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The Workplace May 1, 2007

Posted by wilson7 in Employees, Organizational Environment, Workplaces.

Do you think the way an office is set up has a direct correlation to employee moral, productivity, and job satisfaction? An April 2006 survey of more than 2,000 office workers commissioned by Gensler, a leading design firm, illustrates both the problems and the promise of workplace design. Nearly half of the respondents said they would work an extra hour a day if they had a better workplace environment. More than 90 percent reported that their office space affected their attitudes about work and that a different setup could make their companies more competitive. Yet employers seemed blind to the potential: Only 38 percent of workers said they would be proud to show important customers their workspace. About a third complained that it didn’t promote health and well-being. And almost half thought that creating a productive workplace was not a priority at their companies. It was a study by the Buffalo Organization for Social and Technological Innovation, that showed how the physical design of workspace had a direct effect on job satisfaction, productivity, and profitability in settings ranging from high-rises to laboratories. Companies with workplaces that encouraged more informal mingling of employees, for example, outperformed those that sequestered their staffs in amaze of cubicles.

General Services Administration decades ago: Of the total cost to a company for running an office building over a 30-year life span, the initial construction represents just 2 percent; operating expenses come to about 6 percent.

The remainder goes to paying the workers inside. The point should be obvious: People are the biggest cost inside a work environment, so leveraging your human capital ought to be near the top of your priority list. But, of course, it isn’t. What type of work environment would you like to be apart of? Are you a cubicle type of employee or more interactive?  If you were an employer what type of office would you set up?


How Much Control Do You Have Over Employees? April 17, 2007

Posted by Elaine in Business-Society Issues, Employees.

I came across an article that featured an employer wondering what she can do about her workers that smoked cigarettes. Insurance companies charge a higher rate for employees that smoke. Employees obviously do not smoke at their workplace, but some do when they are off the clock. Is it fair for the employee to require that her workers do not smoke at all? It would save the company a tremendous amount of money in the insurance department.

Unfortunately for the employer, there are laws stating you cannot discriminate an applicant for their activities outside of the work place. This includes risky behavior such as bungee jumping, sky diving, etc. I remember watching the movie “Along Came Polly.” The guy’s job was to calculate how much insurance/risk each person was worth. His client would partake in extreme activities such as parachuting, hand-gliding, and free falls. He would constantly be stressed out and warned his client that he was too expensive to insure. Are there laws stating that you cannot limit the activities an individual can do just because of insurance purposes?

Helping out the employer, there are laws that allow them to pass the higher costs of insurance over to the smoker. Instead of being discriminated against and now allowed to have the job, these workers just have to pay the additional insurance money. Is this a fair practice?

Vacation policy at Netflix: Take as much as you want April 13, 2007

Posted by Jordi in Employees, Workplaces.

San Jose Mercury News – Vacation policy at Netflix: Take as much as you want
“The worst thing is for a manager to come in and tell me: `Let’s give Susie a huge raise because she’s always in the office.’ What do I care? I want managers to come to me and say: `Let’s give a really big raise to Sally because she’s getting a lot done’ – not because she’s chained to her desk.

They must be crazy you are saying. The employees would be lazy slobs! These “irrepsonisble” managers have employees who led the company to about $50 million in profit on $1 billion in revenue. With 1,300 employees.

Forces of change for strip clubs April 10, 2007

Posted by Lady in Business-Society Issues, Consumers, Employees, Government, Organizational Environment.

I read an article from The Enquirer entitled, “New rules for strip clubs?: Tough new laws could go on Ohio’s ballot.” Basically the article discusses how a group called Citizens for Community Values is putting pressure on Ohio state legislators to pass a Community Defense act which would put restrictions on how strip clubs run their organization. Nude dancing would be banned after midnight and before 6 a.m. In addition, customers would not be allowed to get within six feet of a dancer. Violation of these laws would lead to $1,000 fine and jail time.  

Supporters of the enactment of this law are seeking legislator’s approval because it makes the petition process go a lot faster. However, some people, such as strip club owners, are not in favor of this legislation. So I’d like to post my blog on how strip clubs function as organizations and how forces of change might affect their business. So I was able to point out social forces such as demands from some citizens to tighten their rules in the strip clubs. These citizens feel as though strip clubs have negative effects on the community, such as promoting prostitution and lowering property values.


