Research Proposal

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Research Proposal – Employee Smoking Break
May 12th, 2007

Individuals have different personalities, habits, beliefs and social concepts. People carry these traits into an organizational setting while conforming to the rules and regulations established by the organization. Certain personal habits such as smoking, or religious beliefs such as taking time to pray at work may cause conflict in the workplace if such practices are in the minority. In the past, cigarette smoking was a fashionable habit; however, in the US Surgeon General declared in 1964, that smoking is hazardous to ones health (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2006). In an effort to discourage people from smoking and prevent passive smoking, many limitations have been place on where to smoke in public places and businesses. This sometimes resulted in fiction between smokers and non-smokers. In this research proposal, a similar situation will be address. Problem Statement

The problem is that non-smoking employees contend that employees who smoke are less productive because of the smoking breaks they take. Research Purpose
Cemond Inc., a financial software company employs over 3000 people. All full-time employees are expected to work 7 hours a day and take one-hour lunch. This totals 40 hours workweek. Part-time employees (people who work less than 30 hours a week) also are allowed to take half an hour lunch break. Since the State law prohibits smoking in office buildings, employees who smoke usually have to go outside the building to smoke cigarettes. Normally, smokers take two to three smoking breaks lasting approximately 10 to 15 minutes each time.

Currently, some of the non-smoking employees complain about the extra breaks smokers enjoy while they continue to perform their job responsibilities. There is an assumption that the productive time loss affects the overall organizations potential revenue. This is causing resentment among the employees. Within departments, some non-smoking employees have begun taking unauthorized coffee and tea breaks at the time when the smokers in their group or team take their smoking break.

This new social activity is becoming a common place in the whole organization. Management has not officially spoken about this new short break practices, but it is obvious that there is a financial cost related to this new smoking, tea and coffee breaks. A business research will reveal and help resolve the divide over smoking break among employees and the related cost of productivity to the organizations. Problem Background

The issue of employees taking a short smoking breaks began to arise after Cemond Inc. changed its organizational structure from a strict hierarchical structure to a flatten structure. During the hierarchical era, employees worked independently while being closely supervised by their managers. Even though smoking breaks were permitted, employees were expected to complete all necessary daily tasks before leaving each day. Sometimes, this could mean working an extra thirty minutes to an hour after the official workday.

With the flatten structure, employees work in teams and groups on a particular project. Each project would have a team-leader directing the progress of the assignment. Depending on an employees' skill set, one may work on a number of projects in different teams. Even the parts of the projects are sometimes individually assigned; the success of the project is a team effort not an individual effort. For example, if a smoker and non-smoker are paired to complete a particular part of the project, the non-smoker will continue to work while the smoker takes his or her smoking break .

Managers have attempted to resolve this issue by sometimes pairing smokers or non-smokers only to complete parts of a project. The thought behind this strategy is that if three smokers are working on a particular project, they would take smoking breaks together, and make-up whatever time lost...
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