Sustaining effective staff training in the workplace Argumentative Essay

Having effective employees is instrumental to the success of any business organisation. This is the case because of the high employee turnover rates and high unemployment rates evident in most countries. Since the 2008 recession in the U.S, other countries of the world have experienced the ripple effects as the world largest economy struggles to recover. The European nations have suffered under the current debt crisis that has shrunk economies in Europe. Other countries in African and Asia have also felt the impact, as their economies are most dependent on both the U.S and European markets for trade. The subject of having effective employees has therefore, gained relevance as employers look for ways to sustain their workers. In an effort to keep their most important asset, organisations are heavily involved in the training and development of employees (Hung & Hing 2007). Training and development has been a tool used by organisations to mitigate the risks of losing employee to other organisations. It has also been used to groom future leaders of the company, as well as assist organisations in saving time and money. This paper shall discuss two theories that discuss employer support and training, as well as the impacts of employee performance in relation to training and development of employees.
Humphry Hung and Yiu Wong have come up with two theories that discuss the relationship between the employer and the workers when it comes to training, continuing education and work study performance. The theories were introduced because of a case study of Hong Kong students who were in school and worked at the same time. The authors then came up with the theories to help explain the student or employee’s performance in relations to their employees and employer relationship. The first theory was the psychological contract theory while the second one was the expectancy disconfirmation theory. The researchers realised the need for employees to have an education so that they are able to move up the ladder as far as the work force is concerned. The researchers used the employee and employer relations as the subject of research, and came up with a model to explain how training and development can be effectively used in the workplace (Hung & Hing 2007).

Psychological contract theory
According to the psychological theory, the employer and the employee have a set of beliefs, promises and obligations that go beyond the formal contract between the two. In other words, once an employer hires an employee, the employee has to abide by certain rules while the employer is obligated to behave professionally. This means that the employees expect to exchange their loyalty and productivity for wages and other forms of compensation (Kimberly 2009). In the psychological contract, there are two kinds of contents, transactional and relational. Transactional content involves measurable economic exchanges between the two parties. For instance, an employee works 40 hours a week for a paycheck at the end of the week. Relational contents are based on trust and long-term relationships. In such a case, an employee can delegate a certain role to the employee based on trust (McConnell 2004). In the study, three principles came emerged. First, there is interaction at an individual level, mutual relationship between the two parties and finally tactical exchanges. Most people believe that the relationship between the employee and the employer is based on personal ties because the employer is an embodiment of the organisation, and the experience of their interaction dictates the success of an organisation (Hung & Hing 2007).
On the other hand, some believe that there has to be a mutual relationship between the employer and the employee for organisations to succeed. The mutual obligation is based on the belief that the employer is obliged to the employee in return for a commitment. Finally, the tactical exchanges occur between the workers in which case the employee insists on a mental connection between the two parties (Kimberly 2009). The significance of the psychological contract theory is that it attempts to explain the employee’s behavior in regards to how he is treated by the employer. In other words, the employee relationship to the employer is imperative to matters regarding how employees react when subjected to training by organisations. The development of the employee dictates the performance of the employee in the continuing work-study. The research found that students who had a good working relationship with their employer performed well in their training and education compared to those who had a bad relationship (Hung & Hing 2007).
Expectancy disconfirmation theory
The expectancy disconfirmation theory is similar to that of consumer dissonance. Only that in this case, it deals with the employee, as opposed to the consumer. The theory was brought about from the comparison of a worker and a consumer when dealing with their products. An employee is believed to have positively disconfirmed their role in the organisation when their perceived performance exceeds their expected performance (Roughton & Mercurio 2002). The opposite is true and referred to as negative disconfirmation. Negative disconfirmation occurs when an employee believes that their expectations exceed their perceived performance. The expectancy theory was a catalyst to the employee’s job satisfaction and was believed to be a key element in explaining employees moral. Employees that surpassed their expectations felt more satisfied with their role and were more motivated compared to their counterparts who experienced negative disconfirmation. The subject was also duplicated in training of the workers and played a major role in the development of employees in the organisation (Hung & Hing 2007).
