Lower Turnover Doesn't Equal Employee Engagement...
Dropping Some Science - the Merit Matrix...

Can You Improve Service by Firing HR People? Home Depot Slashes Field HR Staff...

The economy's bad, you can't find anybody to mix your paint at Home Depot, and the housing market stinks.  What should you do if you're in charge at Home Depot?

Apparently get rid of a bunch of HR folks.  From the Wall Street Journal:

"Home Depot Inc. is restructuring its human-resources department in an effort to cut costs andTony_stewart300 put more workers on the sales floor.

After the changes, there no longer will be a human-resources manager in each of the company's 1,970 U.S. stores. Human-resources-supervisor positions at U.S. stores also will be eliminated.

The Atlanta-based company said it notified this week about 2,200 employees who will be affected by the changes, which will result in about 1,000 job cuts. The switchover will be completed by May 1.

"We have an 'Aprons on the Floor' program, and this is part of it," said company spokesman Ron DeFeo, referring to the people on the sales floor, who wear bright-orange work aprons. "The goal of the program essentially is to add three full-time associates to the sales floor in each store."

Home Depot will create 230 district teams that will each have a district human-resources manager and three people reporting to that person. "We go from a structure with 2,200 employees to 1,000," Mr. DeFeo said."

OK - I don't mean to go off on a rant here, but I offer up the following observations to the slashing of field HR people at Home Depot:

1.  When it comes to service in the stores, the start of the slide is widely held to be the arrival of past CEO Robert Nardelli from GE, not the HR folks who tried to hold it all together when the productivity metrics starting raining from the skies (not that there's anything wrong with that).

2.  The former head of HR, Dennis Donovan, got a golden parachute worth 19 million in 2006 to go away.  Nice.  Guess what?  He wasn't at the store level.

3.  I've been asked to refer people for the store positions before, and was told the HRM slot pays around 50-60K a year.  With that in mind, the reductions are worth about 1.5 FTE in staffing.  Hardly enough to save the day, from a customer service standpoint, in your standard big box, Home Depot.

So, if centralization is the new thing, call it that.  Don't tell me that cutting the HR presence is key to putting aprons on the floor. 

If only Donovan was around to help with the outplacement of those affected... Surely Tony Stewart will weigh in with his thoughts...


Dan Schawbel

I would think that HR would be the first department will downsizing in a company during a recession.


Our local Home Depots are constantly advertising for HR Managers for the stores, or at least they were. Pay was pretty poor and they required 55-60 hours a week. I realize that often salaried employees work more than 40 hours a week but the prospect of working more than 3000 hours for less than $55,000 a year just does not sound appealing.

HR Wench

Same thing that happened in Lacy's area has happened in my area. NO ONE wanted to work as an HRM at the big orange box.


I worked under 3 HR's in HD. Two were useless. The other was tops. Better to go back to the managers hiring. They know what they need and want. Another failed Nardelli Idea. Part of the road back for a good company. Has Nardelli canabalized Chrysler yet?


The reason the HD stores needed and still need HR Managers in each store was because of the high volume of harassment, discrinination and retaliation complaints filed within the company and with the EEOC. If there are no longer HR Managers in the stores on a daily basis, the number of these complaints will rise again. Any money that HD thought it would save in making this move, will be lost and much more in lawsuits. This is a bad idea!


I was one of the HRM's notified of the change, interviewed for a new district position and got it. Now, two weeks into the change, I have resigned and left on my own accord. The new structure is a joke and mistake. I dealt with many associate complaints of unfair treatment immediately. Most of the 1,000 in this newly created position are now, leaving the orange box afterall!


I know this is an old post but I just wanted to add this...

I am writing this as someone who worked at HD before this change was made, as well as someone who recently applied for a job there after the change was made. While I am no big fan of the HR lady at the store where I worked, I think this move was not a good one for HD to make. They now do all of their hiring "interviews" with a very impersonal call that is made to you by call center workers. It is no surprise that HD can't find good employees now or employees who know what they're talking about.

The "interview" basically consists of a few simple questions, and if you answer "yes" to each one you will be offered a job. The last question they asked to me was if I would be willing to work for $8/hour. I said no because I know my work ethic and what I bring to the table are worth more than that. The lady just says "thank you" and hung up. I don't really care because I consider it their loss. But if you ever wonder why HD now has employees who can't help you, this is why. HD just wants to hire a "warm body" who is willing to work for $8/hour. They don't care about having knowledgable employees, which is reflected in the fact that they decided to "automate" the hiring process in this way.

Personally, I hope HD goes bankrupt. Like I said, I'm generally not a big cheerleader of HR... but they do serve a purpose. Hiring people solely based on whether they say yes to getting paid $8/hr is definitely not the way to go about getting good workers into stores...

The comments to this entry are closed.