Choose two of the scenarios from the module for this week and respond to the questions. Please answer each scenario on a different page.
The following case and scenarios are an extension of the case that was started in module 1. To have a more complete understanding of the situations covered here, reread the previous section of this case in module 1.
In your role as the new human resources manager for Human Solutions Software (HSS), you have been talking informally to many of the employees at HSS. There are several issues that have come up in your discussions.
When HSS first started more than two years ago, the hiring practices were haphazard. The main method of recruiting new employees was to ask current HSS employees if they knew anyone who had the qualifications that HSS needed. It was common practice to hire family members and friends of established employees. Those practices are still being used today and have been institutionalized by providing bonuses to employees who refer people to apply for positions at the organization, who are eventually hired. In some cases, jobs appear to have been created to fit with the qualifications of people whom some of the founders wanted to hire.
You have also been struck by the demographic characteristics of the employees. There are roughly an equal number of men and women working for HSS, but men fill most of the higher-level positions. Two of the founders are women, but there is a great deal of tension between these two women and the other three founders. This tension seems to be based on the two women wanting to set up a corporate structure that the men see as taking power from the founders. It seems that the new HR department is one of the changes that is in contention.
There is also a lack of minority employees. The two African American and three Hispanic employees are working in lower-level positions.
In-Depth Scenario 1
This morning you received a notice from the local office of your state employment security office that a complaint has been filed against HSS. It appears that before you started as the human resources manager for HSS, several people were interviewed for a mid-level software developer position. The position was not advertised publicly, but several people applied for the position. The person hired for the position is a friend of one of the organization’s founders. He is a 38-year-old male. Other applicants for the position included the wife of one of the supervisors of software development and a 54-year-old woman who is a friend of one of the female founders.
The woman who is a friend of one of the founders and was not hired is upset, and she filed the complaint because she feels that she is better qualified than the person who was hired. She has a bachelor’s degree and 11 years of experience developing software. The man who was hired has an associate’s degree and five years of experience developing software.
After receiving the notice, you have made some informal inquiries as to what the reasons were for hiring the successful applicant. The founder who handled HR issues before you were hired confides in you that he did not want to hire anyone in their fifties because he wanted someone who could “grow” with the company. The female founder who is the friend of the person who filed a complaint is outraged that her friend was not hired. You talked to one of the software development supervisors who was involved in hiring for the position, and he told you that he wanted to hire the person who was hired because the person who was hired had experience that was more directly related to the type of software that needed to have developed.
The founders are aware of the complaint and want you to educate them on the situation. They want you to inform them as to what laws or regulations may apply. They also are concerned with whether this complaint could jeopardize HSS’s ability to get government contracts in the future. Finally, the two women founders have asked you to come up with suggestions as to how the hiring practices at HSS should be modified.
Draft a report in which you cover these points. How will your suggestions fit into possible future strategic plans for HSS? Be sensitive to conflicts among the founders on the board and provide good sources to support your suggestions. How well you support your report can have a significant effect on the future of HSS.
In-Depth Scenario 2
This morning, Pam Tillotsen, a junior-level software developer, came into your office, obviously upset. She proceeded to tell you that she had arrived at work and found a picture of one of her co-workers, Jim, a male, on her desk. It was a view of his naked back and buttocks that had written on it, “Let me know if you like what you see.” As she looked at the picture, she heard hoots of laughter from across the room.
After calming Pam down and reassuring her that you would investigate this, you walked Pam back to her desk and sat with her for a while until she was comfortable enough for you to leave. You called the male in question into your office and curtly asked him what he was up to. He seemed puzzled, so you showed him the picture. He turned bright red and was obviously upset. He claimed to know nothing about the picture. You asked him how he could know nothing about a naked picture of himself.
He looked carefully at the picture and stated that it was taken in the downstairs restroom where he changed and showered every morning after bicycling to work. He had no idea when the picture might have been taken. Jim went on to tell you, in confidence, that a couple of months ago, a male co-worker had seen Jim holding hands with his male partner at a flea market on the other side of town. Since then he had been subject to embarrassing side comments that referred to his sexual preference from several of the other software developers. In one instance, Jim had returned from lunch and found a bra in the top drawer of his desk.
All of the software developers work in a large room with the software supervisors in glass-fronted offices around the edge of the room. When you have walked through the software development room in the past, the atmosphere has ranged from dead quiet to raucous.
