Unit II Project
Columbia Southern University
Unit II Project
The Executive Leadership Council (ELC) of Fig Technologies (FIG) hired The Solution Group (TSG) to assess the work environment in the Miami, Florida and Kansas City, Missouri offices. There have been reports of unprofessional behavior in both offices. The two offices have a friendly rivalry with regard to professional sports and local college teams, but there are complaints in the Miami office that the rivalry has got out of hand. Individuals in the Kansas City office started hanging out together in the break areas and talking about sexual relationships. The Brazilian and South African employees in both offices feel excluded since they are fans of soccer instead of football. TSG has investigated the issues at both sites. This report will address the findings, the assessment measures utilized, and recommendations to the ELC to resolve the issues at both offices.
Assessment Measures and Methodology
The workplace environment is the, “totality of the interrelationships of individuals at the workplace, which can be technical, human, and organizational”. Workplace environments can be a collaborative workplace environment or a toxic workplace environment. TSG analyzed the two offices to determine any toxic and/or unhealthy behavior that occurring by utilizing two methods of assessment. Observation is a method used to assess any bad behaviors. TSG embedded personnel at each location for two weeks. TSG conducted a command climate survey together with the observation. Each employee at both offices received the command climate survey.
The questions on the survey helps TSG collect quantitative data to evaluate the organizational climate of these two offices. The questions utilized for the assessment are similar to questions from the United States Army command climate survey, which are in Appendix A of this report . TSG modified the questions to fit FIG and added additional questions needed to address the issues that caused the investigation. Toxic workplace environment, workplace ostracism, workplace incivility, harassment (to include sexual harassment), misconduct (to include inappropriate relationships), job productivity, and job burnout. Workplace Ostracism is, “the perception of an individual regarding his/her social exclusion by his/her peers and supervisors at the workplace. Ostracism within the workplace creates stressors that lead to employees having a high level of job dissatisfaction, low motivation, and adversely affects the productivity level for both the individual employee and the organization. Workplace incivility is defined as, “the deliberate intention of one employee to violate the workplace norms by disrupting other employees for his/her personal gain. It is a type of deviant and discourteous behavior with a low intensity that triggers an individual to undermine the image and performance of peers at the workplace”. Harassment is, “unwanted conduct, which humiliates an individual, violates an individual’s dignity; or intimidates others. Harassment can include unsolicited and explicit speech about race, sex, religion, belief, origin, age, genes, color or ethnicity as part of a toxic workplace environment”. The survey helped to determine the impact of the workplace behaviors mentioned above and how the toxic behaviors affect job productivity and burnout.
Each employee received the survey via email and instructed to complete the surveys within 48 hours. The instructions stated that answers would remain anonymous in hopes that would encourage individuals to feel comfortable in telling the truth about the current environment of their workplace. TSG provided a common access passcode to log into the site to take the survey. Each location had a different passcode. The codes allowed TSG to compile the specific organization environment issues at each location after completion of the surveys.
The assessment results and the observations from the Miami off provided TSG with many issues that make the office a hostile work environment. Issues discovered at the Miami office include interpersonal conflict, harassment, favoritism, retaliation, discrimination, communication issues, and erosion of their team’s effectiveness. The survey concluded that a large percentage of the employees in the Miami office felt the work environment was toxic. The survey determined there is a concern of unprofessionalism and incivility. Some employees felt ostracized and expressed a deliberate reduction in social networks that affected their physical and psychological health. TSG noticed behavior that was unprofessional, distracting, disrespectful, belittling, created strife amongst the team, increased hostility, and broke down team cohesion.
In the Kansas City location, TSG found very different issues, but the issues are equally alarming. Unlike the Miami location, the Kansas City location did not have the same level of incivility. The Kansas City office showed high levels of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct. Issues uncovered by TSG in the Kansas City office include interpersonal conflict, favoritism, discrimination, communication issues, harassment, and high levels of misconduct that violate the FIG policy. Results from the survey determined employees felt they were working in a hostile work environment. Most employees felt they either had been sexually harassed or witnessed sexual harassment in the office. Many employees felt that they could not trust leadership to do their job when incidents of discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual assault was reported to them.
In both locations, TSG found that due to leadership not stopping the misconduct there was a decline in the opinion of leadership’s abilities as well as an increase of distrust. Employees expressed that due to unprofessionalism in both offices, they have been seeking employment elsewhere. TSG found that unprofessionalism also attributed to a decrease in job productivity. Morale in both offices is low due to the hostile and unprofessional work environments.
