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The motto at Disney –

Treat our employees like


we do our customers
(Wilkie 2014).
Disney’s aim to ‘create
happiness’ in its many
parks and resorts is not
an easy task, especially
not when trying to
involve over 60,000
employees in each park
to achieve it (Wilkie
2014).
How does Walt Disney
achieve this? Simple,
though its human
resource department.
Walt
Disney values the
human element of its
business, not only
Disney’s guests,
consumers and
audiences, but also their
employees, cast and
crew members (Wilkie
2014). Disney is
committed to creating a
safe, inclusive and
respectful workplace in
all their locations across
the world (Wilkie 2014).
In 2019, Walt Disney
universe was ranked the
33
rd
largest employer in the
United States with
over 200 000 employees
under their care (Coletta
2018). The interesting
fact about Disney is
that all these employees
had to go through the
same, or slightly
different, hiring process.
This hiring process
starts with Walt Disney’s
human resource
department and their
attention
to detail (Freeman
2019). Exceptional
attention to detail in
Walt Disney’s hiring and
training
process allows them to
hire people who fit in in
the culture and
consistently do what
their
roles asks of them
(Freeman 2019). This
approach is part of what
makes the Disney
experience so
memorable (Freeman
2019).
Walt Disney has
thousands of job
classifications and each
employment starts the
same way,
from senior executives,
to tour guides and part-
time desk clerks, the
Walt Disney training
process (Capodagli &
Jackson 2007). The
common goal for the
training is always the
same;
exceptional guest
experience (Freeman
2019).
Walt Disney’s human
resource department is
based on the notion that
“by educating the cast
(employees) of the
traditions of the past
and the priorities of the
present, it can maintain
its
competitive edge in the
future” - Disney Institute
Materials as cited in
Mann & Budworth
(2018, p.371). The
training at Walt Disney
leaves nothing to
chance, not only does it
include
knowledge about
competencies and
particular job skills, it
also ensures that each
employee
has a thorough
understanding of
Disney’s culture and
traditions (Capodagli &
Jackson 2007).
Training at Disney is
ongoing throughout the
year with certain key
information being
repeated to remind
employees to deliver
guest service that
includes the entire
experience
(Freeman 2014). For
many organisations
training can be viewed
as an expensive but
necessary evil, but Mr.
Walt Disney viewed it
completely opposite –
he considered employee
training an essential
investment in the future
of his company
(Capodagli & Jackson
2007).
The motto at Disney –
Treat our employees like
we do our customers
(Wilkie 2014).
Disney’s aim to ‘create
happiness’ in its many
parks and resorts is not
an easy task, especially
not when trying to
involve over 60,000
employees in each park
to achieve it (Wilkie
2014).
How does Walt Disney
achieve this? Simple,
though its human
resource department.
Walt
Disney values the
human element of its
business, not only
Disney’s guests,
consumers and
audiences, but also their
employees, cast and
crew members (Wilkie
2014). Disney is
committed to creating a
safe, inclusive and
respectful workplace in
all their locations across
the world (Wilkie 2014).
In 2019, Walt Disney
universe was ranked the
33
rd
largest employer in the
United States with
over 200 000 employees
under their care (Coletta
2018). The interesting
fact about Disney is
that all these employees
had to go through the
same, or slightly
different, hiring process.
This hiring process
starts with Walt Disney’s
human resource
department and their
attention
to detail (Freeman
2019). Exceptional
attention to detail in
Walt Disney’s hiring and
training
process allows them to
hire people who fit in in
the culture and
consistently do what
their
roles asks of them
(Freeman 2019). This
approach is part of what
makes the Disney
experience so
memorable (Freeman
2019).
Walt Disney has
thousands of job
classifications and each
employment starts the
same way,
from senior executives,
to tour guides and part-
time desk clerks, the
Walt Disney training
process (Capodagli &
Jackson 2007). The
common goal for the
training is always the
same;
exceptional guest
experience (Freeman
2019).
Walt Disney’s human
resource department is
based on the notion that
“by educating the cast
(employees) of the
traditions of the past
and the priorities of the
present, it can maintain
its
competitive edge in the
future” - Disney Institute
Materials as cited in
Mann & Budworth
(2018, p.371). The
training at Walt Disney
leaves nothing to
chance, not only does it
include
knowledge about
competencies and
particular job skills, it
also ensures that each
employee
has a thorough
understanding of
Disney’s culture and
traditions (Capodagli &
Jackson 2007).
Training at Disney is
ongoing throughout the
year with certain key
information being
repeated to remind
employees to deliver
guest service that
includes the entire
experience
(Freeman 2014). For
many organisations
training can be viewed
as an expensive but
necessary evil, but Mr.
Walt Disney viewed it
completely opposite –
he considered employee
training an essential
investment in the future
of his company
(Capodagli & Jackson
2007).
The motto at Disney – Treat our employees like we do our customers (Wilkie 2014).

