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Getting Rid of "Catbert"

September 1, 1998
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Related Topics: The HR Profession, Featured Article
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Employees hate the Catbert mode of HR -- the part of HR that comes up with silly, fluffy programs they don't really want or use. Of course, employees getting upset is one thing, but many top managers are starting to get peeved, and that's downright dangerous.

They have options, you know. They could get rid of their HR department altogether, like Avanti/Case-Hoyt Inc. did a few years back. The Miami-based printing company has turned over its entire HR operations to The Vincam Company, and CEO Joe Arriola couldn't be more pleased. He appreciates the business-minded approach to HR, and the un-"touchy-feely"-ness of the service for his 1,000 employees.

Got an employee with an attendance problem? Vincam faxes over a form that guides the manager through the documentation procedure. Managers do their performance reviews on Vincam-produced evaluation sheets. When employees wanted a work/family program, managers explained what they needed, and Vincam put it together. Vincam handles benefits. Vincam handles legal issues. Vincam doesn't churn out useless programs for employees.

"The headaches are gone, the legal issues are gone," says Arriola. "That alone is such a wonderful improvement, it's not even funny."

It seems a lot of employers are in agreement. In 1995 Vincam was handling HR services for 10,000 employees. Today, the number is about 50,000. Customers are attracted to the inexpensive benefits and cut-and-dried approach. While most Vincam clientele are smaller companies whose growth suddenly demands an HR function, President John Carlen says he's gotten nibbles from larger companies.

It's not likely businesses will start shedding their HR departments en masse, but it's hard to ignore the attraction of Vincam's services: An HR department that delivers what it's asked for, that gives straight talk and answers employees need -- keep it in mind the next time you're feeling fluffy.

Workforce, September 1998, Vol. 77, No. 9, p. 29.

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