Artemis Management
Consulting with Management to Help Business Work Through People
Case Study
   
Case Number 1

The Presenting Problem:
The new requirement of 24 hour, 7 day availability was bankrupting the budget and becoming a burden, because employees on beepers could not make personal plans that took them out of beeper range on nights and weekends. Morale was low and staff were threatening to leave the company.

The Solution:
Using ReInventing Work strategies and tools, the work group learned how to redesign their work structures and processes. They took their current business challenges — the new requirement of a two-hour turn-around time — and working as a team, brainstormed the ways in which they could solve their personal dilemmas while also supporting the needs of the business. It became clear to the team that a schedule change of some sort was necessary. After considering a number of scheduling options, two customer engineers volunteered to go on a three-day, twelve hour schedule, from Friday through Sunday, 8 A.M. to 8 P.M., with an additional four hours on Monday morning,

The Results:

  • The other customer engineers in the office can now count on weekends off.]
  • The customers now have a regular weekend customer engineer, whom they have come to know and trust.
  • The "families" benefit because customer engineers on the weekend shift are now able to be involved in their kids’ activities at school during the week. The weekday customer engineers can make personal plans on the weekends knowing their co-workers are covering that shift, and thus, no beepers are required.
  • Overtime expenses have been reduced significantly.
  • Employees who were ready to leave because of the excessive overtime required, have remained. Thus, recruitment and training costs have been eliminated.
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Case Number 2

The Presenting Problem:
A Human Resources group was not meeting its deadlines for long-term projects. Staff morale was down and concern about burnout was rampant, because staff members were working long hours in an attempt to complete their project work.

The Solution:
The members of the HR group determined that interruptions during the core workday were preventing them from having concentrated time for their long-term projects. They reconfigured their furniture so a "receptionist" prevented drop-in visitors from interrupting all of the staff. Staff members rotated into the "receptionist" role and addressed visitors’ questions, so that others in the department were not disturbed and customers were still supported. Professional staff also began rotating responsibility to answer the telephone. Now everyone in the department has uninterrupted time to focus on longer-term projects by avoiding constant interruptions. Customer requests are still addressed on a timely basis, and HR staff members feel more job satisfaction and less stress. They are working more efficiently and reducing their overtime hours.

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Case Number 3

The Presenting Problem:
Employees were not using their accrued leave time; burnout was becoming a concern for staff as well as managers.

The Solution:
1. In a sales division in the Midwest, all individual development plans now include a section for the employee to complete, indicating his or her plans for the use of Flexible Time Off. During performance reviews, managers ask employees if their goals have been achieved, and if not, why not. This encourages all employees to plan their personal time off and then to be accountable for actually taking it. The managerial message is: "Time off is important for you and the organization."

2. Employees in the same sales division identify colleagues who can function as backups in their absence. It becomes easier to take time off when someone is sick or for a vacation if the employee knows that another person will handle the essential work.

3. This sales group has experimented with two other changes. It has new norms for voice mail and electronic mail response time. It has also agreed that staff and managers will no longer be expected to respond on the weekends and on their vacation to voice mail and electronic mail.

4. The sales group has an "assumption buster" award. At staff meetings the members are encouraged to challenge one another when traditional assumptions or habitual work processes prevent them from seeing new business opportunities or affect their personal lives. They have given one another permission to challenge the status quo. The assumption-buster award is a lighthearted way to encourage the sales team to challenge what are usually accepted as "givens." They are learning to ask new kinds of questions and to innovate to benefit both the business and their personal lives.

The Results:

  • Burnout and stress have been reduced significantly. There has been no employee turnover in this group in 18 months.
  • Employees report that their productivity has increased. They also report increased morale because there is more team work and because they feel respected and empowered to make suggestions for change.
  • Customers report increased satisfaction because they know who is available to respond to their needs.
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Case Number 4

The Presenting Problem:
A finance staff person was frustrated by constant interruptions breaking his concentration on detail work.

The Solution:
This finance staff person now puts masking tape on the flashing red voice mail indicator light on his telephone. He realized that the light was a distraction and kept him from concentrating on his work. He now returns his calls at several periods throughout the day instead of having frequent interruptions during his peak productivity time.

The Results:
The employee is more productive and more satisfied with his job.
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Case Number 5

The Presenting Problem:
The managers of the customer engineers are required to travel extensively to cover their territory, attend corporate meetings, and meet with customers. This takes them away from the office and away from home frequently.

The Solution:
A Customer Engineering division schedules quarterly off-sites to begin at noon so that staff travel in the morning and avoid an extra night away from home. They have agreed to work through dinner to cover the agenda. They prefer this schedule to taking an extra night away from home.

The Results:
Travel costs have been reduced for the business while employee satisfaction has increased.
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