Employee evaluation was also a subject of discussion in regards to employee training and development. Managers who engaged in employee appraisals realised good results as compared to those who did not carry out employee evaluations. Employee evaluation is a tool that if used efficiently can yield positive results on employees especially when it comes to training (Roughton & Mercurio 2002). Evaluations are a tool used by management to give their workers a sense of directions in relation to the company’s goals. During evaluations, the managers usually explain the organisations goals and try to align them with the employee’s goals. This way, the employer and the employee are in a win-win situation. A constant feedback or communication with the employees also makes them feel valued and helps them know what the organisation expects of them. Well-executed performance evaluations have been used to not only sustain efficient employees but also groom future leaders. Evaluation schedules usually assist employees to become more efficient in the organisation (McConnell 2004).
In essence, employee’s behavior and performance at work depends on the relationship with the employer. Workers feel valued when other roles are delegated to them because it gives the perception that their employers trust them. In addition, perception and expected performance also plays a huge role in satisfying a worker’s performance. Workers feel more satisfied when they exceed their expectations at work. Finally, evaluations have to be conducted at work because employees need to have feedback on their impact to their company. Employees who get a feedback usually work hard to achieve their organisational goals.
Hung, H. & Yiu Hing, W. 2007, ‘The relationship between employer endorsement of continuing education and training and work and study performance: a Hong Kong case study’. International Journal of Training & Development, 11, 4, pp. 295-313.
Kimberly, W. 2009, Value Initiatives Improving Performance in the Workplace. NY: GRIN Verlag
McConnell, C. R. 2004, ‘Managing Employee Performance’, Health Care Manager, 23,3, p. 273, Supplemental Index.
Roughton, J. & Mercurio, J. 2002, Developing an Effective Safety Culture: A Leadership Approach. NY: Butterworth-Heinemann


The Long Term Impact of Staff Reduction on Surviving Staff: Starbucks Experience

Research Aims
Staff reductions are often required as part of the restructuring of an organisation, or as a response to economic conditions. However, the focus of the research here is to look at the long term and whether this type of staff reduction has an impact on the staff that remain, rather than focussing on those that leave. It is argued, at the outset, that the remaining members of staff are often overlooked, as they are perceived to be the “lucky ones”. Despite this, the basis of the research is that there will be both a psychological and practical impact on those remaining staff and these issues needs to be considered with much greater emphasis by the management team when looking at this type of restructuring. The aim is to provide a much greater understanding, by looking at Starbucks as an example, so that the management team is in a better position to deal with these types of situations in the future (Ferrie et al., 2001)

In order to achieve this aim and to look at the broader issues associated with staff reactions, it is recognised that there will need to be several focussed objectives. Staff reactions are by their very nature going to vary, depending on a variety of subjective factors and by being clear with the objectives this will ensure that the overall aim remains the focus of the research throughout. The key objectives are as follows:
To gain an understanding of the initial redundancy or downsizing process, including the impact of the various selection processes; for example, the long-term impact is likely to be different where the redundancy is voluntary and therefore understanding the involvement of those staff retained in the process is the first step to understanding the reactions.
To understand the perception of individuals, depending on their role within the downsizing process; this recognises that there are multiple staff being impacted on when some are made redundant as well as the retained staff. These include the staff members who were not involved in the process, in the first place, as well as the managers, to make the ultimate decision.
To appreciate the psychological reactions and individual perceptions of those staff members who remain within the organisation, depending on the way in which this process is managed; for example, is there a difference between staff who are engaged with post-redundancy, or does it generally seem preferable to return to a “business as usual” mentality (Armstrong-Stassen, 1993)
Finally, the impact on the performance of the business over a longer time horizon will then be considered, looking at the immediate aftermath, as well as six months or even one year down the line, with potential reference to the ways in which staff members then react when the recovery process takes place. For example, it is potentially suggested in the literature that staff lack loyalty to the organisation and when general economic conditions improve may be more likely to look for alternative employment, as a result of the treatment they received during the recessionary period.
Research Questions
Two key questions emerge from this proposed research:
Which factors impact on and to what extent do they impact on the remaining employees, following a period of downsizing or redundancy
How can a management team look to mitigate the negative effects of downsizing and redundancy
Critical Review of the Literature
The literature in this area has already dealt with a variety of factors relating to redundancy and the impact on an organisation, but has not looked specifically at the longer term impact on the retained staff and the wider staff groups that may not have been directly linked to the restructuring and decision making.
