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Employee Retention of The Walt Disney Company

Employee Retention of The Walt Disney Company

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Employee Retention of The Walt Disney Company
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Pratik Kukreja
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pratikkk
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Employee Retention of The Walt Disney Company - April 8th, 2011

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) (commonly referred to as Disney) is the largest media and entertainment conglomerate in the world in terms of revenue.[4] Founded on October 16, 1923, by brothers Walt Disney and Roy Disney as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, the company was reincorporated as Walt Disney Productions, Ltd. in 1929, and became publicity-traded as Walt Disney Productions in 1938. Walt Disney Productions established itself as a leader in the American animation industry before diversifying into live-action film production, television, and travel. Taking on its current name in 1986, The Walt Disney Company expanded its existing operations and also started divisions focused upon theatre, radio, publishing, and online media. In addition, it has created new divisions of the company in order to market more mature content than it typically associates with its flagship family-oriented brands.
The company is best known for the products of its film studio, the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, and today one of the largest and best-known studios in Hollywood. Disney also owns and operates the ABC broadcast television network; cable television networks such as Disney Channel, ESPN, and ABC Family; publishing, merchandising, and theatre divisions; and owns and licenses 11 theme parks around the world. The company has been a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average since May 6, 1991. An early and well-known cartoon creation of the company, Mickey Mouse, is the official mascot of The Walt Disney Company.

Disney Worldwide Services, Inc. ("DWS"), whose principal office is located in the United States of America (the "United States"), controls and operates the following data processing systems (referred to herein as the "Systems") that are certified under the voluntary U.S.-EU Safe Harbor program (the "Safe Harbor Program"):
a Systems, Applications and Products database ("SAP") for financial and human resources management purposes;
a document management database ("Hummingbird") for finance and human resource management purposes;
a rights and a contracts management database ("Zeus") for administration of international television programming distribution;
an accounts receivables management database ("Get Paid") for the process workflow for invoices and customer management;
a global learning management system ("Disney Development Connection") for the administration of employee training and retention of employee training records; and,
a global performance management system ("Performance Connection") for the administration and harmonization of employee evaluation and talent planning processes;
the Customer Data Environment ("CDE") processes consumer data, including personally identifiable data collected in the European Union, for marketing purposes.
the Workscape Compensation Management System ("Workscape") processes employee data for the purpose of determining employee compensation.
the Headcount Tool ("Headcount") is an online reporting application which tracks headcount data.

Today's most profitable companies understand that to increase employee loyalty and retention, they must go beyond traditional empowerment programs that only allow people to "follow policy". Rather, excellent companies emancipate the action of employees by giving them the "freedom to succeed".

Hewlett-Packard gives employees the freedom to fail and try again through their operations principle: "We reserve the right to make mistakes." MCI (now MCI/Worldcom) built their company one the principle that you do not "shoot" managers that make mistakes, you "shoot" managers that don't take risks. Nordstrom's legendary service stems from their one-rule personal manual that reads: "Rule #1: Use your good judgement at all times. There will be no other rules."

By integrating these five principles into your workplace, you will increase the loyalty and retention of your great employees

After an applicant becomes a cast member, Disney’s unique approach to training and recognition programs contribute to its below-average turnover rate. “Key retention factors include providing knowledge, resources, and a supportive work environment” (Weinstein, Managing the Magic at Disney, 2008). Whether the cast member is a waiter or a manager, the extensive training and support programs undertaken by Disney employees have high success rates in retaining those employees.

