Assignment 2 Assignment 2 RSPCA Student Name: Yuuka Shibasaki Student Number: 11462677 Lecturer: Brenton Price May 30th 2011 RSPCA Student Name: Yuuka Shibasaki Student Number: 11462677 Lecturer: Brenton Price May 30th 2011 Introduction RSPCA is a charity based organisation that helps prevent the cruelty to animals and promotes their care and protection. The first RSPCA was formed in 1871 in VIC. RSPCA is a national body that is found in all eight states and territories. RSPCA is the body that sets national policy while liaising with government and businesses on animal welfare issues.
Overview At RSPCA in Queensland, stress levels within the organisation are high and the working conditions are poor. As the RSPCA relies on donations, they have a limited budget and not enough money to go around. Staffs are motivated by the animals, and thy help unwanted and abused animal to find a new home. However in many cases it is difficult for those animals to find a new home as 4500 animals comes to the shelter every year. The staffs have been reporting significant stress at workplace.
Work related stresses are believed to stem from several factors such as a lack of work-life balance, distrust of management, the organisation working beyond its capacity and compassion fatigue which is the biggest form of stress. Due to this work situation, it reduces productivity and there is a high level of turn-over. Compassion fatigue is exhaustion due to compassion stress; compassion stress is the demand to be compassionate and effective in helping (Ellis, 2007). People in the animal care industry experience compassion fatigue when they are “traumatised” by trying to help animals.
Compassion fatigue can occur when experiencing trauma second hand. At the RSPCA carers are exposed to not only suffering animals, but the knowledge that many of these animals will have to be put down. This refers to as the care/euthanasia paradox. The symptoms of compassion fatigue are: * Pre-occupation with animal suffering * Hyper vigilance: not able to sleep, concentrate, hyper aroused and startle effect * Avoidance of the situations where may remind them of the traumatic incident * Negative attitude towards to people and numbness Physical fatigue * Crying and irritability The reality of the high number homeless animals killed by euthanasia can contribute to compassion fatigue. This compassion fatigues can effect animal attendant’s ability to deal with tension and ideological conflict. This can interfere with the staff’s ability to engage in cooperative communication. This can create fighting within the organisation. Many organisations have become aware of the relationship between employee wellness and productivity in the past decade.
The stress related ailments are increasing and the estimated cost to industry is more than $200 billion per year and it is a global phenomenon (Cummings & Worley, 2005). Due to stress related reason, businesses may lose skilled workforce. To prevent this negative impact, stress management, wellness interventions and employee assistance programs have grown to concern for the welfare of the employees. Companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Weyerhaeuser, Federal Express, Wuaker Oats, and Abbott Laboratories are sponsoring a wide range of fitness, wellness, and tress management (Cummings et al, 2005).
Individual well-being or wellness comprises the various like/non-work satisfactions enjoyed by individuals, work/job-related satisfactions, and general health (Danna & Griffin, 1999) Health is one of the components of well-being which include mental/psychological as well as physical/physiological factors. Well-being can be affected by the personality and stress coping skills at work place. It is important to maintain the well-being because it impacts the outcomes of the business as well as personal including productivity, absenteeism and health insurance cots.
In order to look after the employee’s well being, there are two ways of wellness interventions. 1) Work leaves (includes holidays), sabbaticals, and paid and unpaid leaves. 2) Stress management such as employee assistance programs (EAPs). Management at the RSPCA has thus realised the situation at the workplace and hired Dr Niki Ellis, to diagnose the problem and look for possible solutions. Diagnosis The first step in effective change management is to diagnosis the current situation. The diagnosis process involves investigating the organisation and looking at the sources of the problem.
This includes the employee’s self-awareness of their own stress and sources. Data can be collected via a questionnaire and interviews. The researchers should investigate the work environment and personal stressors. Such common sources of stress can include workload, role conflict and ambiguity, promotional issues, opportunities to participate, managerial support and communication. It is also important to measure the consequences of stress; these can include moods, performance, job satisfaction, absenteeism, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Stress has been linked to hypertension, heart attacks, diabetes, asthma, chronic pain, allegeries, headaches, skin disorders, cancer, immune system weakness and decrease blood count (Cummings et al, 2005). It has also been linked to an increase risk of alcoholism and drug use. High levels of stress can lead to higher absenteeism, larger staff turnover and low productivity. The symptoms are evident in the quantitative data, with an increase in the number of sick days being taken and high staff turnover. As an organisation, the RSPCA must look at the causes of stress for the employees and how it can help to reduce them.