You set up a meeting for later that day with the head of software development. After telling him that anything the two of you discuss at this meeting must be held in strictest confidence, you describe what has happened. He seems concerned after you have told him about what happened. He says that Pam is one of his most promising software developers and he does not want to lose her. He then asks if you think he should fire Jim. He then goes on to explain that the software developers have high-pressure jobs. The software developers often work long hours under pressure and it is only natural that they need to blow off a little pressure sometimes. He admits that it may get “a little out of hand” sometimes but that “boys will be boys.”
How do you answer the comments of the head of software development?
Develop a plan to address this problem. In the plan:
Identify who might have a basis for action against HSS and why they might have a basis for that action.
Identify the laws and regulations, including state laws and regulations, that would apply to those actions.
Identify, in detail, how HSS can go about solving any problems that this situation may have revealed.
In this plan, be aware of how your proposals might be perceived by the founders.
Outline a possible training program to help alleviate future problems of this nature. Include who needs to take this training and what specific concepts will be covered in the training.
Cover what problems may be encountered in implementing this program into the cultural atmosphere at HSS.
In-Depth Scenario 3
You have felt uncomfortable since you started working for HSS because there is no position description for your position. When you asked about such a position description, you were told to write one that fit with what you did and the founders would approve it if it was what they wanted you to do.
Soon after you started working for HSS, you discovered that many people in the organization did not have job descriptions. Others have job descriptions only because a supervisor wanted to define duties that they wanted the employee to do. These few job descriptions do not seem to be supported by any studies or data.
Just yesterday you had two supervisors in your office arguing over who could assign duties to one of the employees who worked for both of them at times. The cleaning crew has refused to clean the shipping room because the shipping employees “leave such a mess.” It is not always clear who supervises whom and what a person’s duties are.
You are also concerned by the failure to record overtime worked by employees. While lower-level employees have set shifts that they work, many of the entry-level and above software developers may work through the night to finish projects.
The shipping department recently wanted to hire a wheelchair-bound person to print labels and keep track of shipments. One of the founders objected to hiring that person because it did not fit the image of a shipping department to have someone in a wheelchair. The founder who objected to the hiring confided in you that he was also worried about the space a wheelchair ramp would take outside the shipping department and that the ramp would take up several prime parking spaces.
You think that doing a job analysis on every position in the organization will solve many present and potential problems. Write a four- to six-page memo in which you justify the use of job analyses at HSS. What are the legal and managerial reasons for doing these job analyses? What specific methods would you recommend be used to accomplish these job analyses? How can the expense and time that job analyses require be justified for HSS? Write this memo so it will convince the founders that conducting job analyses is in the best interests of HSS.
Quick Scenario 1
You have just had a discussion with the attorney to whom the company pays a retainer for occasional legal advice. When you asked him some HR questions dealing with the FLSA and with the ADA, he told you that he did not know much about these laws. His major field, and his major function for HSS, is dealing with corporate and government contracts; but he can research HR-related issues if you want him to. This is disturbing to you because you were hoping to rely on this attorney for legal advice in dealing with HR issues. The founders have wanted to hold down legal costs, but you feel a need to occasionally hire an attorney who has expertise in HR. Write a memo in which you justify the cost of getting occasional advice from an attorney who specializes in HR. Use specific court cases and situations in your memo to justify the additional legal costs.
Quick Scenario 2
One of the founders has come to you, concerned because he has just been notified that HSS needs to file an EEO-1 form or they might lose federal government contracts. He wants you to do some research and write a short, two- to three-page report, letting the founders know about their obligations for filing EEO reports. He particularly wants to know if HSS, with only 65 employees and several million dollars worth of government contracts, is required to file the EEO-1 report and what the consequences of filing this report are. You may want to start your research at http://www.eeoc.gov/eeo1survey/index.html.
Quick Scenario 3
Different departments at HSS evaluate their employees’ performance in different ways. Several of the supervisors are concerned that this creates a feeling among employees of unfairness in how they are evaluated. None of the departments has conducted job analyses for the positions in their department. Write a memo in which you justify the use of job analyses as a basis for performance appraisals of the individuals who work for HSS. Show the connections between good performance appraisals and job analyses.
Please use the following references:
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