Case Study for Human Resources

Edmund Graves, personnel manager used to consult legal, moral, and personnel practices. Graves, employed by Walker Space Institute for fourteen years, has been asked to supply guidelines and recommendations surrounding the pending cutbacks of the engineering department.

Problem Definition:
Walker Space Institute requires the elimination of three engineers due to industry cutbacks. In doing so, Walker must evaluate each member and induce cutbacks which mitigate social, economic, and legal considerations while exercising higher regard for morals and fairness, while remaining competitive.
Due to industry cutbacks, it becomes necessary for Walker to examine each engineering employee and evaluate alternatives in an attempt to remain profitable and competitive. Each alternative has special considerations which must be explored. The following considerations shall serve as the basis for further analysis. (These methods serve only as aids in decision making and are not implied to serve as concrete methods of job security.)
Affirmative Action Legislation
Gender Discrimination
Age Discrimination
Race Discrimination
Disability Legislation
Civil Rights
Wrongful Discharge
Job Performance Evaluations
Communication Skills
Strategic Planning
Company Mission
The following criteria shall be used to uphold the stategic plan and goals of the company in evaluating employees:
Due to the high technical nature of the aerospace industry, Walker feels strongly about employees possessing an advanced degree in the field as well as continuing their education and improving their skills through seminars, programs and college courses.
While seniority remains an important factor, it should not be used as a means to ensure employment. Employees should be aware that they must stay competitive in their field by means of continuing education.

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Job Performance:
It is significant to take into account an employees job performance; however, because of biases, other factors must be taken into consideration, for example, relationships with co-workers and/or how others value their work ethics.

While it is unfortunate that young people often lose opportunities because of lack of experience, it is in the best interest of the firm to hire the most qualified person for the position.
Employee Examination:
In an effort to further explore each employee, a simple examination of each employee can serve as a model of possible alternatives. Once Walker has completed this examination, traits consistent with the planning and goals of Walker Space Institute may become apparent.

An example of such an examination follows:
Roger Allison
Pro: Educated
Con: Lacks experience with WSI
Special Considerations: Married with two children, held two prior jobs, geographic relocation, well liked by co-workers
LeRoy Jones
Pro: Educated
Con: Average Job Performance Evaluation, lacks experience and seniority
Special Considerations: Single, unpopular with co-workers, minority, accused supervisor of being biased
William Foster
Pros: Experience with WSI, excellent job performance reviews for 15 years but has declined to average in past 5 years, seniority
Cons: No formal education
Special Considerations: Married with three children, aging, feels his supervisors grade him down because of his lack of education
Donald Boyer
Pros: Well educated, mixed job performance ratings average to high, five years experience with WSI
Special Considerations: Married with no children, well liked by co-workers, wife is a M.D.

Mel Shuster
Pros: Educated, working on higher degree in evenings, above average job performance, three years experience with WSI
Special Considerations: Single, poor co-employee relations
Sherman Soltis
Pros: Educated, 14 years experience with WSI
Cons: Average performance ratings, some say he is “out of date”
Special Considerations: Divorced with two children, friend of vice president, well liked by co-employees
Warren Fortuna
Pros: Educated, 14 years experience with WSI, above average performance ratings, seniority
Special Considerations: Married with five children, headed section until he had a heart attack, now slower and slightly out of date
Robert Treharane
Pros: Average to above average performance ratings, 16 years experience with WSI, seniority
Special Considerations: Single, dropped out of M. I. T. because of financial reasons, tries to stay educated by reading journals and taking short courses, not well liked by co-workers
Sandra Rosen
Pros: Educated, good worker
Cons: Lacks seniority, lacks experience with WSI
Special Considerations: Single, well liked by co-workers and head of the section, enthusiastic
The following examination reveals that each employee has a unique and valuable asset to offer at Walker. It should be noted that within this examination, certain external factors were taken into consideration. In an effort to eliminate subjective criteria from this evaluation, Walker Space Institute wishes to eliminate the use of such subjective data. While this simple examination eliminated the external factors of each employee, it does not provide a measure of comparison between each employee and provides little in the way of meeting organizational goals. Further objective analysis should be taken into consideration in the selected alternative.
Suggested Alternatives
1. Implementation of voluntary leave
2. Base termination solely on seniority
3. Base termination solely on job performance evaluations
4. Offer qualified employees early retirement window option
5. Weighted point method
6. Severance pay, placement assistance and continuation of benefits
Evaluation of Alternatives
1. Implementation of voluntary leave
Pros: Stress release on managers to make ethical decision, gives employees advanced notification
Cons: Increased fear of impending cutbacks, not all three positions would likely by eliminated through this process
2. Base termination solely on seniority
Pros: Long-term employees are accounted for, sense of security
Cons: Not fair to equally experienced employees, long-term employees may have out of date knowledge
3. Base termination solely on job performance evaluations
Pros: If used properly can be effective measure of employee’s performance
Cons: Most managers don’t express appraisals in accurate or honest manner. ( Longnecker & Ludwig, 1990)
4. Offer qualified employees early retirement window option
Pros: Involved employees in decision making process, relieves stress off of managers to make the ethical decision
Cons: Not enough employees eligible for all three positions lose guidance, leadership, and role models
5. Implement weighted point method
Pros: Eliminates chances of subjective criteria to be used in decision making process, consistent with goals of the company
Cons: Employees may not agree with selection process or agree with the common values of the company
6. Severance pay, placement assistance, and continuance of benefits
Pros: Compensating employees
Cons: Extra expense for the company
Justification of Selected Alternatives
Each alternative mentioned above offers a measurable benefit to both the employer as well as the employees. In selected the alternative, it was decided that in an effort to uphold the image and reputation of Walker Space Institute, no one alternative can provide adequate means of ethical considerations, moral considerations, and monetary compensation. Therefore, Walker Space Institute shall first implement a voluntary leave program. In doing so, Walker discloses the terms of the resignation which include:
Advanced notification of downsizing effort
Outplacement Assistance Program
Severance Pay
Continuation of Benefits
Departing employees in turn act more favorably when advanced notification, outplacement assistance, severance pay, and continuing benefits are provided ( Konovsky & Folger, 1991; Leana & Feldman, 1992). Remaining employees react more favorably when they perceive that their departing colleagues were treated fairly through adequate compensation and when clear and adequate explanations were offered (c.f. Brockner, 1998, 1990; Brockner and Greenberg, 1990).

