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UNIVERSITY OF BOHOL

Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Philippines


www.universityofbohol.edu.ph
(038) 411-2081 Fax No. (038) 411-2061

Graduate School and Professional Studies

SAN PEDRO COLLEGE CASE STUDY


A Critical Analysis on Staff Productivity and Morale
(PhD-HRM 402: Management Philosophy)

Submitted to:

Earl Dave V. Rocha, PhD


Professor

Submitted by:

Jimmy D. Bucar
PhD Student
SAN PEDRO COLLEGE CASE STUDY
A Critical Analysis on Staff Productivity and Morale
Jimmy D. Bucar, MA
PhD-HRM Student
pms.jimmy@gmail.com

Abstract

This case study analysis is an attempt to provide a solution to an organizational problem using the basic
principles of management philosophy and research. The subject of this study is the case of San Pedro College (SPC),
a higher learning institution based in Mission Ridge, California, which has an issue of declining morale and
productivity among its faculty and staff. At first reading, the problem seems to center on the institutions failure to
provide what is due to its employees. However, a thorough exploration of the etiology of the problem revealed this
was not the case. Poor communication within the organization was found to be the main culprit on the employees
feeling of hopelessness and loss of trust in the administration, which eventually led to the decline of their morale,
productivity, and initiative. The literature reviewed in this study validated the assumption that a multi-
faceted/multi-directional type of communication is truly the key to the SPCs challenge. A scientific and research-
based approach was proposed in this article to solve the issue.

Introduction

According to Gabcanova (2011), employees are an essential asset to an organization.


They are the lifeblood of any organization for without them nothing will be produced. In an
educational setting, employees such as faculty and staff are the prime movers of the institution's
realization of its vision and mission. They are a vital part of the educational system
(Govindarajan, 2012). Their role as purveyors of knowledge and values to the learners is essential
in the making of a quality education. They are indeed the most dynamic, potent and significant
human resources possessed by academic institutions. Cognizant of their role in the organization,
it is, therefore, imperative to keep them motivated in working. The problem faced by today's
leaders is what if their morale wanes? Is there any chance to win it back? This article discusses the
issue of employee morale as experienced by San Pedro College, a higher learning institution in
America.
San Pedro College is a private institution in Mission Ridge, California catering to its 16,
200 students from both undergraduate and graduate levels. It employed 340 FTE faculty and staff
who have been working at this school for several years already. Similar to other learning
institutions, SPC had braved various challenges in the past and is facing now a big problem that
makes almost everyone hopeless in the institution. This issue centers on the "declining work
morale, personal initiative and productivity of the employees which they see as undermining the
core mission of the school to deliver quality programs and services." Morale is the professional
interest and enthusiasm a person displays towards the achievement of individual and group goals in a given job
situation (Bentley and Rempel, 1980 as cited in Govindarajan, 2012). It is the degree to which an
employee feels good about his/her work and work environment (Hall and Payne, 2012). Mendel (1987)
defined it as a felt satisfaction in one's job. And this is actually what the faculty and staff of SPC is
losing.
Aggravating to the problem is the lack of sufficient funding for the employees' salary
increase and initiation of new programs or services despite yearly tuition increases. Unfortunately,
there were even no significant salary increases for the past years except for the 1.5% across-the-
board faculty and staff salary cost of living and standard promotion adjustments. There were also
comments circulating in the school that the organization just took for granted their condition,
doing nothing to face their challenges. Their sentiment expressed in a faculty editorial in the
campus newspaper entitled "Hope is Not a Strategy" revealed their desperation.
There were two programs funded by the school, but it only lasted until 2006. These were the
Faculty Distinction Program (FDP) in 2002 and the Staff Performance Excellence Program
(SPEP) in the year 2003. These programs were both initiated to boost and maintain the
employee's performance; however, due to financial issues, these were stopped. The performance
documentation and employee-supervisor discussion of the SPEP which once form part of their
appraisal system, promotion, and salary increases were kept intact; however, it was purely for
academic reasons only and never included in the compensation scheme. For this reason, the
employees did not consider it seriously.
Unfortunately, a clear-cut formal communication between the two camps was overlooked in the
school. The only correspondence received by the employees was an official email informing them
of the policy decision about their deferral. Furthermore, the school had not yet explored some
essential factors such as engaging in a meaningful dialogue between the administration and the
employees. There were no efforts exerted to improve their communication that would allow them
to meet half way and face the challenge as a team. No efforts had been made to recognize the
faculty and staff's work dedication. To put it simply, the school administrators mismanaged its
human resources. It seems that they only took for granted the problem. It resulted in faculty and
staffs' losing confidence in the institution. Everyone was worried so much about the future of the
school and their employment. Some highly motivated and talented employees already look for
other job opportunities. This depressing condition became a viral topic in the whole campus and
already affected the employees personal initiative and productivity.
In capsule, San Pedro College, a higher learning institution based in California, USA faces
a problem on faculty/staff morale and productivity as a consequence of issues of salary increases
and poor recognition of the efforts of several employees. Everyone seems to be hopeless in their
situation; however, there are still some possible solutions to the problem that were not yet
explored by the management and this will be the focus of this case study analysis.