Disney’s aim to ‘create happiness’ in its many parks and resorts is not an easy task, especially

not when trying to involve over 60,000 employees in each park to achieve it (Wilkie 2014).

How does Walt Disney achieve this? Simple, though its human resource department. Walt

Disney values the human element of its business, not only Disney’s guests, consumers and

audiences, but also their employees, cast and crew members (Wilkie 2014). Disney is

committed to creating a safe, inclusive and respectful workplace in all their locations across

the world (Wilkie 2014).

In 2019, Walt Disney universe was ranked the 33

rd

largest employer in the United States with

over 200 000 employees under their care (Coletta 2018). The interesting fact about Disney is

that all these employees had to go through the same, or slightly different, hiring process.
This hiring process starts with Walt Disney’s human resource department and their attention

to detail (Freeman 2019). Exceptional attention to detail in Walt Disney’s hiring and training

process allows them to hire people who fit in in the culture and consistently do what their

roles asks of them (Freeman 2019). This approach is part of what makes the Disney

experience so memorable (Freeman 2019).

Walt Disney has thousands of job classifications and each employment starts the same way,

from senior executives, to tour guides and part-time desk clerks, the Walt Disney training

process (Capodagli & Jackson 2007). The common goal for the training is always the same;

exceptional guest experience (Freeman 2019).

Walt Disney’s human resource department is based on the notion that “by educating the cast

(employees) of the traditions of the past and the priorities of the present, it can maintain its

competitive edge in the future” - Disney Institute Materials as cited in Mann & Budworth

(2018, p.371). The training at Walt Disney leaves nothing to chance, not only does it include

knowledge about competencies and particular job skills, it also ensures that each employee

has a thorough understanding of Disney’s culture and traditions (Capodagli & Jackson 2007).

Training at Disney is ongoing throughout the year with certain key information being

repeated to remind employees to deliver guest service that includes the entire experience

(Freeman 2014). For many organisations training can be viewed as an expensive but

necessary evil, but Mr. Walt Disney viewed it completely opposite – he considered employee

training an essential investment in the future of his company (Capodagli & Jackson 2007).

Disney’s human resource department was not always as efficient as it is today. In 2013 the

organisation went through a large internal change and prior to this makeover the human

resource operations were segmented by Disney’s business units, this format often led to

overlaps with other business units (Coletta 2018). HR representatives from the theme-park

division would be at the same recruiting event as HR representatives from other Disney units,

such as ESPN and Walt Disney studios (Coletta 2018). The organisation was competing with

itself and management soon realised that this had to change. The chief human resource

officer Jayne Parker said, "We had to present Disney as one company with many

opportunities in order for graduates to understand that they can have a very interesting and

varied career path at the Walt Disney Co" (Coletta 2018).


Walt Disney’s attitude toward their employees and continuous training indicate they use more

of the ‘soft’ model of HRM compared to the ‘hard’ model. The soft model being associated

with the human relations movement and the utilisation of individual talent (Truss, Gratton,

Hope-Hailey, McGovern & Stiles 1997). Soft HRM requires communication to be a vital role

in management as soft HRM allows more flexibility and adaptability for employees (Truss

et.al. 1997). The soft model states that employees are resources worthy of training and

development, whereas the hard model aim to keep cost per employee at minimum (Truss et.al

1997). Walt Disney provide training for all their employees to ensure outstanding customer

service and emerge each employee in the Disney culture and values. Despite this, Walt

Disney still partake in some aspects of the hard model of HRM. Disney World rely heavily

on contingent and part-time employees, in 2009 the rate of part-time and casual employees

was estimated around 30% (Mann & Budworth 2018). Walt Disney spends large amounts of

money on employee training and development, while saving money on employees’ hourly

wage. In an interview conducted in 2009 with a large sample of Walt Disney World

employees, most respondents expressed dissatisfaction with their wages (Mann & Budworth

2018). The average full-time hourly rate was reported at US $11.75 per hours (Mann &

Budworth 2018).

