Sonoco Company’s Human Resource Management


A centralized SHRM organizational strategy would be one in which all the related HR roles, such as administration, compensation, relocation, recruitment, as well as personnel programs and payroll are done in a centralized location. This strategy has the advantage of helping Sonoco realize a drop in its overall running costs.

Money saved as a result of this cost saving exercise could be used by the company in other areas which require more funds. In essence, a centralized SHRM structure would be less expensive and, thus, help Sonoco realize additional funds to be used in other areas.

However, this structure also has its shortcomings. The structure offers less opportunity that can provide for the alignment of both the needs of the individual business on the one hand, and the respective interests on the other.

This causes a rigid kind of framework, which makes it difficult for Sonoco to achieve the kind of coordination that it must achieve to realize success. Lack of coordination will mainly affect employee satisfaction levels to the disadvantage of the company.

Equally, the customer service will be negatively affected by the lack of coordination and overall employee dissatisfaction. The HR function, on the other hand, may fail to act in a swift manner where prompt actions and necessary changes are required to enhance the efficiency of the company.


This strategy will see part of the HR roles, such as the personnel programs, compensation, or succession planning decentralized. The corporate HR function, on the other hand, would mainly handle overall organizational roles that relate to the organization, such as strategy development, planning of the HR needs, and the actual implementation.

This structure has an advantage to Sonoco in the sense that it still held up an intact HR management where the general managers can seek for assistance. The newly created group of HR managers would find it easy to offer the strategic link necessary to bind the corporate HR functions on the one hand and the varied businesses of the company on the other hand.

The flexibility of this strategy is also welcome, as it will help in quickly responding to changes occurring in the external environment, as well as manage to participate in the divisional level strategies. This would in essence help to save costs, which is the targeted goal by Sonoco.

This strategy, nevertheless, suffers from its inability to drive changes across the company as is desirable, with the new structure being in place. It is possible that under the hybrid structure, Sonoco will realize duplication of resources, particularly where duty demarcation is not drawn out clearly.


This strategy seeks to have all the business divisions in Sonoco have their own independent HR functions without having to rely directly on the corporate HR function. Its advantages include easier accessibility to the decision-making personnel and the ability to achieve personal relationships between the business division HR function and the workers within the division.

On the contrary, a decentralized strategy is comparatively less efficient because of the additional overheads that it requires. The replication of materials and assets in each of the division offices makes it rather expensive, thus beating the logic of employing it in the first place.


The hybrid model would be the best strategy to help Sonoco achieve its targeted HR strategic alignment. This is because the strategy’s foundation mainly relies on the contextual environment.

The hybrid model will particularly enable the HR function to understand clearly the existing internal systems, the working methods, processes, strategic requirements of the business, as well as determining the core competencies needed from the workforce in order to help in the attainment of strategic goals.

The hybrid model will enable the HR to adapt to its set out systems and policies, aligning them carefully to the business context and thus achieving each unit’s needs as planned. Embedding HR representatives within each of the business divisions helps in facilitating several positive outcomes, such as a requisite cultural shift by the identification of the learning needs of the line managers.

This in turn addresses the question of accountability as far as managing performances is concerned. Equally, the embedding of HR representatives provides a good devolution as well as ownership of the policy systems and processes that relate to HR.

Since the target by Sonoco is to cut down on costs, the hybrid model will introduce workforce scorecard that will be critical in cutting down operating expenses through evaluating HR deliverables, as well as their substantial impact on business.

The next Challenge to SHRM at Sonoco

Two chain processes will pose as the next challenge to the SHRM at Sonoco. The first process involves the consolidation of HR transformation that has been adopted from 1995, and the introduction of the hybrid model for the HR function.

Secondly, there will be required a process to help in strengthening talent management for purposes of developing existing as well as prospective employees. This will lead to the enhancement of HR skills for both the staff as well as the line managers.

Thus, the strategic agenda that Cindy Hartley should adopt for SHRM should narrow down to conducting analysis gaps starting with the performance management systems, and recognize and line up the necessary competencies that are required to execute the strategy with the help of questionnaires to both the line managers, as well as the meeting executives.

Additionally, there is need to initiate new competency outline that targets its alignment with such roles as recruitment, performance management, as well as the promotion and reward systems, discover on-the-job-trainings with the aim of filling the inherent gaps, and design talent management so as to be controlled by the HR as opposed to being delegated to the line.

One other important strategic agenda that Cindy Hartley must incorporate in his SHRM plans should be the upgrading of HR staff through such means as line certifications, through workshops that deal with organizational strategies, as well as by way of cross trainings, and job rotations.

For the line managers, their upgrading will be achieved best through training them on HR principles, coaching, mentoring the subordinates, changing management, and through team building.

Each of the above strategic agenda is important because line managers and the overall management must get involved in order to provide important support in implementation of HRD initiative. It will help in the consolidation of changes for purposes of measuring how effective they are in as far as the HR scorecard for identifying behaviours, outcomes, and skills are concerned.

This will in essence ensure ownership removal resistances as well as help in the gathering of necessary feedback in as far as the manner in which HR should work is concerned. The executives’ support is important because it will help in ensuring that the HR structure is aligned with the core strategy through the identification of corporate competencies, systematic and structural issues, as well as the design of HR around these proportions.

This will result in value achievement on the part of Sonoco in the sense that talents will be improved in the end. Training HR staff and the line managers, for example, will help them be acquainted with the HR functions, which will be crucial for the change processes.

The training activities will actually provide an opportunity for the HR to inspire other performance management principles, thereby helping to address any accountability or underperformances issues that will be encountered.

By the line managers constantly getting involved, the numerous changes in HR that have been executed since 1995 will be consolidated such that they go hand in hand with training for purposes of checking whether the policies introduced eventually end up supporting the business needs.

Because Sonoco’s restructuring aims at cutting down costs, the training of HR generalists in order to transform them into specialists will lead to the achievement of this goal. Equally, by introducing a scorecard whose purpose is mainly to aid in the measuring of behaviours, additional costs will be reduced significantly.

The scorecards will further help with the evaluation of competencies, culture, as well as mind-set, and determine how each one of them affects the goal of the business. These benefits, however, cannot be achieved unless the HR manager understands clearly what the strategic business goals are, and how the contribution of employees helps in achieving them through the use of specific deliverables.