Firstly, it is noted that research in this area recognises that staff members will typically understand that there are often periods where it is necessary to downsize or restructure, to such an extent that there will be involuntary redundancies. Klein (2009) states that, although staff will recognise this need, there is now also a recognition that the business managers are making decisions with the staff in mind, but are instead looking specifically at the immediate business demands. This shows lack of long term recognition of business sustainability, when it comes to retaining staff loyalty.
Research by Machlowitz (1983) looked at the emotions of the individuals, following on from a redundancy situation where they were survivors. This looked at the immediate aftermath, from an individual perspective, finding that individuals typically felt emotions of guilt or isolation, as well as a feeling of betrayal, where they felt that the process had not been undertaken completely fairly. Research from Brockner et al. (1985) looked at a laboratory experiment where students were subject to “lay offs”, finding that feelings of inequality were emerging and a sense of disgruntlement happened where it was felt that the relationship between the individuals was in some way unfair. This indicates that where there is a redundancy situation, the vitally important aspect to consider is the process of the downsizing, rather than the actual downsizing itself. Anxiety also ranked as a driving factor, as there was the concern that others would be made redundant, in the future. These perceptions and fears potentially result in efficiency within the organisation reducing and the staff then being more prepared to look towards other locations for their long term employment (Hughes, 2000).
The longer term impact of staff reduction and downsizing remains largely unexamined and the purpose of this paper is to look at how these activities can have an impact on the longer term operation within the business, by understanding the way in which the surviving individuals react (Cascio,1993). Further research is also required to ensure that the management team understands the impact of the way they handle a downsizing process and that this can have a direct and lasting impact on the success of the business, in the long run.
Industry background
In order to explore this issue in more detail and to create a relevant analysis, Starbucks is being looked at as a case study. Starbucks presents an interesting opportunity for analysis, as it has risen very rapidly from its first store which opened in 1971 to an organisation that has stores in nearly 21,000 locations across the world. Despite this, during the last ten years, the store has actually reduced its numbers, in the wake of the global financial crisis and lowering profits (Jennings, 2008).
Starbucks was not seemingly on the brink of disaster and in fact continued to open up other stores across the world, yet chose to close 600 stores across the United States, creating an interesting question as to how it impacted upon staff members where there were reports of a globally successful organisation that was still experiencing redundancies in their local area.
Arguably, the reason for the downsizing in the United States was the recognition that they had achieve the maximum growth available within the industry and they simply had too many stores. Takeaway coffee is largely a luxury product, with a limited number of affluent individuals able to partake on a regular basis. Despite Starbucks being a popular location for individuals and being recognised as an outlet in which individuals can choose to spend a large amount of time working or meeting friends, there are some limits to the number of customers who are prepared to pay premium price for good quality beverages.
With an industry essentially at saturation point, there needs to be a readjustment of strategy, yet there is likely to be a reaction from the employees who feel somewhat jilted having been involved in the dramatic growth and now suffering from their own success and hard work. This type of reduction is therefore particularly interesting, as it is a reaction within the industry, rather than something which can necessarily be attributed to the staff members themselves.
Research design
The research design for this paper is particularly important, as it involves looking at the feelings and reactions of individuals, thus making it a different type of research than simply collecting statistical data and then analysing this in a quantitative manner. In order to look at the reactions of individuals to a downsizing scenario, it is necessary to consider a sufficiently broad range of individuals, to gain any material understanding of exactly what is actually going on and the way in which individuals react. Different individuals will naturally react differently to a downsizing scenario. Certain individuals may even view this as an opportunity to further their own position, as there will be less competition within the organisation when it comes to securing their future; others will be much less positive, despite both individuals being part of the same process (Vahtera et al., 1997).
For this reason, the primary method of research will be a detailed case study of precisely what is happening within the organisation. This will include an understanding of the management theory behind the downsizing, before then going on to undertake a relatively detailed questionnaire with individuals from a variety of different locations, all of whom have been affected by the downsizing in some way, as well as completing at least two focus groups where individuals are brought together to discuss their experiences. This form of research is particularly important in this scenario, due to the fact that when individuals are left to openly discuss their thoughts and feelings, it is likely that they will open up and produce a much deeper understanding of their reactions (Weca, 2008).
