From: The Human Resources Department
To: All employees
RE: Addressing Issues
As you are likely already aware, we are experiencing issues in the workplace with several employees complaining of sexual harassment. Management has a deep concern for these reports, and we hope to resolve the conflicts in as quick of a way as possible. We encourage anyone who has been suffering from sexual harassment, or any other type of harassment, to please come forward.
We have noticed that these cases of sexual harassment may have resulted in low overall employee morale. Management would have liked to address the issues before it got to this point, but we not have it as our top priority going forward.
Over the next several weeks, we will be making some changes. While the court system will settle the legal implications of the sexual harassment charge, we will be conducting a thorough investigation and disciplining anyone who has been the culprit of sexual harassment in the business.
Finally, management is trying its best to ensure that the transition in this period to a more cultivating work environment doesn’t interfere with your work, but please understand you may be asked for your input about what you may have witnessed during your time here. Hopefully, there will be no negative impact on patient care, and all current requirements of our staff will be met. Remember, our patients depend on our ability to provide them with the best possible care.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns, and we will keep all employees posted about our progress of this matter.
Director of HR
The Triumph Medical Center has been delivering medical services to the Seattle area for the past 25 years. The company was at one point the most frequently sought-after medical centre in the state. However, much has changed since several sexual harassment cases, which have led to low morale at the company, have caused the medical centre to have lower patient care. This has resulted in fewer patients, and less revenue for the medical centre. In this problem-solution report, I will outline the issues that are troubling the medical centre and the results that these issues are having on the outcome of operations. The sexual harassment reports have damaged the operations of this company, and has caused widespread low morale. In order to address these issues, there is the need for immediate steps, which will be outlined in this report.
At Triumph Medical Center, the company is facing a major HR crisis with several sexual harassment cases, one of which has resulted in an ongoing lawsuit. Before giving an analysis of a human resources response that could deal effectively with this issue, I will discuss the extent of the problem. This accusation about sexual harassment has caused the reputation of the company to diminish. In fact, according to an official with the company – who only wanted to be referred to as “Dean” for fear of facing consequences at work for talking to a member of the public – the company was in fact ranked as the top place to be employed for five consecutive years. The sexual harassment has led to several other factors that has tarnished the reputation of the company, and has caused a considerable amount of grief among the employees and the patients they service. These consequences of the sexual harassment charges include low morale, which has resulted in high absenteeism and low employee retention. This absenteeism is resulting in poor quality of care for the medical center’s patients. A Gallup Survey that is used by the human resources department noted that the majority of people say the working conditions are hostile, particularly among manager/employee relationships, a low opportunity for growth within the company and no incentive programs. The specifics of this study weren’t released, and Dean said he couldn’t divulge details about the extent of the problem. However, he did say patients have been complaining about the quality of care because of a lack of staff. The problem isn’t confined to one department. In fact, several departments are experiencing what they deem to be poor working conditions. The management team believes this low morale has resulted from the sexual harassment charge, and several other sexual harassment incidences that are being reported. These reports have been filed against two individuals with the company, but before going forward with disciplinary action, which could include firing, there needs to be a thorough investigation, and there also needs to be an in-depth analysis of the various periphery consequences of the sexual harassment.
Key factors in Sexual Harassment
There continues to be a lot of publicity about the difficulties faced by having sexual harassment in the workplace. One of the major components is a loss of morale throughout the company. That is in addition to the grief that is caused to the person who is the victim of sexual harassment. The problem becomes particularly difficult when the cases of sexual harassment make their way into the high ranks of management at an organization. While in this case the sexual harassment accusations haven’t been with the high level management, they are at the supervisory level, and this is where we believe the cause of the company’s problems stem from. It is important to have a firm stance on the problem so that the company can avoid such issues in the future, and so that the devastating impact that is caused by these charges ceases to continue. “Failure to adopt a proactive and aggressive stance on this issue, however, can result not only in costly lawsuits, but also in the loss of employee morale, decline in productivity, and an erosion of company’s public image” (Roberts, n.d.).
