Employee Benefits at HealthCo
HealthCo is a nonprofit health care provider operating with 36 clinics in an open system within a functional organization. The clinics include rehabilitation units, therapy facilities, hospice and geriatric units, and other highly specialized centers. HealthCo operates with approximately 6,700 employees in the eastern United States.
In line with the industry, HealthCo employs a larger number of women than men in the areas of nursing and patient care. HealthCo held a senior staff meeting to address current issues and the coming year’s strategic initiatives. Attending the Senior Staff meeting were the CEO, Dr. Palmer, Senior Officer Pat, Senior Officer Francis, and Senior Officer Mercer.
During the meeting CEO, Dr. Palmer addressed a Human Resources report indicating that HealthCo’s turnover is 1. 5 times the industry standard. Dr. Palmer belief is that while HealthCo is competitive with salary, the benefits offered the employees is an area needing improvement. Dr. Palmer request that a team of four to six volunteers begin working on a plan for HealthCo becoming a top company in terms of work-life benefits. Question #1: How would you conduct a diagnosis of the situation at HealthCo?
In order to effectively diagnosis the situation according to “entering and contracting are the initial steps in the OD process” (Cumming and Worley, 2009, P. 75). These steps are important to establish the relationship between the Organizational Development practitioner and the organization. This relationship defines the parameters for all remaining phases of the organizational development process such as: diagnosing the organization, planning and implementing, evaluating and institutionalizing the planned change. Identify the presenting problem
Identifying the presenting problem is the perceived issue by the client, based on a preliminary inquiry. It is what appears to be going on. It is generally recognizable by the solution that is often, but not always suggested. After we identify the presenting problem, we can begin to clarify the organizational issue in order to better understand the context and nature of the presenting problem. Be sure to identify the presenting problem prior to proceeding to clarifying the organizational issue. Remember that the presenting problem often has an implied or stated solution. Clarifying the organizational issue
It is often discovered that the presenting problem is accurate. However, a thorough diagnosis is required to support the diagnosis. The presenting problem is only enough information in order for the Organizational Development practitioner to say we need to take a look at the issue. This can be tricky though, because the client’s mind might be made up in terms of the need for a training program and the Organizational Development practitioner knows that the presenting problem may just be an indication of a deeper issue within the organization. Therefore, additional data will need to be collected in order to understand the real issue.
Cummings and Worley caution that many times the presenting problem can possibly be only a symptom of the real issue (2009, p. 76). The collection of this additional data will support the Organizational Development practitioner’s statement of the problem and solution in the attempt of approaching and choosing my relevant client. Determining the Relevant Client The process of determining the relevant client involves selecting the individuals within the organization who can directly impact the change issues. The relevant client will include the person who can authorize the use of appropriate resources for this project.
At the same time, culturally, within the organization, these top level people have been historically unable to implement successful change. The next step is to identify the individuals involved in the making the change process to be successful. This should include leadership from all departments affected by these changes as well as representation from all locations. Effective identification of the presenting problem, clarifying the organizational issue, and correct selection of the relevant client will enable the Organizational Development practitioner to diagnose the organization.
Diagnosing Organizations Diagnosing is the process by which the Organizational Development practitioner begins to understand how the organization is functioning. This information is required to design the change intervention. The diagnosis process will enable the Organizational Development practitioner and the members of the organization to jointly determine the issues to be addressed, the method by which the collection and analysis of the data will take place.
An effective diagnosis will help to develop the relationship between all parties whereas together they can work toward the development of the necessary actions steps. The process begins with deciding which level of analysis to apply, organization, group, or individual level. Diagnosis can occur at all levels of analysis, or it can occur at only one level. Each level has inputs, design components, and outputs. Inputs are what organizations have to work with, general environment, industry, organization design, group design, and personal characteristics.
Design components are the key components within the organization that enable the organization to take the inputs and change them into outputs, services or a product. There are six components at the organizational level, technology, structure, culture, measurement systems, human resources systems, and strategy. Group level design components include goal clarity, team functioning, group norms, group composition, and finally task structure. There are five design components within the individual level system.
Each individual of analysis will take the inputs and work within the organizations design components structure to turn inputs into the desired outputs. Within the organizational level system outputs include organization effectiveness. This effectiveness includes performance, productivity, and stakeholder satisfaction. Group level systems affect team effectiveness, including quality of work life, and performance of the group. The individual level system outputs include individual effectiveness, job satisfaction, performance, absenteeism, and personal development.
The organizations effectiveness depends on the alignment among the different groups. To determine if the organizations alignment the Organizational Development practitioner collects and analyzes data to answers two questions, does the organization’s strategic orientation fit with the inputs, and do the design components fit with each other. Collecting and Analyzing Diagnostic Information The Organizational Development practitioner will play a very active role in the collection of data for diagnostic purposes.
