Peggy Bates is the CEO of a regional HMO (health maintenance organization) with 25 local offices serving business and non-profit organizations. The competition for business has become more intense in recent years as organizations continue to look for ways to reduce costs for medical and dental insurance. A particular concern is that a given company might shift to another HMO if that healthcare provider can offer lower costs.

Peggy expressed her concern at a meeting with the management staff in these words: “I think our HMO could provide better service and lower costs if our employees put in more effort. A lot of the employees I have seen are so laid back, and almost indifferent. They don’t seem to have a sense of urgency.

“I don’t think that by simply downsizing the company we will reduce costs. Having fewer workers to accomplish our important workwould just make things worse. We would get less work accomplished, and the quality would suffer.”

After listening to Peggy, Jerry Falcone, thevicepresidentofmarketing,commented:

“Peggy, you might be right about some of our employees not being totally engaged in our efforts. Yet, I cannot understand why. Taking care of people’s health is one of the most important responsibilities in the world. I mean, we are often increasing life span as well as saving lives.”

Melissa Mitchell, director of humanresources, said: “Jerry, from your point of view, you are correct. Healthcare is a noble undertaking. Yet when a person is seated at akeyboard and terminal for eight hours processing claims, he or she might not feel like an angel of mercy.

“We can speculate all we want about how well our employees are engaged and motivated,

and what we should do about the situation. I propose that we get some data so we can learn more about the nature of the problem we are working with. I propose we hire a human resource consulting firm to conduct a surveyabout employee engagement. It could prove to be a good investment.”

Peggy said with a smile, “Here I am concerned about our costs being too high, andMelissa makes a suggestion for spending money.”

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