Data Analysis Plan
Due to the qualitative nature of the research planned, the necessary data analysis also needs to be sufficiently open to looking at individual reactions and trying to find consistency of patterns of behaviours or thoughts. For this reason, the questionnaires will involve a quantitative analysis of the results, which will offer an understanding of any patterns being formed, before then looking towards the qualitative aspect of the research, in order to understand why certain responses have been obtained. By taking this two-stage approach, it is anticipated that the overall conclusions will have sufficient certainty, based on the quantitative analysis and will also be able to add to the understanding, through the use of individual thoughts and responses. A particular concern does arise, however, that there will be some limitations in the accuracy of the research. Firstly, the research focuses on survivors within a certain location or organisation and there may be an unwillingness of the individuals to be completely open about their thoughts and feelings, for fear of jeopardising their own position in the future. There are also likely to be limitations, due to the fact that this research is focusing on one organisation alone and downsizing may have different responses in different organisations (Stone, 2008).
By ensuring that any results obtained are dealt with anonymously, this will assist in some way to ensure greater accuracy. Nevertheless, there will always be the need to recognise that interviewing survivors of a redundancy process is potentially a skewed approach and some individuals are going to present an inaccurate picture, purely to further their own position, or at least to protect it. On balance, however, this overall analysis is likely to present the most balanced result and also establish some themes and generalisations which will be useful for the future.
In conclusion, understanding the impact of a downsizing programme on surviving staff members is crucial to the approach taken by the management team and any such situations in the future, either within the same organisation or for management teams of other organisations (Schwaner-Albright, 2008). Personal reactions to a situation can be somewhat difficult to appreciate and understand, due to the fact that individuals, by their very nature, will react differently to exactly the same factual scenario. The aim of this research, is to identify themes and generic strategies that may be useful to those looking at downsizing in the future, in order to ensure that surviving members of staff do not suffer from the negative effect of the redundancies and that the organisation is able to return to full efficiency, as soon as possible.
Time-scale for Project
This research is being undertaken over one academic year, although the plan is to undertake a full research and write-up within eight months. The following chart depicts the general approach that is being followed.
Background, Aims and Objectives
Literature Review
Research Design
Research Collection
Analysis of Research
Writing Up
Revisiting and Checking
The majority of this research will involve the collection of primary data and the analysis of the research findings that have then been collected. It is anticipated that there will need to be several re-visits to the original data, as new information or themes arise. For example, analysing questionnaires will provide a strong starting point for the focus groups, but following the focus groups, it may then be necessary to go back to the questionnaires to further explore certain key issues. It is for this reason that the research collection and analysis of research findings takes up such a substantial part of the time allowed.
There is a degree of flexibility in this process and the research will be sufficiently flexible to ensure that the key points arising from both the case study, conducted as part of the literature review and the research collection, is able to take a longer period of time, if required.
As noted previously, the research is focusing entirely on the experience of individuals within one organisation. Therefore, good access to those individuals will be an essential element of ensuring that this research is conducted in sufficient depth. It is also noted at the outset that one of the main aims of this research is to provide the management team with guidance as to how it can better manage a downsizing operation in the future and therefore having management support in order to gain access to key individuals is a necessary resource.
Secondly, understanding the responses received and looking at existing literature will also require access to a variety of different publications, although this can largely be obtained through library facilities.
On balance, the key resource within this research is the ability to speak to a variety of individuals who have survived the downsizing process in Starbucks. This will require the management team to be completely supportive of the overall agenda. Individuals may be reluctant to speak about the subject or do not feel that the management team is supportive of this. No specific software is required for the analysis, although Microsoft Office suite including Excel will be useful, in order to collate the information received.
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Cascio, W. F. (1993). Downsizing: What do we knowWhat have we learnedAcademy of Management Executive, 7: 95-106.
Ferrie, J. E., Shipley, M. J., Marmot, M. G., Martikainen, P., Stansfield, S. A., & Smith, G. D. (2001). Job insecurity in white-collar workers: Toward an explanation of associations with health. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 6: 26-42.
Hughes, J. (2000). Avoidance of emotional pain during downsizing in a public agency. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 52: 256-268.
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