Recommendations to the ELC
An environment of tolerance and respect must happen in order to create a good work environment. Hamlin states, “A company must have executives who can create a culture of respect and honor for differences for colleagues. It must create practices and train manager to competently supervise diverse work teams effectively”. In both scenarios, the offices have turned unhealthy and caused FIG to lose professionalism in each office, which the company strives to achieve. When an organization successfully manages diversity within their organization, it can lead to higher levels of morale. Furthermore, organizations that embrace diversity have been shown to experience, “greater productivity, competitive advantages, and is a key component for effective people management”. Diversity helps an organization reach its full potential. A workplace that has diversity is able to harness the life experiences of their employees. Diversity allows a workplace to maximize creativity, be able to solve problems, and reach clientele that could not otherwise be reached. Diversity can also create disadvantages that can be largely seen when diversity is not managed. Managing diversity is challenging and can be a major disadvantage. Managing diversity is not something that normally comes natural. Training individuals to effectively and professionally deal with diversity is necessary for an organization to be successful. Conflict can arise due to diversity, which can be another disadvantage. “When diversity is not managed effectively, differences can split people apart, cause endless arguments and bickering, and result in bitter feelings, resentment, and less productive work”. Diversity can be challenging, but one that organizations should utilize. TSG designed solutions to address the issues in the two offices, to restore professionalism in the workplace and diversity embraced at these sites.
At the Miami location, TSG recommends a zero tolerance stance on conduct that is intimidating or offensive. The Florida law states that behavior is considered offensive if it is in one of the following manners: “intimidation, ridicule, mockery, insults, offensive jokes, name calling, slurs, epithets, physical assaults, threats, offensive objects/pictures, interference with work performance”. Litigation may be in the future for the Miami office due to the football rivalry and the hostile work environment it has caused. According to a 2014 study from Monster, they found that “the majority of U.S. workers say the competition they have with co-workers or bosses has hurt their job performance. Of those surveyed, 55% of those who have a workplace rivalry said it has created undue stress and reduced their productivity, and 20% said it has gotten them into trouble with management”. Additionally, this surveyed revealed “30% of those surveyed have considered leaving their jobs because of office rivals”. TSG recommends that talks that do not help to accomplish work tasks be limited to breaks and lunch. The office rivalries must be removed from the workplace and a zero tolerance policy put in place to limit the chance of offensive behavior. Conduct training on the zero tolerance policy for the employees and educate the employees on the Florida law. A team-building event is recommended to help restore bonds that may have been lost due to the football rivalry. The employees from Africa and Brazil who felt ostracized will be included in the team-building event and they can become part of the team once again.
A lawsuit is also a possibility for the Kansas City office. The conduct in the Kansas City office is in violation of the EECO Guidelines on the Sexual Harassment 1980 Act. This act “defines sexual harassment, formally acknowledging it as a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Section 703 of Title VII, and suggests affirmative steps employers may take to prevent sexual harassment”. This is a very serious issue, and FIG must ensure compliance with all affirmative actions that the EECO guidelines suggest. A 2015 study conducted by cosmopolitan revealed that over one third of females in the United States have been sexually assaulted and 70% of those numbers admitted to not reporting the incident. The alarming fact is that even with 70% of incidents going unreported, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission still reports between 7,000-9,000 complaints of harassment filed every year! FIG must take great steps in creating a sexual harassment free work environment. Federal law has determined that sexual comments, stories about sex, turning work discussions to sexual topics, talking about sexual history and preferences amongst other remarks as sexual harassment. Sexual remarks of any kind in the workplace cannot be tolerated by FIG and a zero tolerance policy must be implemented. In addition to the zero tolerance policy, TSG recommends creating no-fraternization policy for the entire FIG organization. The no-fraternization policy will outline the definition of a professional relationship. An example of a no-fraternization policy is in Appendix B of this report. TSG advises that FIG perform training on the new no-fraternization policy and zero tolerance policy. The FIG training anti-discrimination, communication, and inclusion must increase. Kimberlee Leonard states that, “While these types of training are designed to improve other areas of employee skills and safety, they can also help employees realize how to deal with problems, as they arise at work. Two employees who are dating and who have been well-trained on inclusiveness are less likely to make others feel left out while at work. This helps maintain the overall team morale” . FIG will benefit from conducting for their employees, as well as the employees will learn many lessons.
TSG investigated the Miami and the Kansas City offices and found the toxic issues addressed within this report. TSG made recommendations that will help address these scenarios and will help FIG restore professionalism in the two offices. Lawsuits will be avoided, a diverse culture will be embraced, and an environment of dignity and respect for its employees will be created.