IBM Internal Employee Transfer Program Debuts

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Oct. 6 — To retain valued employees who are feeling stymied in their careers and might be eyeing the exit door, IBM started a new internal placement program last month, Tom Stachura, the computing giant's vice president of skills and people analytics, revealed in an Oct. 5 webinar sponsored by the Conference Board.

The program, called “Blue Matching” in a presumable reference to the company's nickname of Big Blue, examines interested employees' skills and presents them with “a number of opportunities they may be interested in,” should they want to change jobs within the company, Stachura said. “It helps IBM fill critical skills,” he said.

To date, the program has registered more than 30,000 users, and “the results have been encouraging,” Stachura added.

In response to a question, Stachura acknowledged that IBM's HR department has encountered cultural resistance to Blue Matching, which “forced us to make our policy more visible.” In other words, the program had to be explained and justified to managers, in that, while they may lose someone on their team, they may also gain a new team member from another department.

“Would you rather lose the person to a competitor or a colleague?” Stachura asked rhetorically.

Parallel efforts at FedEx Ground have also run into cultural resistance, Matt Tokorcheck, managing director for HR planning and technology at the company, remarked. “That has to be addressed, it has to be a part of the organizational plan.” HR learned in advance from focus-group testing that there would be resistance, he said, “and we were prepared.”

Using data mining to study retention, Tokorcheck said, “we have found out that some people want a steady paycheck, and others want flexibility.” Thus, there isn't a single approach that can retain all employees, he said. “We have to create a market of choice,” he added.