For any company with a large and geographically dispersed workforce, generating and implementing uniform employment policies is a challenge. Few people are more aware of that than Andrew Scoggin, vice president for labor relations and employment law at the nation's second largest grocery chain, Albertsons Inc.
With 240,000 employees (60 percent of whom are unionized) located in 38 states, 2,500 stores and a high rate of employee turnover, Albertsons has to work especially hard to keep policies and practices current, especially when state labor laws are in a constant state of flux.
"To me the measure of success is how rapidly I can take a change in the law and drive it to 240,000 people and be in compliance," Scoggin said. "In a large company you can't just think you're OK because you have a policy written and not think about what's going on 10 steps down the line."
Toward that end, the company implemented computer programs that allow the legal department to audit which managers have received the latest training, and got in-house lawyers more intimately involved with the development of compliance programs. Albertsons even invested in technology through which employees who don't have access to computers receive training via video in individual stores and sign off electronically.
An Ounce Of Prevention
Overall, attendees agreed that the key to managing labor and employment issues in today's increasingly complicated business world is to be vigilant and proactive.