This company has yet to take a stance on sexual harassment, and this indicates an outdated attitude about the problem. The accusations of sexual harassment are difficult to prove, but ignoring that they are happening will cause considerable losses to the company. It is not only the duty of employers to ensure that they staff is working in a safe environment, it is also in the best interest of the operations of the company to make sure that staff aren’t being sexually harassed. The fact that Triumph Medical Center hasn’t acted indicates a failure to acknowledge the risks to the company that are presented when management chooses to ignore the issue.
The costly nature of solving this problem has likely deterred the company from addressing it in the past. However, it is possible that there haven’t been complaints about sexual harassment in the past. The cost to the company that is experienced from loss of patients is a direct result of low morale, which is a result of sexual harassment. Losing patients is a much more costly venture than the expense associated in dealing with the sexual harassment charge. Furthermore, amendments in 1991 to the Title VII by Congress, now allows the victims of sexual harassment to redeem damages for the sexual harassment under federal law. Later, in 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court increased the scope of the law by making easier for the victim to prove injury. This has resulted in sexual harassment presenting employers with something that is very dangerous. After all, companies can now be held liable for many of the issues that are involved in sexual harassment cases. For example, liability of the charge can fall on the corporation, which may have to pay for some of the damages that are incurred to the victim of the sexual harassment.
Key Factors of the Problem
Even though management is aware of the issues, the complaints have been ignored, Dean says. Management isn’t taking the concerns seriously. For example, the Gallup Survey wasn’t looked at closely because it wasn’t taken seriously. The management simply conducted the survey because it thought that it was needed to show the employees that the company was taking an interest in what was going on. That survey was issued by management, but upper management wasn’t brought into the fold because management may not have wanted to appear like they were failing to keep morale up and to deal with the sexual harassment issues at the company. This is a fundamental flaw that needs to be addressed. The management has even left a group of employees out of staff critiques, and when asked why this happened, management said that group of employees weren’t affected by the low morale. However, an understanding of that group of employees’ morale wouldn’t be known, due to the fact that they didn’t participate in the survey, and the point of the survey was to see which employees were affected by low morale and sexual harassment.
In the surveys that were completed, it was identified that among the hostile relationships was an abundance of gossip and a lack of communication, particularly about the sexual harassment, which for a long time was going unreported. Because this company deals so closely with the public, there isn’t really anyone in the area who is immune from the confrontation between management and the rest of staff, whether that be through sexual harassment or otherwise. Those who rely on the medical center are also feeling the impact in service delivery, and that is affecting the company’s bottom line. The Gallup survey was needed to put the issue of low morale into perspective, but it was shown that the management was unable to execute the survey in an efficient way. From the survey responses that did come in, which weren’t closely reviewed by management, upper management found that there was a significant number of employees who are unsatisfied and several also reported cases where they were being sexually harassed. In fact, of the 350 employees at the center, 3 reported that they had suffered from sexual harassment.
In order to address the sexual harassment issues, the company needs to focus on who was affected, why they were affected, when this problem started, how it started, where it started and what will be done to discipline the employee(s) who were committing the sexual harassment. Due to the fact that management didn’t take a close look at the Gallup Surveys, there is a time gap between executing the surveys and now. Furthermore, it should be noted that one of the three employees who said she was being sexually harassed, has left the company. This could have been avoided if management had paid close attention to the survey results and reported them immediately to upper management.
If these sexual harassment cases are addressed, this should address the issue of the poor service delivery and, in turn, the poor public image and lack of patient intake. Members of the HR team have said they need upper management to fully cooperate in order for the tension between them and the employees to be resolved. If the company is to prosper again, they need to address the sexual harassment before even more patients find themselves without proper care. Dean was tight-lipped about the strategies that are currently being undertaken; however, negotiations are ongoing, which is a prime opportunity to deal with the issues and the lawsuit.