There are three important goals of data collection, obtaining valid information, rally support of the organizational members, and promotes a working relationship between the Organizational Development practitioner and the members of the organization. Method of Collection There are four techniques for gathering diagnostic data, questionnaires, interviews, observations, and unobtrusive measures. (Cummings and Worley, 2009) Each method holds major advantages and disadvantages. The most effective way to effectively collect data is through the questionnaire method. Questionnaires assess the more comprehensive characteristics of the organization.
Technique for analyzing data Quantitative tool of research is a much more subjective form of research than qualitative research. Subjectivity allows the introduction of individual bias in the collection of the data. Qualitative research may be necessary when it is unclear what exactly is being looked for in a study. The researcher will then be required to determine what data is important and what isn’t. In qualitative research the use of content analysis and the force-field analysis data is collected from the use of interviews, observations and interview questions.
The OD practitioner must then separate responses into two categories, the social aspect and the task aspect. In comparison, the quantitative research tool separates data so that they can be counted and modeled statistically. Tools used such as scattergrams, mean standard deviations, frequency distributions, and difference tests are intended to minimize any bias. Quantitative research then collects information like a machine. The result of quantitative research is a collection of numbers, which can be subjected to statistical analysis in the formation of a result.
Quantitative research knows exactly what it’s looking for before the research begins. In qualitative research the focus of the study becomes apparent as time progresses. Feeding Back Diagnostic Information Feeding back diagnostic information according to Cummings and Worley is perhaps the most important step in the diagnosis process (2009). The effectiveness of feedback data rests on the results of the data presented evoking a sense of action in the organization and its members. There is more information normally gathered than is required, therefore, the OD practitioner must properly analyze the data and present only the meaningful data.
Presenting more data than required could cause the organizational members to feel overwhelmed and cause resistance of change and a lack of motivation for change. Determining the content of the feedback can be described using nine properties (Cummings and Worley, 2009). The members of the organization are receptive to the data feedback when they find it meaningful. The inclusion of the managers and employees in the collection of the data can increase the data relevance. The feedback must be understandable and descriptive. The use of graphs and charts in presenting statistical data affords ease in the understanding of the complicated data.
Detailed illustrations help employees get a good feel for the information. The data must be accurate and verifiable in order to guide the positive action of the organizational members. This can be accomplished if the content of the data feedback can be verified by the members of the organization as fitting into the organizations attitude and culture. The data feedback content must be timely, limited and significant. The feedback should take place as soon as possible from the time of the data gathering. Timely feedback will ensure motivation by the members of the organization to examine the data and thereby invoke change.
The data must be limited to a realistic amount for the individuals to process. Data overload causes individuals to become overwhelmed, leading to feelings of failure. The data collected and presented must be significant to what the organizational members perceives as the problem. This helps the individuals direct their energies toward realistic change. Because data feedback can be vague, it is important to have a comparison that is understandable by the members. The use of comparisons whenever possible can help to provide the members with examples of how the data fits into their own group as well as the entire organization.
The final property of the feedback content is the ability to present the data as to invoke the sense that the data is only a starting point. It should be presented as to guide the members into further and more in depth discussions of the issues presented. Designing an Intervention Effective interventions must meet three major criteria: “(1) the extent to which it fits the needs of the organization; (2) the degree to which it is based on causal knowledge of intended outcomes; and (3) the extent to which it transfers change management competence to organization members” (Cummings and Worley, 2009 p. 51).
The extent to which it fits the needs of the organization states that the organization will provide valid information on the organization’s functions. This function allows that the organization is willing to participate in an accurate diagnosis of the organization that reflects fairly on what the members of the organization perceive as their concerns and issues. The organization will allow members the opportunity to make free and informed choices. All members are involved in the decisions for change and how that change will affect them.
Finally, the organization gain members’ internal commitment to their choices. Members accept ownership of the selected intervention and will take on the responsibility of the implementation of the change. Knowledge of outcomes is the second criteria for effective intervention. Since the purpose of an effective intervention is to produce a specific result, effective interventions are based on the valid knowledge that the intended result can actually be produced. Without that there would be no scientific basis to design an intervention.
An explanation of the knowledge of outcomes criteria in the insurance industry can be explained by role of the underwriting department. Insurance companies are in the business of paying claims. However, it is the responsibility of the underwriters to accept or reject possible risks. An intervention attempted in the underwriting department to eliminate all losses would result in a failure in the criteria of knowledge of outcomes. There is no valid knowledge that could support this intervention.
Extent to which it enhances the organizations capacity to manage change is the hird criteria of an effective intervention. The final criteria would expect that during the process of planning, implementing and intervention stages, the organizational members alone will have gained all necessary skills to carry out the planned change. Cummings and Worley state, “Competence in change management is essential in today’s environment, where technological, social, economic, and political changes are rapid and persistent” (Cummings and Worley, 2009 p. 152). There are two contingencies used in the design of effective interventions.
Both contingencies must be considered in designing an effective intervention. The first is contingencies related to the change situation. This would include four major areas of concentration, readiness for change, the capability to change, cultural context, and capabilities of the change agent. The issues of this contingency is the focus of the change situation, which includes the OD practitioner. There are four key issues in the contingencies related to the target of change. The four key issues to be examined are strategic issues, technological and structural issues, human resource issues, and human process issues.