Another social concern that I thought of was the fact that many of the dancers who work in the strip clubs end up living a corrupted life. In a sense, strip clubs ruin some girls’ lives by promoting promiscuous behaviors. Might some political forces of change also be involved with this situation since legislation is involved? Brian Rothenberg, executive director of a liberal activist group called ProgressOhio, said it is possible that the decision on the legislation could get pushed to 2008 “to drive up turnout for the presidential election.”

What do you guys think of this issue? Should this legislation be passed? Do these strip clubs have a moral obligation to consider to effects that they have on the community including the dancers who work in the strip clubs? Or should the government stay out of this issue because the strip clubs are just providing a service which is highly demanded and helps to also create jobs for these dancers? Do you think that strip clubs will be able to resistance these forces of change?

Secrets of Human Resources April 4, 2007

Posted by Stephanie in Decline and Death, Employees, Organizational Culture.

In Management 101 Human Resources is often overlooked. In GE, HR is not viewed as a support function and certainly not overlooked. After 40 years with GE, Bill Conaty is retiring from head of HR. His work at the company has been exceptional and in some ways untraditional.

Through HR Conaty has helped in developing a performance driven company culture. In a recent article from Business Week (I used a magazine and can’t find the link to the online article), Conaty stresses continuous leadership development and believes “employees must be constantly judged, ranked, and rewarded or punished for their performance.”

In Management 101 teaches the Porter-Lawler Model of Motivation, Performance and Satisfaction, which in part explains intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. At first I was surprised to read how openly Conaty uses a rewards and punishment system. I would think that the employees would want to do well for the company and be proud of their work. Then, again thinking about MGMT 101, I recognized that at some point most people need extrinsic rewards for motivation. Sometimes extrinsic rewards seem unnecessary and it is seen in negative light for someone to need them, but in the end I know that every so often I need something more than just self-motivation.

Last year in the April 17, 2006, Conaty was quoted in another Business Week article saying the primary motivation for the GE staff remains “challenging jobs and a career path for personal growth.”

What motivates you to work hard? Would you want to work in a performance-driven company culture?

In further research I found that in 2004 Conaty was named HR Executive Of The Year. It seems he must be doing something right. Although not much was explained as the criteria for this award, Conaty seems to be appreciated and valued by all levels of employees. This makes sense, as he purposefully does not socialize or become too close with top executives, even the CEO, as he feels this will jeopardize the trust of other relationships with other employees.

Do you think this is a wise move? Should it be a policy for HR workers to distance themselves from executives like the CEO to remain neutral?

The last thing I found particularly significant was Conaty’s reason for executives failing. He says that most often the reason is when they stop learning and growing. As industries, clients, skills and the entire world changes, workers, in particular the leaders need to adapt to change. This continuous learning process is necessary for business to succeed, those who do not acclimate sooner or later will decline and dissolve.

We have talked in class about how detrimental it is for a business not to adapt. Do you think that professors adapt to change? There is a phrase that teachers are students as well. How receptive to change have you found professor to be?

more on Google April 3, 2007

Posted by Abby in blogs, Employees, Knowledge economy, Workplaces.

Hi all,

So I know we’ve all discussed Google at length, but while thinking of different organizations to tackle for the next paper, I decided to look at the ‘Official Google Blog’.


It’s well-known that Google’s organizational culture is definitely out of the ordinary, and is much more liberal and open than any other office, but I had no idea to what extent. This week, not an April Fool’s Day prank – someone lost their pet python IN THE OFFICE!

The organization has great ways for co-workers to bond, such as running a relay together. And is also very creative in holding events such as the ‘Live Art Day’ when an artist was invited to create a work right there, at Google headquarters! (There is a really cool video posted on the blog) They also had a Chinese ice sculptor.

On further investigation, Fortune Magazine also featured (through CNNMoney) the perks of being a ‘Googler’. Here’s a few of them:

  • Free car wash or oil change while you work
  • There are 11 free gourmet cafeterias on-site, as well as numerous cafes
  • If you want to be environmentally friendly, they will give you $5000 towards a hybrid car.
  • Just have a baby? Congratulations! Your employer will give you $500 to put towards take out meals at home, while you get through those first few months with the newborn.
  • You can get your haircut ‘on campus’
  • Free laundry machines to help balance home and work duties!


