A Report on Workplace Practices and Procedures, and their Impacts on the Workforce to aid Century Ltd. in dealing with its Staff Problems
Communication Practices 3
Team Work 4
Remote Working 5
Support Structures 7
A Report on Workplace Practices and Procedures, and their Impacts on the Workforce to aid Century Ltd. in dealing with its Staff Problems
Century Limited is a middle-sized local company, with relatively inexperienced middle managers. Increasingly, the company has been having problems with its staff. These include absenteeism, staff turnover, poor morale, and a drop in sales. The Managing Director has thus requested the preparation of a formal report for purposes of presentation to the Board. The report will address these problems through drawing on workplace practices and procedures and their impact on the workforce, and provide exemplification of current practices in a range of organisations.
Effective communication benefits organisations and staff in many ways. Price (2011) points out that some of the benefits include achieving the company’s objectives, enhancing understanding, reducing communication costs, and enhancing smooth running of the firm. Organizations need to use policies and procedures tailor made for enhancing communication in order to achieve effective communication. They include open door policy, all-inclusive approach, and ethical communication (Harris and Nelson, 2008). Harris and Nelson (2008) elucidate that procedures for problem solving and conflict resolution in the company that deal with the problem from where it starts enhance communication in the organisation.
For businesses, the legislation that is relevant to communication emanates from the employment contracts and the code of ethics on which the specified firm or field operates. Wrench (2013) explains that such legislation prevents conflicts, enhances understanding and co-operation, and affords the employees a sense of belonging and well-being. For instance, Apple Inc.’s integrity-related values include honesty, respect, confidentiality, and compliance (Apple Inc., 2016). To enhance communication in line with these values, the company has a Business Conduct Helpline for the purposes of reporting misconduct to Apple’s Audit and Finance Committee (Fraedrich, Ferrell and Ferrell, 2014).
According to Ellman and Pezanis-Christou (2010), companies with vertical organisational structures tend to handle crises well but hinder free flow of information. On the other hand, the horizontal ones allow free flow of information, which may lead to unauthorized information falling into the wrong hands inside and outside the firm (Fraedrich, Ferrell and Ferrell, 2014). For instance, Wal-Mart’s organisational structure is hierarchical and function-based. Therefore, top management gives orders that flow down to the bottom of the hierarchy for implementation (Brunn, 2006). In effect, this denies the company flexibility, as employees in the stores have to comply with the orders despite the situation on the ground (Brunn, 2006).
According to Harris and Nelson (2008), 70% of all US companies of 100 or more employees have them working in teams. Such a statistic implies that there are benefits to individuals, employees in general and the companies themselves. They include organization, improvement of productivity, facilitate learning and improvement, promote innovation, and, enhance motivation and accountability (Harris and Nelson, 2008). This is apparent in Toyota Motors where select employees across all company functions are in a quality control circle for creating improvements in all aspects of the workplace (Ju and Cushman, 1995).
Having teams does not always ensure success. Some fail to achieve their set objectives. This may happen because the team lacks a vision, has insufficiently trained members, and poor team leadership (Lock, 2012). Further, teams that have poor communication and uneven member participation are also unlikely to succeed (Lock, 2012). The leadership style that a team leader chooses has an impact on the teamwork. Transformational leadership where the team leader makes the members believe in their vision positively influences the teamwork. This is because the team members are inspired to achieve the said vision and feel invested in the work (Kayworth and Leidner, 2002). Where the leadership is authoritative, the members may not feel inspired to work out of their own volition but only do so in obedience to the commands (Kayworth and Leidner, 2002). On the downside, they may become rebellious and choose to disobey. For instance, Wal-Mart’s team leaders treat their members with respect and serve them in terms of helping them achieve the team’s objectives (Brunn, 2006). Brunn (2006) points out that this in turn makes the team members treat customers with respect, the same way the team leader treats them. This denotes transformational leadership.
Remote working entails working from home or other places other than a clearly defined place of work. This means employees endure less supervision and get to work in the comfort of their own home or any other preferred place. As such, there are definitely issues that come with remote working. They include impeding leadership functions, restricting effective communication, and managing workers becomes difficult (Arnold, 2008). Further, it would be costly to implement a team of remote workers and employees are potentially less productive (Arnold, 2008). When it comes to its remote workers, Apple Inc. offers intense extensive training, provides a network of workers for support purposes, offers benefit packages, and a supervisor to enhance accountability (Apple.com, 2016).
There are different ways in which people work ‘remotely’. One of these is virtual freelancing, where people work as independent contractors for various companies. This is more task oriented and gives the worker more freedom and say in what they do (Johns and Gratton, 2013). This is more appropriate for tasks or projects with a definite time limit. The package offers no employment benefits to the virtual freelancers (Johns and Gratton, 2013). Examples include writers and transcribers. Another type is full-time virtual employees with a defined function in the company (Johns and Gratton, 2013). Examples of such include call-centre workers. These work at home on a defined work schedule and since they are employees, are eligible for employment benefits such as healthcare. The third type is virtual co-workers. This is where many workers re-tether in a shared space and collaborate in various projects (Johns and Gratton, 2013). This is also remote working since the shared space is not under the control of management. This is largely similar to full-time virtual employees, the only difference being that virtual co-workers interact in a physical workspace.