Situational Analysis
The SPC case is not a unique problem in every organization nevertheless it brings a life
message to all administrators and managers to be keen and sensitive to the plight of their
employees. Apparently, the school faculty and staffs were having a crisis in morale that already
affected their productivity and initiative. Intentions to leave and look for another job were already
sprouting in their minds. Looking at the problem superficially, perhaps, one can hastily conclude
that it is due to the lack of proper compensation of the employees; however, a root cause analysis on
the issue reveals the etiology of the problem. The problem faced by San Pedro College goes
beyond salary increases as attested from the experiences of various organizations in the past.
Research studies show that issue of declining employee morale is not always due to
monetary matters, most of the time positive feelings employees have in their institutions influence
it. Take, for example, Keiser and Schulte (2009) in their study discovered that positive school
climate characterized by healthy organizational communication enhances teachers' social and
emotional skills and prevents them from resigning in their posts. Another study revealed some
positive effects of high morale such as improved productivity and performance in working, fewer
absences and higher retention rate. Morale was linked to organizational commitment and
engagement (Johnsrud and Rosser, 2002; Hall & Payne, 2012). Similarly, these findings were
validated in a research study conducted in India entitled Effective Organizational Communication: A
Key to Employee Motivation and Performance where it stressed out the vital role of communication in
employee motivation and performance (Rajhans, 2012). This glaring information only shows
how important it is for employees to be highly satisfied with their jobs for them to stay in an
organization until they retire.
Under the scientific lens of human resource management, it can be inferred that the real
meat of the problem is primarily due to poor organizational communication between the administrators
and employees, and secondarily due to poor school management arising from poor communication as
evidenced by their laxity in solving the problem from the very start. Why do faculty members
intend to leave from an institution? One of the reasons identified in previous research is poor
organizational communication (Johnsrud and Rosser, 2002). To give more weight on this issue, an
article written by Michelle Ezell (2013) identified lack of communication as the main culprit of
declining morale in an organization. This was based on the candid responses of the three hundred
HR Professionals who were surveyed by Accountemps, a Robert Haf Company in America
(Accountemps, 2013). This type of communication is different with the traditional one which is
very one-sided. It is a multi-faceted and multi-directional/bi-directional type of communication where
both parties are heard properly. This kind of communication does improve not only morale and
productivity but also influences employees' positive attitude and happiness as demonstrated in a
correlational study in the Enrolment Management Division of Southern Utah University, USA
(Proctor, 2014).
Evidently, SPC Administration failed to communicate openly with its employees on the
problems faced by the entire institution so that they can face it too as members of the team. It
seems that the school administrators relegated the importance of employees' participation. In my
opinion, they perhaps failed to create and support a sound long-term institutional and faculty
developmental plan that would somehow provide security of tenure to its employees and give a
clear sense of direction to the institution by their core mandate. Since the problem is urgent, it
requires immediate steps that are scholarly based (i.e. tested by time and practice). It requires
quick and wise decision-making and competence in risk management so that no one from both
camps will be at a loss.

The Solution
How to maintain employee morale in a time of decreasing budgets and increasing demands?
Communicate! This was a question concisely answered by Karen DeMauro, Director of Computer
Services at Clarion University of Pennsylvania in her paper discussing simple strategies in
boosting morale during times of financial crisis. She stressed out the importance of effective
organizational communication as a tool towards motivating employees to become loyal to ones
organization/company despite 0% increase. She also emphasized the importance of engaging the
employees in problem-solving and acknowledging their efforts when they solved some of the
problems (DeMauro, 1998).
Another article written by Cherryl Conner (2014) featured in Forbes online listed at least
"six ways to increase employee morale and performance without giving them a raise." These are
the following (1) Give them reasons to believe in the companys vision; (2) Show them genuine care (e.g.
recognizing their birthday); (3) Recognize their efforts; (4) Provide some fringe benefits (e.g. free massage); (5)
Promote from within; and lastly, (6) Bring on the fun (i.e. let them enjoy sometimes). She summarized these
steps in the following themes: caring, recognition, rewards and appreciation."
Employees can be motivated when the top management implements open
communication for everyone and periodically conduct vision casting which was patterned after
Nehemiah's Principle of recasting their mission/vision to rebuild the Jerusalem wall as
popularized by Rick Warren in his book "The Purpose Driven Life." Interestingly, Accountemps'
survey also revealed that "communication" was chosen as the best remedy for low morale.
Monetary rewards came only next to communication (Ezell, 2013).This study was further
validated by Asamu (2014) who found out a positive correlation between effective communication
and workers performance, productivity and commitment." He further recommended a regular employer-
employee dialogue to increase their morale and consequently raises their commitment and
performance.

