HR Checklist for Aging Companies

June 21, 1999
If your company is more than 50 years old, it isn't too soon to begin examining your HR function and its effectiveness. By going through this checklist of essentials and marking those that apply to your organization, you can determine how well your department is helping the business let go of old thinking and move into the future.

  • Long-term employees in my company are accepting of change.
    In older companies, turnover tends to be lower and, on the average, employees are older. Human resources must ensure that these long-term employees are open to business changes that must occur over time.
  • My HR department has frequent training programs to explain changes in policies and practices.
    Communication is the key to success in managing change, especially when employees have been with the company for many years.
  • I believe employees in my company see its heritage as a positive business influence.
    Many older companies say that their heritage positively affects business. If this is the case in your company, encourage employees to learn about the corporation's past.
  • In my company, the HR function is an integral part of the business. In the past, many HR departments played a maintenance, clerical role. If your function hasn't moved beyond this role, it's time for change.
    There's a mixture of employees on my work force-some long term, some new to the company.
  • Bringing in new blood is one way an HR department can keep up to date and facilitate change.
    My company is a growth company. If you can describe your corporation as a growth company, it's likely that it's able to respond more easily to change in society and isn't too closely tied to its past.
  • In the past 20 years, my company has been through at least one successful reorganization.
    If your company has effectively managed a major change, it should be easier for the work force to adapt to subsequent changes as your company ages.
  • My HR department encourages feedback from employees through one or more formats.
    It's essential that older companies listen to employees to ensure that policies aren't outdated. Some formats for interaction include focus groups, suggestion boxes and surveys.
  • I would describe my company as technologically advanced for its industry.
    Look closely at your corporation, especially at the HR department. Is there an awareness of high-tech options and the ways these can affect business?
  • The HR department in my company responds to changes in society.
    Examine how your company responds to such issues as work/family programs, diversity initiatives, work teams and global business. Are you benchmarking other companies to see what is being done elsewhere? This can ensure that your age isn't holding you back, as a corporation or as an HR department.

Personnel Journal, October 1994, Vol.73, No. 10, p. 92.