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ROWE: Results Only Work Environment

Case Study:

Best Buy is a large national retailer with many full-time and part-time employees in more than 1,000 stores. Beginning several years ago, Best Buy has made major changes in its work schedules. Rather than emphasizing fixed hours, Best Buy increased use of flexible work hours in its corporate headquarters and stores. Based on the success of an initial experimental program with 300 employees in some departments, the changes have evolved into a more broadly used program labeled ROWEâ?"Results Only Work Environment. At the heart of ROWE is the philosophy of focusing on employees getting their work done, not just meeting clock hours. To implement ROWE, managers and employees have had to identify performance result expectations and measures for all jobs. The focus of ROWE has been on how people make judgments on work to be done and the time at work to do it. The core focus of ROWE is employee performance meeting expectations, not just being at work. The HR payoff of ROWE has been significant. According to metrics, voluntary employee turnover has declined in some divisions by as much as 75% to 90% over several years. Average worker productivity in the same period increased over one-third. Some other key results of the ROWE plan have been:
- Increased customer satisfaction because of the work-results focus of Best Buy employees
- Higher employee morale and engagement because of the ability to place work and life demands in balance
- Higher managerial performance because of the attention to results, not just on training schedules and regulations
For some employees and managers with family responsibilities and personal interests, one of the greatest advantages of the ROWE program is the ability for them to achieve better work-life balance. From mothers of school-aged children to single males involved in hobbies and sports, employees can adjust schedules to meet their personal and professional needs. For instance, one employee left often in early afternoon in order to participate in entertainment activities. Other employees have finished work and gone hunting or golfing during the "normal work week" because they had completed their work requirements. Obviously, these persons can make expansive use of technology for doing their work anywhere, such as getting messages while at family or sporting events, responding quickly to job-related questions, and providing immediate work-related information. The ROWE program now has been expanded to include retail store managers and workers. Doing so has meant making some modifications to ensure that sufficient salespersons are available to serve customers at a wide range of days and times. But with Best Buy retail stores previously experiencing a turnover rate of 60% plus, adapting to ROWE has been important. It has helped with recruiting store employees, retaining them so that turnover has decreased, and enhancing customer service. In summary, the change in the culture at Best Buy to focus on results, employee success, and greater work flexibility has made Best Buy one of the best places for many people to shop and work. How this program will expand and modify as economic, workforce diversity, and jobs change will be interesting to observe.

1. Discuss how a ROWE-type program would fit in organizations where you have worked. Explain why it would or would not work.
2. Identify factors in the ROWE program that might make using it for retail employees more difficult than using it for managers and employees in corporate offices, technical centers, and nonretail jobs and locations.

Solution Preview

1. Discuss how a ROWE-type program would fit in organizations where you have worked. Explain why it would or would not work.

I can certainly see how this program seems a custom fit for me. With some attention to coverage issues, this could work almost in any given situation. For example, within an office environment there are certain expectations that must be met daily. Let's take the HR department where I work for as an example. There are three people within this department and the department must be covered at all times. As long as each member is flexible, this system could work well. For example, if all leave forms have been entered and orientations completed, then the one person who does this could feasibly be done for the day. This type of ...

Solution Summary

Understanding and implementing ROWE. How did Best Buy manage this and could your organization gain increased customer satisfaction by implementing this plan?