Posted: May 25th, 2022
Hotplates Case Study
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 decrease in controllable rejects would be that if, instead of treating each individual as a cog in the machine, the workers were treated as if they were making their own unit. Ownership equals empowerment and with such empowerment, it is only natural that the workers would feel better about their work. Additionally, the workers were given the chance to see the entire operation, which also treats people more as human as it gives them forethought into how the product might be used when they see the finished product. Finally, ownership eases the monotony of performing the same operation, at a relatively high rate of repetition, which will also improve morale because the workers to not get bored as easily. The outcome of this is that the controllable rejects are minimized because the worker is now more focused on the task at hand, rather than repeating steps over and not necessarily paying attention to what they are doing. Secondly, because they have full control over the whole process of making the hotplate, they are more likely to correct problems, rather than leave it to the inspector to do. Additionally, the workers individual contribution to the hotplate is minimal, and they are likely to care less about it.
2. What might account for the drop in absenteeism and the increase in morale?
Several factors might account for the drop in absenteeism and the increase in morale. It is important to recognize that the drop in absenteeism and improvement in morale are correlated to personal ownership of the individual products produced by that worker as well as the variety of work that a given worker performs in one day. The fact that each worker had their own products also probably fueled the basic part of human nature to compete with their fellow workers to do a better job. It helped that a worker could actually package the hotplate up knowing that the customer would be the next person to see it.
3. What were the major changes in the situation? Which changes were under the control of the manger? Which were controlled by workers?
There were several major changes in the situation, including changes in employee training, and changes in personal responsibility for the success of the project. Furthermore, the major changes in the situation can be split into what was under control by the managers and what was under control of the workers. For the managers, the changes were training the employees in the whole process of assembling or inspecting the hotplate and understanding that even though the industrial engineers had defined assembly work steps that were most efficient, human behavior is just as important. For the workers, the changes included taking personal responsibility for the product, realizing that errors made earlier in the assembly process could directly affect their ability to perform a later step and product a function product, and develop pride and a feeling of a reason to go to work.
4. What might happen if the workers went back to the old assembly line method?
If the workers reverted to the old assembly line method, the workers would likely do well at producing the hotplates since they had been doing a very good job prior to the switch. Additionally, because they understood the entire process of how the hotplate was made, the controllable defects would be minimized. However the workers would likely lose their feeling of individuality and pride in their work over time and the workers might leave the job, resulting in higher turnover rates. Eventually the operation would return to the original state.
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