Keeping Suzanne Chalmers

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Learning Outcomes
The objective of this assignment is to develop the students’ understanding of the nature of how money and other financial rewards affect our needs and emotions. The students should be able to analyse the importance of performance-based rewards and identify strategies to enrich jobs.

Assignment Specifications
Students are required to read the following case and prepare an analytical report to answer the questions given at the end of it. Word Limit: 2000 Words [excluding References & Appendices Page]

KEEPING SUZANNE CHALMERS

Thomas Chan hung up the telephone and sighed. The vice president of software engineer¬ing at Advanced Photonics Inc. (API) had just spoken to Suzanne Chalmers, who called to arrange a meeting with Chan later that day. She didn't say what the meeting was about, but Chan almost instinctively knew that Suzanne was going to quit after working at API for the past four years. Chalmers is a software engineer in Internet Protocol (IP) the software that directs fiber-optic light through API's routers. It is very specialized work, and Suzanne is one of API's top talents in that area.

Thomas Chan had been through this before. A valued employee would arrange a private meeting. The meeting would begin with a few pleasantries; then the employee announces that he or she wants to quit. Some employees say they are leaving because of the long hours and stressful deadlines. They say they need to decompress, get to know the kids again, or whatever. But that’s not usually the real reason. Almost every organization in this industry is scrambling to keep up with technological advances and the competition. They would just leave one stressful job for another one.

Also many of the people who leave API join a start-up company a few months later. These start-up firms can be pressure cookers where everyone works 16 hours each day and has to perform a variety of tasks. For example, engineers in these small firms might have to meet customers or work on venture capital proposals rather than focus on specialized tasks related to their knowledge. API has over 1,000 employees, so it is easier to assign people to work that matches their technical competencies.

No, the problem isn’t the stress or long hours, Chan thought. The problem is money - too much money. Most of the people who leave are millionaires. Suzanne Chalmers is one of them. Thanks to generous stock options that have skyrocketed on the stock market, many employees at API have more money than they can use. Most are under 40 years old, so they are too young to re¬tire. But their financial independence gives them less reason to remain with API.

The Meeting

The meeting with Suzanne Chalmers took place a few hours after the phone call. It began like the others, with the initial pleasantries and brief discussion about progress on the latest fiber-optic router project. Then, Suzanne made her well-rehearsed statement:“ Thomas, I’ve really enjoyed working here, but I’m going to leave Advance Photonics.” Suzanne took a breath then looked at Chan. When he didn’t reply after a few seconds, she continued: “I need to take time off. You know, get away to recharge my batteries. The project’s nearly done and the team can complete it without me. Well, anyway, I’m thinking of leaving.”

Chan spoke in a calm voice. He suggested that Suzanne should take an unpaid leave for two or maybe three months, complete with paid benefits, then return refreshed. Suzanne politely rejected that offer, saying that she needs to get away from work for a while. Thomas then asked Suzanne whether she was unhappy with her work environment -whether she was getting the latest computer technology to do her work and either there were problems with co-workers. The workplace was fine, Suzanne replied. The job was getting a bit routine but she had a comfortable workplace with excellent co-workers.

Chan then apologized for the cramped work space, due mainly to the rapid...
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