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It was reported in a management journal that a unit overseas decided to try to change the current shift pattern (which was the same one used in your unit) because they had concluded it was not really efficient from a cost and productivity perspective. This unit was in a private hospital and most of the work force did not belong to a Trade Union (the Union). The management of the unit who first introduced this rostering method wrote a glowing article about how efficient it was. Little was heard from the staff on the unit.
You are the manager of your unit (ward/department etc.). Senior managers in your hospital have decided to adopt the same shift pattern which had been trialled overseas and which avoided any overlap in staff. When you first discuss the change with your staff you find that some staff view this as a positive change but others are more uncertain and a few don't want to change at all. You inform your senior manager about this reaction and they agree to allow you to trial the change of shift times for a period of three months and then evaluate it.
At the end of the three month trial period, senior hospital management identified that there had been cost savings resulting from the new shift pattern and declared that it enabled a more efficient use of staff. They informed you that the hospital had decided that the change in shift hours would be permanent and that you should work with your staff to ensure a smooth transition towards adopting them permanently.
You explain to your staff the findings of the senior hospital management in terms of the cost benefit of the new shift hours. However, the results of the trial in your unit identified that although some staff remain positive about the change in shift pattern (because it suits their life style); more now expressed negative views about the change. You know that some staff are members of the relevant Union. The Union had not been consulted about the trial prior to it being implemented. Staff who perceive the new shift pattern as negative now begin to talk about consulting the Union about these changes. You are concerned about the divisions in the staff that these changes in shift times seem to be causing.
There is grumbling and anxiety amongst the unit's staff but no outright conflict about the new shift hours. You are worried that this is also affecting staff morale. Senior management, nevertheless, is determined to introduce the new shift pattern as a permanent feature of the work place. Somehow, you have to try to negotiate the introduction of the new shift pattern in a way that results in satisfaction of or at least acceptance by your unit's staff.
In this assignment you are required to identify a plan of how you will achieve this. (NB you are not required to outline new shift time start and finishing times etc.).
Although you will keep your Senior Manager informed of the negotiation process, in the first instance your negotiations will be between representatives of your unit's staff who support the change to the new rostering hours, representatives of your unit's staff who do not support the change and you as the unit's manager. Each of these representatives will be required to report back to their colleagues.
Using, where appropriate, some of the literature that you critiqued in the previous assignment and ensuring that you also refer to new literature relevant to this second assignment, respond to the following questions using an essay format for this assignment (you may wish to discuss more than one point in each paragraph):
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Shift pattern of employees as we all know is one of the essential elements in running an accomplished firm. In every facility the 'perfect shift schedule' depends on a numerous factors including business needs, the nature of the job tasks performed and workforce demographics and preferences. A particular shift schedule has an overall impact on health outcomes as well as social issues which vary considerably based on individual differences hence it is important to consider the characteristics and opinions of each worker population before finalizing any particular shift schedule. (Branch Negotiating Guide: Annex X- Guidance on workforce Re-profiling, Sept 2013) There are various types of shift pattern and there is no optimal schedule of shift working while some people are comfortable and adapt well to one type of shift pattern others may find it difficult to carry out on a day to day basis (Unite guide to shift work and night work- a health and safety issue for Unite members, Oct 2013).
As nature of job varies in different settings so a single shift schedule pattern cannot be implemented. The number of workers over age 55 is projected to increase significantly over the next 20 years. (Francine M. Tishman, March 2012) Effect of schedule on health and social issues will vary considerably based on individual differences; hence it is important to consider the characteristics of each worker population during schedule selection. Studies have shown that worker satisfaction with family life favored 8-hour shifts for nurses and 12-hour shifts for police and chemical workers. Employees reported positive results when negotiating changes such as shift start and end times, provision of an extra break during 12-hour shifts and improved meal facilities at night were implemented. At one plant in which the schedule was imposed with no input from employees, worker reactions were so negative that the old schedule had to be implemented again. (Aguirre A, 2007) A number of research studies have proved that rotation shift duty and working at night have adverse health effects such as gastrointestinal disorders, heart disease, cancers, etc. Long hours of working, rotational shift duties and night shift can disturb the entire circadian cycle and can have a significant effect on the health of the old population, new and expectant and on breastfeeding mothers. Workers with some pre-existing health conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disorders, asthma sleep apnoea, etc can suffer to a great extent due to rotational shift duties and night shift. Workers taking medication e.g. the effectiveness of insulin for diabetics may be affected by changing pattern of duties every day especially in sectors such as a hospital. Unsocial working hours can also have an adverse effect on psychosocial aspect of life and family and social life. (Unite guide to shifting work and night work- a health and safety issue for Unite members, Oct 2013)
Management has a substantial opportunity to reduce costs, risk, and liabilities of extended hours of operation. When management focuses on employee's involvement in shift schedule and accepts suggestions provided by them in the optimization of the work schedule the overall day to day implementation enhances which indirectly increases the productivity generated by the firm. (Sirois, 2012) As for instance in the Buenos Aires water concession, the labor union was represented on the committee to manage the process and was closely involved in negotiations on restructuring methods division options and retraining arrangements. (Alcazar, Abdala, & Shirley, 2002) Negotiation is a method whereby two persons or groups attempt to reach agreement on issues or on certain plan to be adopted for the overall welfare of people where there is some degree of difference in interest, goals, values or beliefs. A good a negotiation strategy can produce better quality agreements as well as improve working relationships.