The Vital Corporation
May 20th, 2024     

Module 4: Win-Win Problem Solving — Engagement

Introduction ... Win-Win problem solving is the final of the four building block modules in our proven model for restoring a superior level of employee engagement. To yield its results, WWPS requires the model's three foundational building blocks ... (1) stress control, (2) work satisfaction and (3) win-win working relationships ... be securely in place, as assessed in our Corporate Vital Signs diagnostic tool.

  • A. Aims and results of WWPS
  • B. Why WWPS is valuable: Workforce performance, morale & cost-savings
A. Aims and results of Win-Win problem solving

As an on-going team process, Win-Win problem solving supports three aims essential to maintaining adaptability, morale and results in high demand, rapid changing work, namely:
  1. Employee stress and their work satisfaction are maintained at levels which are superior to, and last longer than that which can be achieved by skills training alone.
  2. Unnecessary cost factors arising from rapid changes in the work process are identified earlier, and brought under more fully beneficial control than would otherwise occur.
  3. A workplace climate of "engagement" grows wherein both the employees and the corporation become increasingly committed to and capable of identifying and transforming Lose-Lose work situations into Win-Win outcomes.
Results supported by Win-Win problem Solving

Case study #1: As a large hydro-electric corporation began to introduce a sweeping program of restructuring, procedural changes, and staff reductions, signs of (i) rising stress, and of falling (ii) work satisfaction and (iii) employee "engagement" grew. Using control groups as a baseline, evaluation of our Making Change Successful (MCS) program yielded the following six-months-later results:

- Stress levels                32% reduction
- Work satisfaction                38% improvement
- Employee engagement                62% improvement

Case study #2: During the early phase of reengineering in the Operator Services Division of a national telecommunications company, signs of resistance and non-compliance were growing. To test the value of our MCS program, half the operators (the pilot group) in a large city participated in MCS, while the other half did not (the control group). The reengineering changes continued to be introduced. One year later, keyed to evaluation measures selected by the company and its unions, results in the 300-member pilot group showed:

- Absence                18% reduction
- Grievances                32% reduction
- Key staff retention                49% improvement
- Disability time                52% reduction
- Customer service                17% improvement
- AWT (productivity) measures                7% improvement
- Monitored quality                13% improvement

B. Why WWPS is valuable in ensuring high levels of workforce morale, adaptability, and significant cost-savings

At the best of times in the best of companies, costly Lose-Lose situations exist — in work procedures, technologies, or the work environment — which simultaneously both (i) raise employee stress or reduce their satisfaction and (ii) reduce productivity, as seen in the following $1.75 million p.a. example:

A Cost-Savings Example — Computer virus-checks run many times more frequently than required: A large bank acquired two smaller financial institutions within two years. Due to tight timelines, their three functionally overlapping information systems were not integrated into one system. Rather they continued to be use interchangeably, depending on which client was being served by the integrated (and downsized) staff group. Therefore, in addition to a virus-check's running when each staff member turned on their computer in the morning, a virus-check would run each time the employee switched between systems [10 to 15 times per day].

Lose for employees: Aside from being "incredibly wasteful", these virus-checks had been very stressful for more than a year because their durations varied largely unpredictably [depending on mainframe business] between 90 seconds and four minutes, creating for employees a repeatedly stressful condition: "Should I start another task or just sit and wait ... hoping for a 90 second run?"

Lose for employer: Twenty (20+) minutes' largely unproductive time/employee/day or $1.75 million/year.

Note: Initially, a number of individual employees raised this Lose-Lose with their individual managers [very busy and stressed managers]. However, since inaction was the repeated result, employees increasingly "just tried to live with it".

As the turn-on-a-dime requirements for workforce adaptability intensify, two things frequently happen: 1. New Lose-Lose situations are frequently, and quite unintentionally, introduced; and 2. Lose-Lose's are less frequently detected or corrected by team managers ... largely because employees less and less frequently have the time or the inclination to report "We have a problem".

Win-Win problem solving creates a stable, on-going team forum plus the employee motivation required to restore and then protect the frontline employee - team manager feedback loop. Because employees' stress and their satisfaction are explicitly valued in WWPS, their motivated participation in problem solving is typically more focused, compelling and durable than found in "quality", "business process improvement" or employee suggestion programs.

And, perhaps most important, WWPS fosters a "Things are gradually getting better around here" mindset ... one of the most underrated and yet most powerful resources for ensuring on-going adaptability is successful, not stressful.

Contact Richard Earle, Ph.D. or (416) 237-1828

"Making change Successful" ... the four course modules
  1. Mastering Stress, Change and Uncertainty
  2. Creating the Winís of Change
  3. Working Win-Win
  4. Win-Win Problem Solving — Full Engagement
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