Wow, all that explains why they’re the #1 Company to Work for!

Holy Spirit Hospital’s “religious” organizational culture March 27, 2007

Posted by Lady in civil society, Consumers, Customer Service, Employees, Organizational Culture, religious organizations.

So I happened to go home this weekend (Harrisburg) and found my idea for this week’s blog in the local newspaper, The Patriot News. The article was titled,Better bedside MANNER: Holy Spirit Hospital aims to cure ill will” and showed that since December, Holy Spirit Hospital has been sending walk-in patients directly to a bed instead of having them sit in the waiting area on those terribly uncomfortable benches. This is the first hospital that I have ever known to have such a generous policy. Personally, I am pleased with such a policy. I chose this article because a couple of weeks ago I read Holy Spirit’s mission and vision statement which is as follows:

Our Mission

Holy Spirit Health System is a community Catholic health system sponsored by the Sisters of Christian Charity to carry out the healing ministry of Jesus Christ to all in need. We provide high quality, cost-effective health services to develop healthy communities in the greater
Harrisburg area and South Central Pennsylvania.

Our Vision

Holy Spirit Health system will exemplify God’s love through our service and Spirit of Caring.

Over the next three years, we will focus on achieving exemplary performance in service to our community, including:

  • Superior clinical outcomes.
  • Outstanding customer satisfaction.
  • Strong financial results.

So after taking a look at Holy Spirit Hospital as an organization, it led me to ponder some questions about their organizational culture. For starters, I wonder if their policy of sending patients straight to a hospital bed has to do with the religious culture that they seem to have instilled in their organization. Or might the policy just be in response to gaining a competitive advantage? Cheri Rinehart of the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania said that it is uncommon practice to send patients directly to a bed, but that there is a trend of “looking at patient satisfaction and what the major dissatisfiers are”.

So is it culture or competition that most led Holy Spirit Hospital to act in this manner and treat their customers in this special way? In my opinion, I think that it is naturally part of Holy Spirit Hospital’s culture to act in this way. I honestly think that the culture of their organization is one that is filled with the “Holy Spirit” literally and this drives them to go beyond the call of duty for their patients. Now, I have never really been a patient there but I wonder what it would be like to be one of their patients. Being a Christian myself and having such a strong faith in God, I can imagine the type of organizational culture that Holy Spirit Hospital may have. Can you?

In general, do you think that an organization that has a highly religious climate can affect their organizational culture? Does that particular religion then define the culture of the organization? How might a religious culture be bad for an organization? How might it be bad for individual employees or patients?

Employees from Hell March 25, 2007

Posted by Stacey Swift in Employees.

Its getting harder to fire those worthless employees.  In 2006 a law was passed that makes it easier for employees to collect money from employers, claiming they were only fired as retribution.  Furthermore, employment lawyers are getting more experienced from all the cases and learning more angles to go after employers.

“if an employee fears he may soon be fired, he can preempt the action by filing a complaint against his boss. Then he can argue that any subsequent disciplinary action is retaliatory.”

Is this fair that employees are taking advantage of their employees and collecting on their own incompetence?  It is very difficult for organizations, especially small businesses, to spot those employees from hell because the organization is caught up in the everyday activities of business.  An employment lawyer in the video suggested most employment retaliation cases could be prevented if the employer took the time to listen to their employees problems because they would feel like their employer genuinely cared.  Whose responsibility is it to ensure the employees are happy and are not going to back stab the company?

The article offers a number of preventative actions a company can take in order to avoid these hellish employees:

  • 1. know the employment law
  • 2. create an employee handbook that will establish a uniform way to treat employees
  • 3. don’t use contracts because it will be more difficult to fire employees
  • 4. keep written records for evidence
  • 5. transferring an employee is not always a solution
  • 6. hire well- at least 2 interviewers
  • 7. address even smallest personnel issues immediately

It seems that in recently organizations have become increasingly liable.  Do you see this trend, and is it fair?  How much should an organization be responsible and how are they supposed to focus on their business when they have to worry about sneaky employees suing them?