Impact of the sexual harassment
Sexual harassment on the job is a continuing problem for which there has been little regulation until relatively recently. The United States court system didn’t make a verdict on a sexual harassment case until 1976. The American federal government surveyed its own employees in 1980 and found that 42% of woman said they had experienced some type of sexual harassment at work. Men were also surveyed and 15% reported they had experienced unwanted sexual harassment at work. See Figuire 1. Seven years after that initial survey, the government investigated the same issue again and found that the statistics hadn’t changed. See Figure 2. The private sector employees reported similar results, (Roberts, n.d.). These statistics indicate that a lot of the sexual harassment went unreported at the time, and while steps have been made to make employees feel more open to reporting sexual harassment, there is likely still an abundance of sexual harassment cases that go unreported. Not knowing that the issues are happening can result in the company not taking steps to ensure the morale is high at the company. That’s one thing, but when a company knows there are issues, such as what is happening at Triumph, then there needs to be immediate action to address these issues.
How the problem affects the organization
The situation at Triumph is clearly getting out of hand and needs to be addressed immediately. The alleged age discrimination lawsuit is just part of the larger problem of low morale. Many techniques are available to address low morale. Once this is addressed employees will be happier and situations such as the lawsuit about the sexual harassment will likely stop. Triumph could be suffering from a lack of leadership, expertise in each department and focusing each person on their core capabilities, (Fulmer, 2006). The HR team is responsible for setting the tone for a strategy that will improve the morale. It is important to note that this transformation process can’t occur overnight, but will take sustained application of HR policies.
A similar situation was experienced at a workplace. In this case, the Midwestern hospital had the same situation where morale was at an all-time low. The staff there was reported to have lowered physician satisfaction and there was worry among the staff about leadership and whether it was effective enough in the hospital’s largest operating units. “Despite increased capacity, patient volumes were flat or falling. Physicians were complaining, and employee-management relations were strained,” (Sekowski, 2008). The HR team knew it had to take action, and so after a critical assessment of the situation, it was determined that the HR teams would have to work closely with the hospital leadership and discipline those who were committing the sexual harassment. Together, the stakeholders came up with several solutions. In doing so, they determined that customized surveys of the employee and physician satisfaction were needed. But instead of not paying attention to these surveys, as what is suggested by staff at Triumph, management needs to carefully consider each response in making their determination about the actions that are needed going forward. This will help the HR department know exactly what the concerns are. At this point, plans that can help shape the leadership strategy and address the low morale will become more obvious. HR should work towards coming to a full understanding of the level of employee dissatisfaction and how they relate to the organization’s issues. Without a complete understanding, an effective plan can’t be developed. This is why it is important to implement a plan on the specific circumstances surrounding low morale at the medical centre.
Whatever the issue is relating to low morale, leadership generally needs to be modified if the current model isn’t working. Typically, when morale is low, there isn’t an adequate reward system for good work. This should be modified in order to address the concerns about a lack of opportunity for advancements. Bonuses, raises or promotions should be considered as ways to reward workers. This, in turn, will result in greater job satisfaction, as employees will feel like they are being appreciated for the work that they do. This reward system will also likely encourage employees to excel. That would include showing up to work, which has been a major issue at Triumph. The reward system could be aligned in a way that places the company in a competitive position to other companies. However, a “best practice” policy says there should be a bundle of policies that should benefit the employees, (Maloney, 2001). However, this won’t work unless those who are accused of sexual harassment are taken to court. If proven guilty, they will be fired.
For employees who are facing conflict, one-on-one coaching can be an effective method to dealing with these situations. Often, employees might not have an issue with the leadership under which they are working. However, there could be a problem with their peers. Recognizing and addressing these issues will increase morale. Employees will feel more of a desire to come into work if conflicts are either addressed or the workers who are at odds are separated. An executive coaching method could help address these concerns. The strategy is becoming more and more popular throughout the United States to deal with employee conflicts. It involves dealing with the employees one-on-one to get to the bottom of issues. “Problems occur when executives who may be having difficulty with change or its related organisational impacts such as the need for enhanced skills, performance and development,” (Paige, 2002).