For the individual interviews and the focus group discussions the following sources of stress have been identified: * Physical environment: Temperature * Individual: The nature of the role with the paradox of career and euthanasia, work overload, lack of control, responsibility. * Group: Poor relationship with senior management and a lack of trust. * Organisational: Poor HR policies. From the diagnosis the following strengths in the organisation: * Management has recognised the issues within the organisation and knows the that it is essential to address prevention * Management has some good ideas of working smarter Increasing new call centre staff as an opportunity to change the RSPCA’s working style(effective change management) * Issues related to physical environment will be addressed by new centre * Staffs have recognised the problems and share the opinion – understand the reason why they are required to do euthanasia * Staffs are empowered in their work – multiskilling has shown some success * Improving customer service by working on strategy * Trainings are provided through TAFE Management already begun the selection process of animals * There is a basis to start counselling and support – HR manager, employee assistance program There are a few factors of barriers for RSPCA Queensland to make change in the organisation. Firstly, as they are a community based charity organisation, funding is limited therefore it limits the available options which are needed for organisation to make change. Secondly, management such as HR manager and site manager are not authorised to make significant change to the organisation. They always need CEO’s approval.
Thirdly, employees feel that management is change resistant. They also feel that due to the lack of budget, little can be done to change the organisation. In addition, employees feel that they cannot discuss the stress level with the management as they are worried that management may think that the employee is not capable to the job and may reduce the hours for part-time staff or they may lose their jobs which will result in them being away from animals. Lastly, CEO is not committed to make change within the organisation and he only thinks that the problem is over population of animals and implementing the euthanasia.
The qualitative and quantitative information from the diagnosis indicates that compassion fatigue is a significant problem for the RSPCA. By conducting individual and focus group interviews, Dr Niki Ellis was able to gage the problems identified by the employees. Generally a strong satisfaction with the job was reported by all staff. They have indicated that they most like working at RSPCA for the interaction with animals, helping animals, meeting challenges and being a part of the team. What staff have reported least about working at the RSPCA is the role of making decisions in behavioural assessments for animals.
Unfavourable behaviour usually leads to the animal being euthanized. Furthermore, the staffs dislike seeing all the animal cruelty that occurs and the frustration of lack of success. In addition, staffs feel that they have inadequate resources with a lack of diagnostic equipment and run down pens. The physical environment can be difficult to work in with heat and rain being an issue. Below is a table outlining some of the results from the individual and focus group interviews: Issues| Feedback| Job security| Very negative| Workload| Maximum negative| Job control| Very positive|
Scheduling| Neutral| Job content| Maximum positiveThis is mitigated by care/euthanasia paradox| Social environment| Inspectors: very negativeOther staff: maximum positive| Physical environment| Maximum negative| Role clarity, feedback| Maximum positive| Relationships * Senior managers * Peers * Clients| NegativeMaximum positiveNeutral| Change| Maximum positive| Opportunity for leaning & development| Positive| The qualitative research indicates that the symptoms of compassion fatigue are higher amongst animal attendants than vets and inspectors.
Furthermore, the symptom is more present amongst casual staff than permanent staff. The quantitative research indicates a high level of total sick days of permanent staff. This has shown to have more than doubled over the last two years. For example, staff took only a total of 65. 5 days sick leave in 2004 while in 2006, staff took a total of 143. 5 days of sick days. This is an indication that there may be a problem within the organisation. Furthermore, the data indicates that RSPCA has a staff turnover of over 30% and absenteeism is highest amongst animal attendants.
This results in a significant cost to the organisation, with new staff members having to be trained and can cause a fall in productivity. Apart from the stress related to animals that they love, employees are stressed with the rosters which sometimes requires them to work 6,7,8 days with 1 day off and this kind of schedule makes it more difficult for employees to plan anything in their private life. The attitude of the management is that ‘OK if you fit your life round the roster’. Those factors explain that the focus of the RSPCA is more on animals but the people who work for RSPCA.
Dr Niki Ellis has asked employees if they feel supported by their manager. The answers from the employees were ‘To a certain extent’, ‘at times’, ‘not everyone is approachable’, ‘she is my manager… it is a line I don’t cross’. From this answers, it can be seen that they do not feel that they are supported by management and this culture builds more stress on employees. Some employees added that ‘we have to be tough to work here otherwise they will take us away from the animals’ and ‘A casual person would have to be concerned about their hours being dropped.
