Case Study: Enriching Jobs at Standard Decoy

In: Business and Management

Submitted By suvidha16
Words 1789
Pages 8
Job Design, Employee Participation, and Alternative Work Arrangements

Standard Decoy in Witchell, Maine, has been making traditional wooden hunting decoys since 1927. Cyrus Witchell began the business by carving a couple of ducks a day by hand. Demand and competition have long since driven the company to use modern machinery and assembly-line techniques, and they now turn out two hundred ducks daily even on the slowest days. When Stewart Alcorn, Cyrus Witchell’s grandson, took over the business, he knew things needed to change. Output hadn’t fallen, and the company was surviving financially despite competition from what he called "plastic ducks" from the Far East. But Alcorn noticed that productivity per worker had stayed the same for ten years, even during the period since the company had bought the latest equipment. While touring the plant, he noticed many employees yawning, and he found himself doing the same. No one quit. No one complained. They all gave him a smile when he walked by. But no one seemed excited with the work. Alcorn decided to take a survey. He appointed a respected worker at each step in the production process to ask each of his or her coworker’s questions and to fill in the response sheets. One conclusion emerged from the survey: The "fine-tuners," as Alcorn thought of them, were the most content. That is, those who used fine tools and brushes to get the ducks’ heads, expressions, and feathers just right seemed to enjoy their work most. In contrast, the people who planed and cut the wood into blocks, rough-cut the body shapes, spray-painted the body color, and applied the varnish were all pretty bored. Alcorn had heard about a technique called "job rotation" and decided to try it out. He gave all workers a taste of the "fun" jobs. He asked for volunteers to exchange jobs for one morning a week. The fine-tuners were skeptical, and the other…...

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