Also, by seeing how Triumph lines up against other hospitals in terms of service, employee recognition and pay, the medical center more accurately positions itself into a competitive position. Employees aware of conditions in other hospitals where there are more rewards, are more likely to be negative about their job. By matching what Triumph has to offer, such as pay and rewards, with other hospitals, there is a more likely chance that the employees are being given what they deserve. As for the services offered at other medical centers, employee wait times that are industry standard should be used as a benchmark for the staff at Triumph to strive for. Once that is accomplished, then the medical center can aim to be the best in the business by beating those times. Comparing companies to each other, or benchmarking, is a common practice in HR and it allows companies to see how they line up with potential employers of their current staff. “We assume that to use HR practices as a competitive advantage and to manage the paradoxes of HR, HR professionals need to be business players,” (Brockbank, 2002). The aforementioned strategies were also implemented by an example of a hospital that was given by HR Strategic Partners Inc. “In just over six months, these intense efforts resulted in gains to both patient volume and unit efficiency,” (Sekowski, 2008).
The idea to learn from other companies is echoed in Gerry Czarnecki’s “Morale and Making it Work for You: Case Study.” In the piece, Czarnecki says a lot can be learned from companies that treat their workers like owners. “Inside the surprising performance culture of steelmaker Nucor, describes the high level of commitment exhibited by the steelmakers’ workers to get a troubled plant up and running, claiming that the company had ‘the most dynamic and engaged workforces around,’” (Czarnecki, 2010). By giving the employees a stake in the company, Nucor was able to develop its employees into being productive. A similar approach should be considered at Triumph.
In a different approach, at another medical center, the CEO, matron and HR manager decided to implement a one-day workshop for all of those who are internal management at the hospital, so that the stance on sexual harassment was made clear, (Changed, 2008). This approach provides an organized way for the management to handle the problem. It also makes the team more aware of the issue. In a medical center, there are many people in charge of a variety of department, which means that management needs to be on the same page to work towards better implementing a cohesive plan against sexual harassment.
In an industry quite different from health care, but in an area suffering from a similar situation with employee morale, an international scrap metal processor was bought out. The buyout resulted in a change in management at a 50-year-old firm. This company employed approximately 200 people. A survey was handed out to all the employees and 85% filled it out and returned it. See figure 3. The survey allowed management to look at the issues that the employees identified. After management reviewed them, they were prioritized and then an action plan was formulated. Senior management met with employees to let them know about the actions that would be taken. After this initiative, the management noticed an improvement in morale, (International, 2011). The firm also noticed improvements in communication between the employees and management. The unit leadership showed improved functions and capabilities. The availability of the resources and equipment improved. The general morale and satisfaction among the staff experienced an obvious increase. There was also an improvement in the employees’ comprehension of the unit goals and business objectives. This method is similar to what was identified in the first case study, which also called for the implementation of a survey and then the development of a course of action.
Triumph can also consider taking additional measures that can boost morale in the company. Little things can make a difference, such as making coffee and tea to get employees raring to go in the morning. This strategy not only wakes the employees up, it also says to them that management cares about their well-being. When there is no interaction, or only bad interaction between management and the regular staff, morale can suffer significantly. Little things like making tea, recognizing birthdays, generally treating employees with respect, treating employees to lunch, checking in to see how members of staff are doing, and standing up for employees: “Though customer satisfaction is important to every business, supervisors must support their employees if they encounter problems despite having followed company protocol,” (Hartog, 2008). Another effective way to improve the morale of the staff is to improve the working environment. “Being uncomfortable and isolated from the world is bad and it makes employees feel like they’re lost in the machine of business. Adding comfortable office chairs or desks is a great way to make them feel a bit better, and doing away with harsh lighting helps brighten their day,” (Tips, 2011).
