GM's top HR official, in unusual move, exits after just 8 months
- General Motors Co. (GM) SVP and General Manager of HR Jose D. Tomas has left the automaker after just eight months in the role, The Wall Street Journal reports. Tomas cited "personal reasons" in choosing to leave, according to a GM spokesperson.
- The Journal called Tomas' exit "a rarity" under GM CEO Mary Barra, whose tenure, it says, is known for continuity among staff. Turnover at GM was high following the company's 2009 bankruptcy and shake-ups at Ford Motor Co. Automakers are struggling to hire workers, and they face competition from the driverless auto industry as well as tech companies, says WSJ.
- GM elevated Barra, its former head of HR, while rebuilding its culture following the bankruptcy and a 2014 scandal. The company has not yet named a replacement for Tomas.
GM's prominence within the U.S. auto industry often places the company at the forefront of discussion around the alleged decline of blue-collar work. For example, the auto maker has been criticized by President Donald Trump for manufacturing its products in Mexico, and conducted a high-profile round of layoffs at the time of his inauguration.
Job losses are a key sign of the industry's transformation in the past decade, with work not only being lost to other countries but also to automation. Detroit, GM's flagship city, has the highest concentration of robots (8.5 per 1,000 people) among U.S. metropolitan areas, while the auto industry has the highest such concentration among industries, according to the Brookings Institution.
And while researchers are quick to point out that robots won't necessarily take all jobs away from workers in traditionally blue-collar industries, the remaining positions will face steep competition. Detroit itself was recently removed from Amazon's "HQ2" short list due to a lack of available talent.
But it's not all bad news for employers in these industries. There are several untapped talent pools from which to hire, and a rapidly growing contingent workforce model could allow employers to alter staffing levels based on demand. Large employers also may need to look inward and upskill current employees — a strategy that also can boost employee engagement and retention. Several such models exist, including apprenticeships, which introduce entry-level workers to the employer's brand and provide ample early opportunities for growth.