South-Western - Management  
GM May Expand New-Hire Networking Despite Cuts
Topic Training and Development
Key Words Networking, company culture, new hires, engaged employees
InfoTrac Reference A143922598
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News Story

General Motors is in the midst of some tough times. In November, the company said it would eliminate 30,000 manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and Canada by 2008. Yet, in spite of the cutbacks, the company is talking about expanding a program it calls JumpStart. The program has been around for six years, and has the goal of initiating new hires into GM's culture and giving them exposure to important business leaders. Cheri Alexander, executive director of global human resources says the vision of the program is to build enthusiasm for the company in new-hires in order to help them to become productive more quickly.

New hires in JumpStart can join up to five committees, each focusing on a different aspect of company culture. Marketing initiatives, professional development, community services, and social committees allow new hires to mingle with others that have similar interests as they do. Participants also get to know others in the company and increase their knowledge of company goals. Each committee is run by a senior JumpStart member. The program currently has 800 participants.

Building and maintaining enthusiasm is more important for GM now than ever. When a company is experiencing the kinds of cutbacks that GM is currently experiencing, networking and new-hire training programs are often the first to go. However, Diane Durkin, president of the Loyalty Factor says that keeping employees focused during hard times is critical because disengaged workers produce only half of what engaged workers do.

Questions
1.

Why has GM chosen to expand its JumpStart program?

2.

Why do most companies cut their networking and training programs when they are in the midst of downsizing?

3.

What are the advantages to continuing to invest in training and development programs, even when a company is experiencing tough times?

Source "GM May Expand New-Hire Networking Despite Cuts," Workforce Management, March 27, 2006, p. 16.
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