In order to address the urgent need at Triumph, a combination of these efforts should be implemented. The Midwestern hospital example, where the hospital was suffering from the same type of morale loss should be examined carefully at Triumph. If a combination of the practices is implemented, and enough time is given for the results to show, then there will be improved outcomes at the medical center. Careful consideration of the employees’ concerns should be compiled before a specific course of action is undertaken. After surveying the staff, management needs to come together to prioritize the items that need to be addressed. Management should then meet with employees to communicate a course of action that will improve morale. These actions should be measured periodically for meeting management’s goals.
Conclusions and Recommendations
|Understanding about what is not acceptable (relating to sexual harassment).
||This will show the workplace’s position on sexual harassment and hopefully deter people from committing such acts.
|Rewards program for good behavior.
||This will encourage people to perform well, such as showing up to work on time.
||This will hopefully settle many of the disputes between workers.
|Comparative benefits analysis.
||This will allow management to see where it lines up in comparison to other employers.
|Involve employees more in company vision by asking questions (increase stake).
||This will make the workers feel like they have more of a stake in what happens at the company, and that involvement will inspire them to do well.
|Carefully reviewed survey.
||This will help upper management get a better understanding of how employees feel.
|Offer coffee and tea.
||This will give employees energy in the morning and make them feel more appreciated.
||This will provide for a better work environment.
||This will make employees more comfortable at work.
Brockbank, W., and Ulrich, D. (2002). “Interpretation of Company Feedback Report.”
Human Resource Competency Study. Retrieved from http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CEMQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwebuser.bus.umich.edu%2FPrograms%2Fhrcs%2FCompanyInterpretation.doc&ei=VnmUUKKjGqKxiwLloYHABQ&usg=AFQjCNHcLSmyypuVY-dB1z45Lu4ILHZJqQ&sig2=xnj2a_JGO06W4hzqMfP8Wg
This text describes the data that was collected from the University of Michigan Human Resource Competency Study. The information was helpful at establishing the role of the HR department in addressing issues related to sexual harassment. The report was based on an actual work model, which was helpful due to its similarities to the issues faced at Triumph Medical Centre. The body of knowledge expressed in the report helped to build on the understanding of the human resources field, and helps to guide me in making my assessment on what should be done at Triumph Medical Centre.
Czarnecki, G. (2008, Oct. 5). “Morale and Making it Work for You.” Toolbox. Retrieved
The information provided in this texts provides a solid link between sexual harassment and low morale in the workplace. This text is particularly useful because it provides a case study, which is much more valuable than just a theoretical report. This case study allowed me to see what some of the best ways of dealing with cases of sexual harassment in the workplace are. This article deals mostly with motivation, and that is a key component in the situation that is presented at Triumph Medical Centre, because the sexual harassment cases, have resulted in a lack of motivation.
Fulmer, R, and Genson, S. (2006). “HR’s Strategic Partnership with Line Management.”
Graziadio Business Review. Retrieved from http://gbr.pepperdine.edu/2010/08/hrs-strategic-partnership-with-line-management/
This article provides an important link between issues that are going on at the
workplace and how to effectively deal with them. It brings the upper management into the conversation and makes a connection between their role and the issues that are going on at the organization. It makes special emphasis to the strategic partnerships that are made between the executive leadership and the HR team, and it reveals that this is not something that happens naturally, but instead that both parties need to work towards it. In turn, the team is then able to address the issues that are going on with the team.
Hartog, L. (2008, April 28). “15 Ways to Boost Employee Morale.” HR World. Retrieved
This article provides many key ways to get the best out of the employees. It will help in developing the action plan to address the company’s low morale. The article lists 15 things that management can do in order to make the employees feel empowered and ready to work for the company. This is especially needed at Triumph Medical Centre, because there is a lack of employee motivation, and this is leading to many of the problems that are being experienced. As part of the motivation is a joining of forces between the management and the staff, and this will make them feel more empowered to communicate with upper management about any of the difficulties that are happening with sexual harassment.
“International Scrap Metal Processor.” (2011, Feb. 8). Your Part-Time HR Manager.