Training begins at the Disney Institute where cast members are taught to be leaders, regardless of their job descriptions. Educational experiences at the Disney Institute are geared to meet the learning style of the individual cast member. Disney utilizes “instructor-led, e-learning, a gaming simulation, a media object on a mobile device, or an on-the-job training session” (Weinstein, Managing the Magic at Disney, 2008) to best meet the learning needs of its cast members. In addition, cast members are given a 90-day period in which to find the position that best matches their talents and abilities. “If their first assignment turns out not to be a good fit, they are given others during the first three months until their best competency is found” (Weinstein, Keys to the Kingdom, Part I: Disney Delivers Quality Training, 2008). Although many companies have a thirty-day probationary period in which the employer evaluates the new hire and has the option to terminate the employment without notice, Disney does not believe in this pressure tactic. Instead, as Walt Disney believed, the management looks beyond the initial reason for the new hire and tries to identify where the cast members can be the greatest assets to the Walt Disney Company and consequently, happiest in their jobs. “Landing in precisely the right job role is essential at Disney, given its belief in allowing employees leeway to make their own decisions” (Weinstein, Keys to the Kingdom, Part I: Disney Delivers Quality Training, 2008, p. 8).

Training does not end after the initial three months of employment. As Julie Hughes explained, “Our business strategy has always been to match the appropriate technology and delivery methods with our target audience, whether the audience is guests or employees. In addition to implementing an enterprise-wide learning management system and learning content repository, our organization has begun offering rapid development and electronic performance support systems as a component of the learning solution” (Weinstein, Managing the Magic at Disney, 2008, p. 14). This emphasis on continually adapting to the newest technologies and teaching techniques helps cast members to grow in the company and advance to new position. Through continual education and training, Disney ensures its cast members do not become stale in their positions while new abilities and capabilities are developed and identified.

Employee empowerment plays a large part in retention at Walt Disney theme parks as well. “Through training, Disney make its employees understand they’re empowered to solve guest problems with no set amount [of money] if they think it’s required” (Weinstein, Keys to the Kingdom, 2008, p. 62). This empowerment extends beyond attending to guest needs through the co-worker recognition program. Every cast member is empowered to positively recognize another member’s quality of work and effort to make the guests’ experience exceed their expectations. Managers who observe an employee being exceptionally helpful or diligent at their job are encouraged to reward their employee with cards, trinkets, gift cards, or just a pat on the back. Such individualized, immediate recognition has proven to be one of the greatest deterrents to employee turnover for the Walt Disney Company (Ligos, 2009).

The final element that helps Disney retain its cast members where other travel industry companies have high turnover comes from the fact that Disney is constantly surveying its guests and cast members for ideas that will improve the corporate culture and environment of the theme parks and organization. More importantly, Disney listens to its cast members, recognizes them for their contributions, and actually implements their ideas. “Phil Holmes,
Vice President of the Magic Kingdom theme park, created a quarterly newsletter titled You Said … We Listened, which lists ideas generated by employees that resulted in changes” (Ligos, 2009, p. 46). In addition, Disney regularly hosts celebrations for its cast members and their families to celebrate the ideas that are suggested. By including the families in the celebrations, Disney reinforces to its cast members that the organization is a family-oriented business in which their contributions help all the Disney family to be successful in making it the “Happiest Place on Earth” (Weinstein, Managing the Magic at Disney, 2008, p. 14).After an applicant becomes a cast member, Disney’s unique approach to training and recognition programs contribute to its below-average turnover rate. “Key retention factors include providing knowledge, resources, and a supportive work environment” (Weinstein, Managing the Magic at Disney, 2008). Whether the cast member is a waiter or a manager, the extensive training and support programs undertaken by Disney employees have high success rates in retaining those employees.

