Online case discussion #1
MedHome HR practices
Elyse Suarez stepped into the role of president of MedHome 2 years ago when her father Harry retired. MedHome is a supplier of medical equipment and supplies to care facilities and home care patients with a large warehouse, fleet of delivery vehicles, four retail locations, and approximately 180 loyal employees with very low turnover. Elyse had a degree in finance and 10 years of experience with a large hospital group before joining MedHome 5 years ago. She had the company on solid financial ground when Harry retired and the leadership transition went smoothly. Her first challenge came a few months later as the employees who had been with the company since Harry started it nearly 30 years earlier started to retire. Within a year, nearly 20 percent of the managers and supervisors retired, and keeping fully staffed became a challenge. Experienced employees moved into management positions, creating openings in many areas especially delivery/setup and equipment repair. Those jobs took months to fill because qualified applicants were hard to find. As a result of the staffing problems, the time to complete and deliver customer orders began to increase significantly, and so did customer complaints. Customer service staff reported that home care customers wondered how they could get their old delivery people to return. A common issue involved products being delivered without necessary related consumable items being supplied too. These items were not specifically ordered, but previous drivers knew they were necessary and carried supplies in their vans in case they were needed. Supervisors commented that they were spending considerable amounts of time checking the work of new employees who didn’t have the math skills or decision‐making skills necessary for ordering and inventory. New employees weren’t too happy either. Jacob Washington, the HR Director was receiving complaints from the new hires that the work was much more challenging than they were led to believe. When Elyse met with Jacob to try to determine how to fix the problem, she asked if they needed to re‐examine their recruiting methods and hiring criteria. Jacob had several ideas for expanding recruitment, but said that their hiring criteria were sound. “Right before your dad retired, I had the experienced supervisors look the job descriptions over before they retired. You know we lost a lot of experienced supervisors, and they knew this place inside and out.” Jacob went on to explain that the job descriptions had been created by Harry many years ago and were reviewed regularly by supervisors over the years.
Frustrated, Elyse called a manager’s meeting to address the complaints of the customers and new employees. Many agreed that the new employees weren’t of the same caliber as past hires. Some managers felt the new hires would eventually get up to speed. Others said that it was a common problem everywhere and they would just have to get used to it, and one manager wanted to fire all of them and start over. Elyse directed Jacob to research ways to improve the quality of the applicant pool for future openings. After the meeting, Rene, a driver supervisor stopped by Elyse’s office and asked to talk. “I don’t want to cause any problems. I know those guys are your dad’s friends and all, but the job descriptions for my drivers aren’t exactly wrong, but they aren’t right either.” When Elyse pressed for more information, Rene explained that the job descriptions were very vague. “They don’t include any specific math ability, customer service skills or related work experience. The list of responsibilities just includes product delivery. There isn’t anything in it about keeping an inventory of supplies in the van or schmoozing the customers.” Further conversation revealed that the experienced drivers were making the newer drivers responsible for loading the vans in the morning and cleaning them in the evening. “They say it’s because they’re responsible for safety and need to review procedures, but everyone knows they just sit around and talk.” Elyse was left to wonder what her next move should be.
1. Conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis for MedHome’s HR practices.
2. Where did the job description revision process at MedHome break down? Explain whether it is necessary to start over with a complete job analysis, or if another revision of the current job description will resolve the issue.
3. How could the hiring problems have been prevented?
4. What should Elyse Suarez and Jacob Washington do to fix the problems now?