The leadership style that is appropriate for remote working is behavioural complexity style. This style combines various leadership styles and skills appropriate to the prevailing situation (Kayworth and Leidner, 2002). IBM remote managers combine various leadership styles to ensure that the team achieves its objectives. For instance, IBM team leaders apply the transformative style to inspire the employee to buy into the leader’s vision (Graham, 2016). On the other hand, they use the authoritative style when it comes to supervision and dealing with slackers (Graham, 2016). The company invests money to train its managers and team leaders to ensure that they lead, and not control the team members (Graham, 2016). Doing the latter would likely result in rebellion, making it likely that the team would fail to achieve its objectives.
Companies provide support to their employees to ensure that they perform well in their work. They do this through their human resource departments that are hands on in this function. These departments can provide support to employees by training them on how to do their job or imparting skills that may be useful in their lives such as effective communication training (Apple Inc., 2016). They can also provide counselling to the employees after traumatic events such as accidents in the workplace. Dozier, Grunig and Grunig (2013) point out that acquisitions and mergers can also be traumatic since new management lays off employees and retains others. It is thus important to provide counselling to employees at such times.
The policies and procedures that companies use in terms of support structures for their employees include legalising unionisation, minority group support, work flexibility provisions, and counselling (Dozier, Grunig and Grunig, 2013). These support structures empower the employees and give them a sense of belonging in the organization.
There are certain prevalent practices that organizations use when it comes to providing support to their employees. Toyota Motors’ exemplary approach is noteworthy. The company bases employee wages on performance rather than seniority as many firms do (Nieuwenhuis and Wells, 2015). This acts as a support structure, for instance, when an employee is facing financial difficulties. Performance based pay thus motivates them to work harder and hence provide them with an opportunity to solve their problem.
Toyota has legalised and has been maintaining company unions to ensure that its employees have a voice that speaks for them in case of an injustice (Nieuwenhuis and Wells, 2015). This support structure gives employees a sense of security as they work for the company. Toyota Motors has individualized its human resource practices to suit the needs of individual employees rather than all its employees generally (Nieuwenhuis and Wells, 2015). For instance, it allows part-time workers to graduate to full-time workers if and when there is need for the said change (Nieuwenhuis and Wells, 2015). This may work well for part time female workers with young children that may want to become full-time employees once their children start going to school.
These are just a few examples of the many practices that enterprises use to provide support to their employees.
The following are recommendations on how to improve the staff and managers’ experience in the workplace.
The managers should change their leadership style to that of behavioural leadership. Changing one’s leadership style as per the needs of the situation would empower the middle managers to influence their subordinates in a positive way. This would motivate the employees to work harder and hence reduce absenteeism. An inclusive approach in decision-making would also help the employees attain a sense of belonging in the company and hence work harder. This would also solve the problem of poor morale, with which employees are currently grappling.
The company should offer benefit packages and other support structures such as counselling and minority provisions to its employees. This would reduce staff turnover and drop in sales as employees tend to value benefit packages and are reluctant to abandon them (Price, 2011).
The company should train its middle managers on leadership. The IBM approach of training its managers to lead and not control would be worthwhile in Century Limited’s situation (Graham, 2016). Proper training on managerial duties apart from leadership would also benefit the relatively inexperienced middle managers.
The company should pay their employees based on their performance as Toyota does with its employees. This would motivate employees to work hard since their pay would depend on their effort in the workplace. Therefore, this would likely reduce employee turnover, absenteeism, and poor morale. It could also assist in increasing sales, as the employees in the various departments, including sales, would be inspired to put more effort in their work.
If the Board approves of and implements the above recommendations, employees and managers’ experience in the workplace would improve significantly.
Century Limited has problems with its employees including its middle managers. The problems span absenteeism, staff turnover, poor morale, and drop in sales. Effective communication is important in an organization. Communication policies and procedures, relevant company legislation, and organizational structure bear implications for the appropriate way to communicate in a firm. Teamwork is a widely used tactic that is highly beneficial to enterprises. However, sometimes teams may fail to achieve their objectives. Leadership style has a significant impact on whether a team succeeds or fails. Remote working is an important and increasingly popular work choice for many in the workforce today. Some problematic issues pertain to remote working. However, companies that hire remote workers operate on best practices that make it easier for the employees and their supervisors to work. The flexible behavioural leadership style is most appropriate when it comes to managing remote workers, as IBM reveals. Organisations provide support to their employees in various ways. Policies and procedures guide them in doing so. They then develop practices that they use when providing support to their employees. Toyota’s practices such as performance-based pay, support for unionising, and individualizing its human resource practices. Century Limited should adopt the behavioural leadership style, include employees in decision-making, provide benefit packages to workers, and, train middle managers in leadership and their work.
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