Because voluntary leave programs are likely to raise fairness issues with the minds of those who are directly affected, Walker should not expect to eliminate the required number of departing employees. However, in an effort to mitigate liability, and exercise the highest regard for fairness, such a program will be offered.

The second alternative, which promises fairness and indisputable objectivity, is the use of a weighted point method. By eliminating subjective criteria, Walker places the goals and strategic planning mission as the basis for continued employment. Scientific in nature, the weighted point method eliminates a majority of the ethical and moral issues that surround the manager. As included at the end of this report, point values are assigned to the selected criteria, then multiplied by a weighted factor, which represents an order of importance. This process enables the manager to emphasize certain traits consistent with both the organization and the department.

Taking into account the legal and ethical issues surrounding job performance evaluations, it becomes increasingly important to train managers and formulate accurate job performance evaluations. While Walker has taken these steps toward training and reviewing evaluation procedures, discrimination claims remain a threat. When a person files a Title VII case alleging discrimination and the manager defends on the basis of job performance, the fairness of the evaluation becomes the courts scrutiny ( Cruz, 1987).

Therefore, job evaluations should be very limited in application of downsizing criteria.

Seniority remains a factor in employment at Walker, however it does not constitute continued employment. With rapid changes in technology, employees must maintain skill levels in a variety of areas. Fairness to employees for tenure will be recognized, but increasingly, tenure is being replaced with relative skill levels. Increasingly, companies are recognizing that seniority has its place in the firm, but employees must focus more on skills rather then tenure (Greenhalgh, Lawrence, & Sutton, 1988).

Plan of Implementation
Step 1. Inform all employees of impending cutbacks. Aids employees in accepting the likelihood of termination. Allows them to make informed decisions with family regarding alternatives. (Management Function)
Step 2. Offer voluntary leave and inform all employees of severance package. Severance pay, medical benefits and insurance increases incrementally according to time spent with WSI but does not exceed 8 weeks. Consult HR Department to ratify the terms of the continuing benefit program is necessary. (Human Resource Function)
Step 3. Formulate a weighted point system that emphasizes objective criteria consistent with the goals of the organization. Assign point values to the selected criteria weighting those criteria in order of importance and applying it to each department employee. When the chart is completed, sum the totals, and base termination on the three lowest scores. (Human Resource Function) Please see Table 1.1
Step 4. Conduct exit interviews. Establishes dismissed employees opinions and aids in further dismissal analysis. Helps the dismissed employees to convey their concerns of the process. (Human Resource Function)
Step 5. Help with out placement assistance. Involves HR Department to help dismissed employees to establish employment with another firm. Serves as a reconciliation process as well as improving external images of Walker. (Konvonsky & Folger, 1991) (Human Resource Function)
Step 6. Meet with remaining employees to discuss concerns and inform them on any pending situations. Meeting such as these help employees believe their needs are being considered as well as easing tensions. (Greenhalgh, Lawrence, & Sutton, 1988). (Management Function)