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With war looming, CIOs will have to help their companies manage through employee shortages.

InformationWeek Staff

November 24, 2002

3 Min Read

"If organizations can have an agility plan in place, they can handle any situation. War and military reserves is just one of them," says Jason Averbook, director of human-capital management product strategy at PeopleSoft. But Averbook acknowledges that few companies have implemented a comprehensive database that contains information on employee certifications, military status, and other details. "They may have one database for skills, one for compensation, one for benefits, and one for training," he says. "Without a global view, it's really hard to close the loop on planning."

Pharmaceuticals company Pfizer Inc. is taking that message to heart. It's begun merging separate HR databases to incorporate a view of employees' military reserve status with other key pieces of data, CFO David Shedlarz says. About three dozen Pfizer employees are on active duty, and there are 1,000 to 1,250 reservists on staff, 800 in the sales group alone. Pfizer "has a lot of depth" of knowledge, Shedlarz says. If a large part of the staff were to be called for service, "no doubt, it would be a sacrifice," he says, but at least the situation would be manageable. No one wants to see war come, but if it does, Pfizer plans to be prepared. -with Tischelle George Don't Wait For The Call

Four steps to take to minimize call-up problems

Call
Your HR team. Find out who on your staff serves in the National Guard or Reserves. Review the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). This federal law spells out the rights and responsibilities of employers as well as Guard and Reserve members

Your major outsourcers. Make sure they know what a call-up of their staff would mean for your business

Plan
Can vacancies be back-filled or are contractors needed?

Cross-train your staff to keep vital initiatives running

Budget
For contract labor from an agency, which can cost you a 20% to 30% premium over your staff salaries (for agency fees)

For training expenses. USERRA requires certain training and retraining be provided when reservists return to their civilian jobs

Communicate
Make sure you or another manager meet with the reservists to learn what they know about possible call-ups

Tell them exactly what the company can and can't do for them while they serve

Contact mobilized reservists as appropriate as a show of support. Don't expect them to have time to pitch in even via E-mail, though

Tell the staff as a whole what you know. Those who assume extra responsibilities in a reservist's absence need to know up front that the move could be temporary

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