Lessons from IBM on Successful HR Evolution

The fact that IBM still exists after 100 years is pretty impressive, but the fact that it is still a [...]

August 25 2011 by ChiefExecutive.net


The fact that IBM still exists after 100 years is pretty impressive, but the fact that it is still a successful and recognizable name after a century is astonishing. In a world where the next-new-technology comes and goes in the blink of an eye, IBM has managed to remain relevant far longer than any Other technology company.

An article for The Harvard Business Review attributes such long-term success to IBM’s adaptable human resources policies – policies that have brought the computer giant from analog to the digital age. IBM was able to transform the company from button-downed professionals, to a more relaxed and worker-friendly place.

According to the article, IBM started its culture change about 15 years ago, in the mid-90s, when the company revised its dress code to business casual. Though a seemingly small step, the more relaxed environment made a big difference, and now 160,000 of IBM’s 400,000 global employees work remotely – and 65 percent of employees are outside of the U.S. As a result, the company has learned to be an “interactive global network.”
The company also invests heavily in each worker, and gives them opportunities for advancement.

Here are the four resource-focused HR principles that IBM emphasizes:

  1. Equal benefits for all
  2. Its annual Global Pulse Survey on workplace and employee living conditions
  3. Performance-based bonus eligibility for all
  4. Deep investment in employee training ($1700 on each employee on average)

Read: How IBM Is Changing Its HR Game

Read: The Test of Time