Process of Solving the Problem


Traditionally, administrators respond to this problem in a normative way, wherein the
usual take is conducting a meeting with the administrative officials without gathering first valid
information (i.e. obtained through scientific research) that are supposed to be the basis in crafting the
solutions. Solving organizational problems is never easy but with the help of modern knowledge
in management philosophy and research, handling them become systematic, easy and more
efficient.
As a PhD student trained in Management Philosophy and research, it would be wise to
use tried and true techniques/approaches in solving problems. It must be scientific (i.e. research-
based), and the interventions to implement must be developmental in nature so that whatever
constraint might be seen along the way will be addressed proactively. Part of this approach will be
the tapping of the University Research Center to conduct an urgent research on the employees'
waning morale and productivity. I believe that research will ultimately address the core of this
problem as long as the recommendations are properly implemented and assessed.
As the new CBO, I will call for a conference among the administrators and some
representatives from every department (including the Dean of the Research Department) to talk
about the issue. Part of this conference will be the identification of the problem (if the problem
truly exists) and decide on how to get the data needed. This will be the preliminary assessment of
the seriousness of the problem. Some tools that can be used in this meeting are Root cause Analysis,
Why-Why Diagram, Gantt Chart, Eisenhower Matrix and other decision-making tools in management.
After hearing the preliminary information of the problem, the second step will be the
conduct of research. This responsibility should be given to the University Research Center who
will craft the research design and the data gathering tool. Their study must focus on the problem
identified in the meeting. Obviously, it is about employees' morale and intentions to resign. The
respondents of this study must include all the employees of the school to get a real picture of the
problem. In the conduct of the research study, a triangulation approach is at this moment suggested
allowing the researchers to view every angle of the problem from different perspectives. It
captures some ideas that cannot be validated by simply using a single approach (e.g. quantitative
research). Some of the data gathering procedures that can be utilized are Focus Group Discussion
(FGD), Individual Interview and Questionnaire. In this way, both qualitative and quantitative data will
be gathered thoroughly without fear of having a skewed result. Practically, this may be a bit
tedious, but I believe with the joint effort of all concerned personnel this study will be
accomplished in as early as one week to two weeks.
The next step is calling for another executive meeting that will tackle about the outcome
of the study. The Research Center presents the results and recommendations of the study. After
the presentation, the administrators shall decide on whether or not they will implement the
recommended programs/interventions. Once they have already decided the next step will follow
which is the conduct of a general meeting. The Administrators then call for a general conference
with the faculty and staff of the school. The University Research Center presents again the result
of their study and the University President assures the employees that the recommendations will
be implemented and a new management system shall be followed to address the needs of every
single employee.
Lastly, the implementation of the programs based on the timeframe must be implemented
immediately. The impact of the programs must be assessed periodically to measure and evaluate
their effectiveness. If there are programs that are not working well, then it requires another
conference, problem validation, and research.
In essence, the following are the steps/process in solving organizational problems that
can be utilized by anyone managing an institution or company. These are (1) Identification and
assessment of the problem; (2) Conducting Research; (3) Communication of the results and recommendation of
programs/interventions; (4) Implementation of the programs/interventions; and lastly, (5) Impact Assessment.
With these steps, I am hopeful SPCs problem on staff productivity and morale will ultimately be
solved.
REFERENCES

Accountemps (2013). Survey: Few CFOs Plan to Invest in Interpersonal Skills Development for
Their Teams. Retrieved from https://goo.gl/GbTMVo (accessed January 19, 2017)

Asamu, F. F. (2014). The impact of communication on workers performance in selected


organizations in Lagos State, Nigeria. IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 19(8), 75-
82. Retrieved from https://goo.gl/JDICjM (accessed January 16, 2016)

Conner, Cherryl (2014, September). 6 Ways To Increase Employee Morale And Performance
(Without Giving A Raise). Forbes. Retrieved from https://goo.gl/CFBnU9 (accessed January 14,
2016)

DeMauro, K. (1998). Improve Morale and Reduce Stress: Communicate!. CAUSE EFFECT, 21,
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