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Client Aids Engagement at Outsourcer

April 1, 2010
Related Topics: Motivating Employees, Outsourcing, Featured Article

Rockwell Automation works hard to fire up the employees handling HR matters. Rockwell HR managers will clap for standout performers at meetings. The firm will send a note of appreciation to an effective team. It will give gifts to people leaving the HR operation for new challenges.

All this encouragement, though, isn’t for Rockwell Automation employees. Recipients of the kudos work at Hewitt Associates, the firm that handles many HR tasks for Rockwell as part of an outsourcing agreement.

No matter, says Susan Schmitt, senior vice president of HR at Rockwell, a Milwaukee-based maker of industrial automation tools.

“The engagement level of Hewitt employees is as important as the engagement level of our own Rockwell Automation employees,” Schmitt says.

Schmitt’s view is in keeping with other observers of the HR outsourcing industry who say the engagement of the outsourcing workforce is vital to the success of HRO deals.

Rockwell and Hewitt’s outsourcing deal is several years old. It is a broad contract, covering tasks including payroll processing, benefits administration and pension administration. In addition, Hewitt provides Rockwell with “self-service” software tools, such as the ability for a manager to change the pay of a promoted employee. The arrangement primarily serves Rockwell’s U.S. employees, who make up about half of the firm’s 19,000-person global workforce.

Chief reasons behind Rockwell’s decision to outsource HR functions were a desire to cut costs and improve technology, says Craig Warren, director of global HR business services for Rockwell. He estimates that 30 or more Hewitt employees serve the Rockwell account. The Hewitt team, he says, provides service that meets or exceeds expectations.

That’s in large part because of the engagement of the Hewitt employees, Warren says. Rockwell doesn’t formally measure or monitor motivation levels on the Hewitt team, but Warren says engagement has been a priority since the deal went “live.” It is an ongoing topic of discussion at the quarterly meetings Warren’s group holds with account leaders from Hewitt.

At these meetings, Rockwell officials will applaud both Hewitt and Rockwell employees for notable contributions, Schmitt says. Warren also wrote a note to a Hewitt team in India saying he was impressed that they got up and running on the Rockwell account without a slip in service.

And more than once, Rockwell’s HR department has honored a Hewitt employee leaving the account with a present like a T-shirt or coffee mug bearing the Rockwell logo.

“I don’t really see a distinction between the Hewitt team and the Rockwell team,” Warren says. “I’ve tried to break those [barriers] down.”

To Warren, the cozy relationship with Hewitt employees on the account makes perfect sense. If he can help them to be interested and excited about their work, his team and Rockwell win.

“They really are the face of the HR department and of Rockwell Automation to our employees,” Warren says.

Workforce Management, March  2010, p. 24 -- Subscribe Now!

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