27 January 2004 Hewlett-Packard has hired a consultant to find out why the company is no longer a desirable place to work, after it failed to make Fortune magazine’s annual 100 Best Companies to Work For list.
The systems giant is famed for the so-called ‘HP-Way’, a management philosophy that emphasizes integrity and respect for staff. HP, for example, was one of the first companies in the US to introduce incentive bonuses in 1941.
When Carly Fiorina took the helm in 1999, HP held tenth spot in Fortune’s list, but the company has slipped further down the list every year since then. This year, it has failed to appear at all, prompting much soul-searching among senior management.
HP has now hired a consultant to review the results and try to find out why employees no longer view their company with the respect they once did.
Leaked internal documents suggest that fear of the sack and a belief that senior executives are greedy are the main contributing factors. They indicate that the company scored below average in a number of categories, with management credibility being the area of greatest concern staff.
This is no doubt due to the tens of thousands of lay-offs the company has made following its acquisition of Compaq and the subsequent decision to move US jobs offshore. While job losses might be expected following a major merger, the number of rounds have now doubt left staff feeling ‘punch drunk’.
In fact, only 44% of employees surveyed by Fortune said they felt management would only lay them off as a last resort. This figures compares to an average of 84% of workers in the 100 best companies.
HP also fell short in the ‘fairness’ category, with only 43% of workers believing top management to be paid fairly in relation to the rest of the company. This compared to an average of 66% at the companies on the list.
The HP Way philosophy is credited with helping HP become one of the world’s biggest computer companies. Carl Cottrell, former head of HP’s European Division, once talked of the HP Way as “a way of life. We ate, slept and breathed HP for much of our careers”.