Retrieved from http://www.yourparttimehrmanager.com/international-scrap-metal-processor/
This article was extremely helpful at presenting a case study where there were some difficulties that were being experienced from low morale at the place of employment. While the low morale wasn’t caused by sexual harassment, as it is at Triumph Medical Centre, there are similarities in the cases, due to the fact that upper management was dealing with conflicts between lower management and the employees. It is very helpful to get an idea of what other organizations are doing, and to see whether their strategy worked for them. That way, management can determine whether the strategy would be useful at this organization as well.
Maloney, M. (2001, January). “Strategic Reward Systeems: Understanding the
Difference between ‘Best Fit’ and ‘Best Practice.’” National University of Ireland. Retrieved from http://www.business.mmu.ac.uk/parc/2005/morris_maloney.pdf
This article was is a key component to understanding how to boost morale at the company. There is the concept that is presented in this piece that the best way to stop low morale is to increase the reward system at work. This system should be connected to the business strategy at the organization. A rewards system not only includes giving monetary rewards to employees who perform well, it also provides promotions and other incentives. Furthermore, it increases the bond between the employees and management, and that can make the employees feel that they can communicate the problems that they are facing to management.
OD Interventions. (2008, Sept. 5). Change Designs. Retrieved from
This article presents an organizational problem that is in relation to low morale at a hospital. This is very similar to the situation that is being experienced at Triumph Medical Centre. In fact, the morale among the nurses at this hospital was at an all-time low, and the management needed to do whatever they could to ensure that there was an increase in morale. The hospital was also facing a decrease in the quality of patient care, and this was resulting in many of the patients at Triumph Medical Centre leaving to go to another place of care.
Paige, H. (2002). “Examining the Effectiveness of Executive Coaching on Executives.”
Flinders University School of Education. Retrieved from
This article discusses the merits of executive coaching. It is relevant to the issue that is being faced at Triumph Medical Centre, because there is a lot of tension between workers. Particularly, there is a lot of tension between workers who are sexually harassing others, and those who are being sexually harassed. While it is a difficult task, it might be useful bringing those individuals together, and striking out a way so that they can either work together, or if the sexual harassment is very severe, ensuring that the person offending is brought to justice in the legal system, and possibly fired from the firm.
Roberts, B., and Mann, R. (n.d.). Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: A Primer.
University of Akron. Retrived from http://www3.uakron.edu/lawrev/robert1.html
This article provides a strong understanding about the various instances of sexual harassment in the workplace. It shows the common frequency that the sexual harassment takes place, and it puts into perspective the various laws that have developed to curb the amount of sexual harassment that is going on in the workplace. The article discusses the issue and bring into perspective the ways that the state has decided to deal with sexual harassment. It also talks about why it is important for employers to take sexual harassment very seriously, and this could be useful for this essay.
Sekowski, G. (2008, July 8). “HRSP Case Study: Increasing Employee Morale and
Satisfaction.” HR Strategic Partners Inc. Retrieved from http://www.hrspartners.com/casestud1.htm
This case study provides a great outline to follow when developing a strategy to deal with low employee morale. This source is particularly useful because it doesn’t just say what was done to help try to curb the frequency of low morale, it also showed what the results were. This research can add a great deal to what should be accomplished in the strategy at Triumph Medical Centre, and there are several key strategies that jump out as being especially relevant for the center, such as one-on-one coaching, which is a suggestion that has also been previously made.
“Tips to Help with Employee Morale – Boosting Morale and Productivity.” (2011, March
30). CheckPoint HR. Retrieved from http://www.checkpointhr.verbsite.com/industry-articles/tips-to-help-with-employee-morale–boosting-morale-and-productivity
This article was strong at covering the four pillars that can help change a work
environment from being negative, to one that is very positive. These pillars include rewards, celebrations, environment and breaks. These may seem obvious, but they were often being ignored at Triumph Medical Centre. While the main reason for the low morale was the sexual harassment, these factors were interplayed with that sexual harassment, and there was a stale environment that perhaps contributed to the sexual harassments in the first place. This article does a good job at identifying the various factors that may have contributed to the low morale, in addition to the sexual harassment.