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HR Strategy of The Walt Disney Company

The Walt Disney Company is the world leader in the entertainment industry. Walt Disney founded it in 1923 (Barnes, 2015, p. 7). The enterprise is one of the ten most valuable brands in the world. In 2009 fiscal year, the company’s revenue was 36.1 billion US dollars (Barnes, 2015, p. 8). The Disney Company is active in 172 countries and presents 1300 radio and television channels broadcasting in 53 languages (Barnes, 2015, p. 7). Disney is one of the world’s largest licensors and the biggest publisher of children’s literature in the world. In Europe and Latin America the company heads the list of video production distributors (Barnes, 2015, p. 7). The mission of the Walt Disney Company is to make people happy. The enterprise is extremely attractive for applicants from all over the world. A number of benefits and means of both material and immaterial motivation makes the company prestigious place of employment. This paper will examine The Walt Disney Company in terms of its HR strategy and practices.

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Hiring Process

The Walt Disney Company is one of the largest US employers (Capodagli & Jackson, 2006, p. 15). At the same time, the organization has no problems with staff turnover. Work in Disney is prestigious. Each HR manager has a long queue of candidates including the graduates of famous American universities. When they come to the company for an interview there is no need to complete forms immediately. First of all, the candidates have to go to the video room and watch a film, which tells about the history of the company, its philosophy, and purpose. Potential employees get information about requirements of any member of the team, the working schedule, the inadmissible clothes and hairstyle in the company environment, and much more in vivid and interesting way. In addition, all applicants receive a brochure in which there are detailed answers to questions about wages, compensation, benefits, house training, incentive programs, and career growth. As a result, at the first stage of candidate selection, a clear idea of the future work nature appears. It allows the applicant to proportion the strengths and capabilities that are required. About 10% of applicants voluntarily “drop out” at this stage and do not go to the interview (Capodagli & Jackson, 2006, p. 21).
Then candidates are interviewed individually. Staff conducting makes a decision based on the applicant’s employment experience and education. At the same time, special attention is paid to the personal qualities of the potential employee, his psycho-physiological characteristics, for which the psychological testing is conducted. HR-specialist is interested in the previous experience of the applicant. Sometimes, he or she can ask for Disney favorite character or to question why the applicant has chosen this company. Often, to check the competence of the person, one is offered to perform the test task. However, the main feature of the interview with HR-specialist is still a detailed account of the company’s business, which occupies a large part of the conversation with the employer’s representative (Ton, 2014, p. 65). Disney needs to bring to future employees coming to work that it is not just animation, to help them understand the company’s values. After the successful resolution of the personnel problems, the Disney’s HR-managers gain important knowledge and experience in the field of human resources.

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The Process of Adaptation

The process of new employees’ adaptation is quite long and takes about a year. During this time, the expert is immersed in his own direction and learns about the features of the company as a whole. On the first day of the employment, the HR-specialist sends to all departments the photo of the beginner and information about him: a brief biography and a description of his new responsibilities, and creates a new profile in the corporate network for him. Further, before starting to work any new employee of the company must undergo a three-day course of traditions’ study, which includes lessons in the classroom and acquaintance with the new workplace. This rule applies to absolutely everyone, whether a temporary worker received a three-month employment, or a new president. This ensures that all team members gain an understanding of the purpose of the organization, information about the new job, and, at the same time, the lower-level staff. Also, each novice, regardless of position, gets the list of all the departments representatives with whom he needs to make an appointment, acquaintance. Therefore, a person develops a complete picture of the company and an understanding of who to contact if any questions in the process occurs. After the meeting, next to the name of counterparts, it is necessary to paint over Mickey Mouse (Ton, 2014, p. 67-68).

Work Organization and General Policies

The Walt Disney Company consists of departments of media distribution and interactive projects, duplication, retail sales, television and film production, marketing, finance, strategy, legal, administrative, and IT as well as the personnel department. Basically, the staff appears in the office from 09:00 until 11:00. It all depends on the employee’s needs. If counterparties start their activities closer to the dinner, the employees does not have to come in the morning. The office is open 24 hours a day (Cockerell, 2008, p. 50). If someone wants to work peacefully during the weekend, he can always do it. It does not always happen, but the staff periodically takes advantage of this.
Each member of the team may seek for the assistance of Disney office colleagues around the world. For this, the electronic directory where all the company’s contacts are stored is used. There is an international corporate social network. In the office, the company often conducts a creative brainstorming: someone from the staff sends a message to every member of the company with a request to create the name for the book translation, and all share their ideas. In the company, it is argued that bad concepts do not happen. Therefore, one can always offer any view even if it is not directly related to employee’s activities.
Each Disney specialist has to watch movies and TV shows. Every member of the company should know all the major Disney, Marvel characters and the Star Wars saga. It is considered good manners. The marketing department has a library of movies, and anyone can take a DVD home. Behind the scenes, it is usual to be always connected in the company, even on the weekend or vacation. Employees explain this saying that they love their job and do not want to leave the workflow for a minute (Cockerell, 2008, p. 51). The Walt Disney Company shows the ability to adjust the strategic line of the organization quickly and become more attentive to market research. The absence of differences in the team, corporate culture based on the cohesion of staff, and special style of leadership help to overcome any crisis. The company’s system of values that staff shares gives Disney strength and allows its successful development.

