The major issues present in the “bagel hockey” conundrum are that the employees are unhappy and lack enthusiasm for their job, a few “games” have been created by the same unenthusiastic employees which have led to a decrease in the quality of customer service as well as an appreciable loss of food, the supervisors in this situation are not doing their jobs, and finally the manager of the cafeteria has created too much of a lax atmosphere that was conducive to these behaviors. The majority of these problems stem from the lack of employee enthusiasm for their job, so it is important that the issue of low employee morale be dealt with first and given the most attention from the manager.
In order to combat the morale issue employees should be rewarded for good work (through a program like employee of the month) their accomplishments recognized and praised through the use of a comment card box, and finally employees need to be posed the question “what would make coming to work more enjoyable for you?” The second issue can be solved by using these same tactics as it can trace its origin back to the first issue. The third issue needs to be combatted through a training session for the supervisors where they are reminded of their job descriptions. Finally the fourth issue can be solved through the presence of Mrs.Laraby being felt more around the Cafeteria, especially on weekends.
There are many issues here that require managerial attention. First of all, and most importantly, the weekend employees of the Cafeteria do not enjoy their job. Secondly, many “games” have been created to combat the boredom and they have led to a reduction in good customer service as well as one of them causing a loss of appreciable food. Thirdly, the supervisors are not doing their jobs. Finally, Mrs.Laraby has created too much of an atmosphere that is conducive to and led to these behaviors from employees. Analysis
The biggest problem in this organization that the majority of the other issues can be traced back to is that the employees of this facility do not enjoy their jobs. There are multiple statements made throughout the text that give evidence to this claim. First of all the job was not considered desirable and it was stated in the text that it “had been the last resort choice by every weekend employee,”( pg 112). If this alone is not enough to show the employee’s discontent with their job then perhaps the fact that “all employees performed the essential tasks that their jobs demanded of them but without much enthusiasm,”(pg 112) demonstrates the employees lack of excitement when it comes to working in the cafeteria. This is the core of all the other problems. Since the workers were so bored with their job, they created these “games” to entertain them, with baseball being the most problematic as “only baseball ruined any appreciable quantity of useable food” (pg 113).
The fact that these games exist, as well as the fact that these games have led to a decrease in good customer service (since they distract employees to the point where two employees are left to service a huge influx of people) and a loss of appreciable food, is the second biggest issue. To address the third we must work under the assumption that the employees formed their friendships because there was little else to do and they were certainly not completely focused on their job, again evidenced by their apparent lack of enthusiasm for it, then we can see how the next issue stems from the main problem. Supervisors “were treated as equals and joked and fooled around with the others”(pg 112). Because the supervisors are friends and buddy-buddy with their co-workers, they are at an inherent disadvantage when it comes to disciplining their charges and making the right decisions for someone of their stature within the organization.
The main issue here is that the supervisors joined in the bagel hockey game, and approved of it, which is why it was allowed to stay. So essentially the third issues is that supervisors are not doing their jobs which again, can be related back to the employees lack of enthusiasm for the job. Finally the fourth issue, and probably the only one that cannot be related back to the employee’s lack of enthusiasm is that Mrs. Laraby has not been a good manager as of late. In the text it mentions that she “encouraged a relaxed working atmosphere”and that she “rarely came into the cafeteria on weekends” (pg 112). Mrs. Laraby has been too soft with her employees, as well as not making her presence known really at all with weekend employees since she is rarely there. These employees cannot respect the authority of their manager when she is barely around to manage them. Since the supervisors are not doing their job either, the staff is basically left without any supervision at all and that is another one of the reasons they have been able to get away with playing games like bagel hockey. Alternative Actions
In order to combat the issue of employee morale the many different actions taken include rewarding good performance, taking time to recognize employees who are outstanding, showing employees they make a difference at their job, celebrate employee accomplishments, collaborate ideas, and simply ask employees what would make work more enjoyable for them. All of these can also be used to combat the second major issue in need of managerial attention, but an alternative action to that would be to do nothing and let the games continue but set up an alert system when the cafeteria gets busy. When it comes to the third issue-the supervisors not doing their jobs- there are two course of action, fire them or retrain them. Finally when it comes to the last issue I can only see one viable option (besides doing nothing which would solve absolutely nothing)- Mrs. Laraby must come in on weekends occasionally. Recommendations
The actions that can be taken to combat the issue of low employee morale include: rewarding good performance from employees. Take time to recognize employees who are doing an outstanding job and show them that it is appreciated. This can be done through paid time off or possibly recognition in front of their coworkers for a job well done. However, if some of the employees are never recognized they may grow to resent their coworkers that are and this could in turn lower employee morale. Another alternative action was showing your employees they make a difference at their job. Encourage customers to share inspiring stories about your employees, have a comment card box and clear it for the weekend shift and take the cards out on Monday. Come in before the weekend shift begins and share with employees all of the wonderful comments from customers. A problem with this could be if only negative comments are received from customers and there is nothing positive to regale employees with. Another option was to celebrate employee accomplishments; take the time to show your employees how much they have done through the year which will make them appreciate the work they do.
