Monday, October 31, 2016

The High-Performance Work System

As a recent graduate and as a person who keeps up with the business press, Jennifer Carter is familiar with the benefits of programs such as total quality management and high-performance work systems.
Jack, her father, actually installed a total quality program of sorts at Carter, and it has been in place for about 5 years. This program takes the form of employee meetings. Jack holds employee meetings periodi­cally, but particularly when there is a serious problem in a store—such as poor-quality work or machine breakdowns. When problems like these arise, instead of trying to diagnose them himself or with Jennifer, he contacts all the employees in that store and meets with them when the store closes. Hourly employees get extra pay for these meetings. The meetings have been useful in helping Jack to identify and rectify several problems. For example, in one store all the fine white blouses were coming out looking dingy. It turned out that the cleaner/spotter had been ignoring the company rule that required cleaning ("boiling down") the perchloroethylene cleaning fluid before washing items like these. As a result, these fine white blouses were being washed in clean­ing fluid that had residue from other, earlier washes.
Jennifer now wonders whether these employee meetings should be expanded to give the employees an even bigger role in managing the Carter stores' quality. "We can't be everywhere watching every­thing all the time," she said to her father. "Yes, but these people only earn about $8 to $15 per hour. Will they really want to act like mini- managers?" he replied.
3-21. Would you recommend that the Carters expand their quality program? If so, specifically what form should it take?

3-22. Assume the Carters want to institute a high-performance work system as a test program in one of their stores. Write a one-page outline summarizing important HR practices you think they should focus on.

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