Friday, August 20, 2010

Your 21st century HR function, now 'a business partner and consultant to our senior leaders'

Gannett Bloggers have long noted that the old personnel department, which served as something of an employee advocate, has since morphed into the multi-headed Hydra known today as, yes, human resources.

"HR used to be something of a buffer between the management and the rank-and-filer,'' Anonymous@8:44 a.m. wrote yesterday. "It's now basically management's process server."

And so we arrive at a memo sent Tuesday by Senior Vice President Roxanne Horning (left), and addressed, fittingly, to "operating unit heads and HR community."

It reveals a broad reorganization of Gannett's domestic HR departments, one uniting them under a single umbrella, rather than divided among newspaper, TV and other divisions. A reader provided a copy last night after I wrote about it briefly earlier in the day. (Read the entire four-page document.)

Here's the top of the memo, in all its inglorious corporate-speak:

I am pleased to announce the formation of a new leadership team for the Human Resources function at Gannett. These appointments are the first step in a company-wide reorganization of the Human Resources function that will be completed over the next several months. This reorganization is the product of the BOLD HR workout process begun in 2009 in support of the company's strategic plan. The BOLD sponsors to whom the workout team reported are Gracia Martore, Bob Dickey, Dave Hunke and Dave Lougee. The purpose of the reorganization is to realign the company-wide HR function into a unified one across all divisions to support Gannett’s strategic plan, serve as a business partner and consultant to our senior leaders and managers in such critical areas as organizational effectiveness, talent management, recruiting and employee development and retention. Our goal is to combine and leverage our best HR talent and resources that in the past have been limited by a divisional and/or regional structure and to build on all of the HR best practices that have come out of our divisions and operating units. The reorganization will also enable us to deliver enhanced services to our employees in an effective and efficient manner, supported by new employee and manager technology platforms.

Ooph! Do you love memos as much as I do? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write jimhopkins[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the rail, upper right.


  1. Delivering services? This I gotta see!

    Gannett couldn't care less about services to employees beyond those required by law.

    It's nice that HR is being aligned with Gannett's strategic plan. Too bad the peons don't know what this plan is beyond slash and burn.

    What is the strategic plan and what will HR be doing in regards to it?

    Is it to eliminate print folks and bolster up the electronic side? Is it to recruit more tech-savy recent college grads to replace current staffers? Is it to develop a reduced menu of benefits to reflect corporate's need to feed executive comp plans?

  2. I have done OK for two years in self-employment. I've had offers to get back in the rat race. Each time, I decline, as I just can't stomach being under the thumb of people who throw around terms like "work out", "leverage", "strategic plan" and "technology platforms" and, when pressed, can't even explain what the hell any of it means.

    If Gannett spent as much money and time delivering customer value as they do playing out business school bullshit, they might actually grow the top line.

  3. This is a big comeuppance for the HR folks who slavishly carried out corporate's execution orders. It also represents a big risk: HR people know all of corporate's dirty tricks, all the ruses to ditch older, higher-paid workers by "eliminating their jobs" only to hire young replacements with different titles but who end up doing the same work. I'm sure the HR people will be sufficiently paid for their silence, but until they do, it would be mighty cool of them to leak out an incriminating document or two to expose the sleazy employment practices of a heartless corporation.

  4. Human Resources "function." Priceless example of corporate jargon.

  5. I didn't realize we had an HR department. Nice to know we now have one coming out of nowhere to declare they will be delivering services. What does that mean?

  6. It has long occurred to me that these HR functions could be very easily outsourced, so I think HR is soon going to be a function of the past. This department doesn't produce any revenue, so is certain to be on the top of management's hit list.

  7. What ever happened to the USA Today HR group? They disappeared several weeks ago. Have they been terminated in Gannett's strategic plan?

  8. In fact, 1:02, some of it has already been outsourced. Hewitt, for example, handles 401(k) and some medical coverage tasks.

  9. Have there been cuts in GCI's HR staff? They still appear to be overstaffed spread all over the floor. Why not merge with what's left at USAT?

  10. For the life of me I can't figure out from that document what the difference in function is between the Regional Business Partner Team and the Employee Services Team. What does the RBPT do that the EST doesn't? Anybody? Anybody?

  11. I dont want to be mean but really, HR should have been the first to go. Like Jim said, all the meat of HR has been outsorced to Hewitt years ago. So, lets take a look at what your HR dept does at an avg paper.

    Do they hire?
    Nope. Gannett hiring days are a thing of the past.
    They dont do benifits, thats Hewit.
    I am coming up blank here....
    Oh they lay people off. But that can be done from afar.