Training begins at the Disney Institute where cast members are taught to be leaders, regardless of their job descriptions. Educational experiences at the Disney Institute are geared to meet the learning style of the individual cast member. Disney utilizes “instructor-led, e-learning, a gaming simulation, a media object on a mobile device, or an on-the-job training session” (Weinstein, Managing the Magic at Disney, 2008) to best meet the learning needs of its cast members. In addition, cast members are given a 90-day period in which to find the position that best matches their talents and abilities. “If their first assignment turns out not to be a good fit, they are given others during the first three months until their best competency is found” (Weinstein, Keys to the Kingdom, Part I: Disney Delivers Quality Training, 2008). Although many companies have a thirty-day probationary period in which the employer evaluates the new hire and has the option to terminate the employment without notice, Disney does not believe in this pressure tactic. Instead, as Walt Disney believed, the management looks beyond the initial reason for the new hire and tries to identify where the cast members can be the greatest assets to the Walt Disney Company and consequently, happiest in their jobs. “Landing in precisely the right job role is essential at Disney, given its belief in allowing employees leeway to make their own decisions” (Weinstein, Keys to the Kingdom, Part I: Disney Delivers Quality Training, 2008, p. 8).

Training does not end after the initial three months of employment. As Julie Hughes explained, “Our business strategy has always been to match the appropriate technology and delivery methods with our target audience, whether the audience is guests or employees. In addition to implementing an enterprise-wide learning management system and learning content repository, our organization has begun offering rapid development and electronic performance support systems as a component of the learning solution” (Weinstein, Managing the Magic at Disney, 2008, p. 14). This emphasis on continually adapting to the newest technologies and teaching techniques helps cast members to grow in the company and advance to new position. Through continual education and training, Disney ensures its cast members do not become stale in their positions while new abilities and capabilities are developed and identified.

Employee empowerment plays a large part in retention at Walt Disney theme parks as well. “Through training, Disney make its employees understand they’re empowered to solve guest problems with no set amount [of money] if they think it’s required” (Weinstein, Keys to the Kingdom, 2008, p. 62). This empowerment extends beyond attending to guest needs through the co-worker recognition program. Every cast member is empowered to positively recognize another member’s quality of work and effort to make the guests’ experience exceed their expectations. Managers who observe an employee being exceptionally helpful or diligent at their job are encouraged to reward their employee with cards, trinkets, gift cards, or just a pat on the back. Such individualized, immediate recognition has proven to be one of the greatest deterrents to employee turnover for the Walt Disney Company (Ligos, 2009).

The final element that helps Disney retain its cast members where other travel industry companies have high turnover comes from the fact that Disney is constantly surveying its guests and cast members for ideas that will improve the corporate culture and environment of the theme parks and organization. More importantly, Disney listens to its cast members, recognizes them for their contributions, and actually implements their ideas. “Phil Holmes,
Vice President of the Magic Kingdom theme park, created a quarterly newsletter titled You Said … We Listened, which lists ideas generated by employees that resulted in changes” (Ligos, 2009, p. 46). In addition, Disney regularly hosts celebrations for its cast members and their families to celebrate the ideas that are suggested. By including the families in the celebrations, Disney reinforces to its cast members that the organization is a family-oriented business in which their contributions help all the Disney family to be successful in making it the “Happiest Place on Earth” (Weinstein, Managing the Magic at Disney, 2008, p. 14).

Disney views the development of a diverse workforce as a business imperative and a catalyst to achieve better performance. We embrace diversity, in other words, to better serve our consumers by better reflecting the communities we serve. We believe that a diversity of opinions, ideas and perspectives enhances our internal creativity and the company's vitality.

As such, we've been building a workforce representative of the global marketplace in which we operate, while fostering an inclusive environment for our employees and their families. Although we still have plenty of progress to make, we are proud that the Company now employs the most diverse workforce in its history.

For our efforts, Disney was named to Diversity Inc's Top 50 Companies for Diversity, which recognizes companies that demonstrate consistent strength in CEO commitment, human capital, corporate and organizational communications and supplier diversity. Additionally, the Company has scored 100 percent for three consecutive years on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's Corporate Equality Index, which gauges workplace inclusivity and was recently named by Business Week in the top 50 companies for MBA students to begin their careers.