A full time person would have to think about the way they would be treated. Might get an attitude’. It was seen that employees were stressed from the fear of losing the job. The work load that staff faces may be a large part of the problem. When work load are in line with an individual’s abilities, stress can have a positive influence on performance. When work exceeds an individual’s capabilities it is refer to as work overload. This can have an effect on lower staff morale and job satisfaction. The perceived contradictions of the role is another source of stress.
Individual’s that join the RSCPA, have an acceptation that they will be helping animals. Their roles of careering for the animals is in direct conflict with the fact that many of these same animals will need to be put down. This is due to over population in the pens, any inappropriate behavioural traits and the poor health of some animals. Caring for animals results in many of the staff becoming attached to them. These same animals may then need to be put down and this creates lots of stress for the staff members.
The group and individual interviews have outlined that it is not the euthanasia itself that is causing the stress but the knowledge that the animals that staff are forming a bond to, may need to be put down. Other Problems Identified The following additional problems have been identified at the RSPCA * Unsupportive work environment. Management at RSPCA is not caring enough for their staff and there is no support for employees to deal with the work-related stress. * Over populated of animals * Distrust between management and employees therefore employees find it difficult to talk to others.
They feel that management will think that they are not capable to do the job. * Senior management are perceived not to be interested in real change in the organisation. Intervention and Recommendations To deal with the problems raised in the diagnosis, the RSPCA needs to look at both changing the organisation, specifically the conditions causing the stress; and helping employees to cope with the stress. The first step is that the organisation needs to acknowledge that compassion fatigue is a problem and it should be discussed openly.
To alleviate organisational stress, staff needs to look at clarifying the individual’s role and setting up supportive relationships. To help staff cope with stress, the RSPCA needs to look at establishing facilities for dealing with stress. These can include health and fitness facilities and stress inoculation. Stress inoculation can involve helping staff cope with stress. The aim is to sensitize people to the presence of stress. By improving the health and wellbeing of staff you improve productivity and the organisation as a whole.
In order for effective change management strategies to be implemented their needs to ‘Change Management Champion’ in the organisation. This needs to be at a senior level. From the diagnosis stage, staff have indicated that they are pessimistic about real change occurring and they believe that senior management are interested in real change in the organisation. As such, for any change management to be effective, the change has to be driven from the top down. That is the CEO must become the ‘champion’ for change within the organisation. This is where Dr Niki Ellis, did not go far enough in her intervention.
She did not get senior management behind change process. For change within the RSPCA to occur, the CEO needs to be involved with the focus groups, lead the round table discussion and brain storming sessions to discuss strategies for improving the organisation. The CEO’s involvement would be a strong message to the organisation of the seriousness of the change and would motivate staff down the organisational hierarchy. From the diagnosis, it was indicated a lack of trust amongst staff towards senior management. Establishing supportive relationship can be effective in establishing trust this.
Strategies for improving the relationship can involve team building, intergroup relations, employee involvement, work design, goal setting and career planning and development. Supportive relationship can help buffer people from the present stress. The RSPCA also needs to ensure that managers provide the support and encouragement to help staff cope with stress. Providing an ‘Employee Assistance Program’ (EAPs) is an effective way of helping individuals directly. EAPs are intended to help employees deal with problems that might adversely impact their health, work performance and well-being.
Studies have shown that EAPs are effective in reducing staff turnover and absenteeism, and create higher employee productivity (Hargrave, Hiatt, Alexander & Shaffer, 2008). This service can be outsourced to a professional organisation or provide in house. Having a counsellor within the RSPCA to support staffs can be effective in providing staff with the skills to deal with stress. This service should be anonymous to ensure privacy and provide trust. Seeing the counsellor should also be anonymous so that staffs can share the real feeling and come up with honest solutions.
The counsellor also need to be able to provide advice to management on how to minimise the stress amongst staffs. As staffs have stress at work place, it is necessary to realise the stress and control their stress level. In order to do so, staff should go see the counsellor to share and express their feeling and train themselves to learn how to release the stress. The RSPCA can also look at establishing an employee wellness officer to focus on employee satisfaction and stress-related issues. This will free up the HR manager to focus on more strategic issues.
Other strategies can involve setting up a peer support program where staff can assist each other. This can help alleviate stress while helping to improve team work and the relationship. Furthermore the RSPCA can look at establishing an employee mentoring program. This is effective way to help motivate employees and help them to deal with stress. This strategy involves establishing close link between managers and employee (Cummings et al, 2005). Furthermore, older and more experienced employees can share their knowledge and expertise with other staff.
