A Response to Change

A Response to Change As business manager of Friendly Insurance, Inc., Dana Jones was responsible for the work of approximately 45 employees, 26 of whom were classified as secretarial or administrative. The department was responsible for the timely processing of claims submitted for adjudication. The company had experienced a spurt in growth over the past few years. Through monitoring the department’s activities, the senior leadership had determined that they were slower at the claims process than the industries’ standards. They also found out that the group had a higher error rate than the industry standard. At the direction of the plan president, a team of outside systems analysis consultants were called on to make a time study and work method analysis of Jones’ area to improve the efficiency and output of the business office, making them a more efficient part of a growing organization. Jones was to be the liaison between the consultants and the department. With no notice or preparation of the employees, the consultants showed up on a Monday morning and began by observing and recording each detail of the work of the secretarial and clerical staff. After two days of preliminary observation, they indicated that they were prepared to begin their time-study on the following day. The next morning, five of the business office employees participating in the study were absent. On the following day, ten employees were absent. Concerned, Jones sought to find the reasons for the absenteeism by calling the absent employees. Each related basically the same story. Each was nervous, tense and physically tired after being a “guinea pig” during the two days of the preliminary observation. One told Jones that his physician had advised him to ask for a leave of absence if working conditions did not improve. Shortly after his telephone calls, the head of the study team told Jones that if there were as many absences on the next day, his team would have to delay the study. He stated that a scientific analysis would be impossible with 10 of his employees absent. Realizing who would be held responsible for the failure of the study, Jones was very concerned. Questions: 1) What do you think caused the reaction of some employees to the study?  2) Could these reactions have been predicted and/or prevented? Why or why not?  3) What steps should Jones take to get the department functioning?  4) How could the “Hawthorne Effect” apply in this case

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