workers it is essential to find the right approach to the inferior one and lean the basic leading strategies. According to HM Company, building business literacy is one of the major keys in developing the competitive business (Meyer & Allen 1991).
Building Employee Commitment
Creating a “Corporate Community”
Since the first purchase that was done in 1923 year HMI had created the basic ethic principles it their company (McClory 1985). All the working process was based on the religious issues and according to the moral principles. The same policy is implied today. One of the tasks of the company is to create a “Corporate Community” through strong values and the sense of commitment. According to Herman Miller`s policy, the sense of commitment is the core aspect in this field. Experience shows that most workers do not even know what impact they have on the perception of the buyer of the company where they work. The statistic carried out by HMI shows that the internal image has very important influence on the buyer. The negative internal image means inevitable loss of customers and loss of company reputation in general. Correct the negative image of the company is very hard. Thus, the researches show that the preservation of the loyal customer is worth five times less than acquiring of a new one (Herman Miller, Annual Reports). That is why, the team spirit of employees and high morality determines weather the company will gain the success or not.
In order to keep good image, HMI had created the document under the title “Blueprint for Corporate Community”. In this document the main principles for workers are described. Due to this document there are few main values in the company (McCowan 1999):
- to make great contribution to the customer`s service;
- to cultivate community and participate in people development;
- to create the economic values for employees and investors;
- to use new design and innovations;
- to live in respect to the environment.
What is more, Herman Miller Company respects its workers. The company promotes the workers well-being, pursues reduction of illnesses and risks for life, and promotes safety knowledge and health awareness. Thus, according to Herman Miller`s statistic, the injury rate for 2009-2010 per 100 workers was 2.8%. The same rate in average industry was 5.9% (HMC 2011). As a result of worker`s good treatment, the company gains positive internal image, which has a great influence on the customer. The workers have very strong feeling of belonging that makes positive impact on the general development.
Environmental Protection and Community Responsibilities
As a manufacturer of furniture, HMI is well aware of the responsibility for the environment. The company has developed an environmental policy, which is based on the commitment to reducing and preventing the environmental pollution. The company attaches the great importance to the open and transparent environmental policy. Thus, all interested parties are aware of the latest environmental regulations and managements of environmental aspects in the company. In addition, it has developed the system of procedures and mechanisms, which informs its partners and customers about the requirements of environmental policy (McCowan 1999).
Firstly, the electricity is taken from the renewable energy, which reduces its carbon footprint by 50%. In order to reduce the carbon footprint, in 2010, HMI signed the act and became carbon neutral to 2020 year (HMC 2011). According to HMI report, “the Herman Miller Energy Center generates 100 percent of the steam needed by Zeeland Main Site’s manufacturing operations of which 92 percent comes from the incineration of wood waste” (HMC 2011).
Herman Miller Incorporation has good collaboration with the variety of universities, colleges and schools where the information about environmental issues is provided. As an employer, the company also provides education on environmental issues among the employees and their families. One of the initiatives in the field of education is “An Environmental Management Program” aimed to train the workers and administrative staff to behavior according to its environmental polices. HMI has developed a set of guidelines which give the accurate description of the rules and instructions for each operation. To assess the environmental safety of each working section, the company regularly invites representatives from external control bodies (Public Service & Merit Protection Commission 2001).
Improving the professional capabilities of the HR function itself
Competently delivering the HR “fundamentals”
Herman Miller Company has its internal strategy in creating HR fundamentals. Firstly, the company has realized that for the worker it is not enough to be qualified in the field of his/her expertise. What is more, in the current industry the personal skills are more important. That is why, Herman Miller Incorporation has organized the main steps in creating HR fundamentals. HMI has created the special interview blanks for the workers in order to define their general competence. It has carried a strategy on improving the worker`s behavior and personality on the basis of the moral principles of the company. The company underlines the necessity to estimate the workers responsibilities. Finally, the worker is considered to be taken on the given position (McCowan 1999). These steps allow to form proper staff and receive more productivity in the workplace.
This scheme works very well in the company. This can be proofed by the recent facts, according to which, the recent introduced system EVA has increased the workers` productivity by 45% previous year, more than 78% of workers said that after implementation of EVA program they become more confident doing their work and received more satisfaction from it (Wenger, McDermott & Sydney 2002).
