Design of Work Systems

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The assembly-line production of hotplates for one company was ineffective as worker morale continued to be low and quality of the finished hotplates was poor. The assembly process was carefully developed by industrial engineers who used studies and expertise to create a balanced process where each subassembly took three minutes to complete. Even so, controllable rejects caused by the workers were at an all-time high of 23%. When management implemented a new process where each worker built the hotplates individually, productivity climbed 84% and controllable rejects dropped to an incredible 1%. It is clear that the empowerment of employees and the sense of ownership and pride contributed significantly to the improved numbers. Absenteeism dropped from 8% to 1%, which is yet another indicator that workers were happier and more motivated. Thus, it seems that empowering employees and creating processes that allow them to feel a sense of ownership, responsibility, and pride in their work is one of the best ways to ensure a healthy, competitive, and successful environment and company.

1. What changes in the work situation might account for the increase in productivity and the decrease in controllable rejects? The changes in the work situation that might account for the increase in productivity and the subsequent decrease in controllable defects are the redesign of the work flow and the increase in the work responsibility assigned to each worker. The redesign of the work flow allowed workers to assemble an entire hotplate unit instead of repeatedly building just one part of the hotplate. The end result is empowered workers who feel a sense of pride in their work since they now own the entire process that ends in the production of one hotplate unit. The pride that they feel translates in improved quality, because the workers can say the hotplate that they just made is their hotplate. In addition to feeling empowered, the workers feel for their work and have a...
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