    So, to sum it up they do very little and its time for them to go.

  12. Hey, HR at The Journal News gives out great coupons for Rye Playland and all sorts of shops!

    Must take at least a half dozen people to line those treats up!

    And oh, yeah, they do a great job of processing termination papers.

  13. I'm not at a Gannett paper, but I couldn't tell you what our HR folks do. Payroll and benefits are done at corporate, hiring?! that's a good one, raises?? what are those? Oh, I know, they make new i.d. badges and take care of the paperwork for the six rounds of layoffs and two furloughs we've had in the past two years.

  14. And it's one, two, three what are we working for? Don't ask me I don't give a damn, next stop? Gannettland. And it's five six seven open up the pearly gates, we gonna die!

    Okay so they are consolodating the consolodated still bloated HR function. May be they can cut some of the 500 plus ninnies out there.

  15. I remember in '05 emailing our own in-house HR department at the Indy Star for some info - the person I emailed forwarded the request to a clerk and copied me on it perhaps accidentally - it asked the clerk to get the information for the "client" - I wasn't a long-term employee to them, I was a "client" of their services. Very telling even back then...

  16. I work for USAT and we never received notificatin concerning the changes. After reading it for the first time on the blog, I noticed HR VP Janet Richardson is isn't one of the top dogs. Anyone know what's happening with her?

  17. It is a wonder how they hire HR personnel. Our HR rep never obtained a college education, has no past experience in HR, used her own paycheck to show new employees how to access their payroll records online (as a result her salary is not a secret), and she liked to "haze" new employees (toilet papering workstations, bubble wrapping cubicles, chairs, etc). She then posted photos of the hazing antics on the HR board designated for workplace information. She thought it was "funny". The new employees and others did not...but management liked her so she retained her position while many other driven and dedicated employees lost their jobs. This was reported to Janet Richardson VP, Gracia, Dave, etc.,and the photos submitted as well, but as things go...the "hazed" employees never received apologies for the behavior by HR...they were laid off. The HR rep kept her job.

  18. furloughed Fury8/25/2010 9:39 AM

    Too bad they don't pay as much attention to creating a digital business plan that doesn't rely on the last centuries ad driven model instead of this useless card reshuffling. To paraphrase the cowardly lion "If I were king of Gannett," I would tell the big five execs that they have one year to come up with a digital revenue plan that make aggregators pay for the copyrighted material they use, before charging the little guy. They would have one year and if they fail to come up with a plan that works, they would be fired. No golden parachute. This industry has had had 20 years to get a business plan for the internet and they have failed. Treat the executives like they would treat any other worker that fails at their job: Fire Them NOW! Stop wasting time on stuff like "BOLD HR" and work on the real issue or there will be no company left to require an HR dept.

  19. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  20. Are you all so jaded that you don't realize that "hr folk" actually have families like the rest of you? Let me get this straight . . .They deserve to be given the axe because YOU don't know what they do?? No department has teflon coating against downsizing. I imagine it is hard being the messenger . . . having to tell a longtime employee that they're being canned. My wife works the hr circuit at a big company and she works just has hard as I did (recent lay-off/offshore drilling). She's supporting our family. I guess hr employees don't deserve sympathy when they get canned . . . that should be reserved for everyone and anyone else. Bullarky!

  21. 12:37 a.m., we don't know what company HR department your wife works at. Hopefully, not a Gannett site or headquarters. Nobody is denieing that it is hard to loose your job.

    Having experienced Gannett HR during my tenure at Gannett I can only say, that this department for at least six years hasn't done a "dam" thing other than loading their work onto the Admins that worked in other departments. Admins had to get new employee papers ready, key card admittance etc. - I could go on and on. Why, because the lady responsible doesn't show up until 10:00 a.m. in the morning and is just to plain lazy to do her job???? Please, they were not even able to hire temps with a minimum of job knowledge.

    As far as I am concerned the Gannett HR department is a useless shell that didn't do a lick of work. And what I encountered regarding personnel was so arrogant they either referred you to another person in another department (knowing very well to get a hold of that overworked person was a trial by itself)or just simply said they "didn't know". I am sorry, if that is the state of a HR department than Gannett simply can save that expense.

    Sorry, this particular HR department doesn't deserve our sympathy, because simply they didn't care about the co-workers. So, why should any of has have not the same sentiment???

    The old saying comes to mind: What comes around - goes around.

  22. In fact, 1:02, some of it has already been outsourced. Hewitt, for example, handles 401(k) and some medical coverage tasks.


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