Strategic issues are the most critical issues faced by today’s organizations. The strategic issues facing any organization is deciding what function the organization will serve, what product or services to produce, and what market to produce or service for. Three other strategic issues include the ability of the organization to decide how to gain competitive advantage and how to relate to the environment. The final strategic issue is deciding what values will guide the organizational function.
Technological and structural issues encompass the division of departments, coordination of the departments, delivery of the product or service, and the task of coordinating the people with the tasks. The concentration in these issues is considered to be activities related to the organizational design, employee involvement and work design. The strategic and technological and structural issues of the target of change contingency deals with the mechanics of the organization, while the human resource issues and human process issues are designed to deal with more of the humanistic side of issues.
Human resources issues are understood to include the attracting competent staff, planning and development of employee careers, and setting the goals and rewards for the employees. The concentration in these issues is considered to be human resources management intervention. This concentration should not be confused with human process issues. Human process issues are concentrated on the social processing occurring within the organizational members, including the development of process for areas of how to communicate, solve problems, make decisions, interact and lead.
The intervention designed in the area of human process issues includes such techniques as team building and conflict resolution. It is important to note that organizational issues are interrelated, decisions on the strategic issues will affect the structural issues, and therefor decisions must be decided as to their relationship to one another. Cummings and Worley state; “intervention design must create change methods appropriate to the organizational issues identified in the diagnosis” (Cummings and Worley, 2009 p. 154).
Evaluating and Institutionalizing Change The final two activities in effective change management is managing the transition and sustaining momentum. During the managing transition the change agents responsibilities include, activity planning, commitment planning, and the change management structures. A successful transition depends on the change agent’s ability to develop a schedule or timeline of specific times, activities and events, articulating the blending of changes tasks, and finally linking the change tasks to the organizations goals and priorities.
The change agent will need to ensure that the activity plan is adaptable to change as feedback warrants, be cost effective and receives top-management. Commitment planning on the part of the change agent involves gaining the identifying and gaining the support and commitment from key individuals. In order to accelerate the transition a change agent will need to develop change management structures, and learning processes. Within the final stage of change the change agent must sustaining momentum so that they are carried out to completion.
During this stage the change agent must providing resources for the change process through additional financial and human resources, creating a support system for the change agents thorough networks of close individuals to the change agents who offer emotional support and serve as a sounding board. The change agent must develop new competencies and skills through programs such as on-the-job counseling and coaching or traditional training programs. One effective way to sustain momentum is reinforcing new behaviors to implement the change.
This is accomplished by giving formal rewards for the desired behaviors. Finally the last role the change agent must play is staying the course. There will be factors the discourage managers or organizations; it is the role of the change agent to instill patience and trust in the diagnosis and intervention work. Question #2: Based on the information provided in the scenarios and the case, what is your own diagnosis of the situation? Summary of the Data Within the industry, HealthCo offers its employees a competitive salary. However, the turnover rate is 1. 5 times the industry standard.
In the attempt to improve the organizations competitive advantage, CEO, Dr. Palmer commissioned a survey of the female employees in the area of work-life issues. The survey ranked the top eight desired benefits, of those eight desired benefits HealthCo does not offer three and has only minimal benefits in the remainder. The current management and leadership staff within HealthCo is confrontational with the idea of the administering any additional work-life benefits in fear of additional issues with department workloads, which often exceed the day-to-day capacity of the staff.
Another issue HealthCo faces is the laboratory services department being staffed 24/7, and is called upon to perform services at any time. Diagnosis There appears to be a breakdown within specific design components at the organizational level. While technology, structure, culture, measurement systems, and strategy appear to be effective, the human resources systems appear to lack the required skills and knowledge to implement change.
There appears to be a systems fit issue between the organizational level structure and the group level quality of work-life and performance, as well as the individual level structure in terms of individual effectiveness. Intervention The direction of the intervention will fall into the area of Human Process Interventions. The specific interventions to be considered: a) Management and Leadership Development intervention. HealthCo current management staff displays objection to a work-life benefits strategy. This is due to the lack of knowledge of and the lack of skills required in implementing the change.
The benefit of the intervention would include the development of the required knowledge and skills for the implementation of the necessary changes. b) Career Planning and Development. The diagnostic data points to a lack of importance in the value of the work-life benefits for the female employees within HealthCo. A new set of benefits could be identified and then implemented. A work-life balance intervention could identified and then implement a new work-life benefits package. Question #3: What do you see as the key issues in HealthCo becoming a top company in terms of work-life benefits?
Based on data collected HealthCo faces one key issue in achieving the stated goal of CEO, Dr. Palmer, “become a top company in terms of work-life benefits”. Regardless of what change is made to the current benefits program, HealthCo’s current management and leadership are not sufficiently prepared to implement the change. With the implementation of a management and leadership development intervention HealthCo’s management will have developed the skills and knowledge to implement new organizational strategies.