Ford tries to boost employee morale

Ford Motor Co.'s new vice president of corporate human resources wants to repair the company's frayed relations with its employees.

Joe Laymon, who assumed his job in November, will call on his troops to become "employee advocates" in a meeting Tuesday, Dec. 4, in Dearborn, Mich. Laymon wants to end an era of discord at Ford Motor, triggered in part by a now-defunct salaried-employee grading scale.

"We have to go back and repair the damage we have done," said Laymon, who joined Ford Motor 20 months ago from the Eastman Kodak Co. "We have a lot of work to do to recapture the faith and trust of our employees."

Laymon, 49, will convene several hundred human resource employees at the meeting and direct them to be more "proactive" in addressing employee concerns and resolving problems, he said. His staff will work more closely with the company's managers to create a more harmonious working environment, he said.

Some white-collar employees sued Ford Motor after the company imposed an ABC grading scale under ousted CEO Jacques Nasser. Intended to create a company of high-achievers, the policy mandated that 10 percent of employees in a department receive the lowest grade, C. Employees could be terminated after two years of C ratings.

Laymon's bid to restore morale among white-collar employees is an example of the fence-mending that started with the appointment of William Clay Ford Jr. as CEO on Oct. 30. Bill Ford, who also is chairman, is trying to put the company on firmer footing with its dealers, suppliers and the UAW.

Laymon replaces David Murphy, who left the company Oct. 30.

Laymon joined Ford as executive director of human resources business operations in March 2000.

Before joining Kodak, Laymon worked for 17 years at Xerox Corp., where he held a number of senior human resources positions, including chief labor negotiator. He also has worked for the U.S. State Department, holding assignments in Zaire and Washington, D.C.

Laymon's Ford Motor biography cites two outside pursuits. "He is committed to seeking affordable health care for the underserved and increased literacy for migrant workers," the biography states.

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