This can be done through regular compliments and praise from supervisors or managers as well as simple certificates( which can go a long way in boosting employee morale- if an employee sees they’re being recognized for good work then they’ll keep it up and be more excited to come to work). However, again, if some employees are recognized and others aren’t this can lead to resentment. A good way to combat this possible negative is to watch employees and find something good to say about all of them. Another viable option was to collaborate ideas. Have the employees write down the goals they have for the cafeteria for the year and share them. There are no negative outcomes from this sharing of ideas. Finally, ask employees the simple question “what would make you excited to come to work?” A possible negative outcome from this could be if employees said “nothing” and then you are at an impasse and confused on what next step to take.
Out of all of these actions I think the ones that would help solve the employees lack of enthusiasm for work is to reward employees for good work, create a comment card box and share the good comments with employees-if they see they are appreciated at their job they’re more likely to be happy to do it- and finally a lot could be accomplished simply by asking employees what would make the job more enjoyable for them and the negative consequences of all of these can be mitigated with some critical thinking. All of these actions would actually serve to combat issues one and two in need of managerial attention. As stated in the analysis of the problems, a line can clearly be drawn from the second issue back to the source-the first issue. If employees are more enthusiastic over their job and less bored at work, and if they enjoy their job more, then they will be less likely to come up with silly games to play out of boredom. However, another alternative action to solve this problem would be to let the games continue, except for baseball since an appreciable amount of food is lost, because they make employees happy and enjoy their jobs, but to set up an alert system for a sudden influx of customers.
As stated in the text, the cashier simply reads during her downtime between customers. If she could serve as a lookout then perhaps the employees in the back could continue their games while the cafeteria is not busy. All the cashier would need to do is leave her post, as she is the last person to interact with customers and should have some time between when they arrive and when they get to her station, and notify the people in the back playing bagel hockey that a sudden influx of customers has arrived and they need to take their posts. Of course, if this course of action is taken then it will be condoning behavior that allows employees to be paid to do something other than what’s in their job description, and this may set a bad example and lead to other bad behaviors. This is why I recommend the solution of boosting employee morale in many different ways before resorting to keeping around bagel hockey and king of the eggs.
When it comes to the third issue of supervisors not performing their jobs as they should, there are really only two possible actions, fire the supervisors for not doing their jobs, or re-train supervisors as to what it means to be a supervisor. After reading the text and understanding the situation I personally think that the manager should hold a training some evening after the cafeteria has closed for her managers. She should go over what it is to be a supervisor and how their job differs from that of regular employees. If, after a few weeks of observation, which Mrs.Laraby would have to come in on weekends to do, the supervisors do not change their behavior in any way, then she can resort to the other option.
Finally Mrs. Laraby has created an atmosphere that is too relaxed where employees do not respect her enough to behave appropriately at work when she is not around. Clearly this stems from the fact that she is not around on weekends, except if there is a catered event. I think that the easiest way for Mrs.Laraby to gain the respect of her employees again and to establish a working culture where it is not ok to play games especially one which destroys an appreciable amount of food, Mrs.Larbay needs to be around on the weekends occasionally. Personally, I don’t see any other options. Mrs.Laraby needs to make a habit of popping in occasionally and without warning. Employees will think twice about behaving in ways she deems unacceptable in the workplace if they think she could walk in on them any minute. Her presence on the occasional weekend would also give employees a chance to get to know her and therefore respect her and her rules and regulations a little better. However, this option can also lead to employees resenting Mrs.Laraby. Implementation
The majority of the work here will have to be done by Mrs. Laraby. All of these changes should be implemented immediately, they will take place inside the cafeteria and they will be done through the following actions. Mrs. Laraby will set up a system for recognizing employees. She will do this by creating an employee of the month program. There will be a box present for voting from peers as well as customers. This will help to encourage workers to interact better with customers too besides leading to boosting morale among employees. Mrs. Laraby will make the final decision regarding employee of the month, and they will have their picture on the wall of the cafeteria for the month as their reward. Mrs. Laraby will also set up a second box for comments from customers. She will clean out the box after Friday night and before Monday morning to ensure comments are based on the weekend cafeteria crew’s performance.
She will then hold a meeting before the start of Saturday’s shift every Saturday and read off the good comments to employees. Resources of course will have to be allocated to each of these projects. It will cost money to buy two locked boxes, a picture frame and photos every month, but not as much of a significant amount that it is necessary to worry too much about the cost. Finally Mrs. Laraby will hold an emergency meeting before Sunday’s shift and announce that she did not realize how bored or unhappy they were with their jobs and she will ask them what would make work more enjoyable for them. Mrs. Laraby will then take their suggestions into mind when considering how to further proceed. Mrs.Laraby will need to set up a time with supervisors at their earliest convenience for a re-training session where she will remind them of their duties as supervisors and answer any questions they have. Finally Mrs. Laraby will make it a habit to start showing up without warning on weekends to check up on employees as well as give them a chance to get to know her better so that they might respect her and her regulations more.