Operations Management

Question 1: How Does Changes in the Job Design affect the Jobs of Staff members?

Designs of job techniques are targeted at structuring of work in order to meet the employees’ behavioral and physical needs. The business world has over the years undergone several changes, and recently, there has been a call for shift on how things are carried out, including human resource management. These changes like job design can be linked to the shifts in consumer habits as well as the needs of workers. However, the results are double-phased such that while changing needs of employees have for example, resulted into the changes in the design of their jobs, it has also impacted the work of the employees.

There have been quite a lot of changes in job design throughout the years. The main element in the classic nature of job design is that workers were simply expected to undertake narrow and precise manual activities as laid out by the management. This process of outlining the tasks by the management did not just entail stating the activities to be conducted but also written and detailed instructions of how they should be performed. Traditionally, job design was limited to strict boundaries, hence, the orientations of the workers was quite shallow and passive.

These are some of the problems that the current human resource management aims to correct especially now that that the global market is constantly changing.  Job design now emphasizes on the ensuring more flexibility in the work place as well as in the orientation of the employees’ duties, as a response strategy to the changes (consisting of new technologies and market opportunities, and changes in prices alike). Therefore, the modern job design requires that a cooperative, diverse, flexible and re-integrated human resource is adopted through the use of multi-purpose equipment. In this regard, behavioral considerations continue to become a key element in job design among other factors at the workplace like work measurement, work methods and plans for financial incentives.

Today, job design more specifically entails the inclusion of quality control as part of an individual’s job. This linked to the concept of employee empowerment which is referred to as giving workers more authority and control over the production of commodities. With regards to this, employees have the power to bring to a halt, a production line if they find out that there is a quality mishap. Besides, they can also issue refunds to clients in case the products fail to satisfy their needs. On the other hand, employees are also trained to undertake multiple jobs in line with the downsizing efforts that are increasingly being put in place by many organizations. The involvement of employees is on the rise and there is also the adoption of team approaches in work design and companies. ‘Informating’ of work is also another element that is on the rise. This entails not just the automation of work, but also revising the key structures of work. Another element is the increasing automation of manual activities. These have resulted into the expansion of the nature of employees’ work and their abilities.

Generally, the strategies for the new job design have portrayed and handled workers as resources instead of costs. This means that more and more companies have come to the realization of the fact that in order to reap the greatest benefits from workers, each has to be accorded special attention.  The strategies that have supported this concept have impacted positive change in the attitudes of employees towards their seniors and jobs. This has further enhanced the work output of employees, thereby offering benefits to organizations.

Question 2: How the ‘Behavioral Model’ Impacts Job Design and Branch Employees

Behavioral model is an aspect of job design that is focused on the elements that would contribute to the positive job-related attitudes of employees while at work like job satisfaction.

With regards to the above definition, there are three main features of contemporary job design that include labor, socio-technical systems and job enrichment. These have had different results on the job designs of workers. For example, labor specialization has had two opposite impacts on employees’ jobs, both positive and negative. The first impact is that it has led to increased production speed and reduced costs of production, thereby improving the living standards of workers. However, extremism in specialization has been linked to various adverse impacts on the management and staff. For instance, the repetitive nature of work translates into employees getting bored and stressed up. Since workers do not have control over the pace at which they do their work, there are higher chances of them facing frustrations and fatigue. The hiccup here is connected to the difficulty in making decisions on the ideal extent of specialization. According to certain research studies, the demerits of specialization are more that the benefits. Maybe it is due to this that many organizations have recently embarked on cross-training of their workforce in various jobs so that they are able to undertake diverse tasks. This in part is responsible for the two other elements of job design; job enrichment and socio-technical systems that have also been of great importance in the recent years.

Job enrichment has a relationship with job enlargement. It has been focused on challenging the negative impacts of specialization. Horizontal enlargement occurs when an employee performs many and diverse jobs. This helps in counteracting the impacts of oversimplification of duties, thus, allowing workers to undertake an entire unit of duties. Vertical enlargement occurs when an employee is accorded certain managerial tasks and control, like the progress of organization, planning and inspection of the process of production (noting down for instance, quality hitches). Vertical enlargement is generally applied to widen the influence of workers in the process of the organization’s transformation.

Job enrichment strategies enhance quality and productivity. According to research, employees develop a feeling of ownership and put in more efforts in their work if they are awarded more responsibility and control over their duties. From another angle, this strategy enables employees to develop a better understanding of the process of work. Thus, employees have higher chances of noticing errors and making the appropriate corrections. With regards to productivity, shifting from one role to another helps in maintaining an employee’s momentum for work, compared to extreme specialization.

