Repairing Jobs That Fail to Satisfy

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Case 2

Repairing Jobs That Fail to Satisfy

Learning Goals
Companies often divide up work as a way to improve efficiency, but specialization can lead to negative consequences. DrainFlow is a company that has effectively used specialization to reduce costs relative to its competitors’ costs for years, but rising customer complaints suggest the firm’s strong position may be slipping. After reading the case, you will suggest some ways it can create more interesting work for employees. You’ll also tackle the problem of finding people qualified and ready to perform the multiple responsibilities required in these jobs.

The Scenario
DrainFlow is a large residential and commercial plumbing maintenance firm that operates around the
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A couple of years ago a management consulting company was hired to survey DrainFlow worker attitudes. The results showed they were less satisfied than workers in other comparable jobs. The following table provides a breakdown of respondent satisfaction levels across a number of categories:

| DrainFlow Plumbers | DrainFlow Plumber Assistants | DrainFlow Office Workers | Average Plumber | Average Office Worker | I am satisfied with the work I am asked to do. | 3.7 | 2.5 | 2.5 | 4.3 | 3.5 | I am satisfied with my working conditions. | 3.8 | 2.4 | 3.7 | 4.1 | 4.2 | I am satisfied with my interactions with coworkers. | 3.5 | 3.2 | 2.7 | 3.8 | 3.9 | I am satisfied with my interactions with my supervisor | 2.5 | 2.3 | 2.2 | 3.5 | 3.4 |

The information about average plumbers and average office workers is taken from the management consulting company’s records of other companies. They aren’t exactly surprising, given some of the complaints DrainFlow employees have made. Top management is worried about these results, but they haven’t been able to formulate a solution. The traditional DrainFlow culture has been focused on cost containment, and the “soft stuff” like employee satisfaction hasn’t been a major issue.

The Proposed Solution

The company is in trouble, and as revenues shrink and the
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