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    Employee Absenteeism

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    Mr. Smith has contacted you for assistance with a problem that he is having at his workplace. Mr. Smith owns a small factory that manufactures custom figure skates. He has 30 employees who work for him. During the past year, he has noticed a very high absenteeism rate among his staff. The high rate of absenteeism has negatively affected the company's productivity and ability to meet deadlines. Since the company is small and the work is highly specialized, it is difficult to obtain substitute or temporary workers.

    Mr. Smith hoped that offering donuts and coffee in the mornings would help his employees feel appreciated and want to come to work, but this strategy yielded very poor results. He also explained to his staff that the low productivity could result in the factory being permanently closed. However, following this, he noticed an increase in absenteeism rates.

    Mr. Smith is now turning to you for help with his staff.

    1. Briefly recap the case, discussing your observations and clearly identifying a research question.

    2. What are the target behaviors and why is it important to address this behavior?

    3. Why might have Mr. Smith's previous interventions not been successful?

    4. What intervention do you think will result in a specific level and direction of desired change in the target behavior?

    5. Choose an effective modification program to test your hypothesis for your hypothetical experiment (e.g. a token economy, lottery, or positive reinforcement) and discuss how you would implement your program and the rationale for your choice, based upon current scientific literature.

    6. Make explicit how the proposed behavior plan will be monitored and outcomes analyzed, drawing clear conclusions.

    7. Clearly communicate the anticipated results, addressing any potential issues of response maintenance, response transfer and/or extinction.

    8. What are the value/risks/strategies in using the same person as their own experimental control?

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    Solution Preview

    1. The company is experiencing a high rate of absenteeism among the staff employees that has adversely affected the company's productivity. As a result the employer of the company has missed deadlines. The owner is concerned that the high rate of absenteeism and resulting low productivity will result in the factory being closed. Despite a decision to offer coffee and donuts in the mornings, and a discussion with employees concerning the problem, the absenteeism continued. While offering coffee and donuts on the job is a warm gesture of hospitality, it is not clear whether Mr. Smith has a good relationship with his employees. Moreover, this hospitable act may serve to either establish, or enhance an existing established relationship with Mr. Smith and his employees. It does not address the cause of absenteeism. The research question posed to explore the cause of absenteeism: Does having a voice on the job contribute to increased job loyalty, and less absenteeism?

    2. The primary objective is to find out why employees are not coming to work. Therefore the target behavior is to decrease employee absenteeism. While the employee's absences have resulted in decreased productivity, this is a condition of the absenteeism.

    3. It appears that Mr. Smith has not put forth good efforts to involve the workers in any of his decisions. Further, he has made no attempts to explore the cause behind the absenteeism as to why the employees are choosing not to come to work. More important they have not had a voice in the reason for the absenteeism. They have not been asked to voice concerns they may have that may contribute to apathy on the job.

    4. It is hypothesized that when owners are able to have a voice on the job, absenteeism will decrease. The behavior is being maintained, because Mr. Smith has not gotten to the root of the problem. A proposed program is needed in which the desired change will be a positive reaction.

    5. The behavior modification program that is proposed is based ...

    Solution Summary

    This solution discusses employee absenteeism, and related behaviors and intervention.