Strategies aimed at improving the welfare and the working conditions of its employees
Heathrow’s Training Programme and Employee Rotation
It is important for every company to look into strategies aimed at improving the welfare and the working conditions of its employees. Every organization should be concerned with the benefits associated with initiating the training programs and how employee rotation is connected to employee satisfaction. However, the cost of training undertaken by the company should be reflected by the employee productivity and turn-over; taking into consideration the existing cultures. According to Vohra, (2007), the training programme should give the employees the opportunity to freely speak out and share their ideas concerning their working conditions. The company under consideration in this study will be Epinion, which is a marketing research agency. The company is focused in delivering fact-based insights to all its clients and at the same time assists the clients in making significant decisions. The company also strives to push for conventional thinking so as to deliver smatter and better results.
The company’s operation is highly based on the use of technology since the name, “Epinion”, comes from a combination of two words, “opinion and electronic”. Epinion has its global panels thereby giving it the opportunity to serve its clients across the world. It is observed that the company receives over 2000 people on a daily basis to join its panels due to the fact that it has a centralized operation that is able to co-ordinate its operations across the world. The company has seven offices in Asia and Europe that are able to provide efficient local insights and research consultancy. It believes in adopting a customized approach in handling its clients’ problems; every client is unique in his own way and for that matter need to be given different and special treatment depending on the nature of their problem. They focus on first understanding and analyzing the local environment and the situation of the client and then applying the use of their experts to design fitting solutions (Vohra, 2007).
The first step to improving employee satisfaction is to determine the current employee satisfaction. This is done by carrying out a survey on the employee satisfaction and then using the results of the survey to determine the areas where the employees are not satisfied. To ensure that the results of the survey are reliable, it is necessary to make use of a survey designed by experts (Schermerhorn, 2010). To ensure that the survey becomes successful, it is important to protect the anonymity of the workers involved in the survey. This is because anonymous surveys portray a more realistic situation of what is happening in the company. It is also important for the company to be committed in taking action on the results of the survey. Even if the survey involves just a small change, it is important to communicate the results of the survey to the employees and the leaders and let employees know that action was taken based on the results of the survey. This is very important in the sense that ignoring to follow up the results would imply that the organization does not value the employees’ feelings, thoughts, and ideas (Schermerhorn, 2010). The action taken may involve making large or small changes depending on the results of the survey.
The next step in this aspect is to address employees’ concerns over their job security. This can be done by ensuring that any time that the organization carries out a survey or makes certain changes within the organization, the employees should be kept on the know by consistently and clearly delivering such messages to them. In case the job security concerns of the employees fail to addressed, the organization may be at risk of communication void, which often lead to rumors, fears, and concerns. According to Schermerhorn, (2010), such a situation is not healthy for the success of the organization since it results in increased resistance and decreased satisfaction. The next step is to increase training programmmes and provide development opportunities. Professional and personal development is a vital component for employee motivation and job satisfaction. To improve job satisfaction, it is important to ensure that every employee has a development plan and training opportunity (Prockl, 2003).
Employee job training can take many forms. The most commonly and effective form is, “On-the-job learning”, which is used on the leaders and the employees to develop their competence and skills, especially when it promotes the success of the organization. “On-the-job training” normally involves making use of challenging assignments that ensures that employees are placed at the edge of a comfort zone thereby forcing them to leverage their strengths or develop new skills and competencies. The other form of development plan is the aspect of mentoring, which not only makes employees become socialized within the company but also enables the employees to gain organizational knowledge that can only be observed in senior and established employees. Mentoring provides three key functions for protégés: development, social support, and role modeling (Prockl, 2003)
The next important factor to be considered to ensure employee satisfaction is to provide opportunities for involvement of employees in the activities of the organization, which involves soliciting employee ideas and opinions and then engaging them in the organization’s decision making. While some areas like the strategic planning may not need the involvement of employees, specifically in the larger organizations, it however provides a degree of credibility in other areas and increase job satisfaction (Prockl 2003). There are many ways that can be used to increase employee empowerment and involvement: Formal processes such as “Continuous Process Improvement” highly promote employee satisfaction. They make use of empowered and trained teams of employees to evaluate and improve different work processes with the objective of increasing productivity and reducing wastes. The decision of whether to adopt the process is a complex decision that requires extensive work and top-level support. There is also the aspect of forming problem-solving teams, which involves a team of 5 to10 employees; meet on weekly basis; and led by an experienced facilitator with a diverse knowledge on “Continuous Process Improvement”. During their weekly meetings, the employees use formal processes to scrutinize specific business practices or processes, map them out, design or identify improvements, formulate recommendations to the management, and propose ways of implementing the improvements (Prockl, 2003)
The next key to improving job satisfaction is giving employees feedback and recognition based on their performance. To ensure that recognition and feedback results in increased satisfaction, there are important practices that need to be adopted: Recognition and developmental feedback are very vital in this aspect. Developmental feedback enables employees make corrections on how they behave while recognition feedback supports a positive effect by providing recognition. Feedback should be continuously delivered as the employees’ behaviors are observed based on their annual performance reviews. Feedback should be straightforward and direct to the point and feedback sandwich should be avoided at all cost since it causes confusion to the employee and may not communicate the intended message. The other key to ensuring employee satisfaction is to carry out regular meetings aimed at keeping employees informed (Robbins & Judge, 2010). There is usually a positive impact on the employee satisfaction when organizations give clear communication concerning organizational direction, changes, and strategies to employees. The forums provide the chance for top-down communications and also provide other significant advantages: provide an opportunity for the employees from different teams and functional departments to interact thereby leading to increased sharing of information and knowledge and cross-functional networking. Carrying out regular meetings would also ensure that messages of high level are equally heard by all the employees and also provide a forum for leaders to listen to and gauge reactions from the employees (Robbins & Judge, 2010).
