The following questions and answers are from the YakkaTech Case Study from our McShane & Von Glinow (2015) text regarding the difficulties this company has experienced managing their employees apparent lack of motivation and engagement after receiving disturbing feedback of dissatisfaction from their customers concerning poor service, quality, and timeliness in resolving their IT problems.
What symptom(s) in this case suggest that something has gone wrong?
In this case study it is apparent that the employees of YakkaTech were having difficulties with motivation and employee engagement. In our text, Employee engagement is defined as “an individual’s emotional and cognitive (logical) motivation, particularly a focused, intense, persistent, and purposive effort towards work related goals” McShane & Von Glinow (2015). If the company’s goals for their employees revolve around world class service, then they began falling woefully below that expectation. The company started receiving complaints of subpar customer service in the form of indifference and slow response to client’s problems as well as fielding grievances where clients reported having to train YakkaTech’s service employees regarding their own jobs. YakkaTech also began seeing voluntary workforce attrition in the contact centers exceeding the industries norm. The employees were also describing “their work as monotonous and felt disconnected from the consequences of their work as well as voicing complaints of conflicts between departments and feeling the stress of serving dissatisfied clients” McShane & Von Glinow (2015).
What are the main causes of these symptoms?
It appears that the reorganization of the company’s customer service centers into four large regional centers, from over a dozen previously was the first issue. Secondly, they began to rely on consulting businesses to make customer visits, as opposed to previously when the company sent employees to customers for onsite support. Also when the company consolidated its numerous care centers the employees began taking on more of a workload which “nearly doubled over the past 5 years” McShane & Von Glinow (2015). In one part of the case study the author discusses the customers complaining about being handed off to other departments as opposed to the old system where the work order was assigned to one employee and it was their sole responsibility to close it out. This leads me to feel that their attempt at job specialization may not have been so valuable to the customer. Our text describes the downfalls of job specialization where the jobs become so “specialized that they soon become tedious, trivial, and socially isolating” McShane & Von Glinow (2015). YakkaTech’s story provides us with a great example of this as the company also began having employee turnover as well as experiencing poor quality of work as a result of “disassociating job incumbents from the overall product or service” McShane & Von Glinow (2015). It is obvious the management did not understand the problems and needs of the employees as their countermeasures were to increase the salary to such a high level it set the bar for the industry as well as putting a substantial emphasis on their profit sharing plan and bonuses. This may have stymied the rate of attrition the company had been experiencing, but it didn’t address the root cause. Just as one of my fellow students wrote the other day; they are “treating the symptom, not the cause”.
What actions should YakkaTech executives take to correct these problems?
I feel that the company should survey the employee to see what actually motivates them. Of course, they have been successful retaining employees recently due to their willingness to pay such high salaries, but they are still experiencing the same employee engagement problems. They should try to understand how rewarding the job is currently to the employee compared to how rewarding they desire it to be. The company needs to put more emphasis into understanding what drives their employees. It’s doubtful that they will be successful with a “cookie cutter” approach so they should investigate several avenues in the reward systems. Sometimes just job expansion or enlargement by itself is its own reward. Reducing the monotony by adding “more tasks to an existing job” will increase variety. I would also consider looking at job enrichment, where an employee is given more autonomy in how they carry out their work. This could reduce employee turnover, increase job satisfaction, and boost productivity. All things YakkaTech is needing to address. Referring to the job characteristics model, which includes; Skill Variety, Task Identity, Task significance, and again Autonomy, under the right conditions “employees are more motivated and satisfied when jobs have higher levels of these characteristics” McShane & Von Glinow (2015). In other words, it appears that if the company would make the jobs more challenging and reward the employees appropriately, they should be able to turn their subpar employee performance around.