All of Disney’s theme parks have grown significantly in the last few years (Niles 2019) and

in the segment results for quarter ending March 31

st

2018 Walt Disney Parks and resorts

reported a revenue of US $4.88 billion, the media networks US $6.14 billion, studio

entertainment $2.45 billion and consumer products and interactive entertainment $1.08

billion (Noonan 2018). When considering the vast revenue Walt Disney made last year, US

$4.88 billion on the theme park segment alone, yet many resort and park employees reported

being underpaid and/or being paid absolute minimum pay (Munn & Budworth 2018).

After a year of contentious negotiations, Walt Disney finally made a deal with the Service

Trades Council Union (STCU) which represent six unions covering 38,000 employees at the

Walt Disney Florida park and resort, to incrementally increase the minimum wage over the

next three years before hitting US $15 per hour in October 2021 (Watts 2018).
Despite these recent troubles, Walt Disney continues to be one of the United States largest

employer and a role model for many other organisations because of their success in retaining

and continuously attracting new employees each year (Hoai Ahn & Kleiner 2005; Mann &

Budworth 2018). Walt Disney’s human resource department’s ability to instill Walt Disney’s

values and engage their employees emotionally in the organisation makes employees want to

place the customer, and the customer’s experience first. Walt Disney carefully craft their

message to employees, to make them understand that their actions continually enhance the

legacy of Walt Disney’s heritage and traditions (Freeman 2014). For most employees

working at Disney World, it is much more than simply a job, they have adopted Disney’s

values, innovation, decency, quality, community, storytelling and optimism (Williams 2019),

full heartedly, this is why Disney’s human resource department is so successful.

References
Freeman, C 2014,
Disney’s focus in
employees allow
employees to focus on
customers,
Institute of Management
& Administration, vol.
91, no 7.
Hoai Anh, N & Kleiner,
HB 2005, effective
human resource
management in the
entertainment industry,
Management research
news, vol. 28, no. 2/3,
pp.100-107.
Mann, S & Budworth, MHP
2018, ‘The happiest place
on earth? A case study of
Disney World
employment experience’,
in RJ Burke & JC Hughes,
Handbook of Human
resource Management in
Tourism and Hospitality
Industries, Northampton,
pp.364-380.
Niles, R 2019, ‘Disney
extends its lead in
global theme park
attendance’, Theme
Park
Insider, 22 May, viewed
10 August 2019,
<https://www.themepar
kinsider.com/flume
/201905/6792/>.
Noonan, K 2018, ‘How
the Walt Disney
company makes most of
its money’, The Motley
Fool, 1 June, viewed 7
August 2019,
<https://www.fool.com/i
nvesting/2018/06/01/ho
w-the-
walt-disney-company-
makes-most-of-its-
mone.aspx>.
Truss, C, Gratton, L,
Hope-Hailey, V,
McGovern, P & Stiles, P
1997, Soft and hard
models
of human resource
management: a
reappraisal, Journal of
Management Studies,
vol 31, no 1,
pp. 53 – 73.
Walt Disney Company
1986, ‘Walt Disney
logo’, in D23 the official
Disney fan club c.2018,
How Disney’s iconic look
has changed from 1923
to the present day, D23
the Official Disney
fan club, viewed 10
August 2019,
<https://d23.com/app/u
ploads/2015/07/walt-
disney-
productions-logos-
through-the-years-feat-
5.png>.
Watts, J 2018, ‘Walt
Disney World workers
land deal for $15
minimum wage’, CNN
Business, 25
th
August, viewed 10
August 2019,
<https://money.cnn.com
/2018/08/25/
news/companies/walt-
disney-world-minimum-
wage/index.html>.
Wilkie, D 2014, ‘Disney’s
motto: Treat employees
like customers’, Society
for Human
Resource Management
(SHRM), 22 June, viewed
10 August 2019,
<https://www.shrm
.
org/resourcesandtools/h
r-topics/employee-
relations/pages/disney-
employee-engagement
.aspx>.
References

Freeman, C 2014, Disney’s focus in employees allow employees to focus on customers,

Institute of Management & Administration, vol. 91, no 7.

Hoai Anh, N & Kleiner, HB 2005, effective human resource management in the

entertainment industry, Management research news, vol. 28, no. 2/3, pp.100-107.

Mann, S & Budworth, MHP 2018, ‘The happiest place on earth? A case study of Disney World

employment experience’, in RJ Burke & JC Hughes, Handbook of Human resource Management in

Tourism and Hospitality Industries, Northampton, pp.364-380.