The next way of improving employee satisfaction is providing a positive working environment. In order to find out what motivates employees, it is necessary to first find out what turns them on. Taking care of the needs of employees’ needs would keep them motivated to keep doing the job and also become loyal to the organization. If the work environment is not positive, there may be no possibility of employees to perform well and achieve the company’s goals and objectives (McShane, Travaglione, & Olekalns, 2012). Encouraging each other, ensuring constructive criticism, giving positive feedback, and avoiding micromanagement are all means of keeping a working environment a place in which employees can freely thrive. There is also the need to build a supportive environment that would enable the employees to develop problem-solving skills, coping skills, tactics for going through hard situations, or freely expressing personal feelings. The next point is the aspect of developing employees’ potential and skills. Education and training motivates employees and enables them become more innovative and productive (McShane, Travaglione, & Olekalns, 2012).
Developmental program and intensive training for the employees results in lower turnover and higher motivation. Well trained and educated employees are more willing and capable of assuming more control in their jobs. They normally need less supervision thereby freeing the management of certain tasks. Employees who are well trained are capable of adequately answering customer questions regarding the organization thereby building a better customer loyalty. Employees who have complete knowledge of the business normally complain less and are more satisfied and are for that matter highly motivated. This generally leads to better management and employee relationships (Vohra, 2007).
As much as employee training may involve high costs, the company needs to develop the perception that it is a long-term investment in improving and developing the staff. To ensure a successful training at relatively lower costs, it is important for the company to identify specific skills relevant for the company in relation to its goals and objectives. The employees should also be informed of the specific purposes of the training and how they relate to the larger company goals. Training can highly benefit the employees in every level of the organization but it can involve a number of unexpected challenges in the implementation of the programme. Some employees may not be willing to take part because they may not see the purpose of the training or may not see the need of sacrificing their time. In such a situation, it is necessary to carry out a thorough communication to the employees concerning the organization’s staff development goals. It is important to inform the employees the importance of developing new skills and skill enhancement. The employees should be made to understand the link existing between their job and the training offered (McShane, Travaglione, & Olekalns, 2012).
To ensure an effective job rotation, it must have an objective or an end goal since its goal determines job changes. For example, if the goal of a particular department is to cross-train every employee, then there is need to structure the rotation. An effective job rotation should for that matter specify the goal (Langton, Robbins, Judge, & Robbins, 2010). The next plan is to ensure careful planning of the job rotation. Optimum training plan enables employees build upon or improve on the skills gained at every level of the job rotation. The job rotation should be designed in such a way that the employee participates in a series of job activities in their career path up to the point where they become fully accomplished employees. The employees should then be able to assess if the job rotation would help the organization achieve its goals, which would consequently make the steps involved in the job rotation build upon one another and be measurable. In addition to that, the job rotation should be beneficial to both the organization and the employee. According to Langton, Robbins, Judge, & Robbins, (2010), constantly teaching and training employees on new job skills saps organizational energy and is also time consuming. If the employees do not see any benefit of the training even after putting much effort to learn the new skills, the job rotation may not in any way motivate the employees. There need to be additional compensation for the employees for learning new and more difficult jobs in the process of job rotation. Employees who get cross-training to be able to perform more jobs get paid more because of their increased flexibility resulting from their training and learning (Vohra, 2007).
In order to ensure a successful and effective job rotation, it is also important to provide an internal trainer, a mentor, or a supervisor at every step of the job rotation process. As a worker moves to every new job, he is assigned to a different employee who is given the responsibility to answer questions, mentor, and teach during the training. Written documentation, online resources, and employee manual, normally enhances employee learning. Written documentation concerning various aspects of every job is important in reducing employee learning curve in the process of job rotation. There is need for every employee to focus on making job rotation a success because job rotation enables employees trace their career path in the absence of promotions or in cases where the employee is not interested in being offered management responsibilities or any promotion (Kreitner, Kinicki, & Buelens, 2001).