Developing Innovative Partnerships with Suppliers
Important question in the Herman Miller strategy is developing innovative partnership with suppliers. The focus is made on the profitability and the conveniences of the partnership. The company has binary focused collaboration: with the already developed countries and companies and with the companies and countries in the process of developing. The well known partnership is with Stern Stewart consulting company. There are lots of advantages of this collaboration: the companies are well known, thus they advertize each other; Stem Steward provides Herman Miller Incorporation with the new technologies that are greatly implied to EVA program, Herman Millers Incorporation, in its turn, is a big and long-standing customer (Birchard 2011).
The other collaboration Herman Miller Company has with Gastor firm. In this case, the firm is not well- known, however, has proved already its effective service. Gastor carries the surveys and gives the analysis and feedback on the current situation in the company (Smith 2001).
To conclude, Herman Miller Incorporation is the example of a good approach in terms of the human resources management. The programs and strategies that are implied give the access to the best work forces and provide the company with the sustainable development. Even thought the company is in its blossoming, there are still some challenges that it can meet in the future. Thus, in order to improve Herman Miller`s Human Resource strategy three general steps should be made. First of all, in order to develop within the progressing society, the human resource management should be changed due to the needs of both workers and customers. That is why; Herman Miller Incorporation tries to work with different companies to be provided with the new technologies and strategies from several sources. Today it has collaboration with Gastor and Stem Steward consulting firms. While providing changing managing strategies, Herman Miller Incorporation follows the next steps: do not influence on the implementation of the rules with the help of strict methods, instead the company takes to consideration the workers choice and freedom; provide the discussions and meeting during which the effectiveness of implementation can be checked in informal atmosphere; carry the surveys to find out if the following rule was accepted by the workers. In general, this strategy is focused on the worker and his freedom of choice. If to summarize the implementation of changing management in the company it can be defined in several stages: mission changes, strategic changes, operational changes, technological changes and changing the worker`s attitude. For the future development, the company should improved the structured approach to transitioning the workers from today`s state to a future one. This strategy is aimed to help employees to embrace changes in business environment. As a result of well implementation, the company will benefit a lot: finding out better definition of the workers and employees aims, monitoring the risks, cost, and dependencies; providing effective communication among the staff; providing effective educational and training programs; providing personal counseling and many others. Secondly, Herman Miller Incorporation has been clarifying strategic role throughout the firm. Herman Miller strategic management has to start from the analytical stage. This stage defines the main business goals, competitive advantages and external opportunities of the firm. Thus, the company scans the future workers and their relativity to business in general. Then the company takes into consideration the expectations and the management methods. The last stage is the determining of the action plans and business mission. Many educational programs are carried in order to teach the workers the main moral values and strategies of the company. Every worker is aware about the ethical issues, environmental policies and moral values in the company. This helped to build the proper atmosphere at the workplace. Thus, the surveys, carried out by the firm, prove the effectiveness of the strategies and the awareness of it by the workers. However, in order to have future development, the firm should take into consideration two major things: growth and return. It can be achieved from the following sources: employee retention and turnover; firm`s productivity and expenditure on the HR activities. These three sources are related to the main goals of the HMI HR system: retraining, developing and attracting staff; measuring, rewarding and aligning performance; and reducing and controlling HR expenditures. Thirdly, the Incorporation has been attracting and retaining a diverse workforce. One of the main principles in the company is to build the qualified worker inside the firm. That is why, each worker is tested on the ability to learn and to improve the skills. The focus is made on such personal characteristic as ability to work in the team, the leader skills, flexibility and the ability to learn. In addition, the company has few stages for the worker that is going to be employed. Herman Miller Incorporation is known to have the first class workers and check their qualification very properly. According to HR strategy, the first step to success is the access to qualified workers. That is why, the company tries to attract and retrain a diverse workforce. To conclude, the strategies that work in Herman Miller Incorporation are the proven keys to success, they help the company to be the major one in the similar business; provide the good service and products, due to the moral and environmental values; have good work atmosphere and qualified workers, who produce better service; and have positive reputation and image both inside and outside the firm.