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Hrm Topic

In: Business and Management

Submitted By tianle312
Words 10731
Pages 43
HIGH-LEVEL EMPLOYEE INVOLVEMENT AT DELTA AIR LINES

Bruce E. Kaufman

As described in this unique case study, Delta Air Lines operates one of the most advanced, highlevel employee involvement programs in the nation. Based on in-depth field study and personal interviews, the development, structure, operation, and business goals of the program are described. The study then summarizes the business benefits and costs of this type of high-level employee involvement program and concludes with 12 “lessons learned.” © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Employee involvement is not a new idea, as witnessed by William Basset’s 1919 book When the Workmen Help You Manage. Only in the last two decades, however, has employee involvement (EI) taken off, particularly among “high-performance” organizations. Although EI programs are widespread, considerable diversity exists in their breadth, depth, and form. In a study of 313 large companies with EI programs, Lawler, Albers, and Ledford (1992) found that six out of ten had only “low-level” EI programs—based on sharing of information, rewards, power, and training with employees—or programs that relied principally on financial incentives, while only 7% of companies had “high-level” programs. A more recent edition of their study (Lawler, Mohrman, & Benson, 2001)

does not provide comparable data, but the relative rarity of high-level EI programs is indicated by the fact that in 1999 only 7% of companies had some form of participation group other than a quality circle covering 80% or more of workers. In low-level programs, EI is typically used in a selective, narrowly focused, informal, and decentralized manner with emphasis on direct forms of participation (face-toface interaction) and small-sized groups (employee focus groups, project teams, joint safety committees, quality circles, and town hall meetings). Companies using a financially…...

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