The Frank Home Oil Service has had a long-standing tradition of
promotion from within, largely on the basis of length of service. Men were
hired as labourers and moved up through several Promotional ladders to
higher-paying positions, including maintenance work. Older workers
typically ?bid? the mechanics? jobs when there were openings, because this
work was easier than delivery and pumping jobs. Recently the company
became concerned that its maintenance mechanics were less skilled than
those of its competitors. As new and more complicated equipment was
purchased, the company found itself without adequate maintenance
The company was finally able to negotiate an agreement with the union
permitting it to use aptitude tests in selecting new mechanics. The steady
stream of older workers bidding on these jobs was now halted. To fill
openings as they occurred, the company for the first time was able to go
outside the organisation and hire young trade?schooled graduates who
quickly learned the requisites skills. Over time the older mechanics who
had come into their jobs ?unscreened? were shifted to the less-skilled work
in the department-largely building - maintenance work.
The immediate problem is that declining business is forcing a cutback in
the size of the maintenance department. Normally, department seniority
is used to determine who will, be laid off. The result in this case will be
that nearly all of the relatively new and more able younger mechanics will
be laid off, except those who have enough seniority to ?bump? the few
unskilled labourers in the department. The company fears that its
maintenance work will be crippled and that a good share of the mechanics
will leave the company permanently to take jobs elsewhere.
(a) How would you analyze the company?s problem? What mistakes have
been made that other organizations can profit from?
(b) What are the alternative solutions, and how would you go about trying
to put any of them into effect?