Employee involvement is creating an environment in which people have an impact on decisions and actions that affect their jobs.
Employee involvement is not the goal nor is it a tool, as practiced in many organizations. Rather, it is a management and leadership philosophy about how people are most enabled to contribute to continuous improvement and the ongoing success of their work organization.
A solid recommendation for those organizations that wish to create an empowering, continuously improving workplace is to involve people as much as possible in all aspects of work decisions and planning. This involvement increases ownership and commitment, retains your best employees, and fosters an environment in which people choose to be motivated and contributing.
Methods for Involving Employees
How to involve employees in decision making and continuous improvement activities is the strategic aspect of involvement and can include such methods as suggestion systems, manufacturing cells, work teams, continuous improvement meetings, Kaizen (continuous improvement) events, corrective action processes, and periodic discussions with the supervisor.
Intrinsic to most employee involvement processes is training in team effectiveness, communication, and problem-solving; the development of reward and recognition systems; and frequently, the sharing of gains made through employee involvement efforts.
Employee Involvement Model
For people and organizations who desire a model to apply, the best was developed from work by Tannenbaum and Schmidt (1958) and Sadler (1970). They provide a continuum of leadership and involvement that includes an increasing role for employees and a decreasing role for supervisors in the decision process. The continuum includes this progression.
Tell: The supervisor makes the decision and announces it to the staff. The supervisor provides complete direction.
Sell: The supervisor makes the decision and then attempts to gain commitment from staff by “selling” the positive aspects of the decision.
Consult: The supervisor invites input into a decision while retaining authority to make the final decision herself.
Join: The supervisor invites employees to decide with the supervisor. The supervisor considers her voice equal in the decision process.
Delegate: The supervisor turns the decision over to another party.
Flexible Work Schedule
Flexitime, as the name implies, gives employees some discretion as to when they will come to work in the morning and when they will leave in the afternoon. They must normally begin at some point within a stipulated morning band of time (7 AM to 8 AM) and are expected to stop at some point within a similar afternoon time span, say 3 PM to 6 PM. Within these limits employees are free to follow whatever personal schedules they desire.
In other words, flexitime is a system whereby employees contract to work a specific number of hours a week but are free to vary the hours of work within certain limits. Each day consists of a common core, usually six hours, with a flexibility band surrounding the core.
For example, the core may be 10 AM to 4 PM with the office actually operating at 8 AM and closing at 6-30 PM. All employees should be at their jobs during the common core period but they are free to fashion their personal schedules they prefer.
Under flexitime, employees assume responsibility for completing a specific job and that enhances their feeling of self-worth. It supports the view that people are paid for producing work, not for being at their job stations for a set period of hours hence its motivational aspects.
This concept was first developed in 1967 when a West German research organisation introduced it and within a short span of time it had spread throughout Western Europe and one estimate shows that as many as five million workers operated under such an arrangement by the mid-1970s. It is also rapidly spreading in the USA.
A study by Stanley Nollen shows in the USA, approximately 13 p.c. of all organisations use some variant of flexi-time amounting to between 3 and 4 million workers, mostly white collar. An evaluation of this system shows that it was very successful. There was an increase in employee productivity, fewer errors, improved employee morale and significant reduction in lateness and absenteeism.
Flexitime has a variety of advantages to both management and workers. There is evidence that employees have higher morale, lower absenteeism and tardiness rates and longer lengths of service. Productivity gains are also made as employees arrange to work during the times that they are most energetic.
And management’s task of recruitment would be easier, with flexitime being offered as a labour attraction. From the employee point of view, the use of time can be better tailored to personal needs and preferences and private lives can consequently be made less harried. Committing is often a much more pleasant experience, since rush hour peaks can be avoided.
Flexitime has its limitations. It cannot be implemented at all when the work requires all employees to be present at the same time.
It produces problems for managers in directing subordinates outside the core time period, causes confusion where there is shift work or interdependencies between functions, increases difficulties when someone with a particular skill of knowledge is not available and makes planning and controlling of work more cumbersome and costly.
In fine, flexitime has offered strong motivational potential by increasing worker freedom and allowing workers to assume greater responsibility through creating opportunities for them to make decisions about their work schedule.