Niles, R 2019, ‘Disney extends its lead in global theme park attendance’, Theme Park

Insider, 22 May, viewed 10 August 2019, <https://www.themeparkinsider.com/flume

/201905/6792/>.

Noonan, K 2018, ‘How the Walt Disney company makes most of its money’, The Motley

Fool, 1 June, viewed 7 August 2019, <https://www.fool.com/investing/2018/06/01/how-the-

walt-disney-company-makes-most-of-its-mone.aspx>.

Truss, C, Gratton, L, Hope-Hailey, V, McGovern, P & Stiles, P 1997, Soft and hard models

of human resource management: a reappraisal, Journal of Management Studies, vol 31, no 1,

pp. 53 – 73.

Walt Disney Company 1986, ‘Walt Disney logo’, in D23 the official Disney fan club c.2018,

How Disney’s iconic look has changed from 1923 to the present day, D23 the Official Disney

fan club, viewed 10 August 2019, <https://d23.com/app/uploads/2015/07/walt-disney-

productions-logos-through-the-years-feat-5.png>.

Watts, J 2018, ‘Walt Disney World workers land deal for $15 minimum wage’, CNN

Business, 25

th

August, viewed 10 August 2019, <https://money.cnn.com/2018/08/25/

news/companies/walt-disney-world-minimum-wage/index.html>.

Wilkie, D 2014, ‘Disney’s motto: Treat employees like customers’, Society for Human

Resource Management (SHRM), 22 June, viewed 10 August 2019, <https://www.shrm

.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/disney-employee-engagement
.aspx>.

Williams, A 2019, ‘Disney’s organizational culture for excellent entertainment (analysis)’,

Panmore Institute, 7 March, viewed 10 August 2019, <http://panmore.com/disney-

organizational-culture-excellent-entertainment-analysis>.

Disney’s human
resource department
was not always as
efficient as it is today. In
2013 the
organisation went
through a large internal
change and prior to this
makeover the human
resource operations
were segmented by
Disney’s business units,
this format often led to
overlaps with other
business units (Coletta
2018). HR
representatives from the
theme-park
division would be at the
same recruiting event as
HR representatives from
other Disney units,
such as ESPN and Walt
Disney studios (Coletta
2018). The organisation
was competing with
itself and management
soon realised that this
had to change. The chief
human resource
officer Jayne Parker said,
"We had to present
Disney as one company
with many
opportunities in order
for graduates to
understand that they
can have a very
interesting and
varied career path at
the Walt Disney Co"
(Coletta 2018).
Walt Disney’s attitude
toward their employees
and continuous training
indicate they use more
of the ‘soft’ model of
HRM compared to the
‘hard’ model. The soft
model being associated
with the human
relations movement and
the utilisation of
individual talent (Truss,
Gratton,
Hope-Hailey, McGovern
& Stiles 1997). Soft HRM
requires communication
to be a vital role
in management as soft
HRM allows more
flexibility and
adaptability for
employees (Truss
et.al. 1997). The soft
model states that
employees are
resources worthy of
training and
development, whereas
the hard model aim to
keep cost per employee
at minimum (Truss et.al
1997). Walt Disney
provide training for all
their employees to
ensure outstanding
customer
service and emerge
each employee in the
Disney culture and
values. Despite this,
Walt
Disney still partake in
some aspects of the
hard model of HRM.
Disney World rely
heavily
on contingent and part-
time employees, in 2009
the rate of part-time and
casual employees
was estimated around
30% (Mann & Budworth
2018). Walt Disney
spends large amounts of
money on employee
training and
development, while
saving money on
employees’ hourly
wage. In an interview
conducted in 2009 with
a large sample of Walt
Disney World
employees, most
respondents expressed
dissatisfaction with their
wages (Mann &
Budworth
2018). The average full-
time hourly rate was
reported at US $11.75
per hours (Mann &
Budworth 2018).
All of Disney’s theme
parks have grown
significantly in the last
few years (Niles 2019)
and
in the segment results
for quarter ending
March 31
st
2018 Walt Disney Parks
and resorts
reported a revenue of
US $4.88 billion, the
media networks US
$6.14 billion, studio
entertainment $2.45
billion and consumer
products and interactive
entertainment $1.08
billion (Noonan 2018).
When considering the
vast revenue Walt
Disney made last year,
US