We think about diversity in the broadest terms and seek to build a workforce that blends people from all ages, experiences, backgrounds, ethnic groups, and lifestyles. At present, the Company has professionals in the U.S. dedicated to the recruitment, retention and professional development of minority employees and Cast Members. We have also put into place a variety of mentoring, affinity and professional development programs with the same goals in mind.

Our training, consulting and certification programs are designed to train managers, business owners, supervisors, and human resource professionals not only in how to retain their most talented performers, but also how to transform their entire workforce into a high-retention culture. The end result is an organization that will save countless thousands of dollars while becoming a great place to work.
Money and benefits may bring employees through the front door, but poor work conditions and weak management skills drive them out the back. When it comes to recruiting and retaining, many organizations fail to see their own bad habits, faulty processes and other inefficiencies which lead to low productivity and high turnover.

Our services will provide you the knowledge, skills, tools, and processes to create a great place to work. We will certify your management team and help you design a unified strategy leading to low turnover and high retention.

On the surface, theme park entertainment and academic medicine may seem worlds apart. But the University of Chicago Hospital (UCH) found much in common with the Walt Disney World Resort. Both organizations share a commitment to service excellence and customer satisfaction. Both serve a diverse audience with high expectations. So UCH looked to Disney Institute to learn more about how Disney implemented successful change across its global organization to increase employee retention and customer loyalty.

With Disney Institute's best practices for leadership, loyalty, and quality service as their guide, UCH was able to quickly identify the multiple causes of its high turnover rate and create a custom training program to address each challenge. The cultural change initiative, in partnership with Disney Institute, resulted in a dramatic 33% reduction in employee turnover and produced a 6% increase, to 91%, in customer loyalty and satisfaction.

As Disney continues to increase its focus on all aspects of corporate responsibility, she is responsible for identifying, developing and implementing all aspects of Disney's overall global corporate responsibility, ensuring that the Company's core principles in this area are integrated into the daily operating practices of all Disney businesses, including studio entertainment, parks and resorts, consumer products and media networks. In addition, she spearheads all of Disney's philanthropic and charitable-giving efforts and environmental policies, as well as expanding the Company's social responsibility best practices.

Prior to assuming this role, Chandler was based in Hong Kong as senior vice president, Human Resources at Hong Kong Disneyland. Starting in January 2006, she was responsible for the overall Human Resources strategy for Disney's first theme park in China, overseeing all human resources services, compensation and benefits, human resources systems, staffing, and learning and development.

Before her assignment in Hong Kong, Chandler served five years as senior vice president, Human Resources for ESPN, Inc., a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. During her tenure at ESPN, she was instrumental in implementing and enhancing major initiatives in meeting the needs of ESPN's global workforce, including programs related to recruitment, diversity, compensation, and employee retention and communication.

Employers face dynamic and ever increasing challenges. A global economy of discriminating consumers has placed demands on employers never before seen. Employers face the challenges of maintaining productivity as well as keeping their workforce engaged and motivated. Environmental pressures, rising health care costs, and the needs of the workforce have placed management in a complicated and tenuous situation. The answer lies with creating a work environment that maintains employee job satisfaction as well as motivates people toward exceptional performance.

A new survey conducted by the Conference Board showed only 45 percent of Americans are satisfied with their work. This is the lowest level ever recorded by the Conference Board in more than 22 years of research.

Those that fail to improve job satisfaction are at risk of losing their top talented people to the competition. Supervisors and managers who maximize the potential, creative abilities, and talents of the entire workforce have a greater competitive advantage than those who don’t. Employees that are engaged in their work have a higher level of job satisfaction. Motivated workers provide the health insurance businesses desperately needed in these chaotic times.

Employee retention is one of the important responsibilities of the HR department of any organization. The importance given to this activity is due to the fact that companies with a low employee turnover have traditionally been found to perform better than those with a high employee turnover. This was because high employee turnover results in the loss of customers and business, thereby affecting the financial performance of these organizations
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Last edited by pratikkk; April 8th, 2011 at 10:18 AM..
   
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