Coastal Bank is a large bank in a southeastern city. As a part of a comprehensive internal management study, Harris Meade, the data processing vice president, examined the turnover, absenteeism, and productivity figures of all work groups in the organization. The results Meade obtained contained no real surprises except in the case of the check-sorting and data-processing departments. The Research
The inquiry revealed that in general the departments displaying high turnover and absenteeism rates had low production figures, and those with low turnover and absenteeism were highly productive. No surprise there. When analysis began on the check-sorting and data-processing figures, however, Meade discovered that both departments were tied for the lead for the lowest turnover and absenteeism figures. What was surprising was that the check-sorting department ranked first as the most productive unit, whereas the electronic data-processing department ranked last. That inconsistency was further complicated by the fact that the working conditions for check-sorting employees are extremely undesirable. They work in a large open room that is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. They work alone and operate high-speed check-sorting machines requiring a high degree of accuracy and concentration. There is little chance for interaction because they all take rotating coffee breaks. The computer room is air-conditioned, with a stable temperature year round; it has perfect lighting and is extremely quiet and comfortable. It was known that both groups are highly cohesive and that the workers generally function well with others in their department. This observation was reinforced by the study’s finding of the low levels of turnover and absenteeism in both departments. The Interview Data
In an effort to understand this phenomenon (similar productivity despite vastly different conditions), Meade decided to interview the members of both departments. Meade...
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