While this can be very difficult to create artificially, research has shown that mentoring can have a lot of positive outcomes. To help facilitate this mentoring program, RSPCA should look at establishing workshop for managers and more experienced staff members. These workshops can help staff gain the skills to provide training and coach others. Managers should attend some workshops to gain more knowledge and interact with other animal carer organisation to share the information on how to reduce the work-related stress. Provide training programs for staffs to gain more knowledge and to be qualified in the future.
This way management can show staffs that they care about staff future not just having them working to run their business. A key to helping staff deals with the significant workload involves targeting the work life balance of employees. A more balanced work in private life can benefit the employee and the RSPCA. A better work life balance can result in increased creativity, moral and effectiveness. It also helps reduce stress levels, absenteeism and staff turnover (Wood, Zeffane, Fromholtz, Wiesner & Creed, 2006). RSPCA can look out introducing initiatives to make the workplace more family friendly.
This can help employees better balance work and family commitments (Wood et al, 2006). Strategies for improving work life balance can include providing staff with flexible working hours, job sharing, or even providing childcare facility. * More staff member: This is to reduce burden and stress on each staffs by having more staff to share the job. This will allow staffs to have enough days off to private life. * Days off: This is to allow staffs to have more private time to refresh themselves which helps to have healthy work environment. *
Increase staff: to distinguish the jobs and to reduce the stress on other staffs, it can be considered to increase staff such as volunteer inspectors. Dr Niki Ellis advised introducing a ‘Compassion Satisfaction Program’. The focus of the program is addressing the fundamental concerns of staff and building trust. The program involves building on the current initiatives and taking a participative approach to development. The HR manager is to lead of the compassion satisfaction program. As par of this program the responsibility of euthanasia would be shared between animal attendants and vets.
The program would also create greater flexibility on guidelines of euthanasia which will reduce job ambiguity. The benefits of the Compassion Satisfaction Program can also be extended to other states, benefiting the organisation as a whole. The key policies of the program are: * Setting up a academy of traumatology standards * Setting up organisational and individual responsibilities * Commitment to a reasonable workload * Create a supportive work environment * Run joint management and animal carer workshops * Regularlly conduct a compassion satisfaction and fatigue survey.
The result of the survey should be included as part of the KPI for managers. The RSPCA should also look at extend the multiskilling of staff. That is, it should look at ways to train staffs in multiple areas of business. From the diagnosis, casual staff have themselves expressed interest in having at least 2 consecutive days in each section. This strategy will allow them to get training in different areas in the RSPCA. It can be effective in alleviating some job uncertainty and provide a source of staff that can fill vacancy in time of need.
Furthermore, by getting staff trained in various areas of the organisation, they will gain a better understanding of issues and thus possible reduce stress levels. Allocate more money to be spent on primary prevention can be effective in dealing with the source of the stress. This is part of Dr Niki Ellis ‘Smarter Working Program’ and involves looking at ways to reduce the number of pet surrendered at the front counter. Furthermore, the RSPCA can be involved in educating the public how many animals come to RSPCA and the reason why they come as well as what happens exactly once they come to RSCPA.
This is to remind public to make decision carefully when they have animals in their life. Such a strategy will further reduce the number of animals being bought in. More information should be included on the website. Staff should become involved in the design of prevention and education strategy. Suggestion box can also be sent up for staff to make comments anonymously. The reduction of animals will help reduce staff workloads, provide more space for animal in real need thus reducing stress levels. The RSPCA should look at redefining their role in partnerships with other organisations, thus allowing to reduce pressure on themselves.
It should also look at becoming a strong advocate to government for implementing policies changes such as desexing cats. The policy will have the benefit of both improving the conditions of many of these animals while reducing the numbers of cats being brought into the RSPCA. Conclusion From the diagnosis, we gathered that compassion fatigue is a serious problem within the RSPCA. The stress level that it causes are evident in the focus group, individual interviews, staff turnover and increasing number of sick days. Furthermore, a significant issue regarding trust between management and staff, and excessive workload have been raised.
This report has outlined a number of strategies to combat the sources of stress and reduce the effects of compassion fatigue. In addition, a number of recommendation have been raised to help staff coop with the inherit stress within the role. Changes to organisational structure have also been raised. For change within the RSPCA to be successful, a greater involvement from the CEO and senior managers is required. The CEO must commit to making a change within the organisation. Without his support, it is unlikely that any policies will be taken seriously, especially in a environment with so little trust and pessimism from staff.
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