Sociotechnical system emphasizes on the interaction between workers and technology. This approach is aimed at developing jobs linked to technologies that are applied in the line of production with the needs of both workers and their teams. This entails job enrichment strategies. According to studies, work groups can effectively handle various production challenges (unlike the management) when they are accorded the power to control their jobs (including decisions making with regards to job allocation, scheduling, sharing of bonuses among others). The argument behind this concept is that people can work best when the tasks stipulated in their job description bear logical integration and also incorporate various job design principles like variety of skills, feedback, task identity and task autonomy.

Question 3: Feasibility and Desirability of Employee Empowerment at the Branch and CPC Levels

As already pointed out in the first question, employees’ needs have also shifted over the years. Today, workers are not only asking for but also need working environments where they are involved in the decision making processes. This is part of employee empowerment. It should be noted that employee empowerment is not only concerned with the autonomy of workers but also their ability to make personal decisions on how their work procedures can be changed and impact those changes in their immediate places of work. This is according to the enhanced democracy in the working environment, whereby employees are accorded a voice by their employers on matters regarding transformation process.  This flexibility improves the ability and capacity of a company to cope up with the dynamics of the global market place that is undergoing rapid changes.

On the other hand, there are also limitations. For instance, the nature and extent to which employees are empowered is based on the context that is being handled including the department’s role. For example, the extent of control that is accorded to employees varies from one department to another, based on that department’s significance and the effects of giving employees, a lot of control powers. For instance, the Cheque-Processing Center (CPC) is a critical department compared to, say, that of IT. Considering the virtue of dealings of the IT department, it presents higher chances of innovativeness. On the other hand, the process of clearing a cheque is quite rigid and that limitation is justifiable considering the effects of even a simple mistake. One cannot just move away or ignore the process that is put in place by the policy of the company. Thus, considering the sensitivity of the process of clearing a cheque, those who work in this department may not be able to reap the benefits of autonomy. A lot of bureaucratic assessment and evaluation is required for any implementation of new procedures to be conducted. This points out that even if there has to be little employee empowerment in the CPC, its extent is quite different from that which is enjoyed by employees in other departments like maybe the IT department.

Question 4: Cheque-Processing Operation Stages

New technologies have recently been unveiled to enhance a cheque-payment system that can work globally. This has seen the movement from manual cheque-processing procedures to mechanized options. Regardless of the option, the process of cheque clearance is a critical factor when it comes to the development of ideal settlements and payment system. This process is summarized in Figure 1 below.

There are several cheque-processing stages. As part of the process, the CPC generally obtains and sorts or does the listing of cheques according to the branch of the drawee, and then prepares the reports.

Some of these stages add value while others do not. Addition of value or lack of it refers to the ability to offer more (above the expected objectives of a given stage) to the organization or CPC with reduced or no cost to the company. With such a value, the company acquires a competitive edge.

Figure 1

Check Order Process Flowchart

Source: Adapted from

http://www.smartdraw.com/examples/view/check+order+process+flowchart/

One of the main stages that can add value is the first stage during the placement of an order. However, the organization’s ability to acquire increased value or not is dependent on the nature of the cheque that is used. For instance, if an organization has the facilities that permit the use of electronic cheques, it is obvious that is has a competitive advantage over those without this provision. The use of electronic cheque means that individual from any part of the world can place an order without necessarily any form of physical presence. Of great importance is that this is an important strategy for enhancing the global ambitions of an organization. Besides, as indicated on the chart above, transactions that involve cheques in the form of hard copies usually take considerably longer duration of time to be completed compared to electronic ones. In cases on non-electronic cheques, the company has to place the order on hold as the arrival of the cheque is awaited, unless it is physically delivered by the buyer. An electronic cheque is on the other hand, delivered immediately and the order is pushed to the next stage that entails the account validation and checking of the routing number.

Another stage that can also add value to the organization is the issuance of receipts to clients. This signifies that a transaction is complete and the sooner it is done, the quicker the deal is sealed. With regards to this, the organization that offers electronic receipt (through email) acquires a competitive advantage over others that offer hard copy or paper receipts.

An organization can apply the cheque-processing operation in various ways towards enhancing its competitive advantage, like making sure that transactions take a short period of time to complete. For example, assuming that an order is placed with non-electronic cheque, the time taken for validation of the account and routing numbers, endorsements and deposit of the cheque is important consideration for competitive advantage since the less period of time spent, the greater the value for the business.