Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO of General Motors, toured one of the company’s Warren, Michigan facilities that manufacture level 1 face masks on April 1, 2020.
DETROIT – General Motors takes a surprisingly simple approach to returning to work strategy for employees: “work appropriately.”
That is the message the CEO delivered on Tuesday Mary Barra and other GM executives on how the automaker plans to integrate its 155,000 employees worldwide into a post-vaccination world. It is a flexible, evolving policy that differs by employee, week, and project by manager.
It could mean doing more remote training for GMs 87,000 hourly factory workers For their work, they must be in the company’s production facilities. Or it could mean that an employee can work from home permanently or create a hybrid schedule of in-office and remote work.
“It’s not about a policy or a one-size-fits-all approach,” Laura Jones, GM’s global talent director, told reporters this week. “But really this development of our culture for everyone.”
The decision to create such a program was based on feedback from employees, many of whom were based on the Coronavirus pandemic. GM conducted several surveys of how and where employees would prefer to work in the future, officials said.
GM’s remote work schedule is a play on the company’s simplified dress code, which Barra initiated while running HR from 2009-2011. She replaced a 10-page dress code with two words: “Dress appropriately.“”
Such flexible and ambiguous guidelines are intended to enable GM executives to take responsibility for their departments and employees. According to official figures, GM recently held 52 workshops for 1,100 business leaders to demonstrate its remote working initiative. Each leader will work with their staff to determine an appropriate work plan.
“Last year’s insights and achievements prompted us to envision how we will shape the future of work at GM called ‘Work Appropriate’. This means that when work permits, employees have the flexibility to to work where they can have the greatest impact on the achievement of our goals, “Barra said in a LinkedIn post on Tuesday.
GM declined to estimate how much office costs could be saved through the new initiative. Executives also refused to predict how many employees are likely to be absent. Jones said such an estimate would be “against the philosophy” of the initiative.
GM believes its new policy of what it calls the “mindset” will help attract new employees, some of whom will not work in traditional GM locations.
According to Cyril George, GM’s Global Talent Acquisition Director, taking this flexibility into account has already boosted recruitment during the coronavirus pandemic.
“From a recruiting standpoint, this opened up the talent pool a lot for us,” he said, calling it a “really liberating aspect” of hiring.
George said the company hired more new hires in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2021 than in 2020 and 2019 combined. About 20% of the 3,300 new vacancies are completely out of the way, he said.
GM declined to provide an update on when employees working remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic will return to the office. The company previously confirmed a destination of June or July, but said this would be based on local regulations regarding Covid-19.
According to a company spokesman, only about 25% of GM’s non-manufacturing employees work in physical locations worldwide.