Task specific guidance:
This assessment task is an individual 2,500-word essay. Your coursework should use an essay structure and be based on ‘suitable for referencing’ (recent) academic and practitioner material. The expectation is to write critically – avoid description of the content or material referred to. The reference list does not count towards the word limit.
Taking the case study, The Information Systems Department at Fulchester University, as your starting point, you are required to undertake research to answer the following questions (The questions are weighted equally):
- Evaluate Ian’s leadership style considering the existing literature. What type of leadership style would you adopt if you were in Ian’s position? Justify your position by drawing upon recognised leadership and management theories.
- Identify practically possible and financially feasible HR interventions that Fulchester University might consider to reduce turnover and retain key staff. Evaluate the potential benefits and limitations of your recommended interventions considering existing theories.
- Argue specific contributions that adoption of technologies such as artificial intelligence in the workplace, robotics, digital labour, big data, augmented and virtual realities, etc. can make towards the recommended interventions.
Case Study: The Information Systems Department at Fulchester University
Fulchester University is one of the largest universities in the UK, with 30,000 students spread over five teaching sites.
There is an extensive computer network in place, which is managed and supported by the information systems department. The main functions of the department are to ensure that the network is operating smoothly, to install and run an up-to-date portfolio of software and to provide a trouble-shooting services for network users. This is the most extensive and visible of the department’s roles and involves helping students in the drop-in suites and computer laboratories and the library, and also teaching, research and administrative staff using the network from PCs in their own offices.
The department is managed by Ian Rafeeq, who is based in the University’s central administration block along with a small team of support staff. The service in the five teaching sites is provided by a team based at each location. In each case, these comprise a team leader, who reports to Ian Rafeeq and between eight and 10 information systems officers, depending on the size of site.
HR services are provided from a central HR team at Fulchester and each HR Business Partner (such as yourself) is assigned several departments to deal with. The Information Systems department has recently become your responsibility and you have just received this e-mail from Ian Rafeeq:
Hi, I’m glad we’ve got someone new in HR looking after us, between you and me the last one we had wasn’t much use. Anyway, I’ve got a problem here in Information Systems, it seems like every week that I have to turn up at the ‘leaving do’ of one of the information systems officers. It’s all very pleasant, I make my usual speech and have a glass of wine, but with all these people leaving I’m having real difficulty running a service. I always seem to be a couple of people short at each site, though some sites are worse than others in that respect. It sometimes feels like I’m welcoming someone to the department one week and handing over their leaving present the next!
Mind you, we also lose people with a bit more experience than that. It’s all down to money of course, and who can blame them, we can’t pay competitive rates in the university sector and people are bound to go to the private sector where they can earn more. It wouldn’t be so bad if wasn’t the best ones who leave all the time.
They come to us after their degree with a couple of years’ information systems work behind them, we give them some valuable experience and then they go off somewhere else. Training and qualifications are the big thing in our line of work, you’ve got to keep at the cutting edge of knowledge otherwise your skills are not marketable.
Mind you, these people probably want a new challenge after a couple of years, I suppose the work must seem pretty routine once you’ve mastered it, but as we have only one team leader at each site there is no prospect of promotion. The Information Systems Officers who have been here a long time tend very rarely to leave, in fact as they have reached the top of the pay scale they are actually paid quite well and, given their skills, it would be hard for them to earn as much elsewhere. The trouble is they are not our best people, are no longer motivated and, to be honest, drag everyone else down.
The other thing is, it is really difficult to find good new recruits, only last week I interviewed 12 people and none of them were any good, but we are so thin on the ground that we had taken on someone who hasn’t really got the skills and experience that we need. I know the university is trying to save money by advertising only in the Evening News, but it doesn’t seem to be working for us. I’m at a loss to know what to do, particularly as we can’t change the pay rates because they are agreed at national level. Can you come and see me at 9am tomorrow, I could do with some help with this?
Ian Rafeeq seems to have his own ideas as to the nature, extent and causes of his labour turnover problem. The turnover situation is becoming critical for the business, and you cannot change the nationally agreed rates. You are also aware that many view pay as a short-term intervention for turnover issues.