Benefits and Motivation

The Walt Disney Company makes global changes in its activity increasing the degree of employee retention and customer loyalty. First of all, Disney is a leading company, which always needs more than just a commercial success. This particular style of leadership always uses both positive and negative types of motivation. Disney constantly invents creative ways to motivate its employees.
HR-managers heed the progress of the employees and constantly offer those new roles, namely, the opportunity to work in another department and in a different capacity. Employees of Disney may receive an offering to move to another state or even another country. HR-Managers conduct information meetings for workers of all corporate divisions and report them about new positions in publications (Cockerell, 2008, p. 52). As a result, employees have the opportunity to acquire in-depth experience and occupy managerial positions.
On the internal conference, which takes place at the end of the year, the company summarizes the achievements and seeks for new ideas. In such discussions, not only the top management, artists, programmers but also the entire technical staff is present. It does not matter who gives the idea that could lead to the success of the company. The main thing is that all employees are involved in the process. As a result, within the company, minded team that can embody the most successful ideas appears. This is a typical manifestation of positive motivation. In The Walt Disney Company, material motivation exists as well. By the way, the enterprise was one of the first to create a system of incentives not for the high productivity of labor but and for a successful initiative (Cockerell, 2008, p. 53-54). This technique is still in use.
During the implementation of the project plan the Disney Company encourages the employees to express their criticisms. In this case, it is one of the manifestations of negative motivation. The functions of the critics are not in denial and destructive, but they are a need for ensuring compliance with certain criteria for a given product market. The only finished high-quality product, which could be in demand in the market, is appreciated. Criticism is constructive and it includes the answers to two basic questions ‘What we have got’ and ‘What do I need to improve?’ (Cockerell, 2008, p. 56).
The process of positive and negative motivation is not interrupted until ready high-quality product appears. The permanent transition from positive to negative motivation led to the fact that the staff is not only interested in the work but also in personal growth, professional development. The Disney Company is able to implement the principles of ‘total quality’ and ‘learning organization’ successfully (Cockerell, 2008, p. 57). Every two years, Disney conducts a global internal study on the involvement of employees. Each team member gets a link to an anonymous questionnaire. The one analyzes results and makes a plan of action to improve the working conditions in the company basing on them.
Besides, the Walt Disney Company implements small pleasant gifts for its employees in order to motivate and increase their loyalty to the company. The employees with high performance get the tickets to the premiere of Disney films. Sometimes they arrange family Special Screenings on weekends. Samples of products and toys, which are the licensees sent, get a distribution among office staff or transfer to the charities. On New Year’s Eve, the company traditionally holds a family event for employees with children. By these simple means, they achieve the feeling of “family” unity (Cockerell, 2008, p. 50).

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Development of the Employees Programs

The Walt Disney Company is known as one of the first companies that started using guidelines to improve their business processes. It is obvious that the success of the Disney Company and respectively the total profit is best achieved if the employee’s feelings of proud to belong are so strong that it inevitably affects his performance. To create a culture in which the pride of employees and customer loyalty can be obtained, Disney created a new concept of training based on the vision of what is needed to do to eliminate the traditional concept of controlled training sessions, to enter a permanent compulsory education, and regulate compliance of all rules and norms.
In order to analyze the performance of the staff, the Disney Institute was created. Disney University is an educational division of Walt Disney, which is located in four places: in the Walt Disney World park, in California, Tokyo, and Paris Disneyland (Lipp, 2013, p. 10). Its goal is to give employees the tools to improve their performance and systems. Institute considers the main achievements in the development of the personnel in such areas as leadership, loyalty, management, service, and creativity.
Disney University continually strives to benefit from the advantages of the company. Educational programs are built on three basic principles. First is “Learn it’ (it is impossible to learn anything sitting home; only in the real world one can really feel he or she heard and read a million times before); second is ‘Live it’ (the training program often includes the creation of the conditions in which the working business model operates); and third is ‘Leave it’: (a sense of wonder and new perspectives in business must remain in employees’ attitude to work constantly; learning does not end when the student crosses the threshold for class lessons) (Lipp, 2013, p. 16).
Disney Institute is focused not only on developing the existing staff but also on finding the new talented employees among the students and graduates. For this purpose, training internship programs function. They provide an opportunity to work directly with the Disney guides during the study of all aspects of art, story, and film. The internship also allows the company to meet and work with a talented group of students from around the world. Participation in it can be taken only once during your undergraduate studies.
The Disney Company selects the most talented students. Summer Internship Program is an internship for students. This option is available for people who study animation, arts, design, computer graphics, engineering, and other industries related to the film industry. The program lasts 8 weeks. Technology Internship Program continues for 3 months. It gives an opportunity to those who study the technical aspects of filmmaking (engineers, technologists, programmers). Students should also be interested in animation and/or plot and have working knowledge of computer systems (Lipp, 2013, p. 19).
History of Disney Institute began with the idea of Walt Disney. His infectiously positive vision of the future and concern for the company’s staff created a hereditary loyalty to the growing enterprise. His willingness to risk and courage in difficult situations has led to a huge number of creative business solutions. Employees, permeated with the spirit of the leader, always supported the company working with inspiration and willing to share their original ideas.


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Walt Disney, the founder of The Walt Disney Company, argued that one ‘can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world, but to turn the dream into reality the efforts of many people are required’. Disney built a multibillion-dollar global empire, but he could not achieve that without a serious team that stood behind him. For The Walt Disney Company, the HR strategy aimed at hiring, development, and increasing loyalty of talented personnel is characteristic. It is important for the company to create an environment where the employees feel proud of being part of it. For these purpose, the system of positive and negative motivations is used. The Walt Disney Company also pays attention to the skills’ development of the staff. The network of Disney Universities is established within the company. Now, Disney’s HR strategy became a model for the study and emulates many of the world’s leading corporations. It represents a commitment to excellence in working process and relations with its own staff.

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