Job rotation offers so many advantages to the employees: It provides the employees with the opportunity to gain skills and knowledge through learning different jobs requiring new skills and knowledge and thus take up different responsibilities. It also enables employees overcome potential job dissatisfaction and boredom by having a different and new job with challenged tasks and responsibilities. An effective job rotation is a new challenge and gives the employee the opportunity to expand his accomplishments, knowledge, impact, and potentially bring change to the various aspects of the company. It also gives the employees the opportunity to learn various facets of the company and how tasks are accomplished in various job functions and departments. Kreitner, Kinicki, & Buelens, (2001) notes that job rotation makes employees become prepared for any succession plan, eventual promotion by getting the opportunity to expand their skills and responsibilities while at the same time being able to gain broader knowledge concerning the operation of the organization. The fact the employees are able to gain visibility with managers and new groups of coworkers give them potential opportunities.
Looking at the theories of motivation and employee satisfaction, the most common theory is the two-factor theory, which is also known as intrinsic or extrinsic motivation; or the Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory. The theory was developed by Fredrick Herzberg, who was a psychologist. The theory states that while there are some factors causing job satisfaction in the workplace, there are a separate set of factors that can cause dissatisfaction in the work place. Factors that normally motivate employees can change in their lifetime but in any stage of life, “respect for me as a person” is among the top factors for motivation. According to this theory, intrinsic motivators like recognition, responsibility, and challenging work produce employee satisfaction. On the other hand, extrinsic hygiene factors like job security, fringe benefits, salary, and status; if absent, may produce dissatisfaction. The two-factor theory’s fundamental connection with the mental health is highly connected to Abraham Maslow’s motivation theory since both the theories have a considerable practical and theoretical influence on employees’ attitudes towards the management. This explains why it is very important to take into consideration the aspect of Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory in the work environment because employees’ attitude and perception of the organization most definitely influence its performance. The theory can be used at the work place to establish whether or not the employees are satisfied with existing psychological and social needs at the work place and use the findings to improve how the organization relates to the employees in terms of recognition, responsibility advancement, and achievements. This would work to the advantage of the organization since the employees would feel recognized, motivated, and thus become productive to the organization. According to Herzberg, employees are not concerned with the satisfaction associated with lower-order needs at the place of work. That is, the needs associated with pleasant and safe working conditions or minimum salary levels. Individuals rather look for gratification in psychological needs of a higher level such as recognition, responsibility advancement, achievement, and the nature of the job itself.
According to Kreitner Kinicki, & Buelens, (2001), employees seek to derive high leveled gratification needs related to responsibility, recognition, advancement, achievement, and the nature of existing job. The theory also focuses on the factors causing dissatisfaction, such as supervision, company policies, job interpersonal relations, salary, technical problems, and working conditions. This two-factor motivation model is based on the idea that one set of job incentives or characteristics results in employee satisfaction, while a separate set of job incentives or characteristic may lead to dissatisfaction. This implies that satisfaction and dissatisfaction are independent phenomena, with one advancing as the other one is diminishing. Incase the organization wishes to increase the level of employee satisfaction, it should concentrate in the analysis of the nature of the job itself and the opportunities it offers the workers for gaining status, achieving self realization, and assuming responsibility. On the other hand, an organization that seeks to reduce dissatisfaction should focus on the environment of the job itself and consider factors such as supervision, procedures, policies, and working conditions (Hil & McShane, 2008). To ensure a productive and satisfied workforce, the management must give attention to the two sets of job factors. The motivation factors are required to motivate employees to attain high levels of performance. The theory further classifies people’s actions and how people do them. For example, if an individual does a work related duty because he has to then it is referred to as “movement”, but if he performs such a duty because he wants to then it is referred to as “motivation”.
The world has increasingly become international. The notion that the world is now one global village is not a perception anymore but a reality. Across the world, corporate office networks have increasingly grown, distribution chains have spread, and supply channels have extended. In today’s work environment and world business, understanding different cultures and attaining cross-cultural skills have become vital tools in implementing effective commercial and international working practices based on different cultures such as African, Asian, American, European, English, Danish, and so on. For a company to ensure an effective training programme and job rotation, it is important for the management to understand how different cultures operate (Hill & McShane, 2008).
Looking at the Danish culture, the Danes usually use an understatement in how they relate. A statement such as “that is not so bad”, concerning performance at the workplace, means that indeed one has really performed well. A statement such as “not so bad” is for that matter is taken to be a very positive remark. Employees can share knowledge and skills in a better way after learning to respect each other. This calls for the need to learn and understand foreign cultures such as Danish and English and then learn to understand how they relate. It is important to understand Danish culture and how to go about intercultural encounters to be able to observe potential challenges before they transform and become problems. According to Hill & McShane, (2008), understanding diverse cultural dimensions enables employees understand their new work environment, taking into account the values of the organization. English culture on the other hand gives employees a working environment that enables them understand leadership hierarchy, how to make friends, group-oriented team work, and to appreciate employees from other cultural backgrounds. Appreciating and understanding people’s way of life and their unique set of behaviors and cultural rules can ease the frustration and the stress existing in the work environment.
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