Anticipating the Unexpected

The hurricane season of 2005 caused significant disturbance to people and businesses in its path. Several of Lockheed Martin’s business units in the south-eastern United States were affected, as were 2,800 of the company’s employees. After initially trying to man the helplines internally, the HR Services team turned to Affiliated Computer Services, the company’s outsourcing provider, for help. As new systems were developed, the power of "horizontal integration" – bringing together the best resources from across the enterprise to develop a customer-friendly solution – was realized.

In August 2005, Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMC) and other companies across the United States dealt with a disaster they never could have imagined. When Hurricane Katrina hit, the company experienced a major impact as more than 2,800 employees and several LMC business units were affected by the storm. An estimated 1,300 of those employees lost their homes and most or all of their personal possessions.

Through the devastation, the LMC team and Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. (ACS), our outsourcing partner (see September 2005 issue of Shared Services News for background story on outsourcing of HR services), made significant strides in addressing challenges. The lessons learned will be applied to the future – helping us prepare for the unexpected.

HR teams across Lockheed Martin partnered with ACS to create new applications, processes and best practices. Teaming with our corporate communications organization, the external Lockheed Martin Web site was also a key source of information. As new synergies were created and as systems were developed, the power of "horizontal integration" – bringing together the best resources from across the enterprise to develop a customer-friendly solution – was realized.

Accounting for LMC Employees 

When the hurricane first hit, the team's objective was to figure out how to account for all affected employees as they resurfaced after the storm. Partnering with corporate HR, the HR services team quickly set up the Lockheed Martin Hurricane Hotline using the existing Lockheed Martin Ethics Hotline for employees to call for information and assistance.

Employees volunteered their time to answer calls and log employee information, but the team soon realized that they could not adequately handle the massive volume of calls and e-mails that were pouring in. Volunteers couldn't keep up with the phone demand and the manual data input that was necessary to sustain a temporary database.

A decision was made to partner with ACS and move the call center over to the Lockheed Martin Employee Service Center (LMESC), which is outsourced to ACS. Employees were familiar with the LMESC and ACS had the resources to handle the numerous calls and track the information in their system.

This allowed the LMC shared services staff to focus on other hurricane-related issues, such as housing, donation funding and benefits delivery. LMC and ACS worked closely to ensure that, as things changed, the most updated information was available to the customer services representatives so that they could properly handle the employees' calls and concerns.

The Hurricane Hotline had to be transitioned with lightening-quick speed. In just over 24 hours ACS and LMC were able to:

  • change the integrated voice response system (IVR) at ACS to allow for an 8 additional prompt for those impacted by the hurricane and link it seamlessly to the IVR at Lockheed Martin
  • move the calls from Lockheed Martin to ACS without service interruption to the employees
  • develop and learn a script of hurricane help text for ACS employees to use
  • identify all impacted employees as well as add an alert message to their employee record within ACS support systems
  • gather the necessary staff to cover the phones over the Labor Day holiday so that employee questions would not go unanswered
  • develop a database for ACS employees to update once employees were located
  • set up an off-hour voicemail box for hurricane-related calls

"After three days and 1,000 phone calls to the hotline when it was staffed by volunteers using manual processes, we knew we needed a better service solution," said Warren Pfister, Director, HRS Customer Services. "We brought in our partner, ACS, who handled 7,000 calls over the next several weeks and responded to our employees' concerns about payroll, benefits, work site status, points of contact and more."

The incoming phone calls and e-mails were logged into a central database accessible by HR and ACS staff around the country. This database provided up-to-the-minute status of over 2,800 employees until they were all accounted for on Sept. 20, 2005 – less than a month after the hurricane ripped through the Gulf Coast region.

Securing Funds and Housing 

Once the system for status, tracking and reporting was up and running, the next objective was to create a method for affected employees to secure essential funds and housing needs. The LMPeople team deployed an easy online method for employees to contribute to the Lockheed Martin Employee Assistance Fund via payroll deduction.

The LMESC started taking requests for the fund shortly after it was established in September. The weekend hotline coverage continued for the entire month to meet the needs of LMC employees. ACS took the requests for relief funds and funneled them back to the LMC team responsible for making payments to the employees. This included sending several electronic files a day so that the payments could be made as quickly and accurately as possible. As the hurricane season moved forward, employees concerned for the welfare of their co-workers felt the need to continue to contribute in other ways. The LMPeople team fulfilled this need by establishing a vacation donation process.

"Employees could easily log on and donate any number of vacation hours via the LMPeople Web site," explained Dan Foley, director, LMPeople. "These hours were then converted to additional funds for the victims."

Lockheed Martin provided U.S.$2 million to the fund, which was more than matched by the generosity of employees who donated U.S.$917,000 through payroll deductions and U.S.$1.82 million through vacation donations. In all, more than U.S.$4.2 million was paid out to affected employees for essential needs by the end of the year. The hard work and long hours of the combined LMC/ACS hurricane relief team made a significant difference in people's lives. The solutions that were developed by HR Services and ACS will also be used to prepare for future catastrophic events.

Lockheed Martin provided U.S.$2 million to the fund, which was more than matched by the generosity of employees who donated U.S.$917,000 through payroll deductions and U.S.$1.82 million through vacation donations.

ACS and Lockheed Martin made note of the many valuable lessons learned through this disaster. "First, everything moves about 100 times faster than you could ever have thought possible," says Scott Daigle, Strategic Business Unit Manager for ACS. "The information changes constantly, and you have to be prepared to get the right information out as quickly as possible to put people’s minds at ease.

"Second, we all learned that you really have to think ahead. The impact of the disaster is so immediate, but in the day-to-day, the focus tends to be on the now and not on what will come. As a team, we had to think about how our decisions made at one point would impact our ability to help tomorrow," Daigle explains.

The staffs at Lockheed Martin and ACS have proven that though they may work for different organizations, they all had the same goal in mind – making sure all the employees were safe and had a trusted friend and resource to count on. As the challenges we face evolve, so do the solutions we apply. I believe the HR Services team and our partner ACS have illustrated how innovation and compassion can drive positive change for the greater benefit of Lockheed Martin, our employees and the community.

About the Author

John B. Dierkes
Vice President, Human Resources Services
Lockheed Martin Corporation

John Dierkes was named vice president, HR Services for Lockheed Martin Corporation in January 2004. Based at corporate headquarters, John's organization is responsible for the development, implementation and operation of corporate-wide HR shared services capabilities. John oversees benefits administration and delivery, staffing support, EEO, compensation, industrial security, employee programs, learning, HR systems, regional recruiting centers and HR planning. As vice president of HR Services, John has a dual reporting relationship to the senior vice presidents of Human Resources and corporate shared services.