Employee Experience

Disney HR Policies – Walt Disney Human Resources Case Study

4 Mins read

With a variety of diverse brands and business areas, the Walt Disney Company is a world leader in family entertainment. It operates in over 40 countries around the world with more than 180,000 employees. Seeing the success of the company, it is hard to believe that it was just another startup years back and had begun as a venture of two unemployed brothers Walt and Roy Disney. 

While it may seem simple, creating a work environment where such a large number of employees work productively and happily every day is not an easy job for the HR and employee experience departments. The company thinks and works differently than other organizations about things, including HR and EX. In this post, let us try to understand their HR policies, practices, and strategies through a Walt Disney human resources case study. 

Disney HR Policies – An Overview

walt disney human resources case study

The Walt Disney Company has proven itself as a leader in HR management over its century in the business. The values of the organization focus on the human element of the business, whereby they treat employees as internal customers. Disney is committed to offering a safe, respectful, inclusive workplace environment in all its locations around the world. They strive to hold to the highest standards of ethics, quality, and social responsibility which is the primary reason for many employees to choose this company. 

The corporate culture at Disney stems from the core values it follows across business segments. The website says that each of the businesses has a special ability to harness imagination in a way that improves lives, inspires others, and brings hope, smiles, and laughter to those who need it. The culture is based on core values of community, optimism, quality, innovation, and decency. 

There are six principles Disney follows while managing its human resources. 

Everybody is important – The company uses RAVE – Respect, Appreciate and Value Everyone as a motto. People are taught to greet people, reach out and be available. 

Break the mold – Disney benefits from frequent changes in its structure, creating new opportunities for the employees. 

Make your people your brand – Hire the right people as employees.

Eliminate hassles – Leaders are responsible for finding problems quickly and acting instantly on them.

Create magic through training – Disney focuses constantly on training and improvement of the workforce.

Learn the truth – Leaders never stop learning; go out, learn and experience. 

At Disney, employees are always aware of the objectives and are free to think innovatively and come up with new ideas. The ‘Dream as a team’ notion adopted by the organization helps achieve the objectives. Managers encourage teams to imagine; all the team members have a brainstorming session ‘Blue Sky’ where they can share new ideas which are implemented for the future of the company. 

Walt Disney Human Resources Case Study

Almost any aspect of their HR policies and corporate culture can be used as a Walt Disney human resources case study as they all play a vital role in achieving the position it enjoys today in the industry. Incorporating cross-cultures is a key strength of the human resources function at Disney. Disney’s regulatory HR policies have helped it build and support the desired organizational culture. They have been striving to build a workforce that represents a global marketplace they operate in while fostering an inclusive environment for the employees. 

Another important aspect of Disney’s HR strategy is that employees are clear and aware of their roles and objectives and enjoy the freedom to think beyond limits. The value of equality makes them confident, productive, and independent. With a high focus on training and development, employees are always equipped with the best professional, technical, managerial, and other skills and knowledge. 

Human Resource Practices at Disney

disney hr policies

Disney’s success is driven by its focus on overmanaging things that others ignore, and this is something that sets it apart. Overmanaging means being specific, intentional, and attentive to detail to create an engaged and productive workforce and happy customers. The culture revolves around shared values ingrained in its workers right from the top-level executives to the drivers at properties. 

Appreciation for employees is shown with a display of employee pictures recognized for the principles of efficiency, safety, show, and courtesy. Those who work at the company are not employees but rather cast members as they say. Some of the perks for employees include the ability to buy a fishing license or register to vote. 

At the Magic Kingdom, workers are treated to the best standards of safety and comfort. Executive photos are displayed on tunnel walls with their titles and contact. A computerized inventory system is in place to make help employees change quickly and comfortably and head home fast after the job. In short, Disney aims to put their employees first so that they, in turn, develop pride for putting customers first. 

Disney Recruitment Strategies & Hiring Philosophy

The main principle in Disney’s recruitment strategy is the conviction that it should hire the best people and offer them enough room to fulfill their duties. The best employees, as the company believes, are not the smartest and the brightest but those who show a good attitude towards working in the company. It, therefore, considers a positive attitude as the top criterion for hiring.

Walt Disney has equal importance for searching the internal talent as it does for external talents. When looking to hire external talent, the company focuses on embracing diversity as a corporate value. It strives to ensure that its workforce reflects a global diversity with employees coming from different parts of the world. It also promises a commitment to incorporate diverse ideas and opinions to support this goal of diversity. Through this diverse environment, the organization can easily foster creativity and innovation through all the functions of its business. 

The company also emphasizes training as a key step in its hiring strategy. The training takes place in several forms and aligns with the vision of the organization. Walt Disney also places special importance on placing new employees in the right department to maximize the use of their talent. To put this into practice, the company puts new hires in different departments over a period of three months to evaluate their skills and find out where they suit the best. 

Final Thoughts

Walt Disney’s HR strategy stems from its commitment to driving positively engaged people rather than hiring the best talent. It believes that a positive employee attitude is crucial for helping the organization deliver innovative content to customers. The corporate culture is based on the virtues of optimism, diversity, and innovation among others and Disney has successfully merged its human resources strategy with these values. The company’s commitment towards developing its employees through training supports the HR strategy further, setting an example for other organizations.

Further Reading

Employee Engagement Committee

Managing a Coworking Space

Fombrun Model of HRM

HRIS Requirements Checklist

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About author
Editor-in-Chief at Employee Experience Magazine.
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