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The Case of the Changing Cage

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    1.      Introduction

    Atlantic Insurance Company houses in a twenty storey building with each storey allocated for its various units. Recently, relocation is done to the audit agency, voucher filing unit and the controller’s department to integrate the latter whose performance has not been efficient for the past weeks. Unfortunately, the relocation did not work well for the filing unit and in return, it caused ethical dilemmas and performance deterioration of the unit’s employees.

    2.      The Cause of the Group’s Deteriorated Performance

    To determine the causes that are related to the filing unit’s performance deterioration, an Ishikawa diagram is established. Four elements of the unit are determined and the causes related to each category are connected to determine which category has the most number of causes (Niebel 2003).

    Diagram 1. Ishikawa Diagram for the Voucher-Filing Unit

    As the diagram shows, the management’s decision to relocate the voucher-filling unit from its original cage to a new one and its decision to establish new policies resulted to the deterioration of the unit’s performance.

    According to the case, the unit’s new cage was smaller compared to the old one and it also had a different layout and less equipment. Prior to the day of relocation, workers were not consulted regarding the unit’s relocation and so, their insights about the plan were not known. Furthermore, the management did not determine if the new place will be conducive for the workers or if necessary adjustments should be made to make the place more conducive for working.

    The fact that the new cage’s area was smaller than the old one made transferring of necessary equipment difficult. In addition, the new policy of clearing tables at the end of the day made the work difficult for the workers. Since there was not enough number of cabinets or boxes that they could use to facilitate filing of checks, work processes became inefficient.

    3.      Effects on the Company’s Input and Throughput Factors

    The management’s decision to relocate the unit also imposed various negative effects in the unit and in the company as a whole. Due to the unwanted relocation, processes such as checking, filing and organizing checks were affected.

    In a working unit, adequate space and equipment are very necessary for efficient process (Brown 2008). In the case of the filing unit, it is essential to have a spacious working area to facilitate the storage of checks and to provide enough space for working tables and other necessary equipment such as boxes and drawers.

    Unfortunately, the filing unit was relocated in a smaller area. This and the inability of the assistant to consult the workers resulted to a poor layout. The new layout of the area prohibited the transfer of some necessary equipment like the entire filing cabinet that was used to store checks. The lack of equipment resulted to inefficiency in check storage and filing. Based on the case, the workers stack the checks, filed or not filed, in any desk drawers because boxes are not allowed to be used in the area according to the new rules. This made filing of checks more difficult because all the checks are in one place. Because of the voluminous number of checks to be filed, workers failed to check those that they stuffed in the desk drawers. In the end, this resulted to a large backlog of unfiled checks.

    The area’s poor layout also resulted to some unwanted effects in the working behavior of the workers. Because the new layout prevented the transfer of the big cabinet that was supposed to cover the area from the others outside the cage, the unit’s entire working area became visible to the others outside and to the section head. The other workers became envy to the habit of afternoon snack of the workers inside the cage. This caused them to ask the management to have the same benefit as well. As a result, their working efficiency decreased because of the time that they allotted for afternoon snack.

     The section head also noticed this as well as the unnecessary action of the workers like talking to each other and to the messengers. Because of this, the section head imposed some rules like table clean-up, no talking rules and new afternoon snack policy which affected the performance of the workers in the cage as well as those outside the cage. Since talking is prohibited within the area, the workers experienced too much stress and pressure in their work. Because they were stressed, working in an area where filed and unfiled checks were disorganized and under a very strict section head became difficult.

    Stress and pressure from work affected the worker’s ethical behavior. This was shown by the increased cases of rubber band snipping and disrespect to the section head. Analyzing the situation could lead to the fact that the assistant, Ms. Dunn tolerated these behaviors that’s why it became very common to the workers. Because of these behaviors, the performance of the workers was affected. Rubber snipping increased unproductive time and these resulted to decreased performance level.

    According to working ethics, these behaviors do not invite professionalism and should not be tolerated by the assistant or manager. Employees should possess professionalism and integrity towards their work and towards others especially to those who have the authority Furthermore, those who have the authority should show professionalism through intelligent judgment and criticism in order to come up with effective policies (Goodwin 2000).

    4.       Problem Resolution

    The voucher-filing unit’s performance deteriorated due to the several causes rooted from the management’s careless decision. Since it shows from the analysis that the small working area and poor layout contributed most to the problem, then the solution should focus on dealing with this problem to effectively solve the situation.

    As a solution, the management should re-layout the working area by allocating bigger space to the filing unit. The bigger space will allow the unit to work well in the area and add the necessary equipment needed to speed up the filing and storing processes. If the area has sufficient space for the necessary equipment, then the unit will be able to organize their area and place the necessary equipment like multipurpose drawers on their appropriate places.

     For every working table, a corresponding drawer or cabinet should be placed to facilitate filing of checks. New and unfiled checks should be placed in these cabinets while checks that are already filed should be placed in a separate drawer. At the end of the day, filed checks should be collected from all the workers, counted and placed in a separate cabinet with proper label containing the total number of filed checks and the date of filing. This method will aid the workers in filing the checks and keeping track of the checks’ volume in an organized manner. Furthermore, this will aid in efficient processing of requested checks and monitoring of backlogs during inventory.

    Rules regarding afternoon snack and “no talking” policy should also be reviewed by the management. An afternoon snack is recommended for all the employees not only due to fair treatment but also due to its necessity in the employees’ job. A 15-minute coffee break is recommended to serve as the employees’ time to rest from their work and gain more energy to finish the job.

    On the other hand, rather than implementing a “no talking” policy, the management should implement a policy that will maintain noise at a moderate level only. As employees, talking with their co workers is a way to release stress and ask questions regarding their work. Communication is necessary because it develops the workers companionship and teamwork. However, the management should take note that employees are not allowed to abuse their privilege to talk to their co workers because it might also be a source of distraction for others who are working.

    Lastly, ethical behavior should also be exercised by both the employees and section head. Being exposed to the people outside and to the section head does not really create a problem. The employees just want it because they want to hide their games from those outside the cage. As a solution, the assistant of the unit should require the employees to stop rubber snipping and too much talking since it is not ethical for the work. Furthermore, the section head should also stop from being too strict to the employees. As the head, he should motivate the workers to do well in their work. This should be done to maintain a good atmosphere that is conducive for all the employees, to avoid conflicts and disrespect among them, and to maintain the level of professionalism in work (Goodwin 2000).

    5.      Conclusion

    Every company’s goal is to establish efficient and effective processes in order to achieve profitable benefits and customer satisfaction. For the Atlantic Insurance Company, they should consider the factors associated with this goal and unite with the company’s managing and planning skills. They should focus on how to manage every department in order to attain good performance and efficient processes. Lastly, they should incorporate it with ethical behavior to ensure that everything will work out in a good, acceptable and professional way.

    References:

    Books:

    Niebel, B and Freivalds, A. (2003). Methods, Standards, and Work Design. McGraw-Hill Professional.

    Goodwin, B. (2000). Ethics at Work. Springer Publishing.

    Articles:

    Brown, D. (2008). The Importance of Office Furniture. Articlesbase. from http://www.articlesbase.com/organizational-articles/the-importance-of-office-furniture-475926.html

     

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