Custom «Keeping Suzanne Chalmers Case Study: Advanced Photonics Inc. (API)» Essay Paper Sample

Keeping Suzanne Chalmers Case Study: Advanced Photonics Inc. (API)

Executive Summary

Thomas Chan, the vice president of Advanced Photonics Inc. (API), has a problem related to employee retention at API. He has dealt with a number of occurrences of employees’ quitting and the last one is the case of Suzanne Chalmers. Chalmers is one of the top talents at API. She is well versed with software engineering that directs light in fiber optic cables through API’s routers. Chan’s persuasive efforts of keeping Chalmers by offering her a number of extra incentives (share options, salary increase, and more office space) did change Chalmers’s intention to quit. Chalmers submits her resignation to Chan and later he finds out that she works in a startup with less pay, longer working hours but with a higher stock option and greater job diversity. This demonstrates that Chalmers did not quit API for more family time or more money but rather due to a drive to learn and satisfy her thirst to learn more. Although Chan tried to persuade Chalmers by promising a change in working conditions, he failed to realize that Chalmers was interested in making her job design more variable. This could have been possible through job rotation, as Chalmers was finding it hard to receive satisfaction from her job. Chalmers also lacked the right kind of job motivation that would have stimulated her to remain in her current position at API. Clearly, Suzanne Chalmers had trouble having satisfaction from her job at API as it was routine in its nature and thus there was little to no motivation for her to remain at API. Analyzing this case, two theories pertaining to Chalmers emerge: the four drive theory, which is essentially a motivation theory based the intrinsic to learn, bond, as well as acquire emotions and rationality and the job design practices.

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Problem Statement

Why didn’t the offer of Thomas Chan, the vice president of API, which offered better working condition, stock options and salary increase motivate Suzanne Chalmers to continue working at API?

Analysis of the Problem

As organizations devise strategies to implement and maintain or to increase their competitiveness, they face a number of challenges in the area of employees’ retention. By itself, this paper aims at analyzing and determining the most effective way that Chan must to have used in order to retain his top employees. Although API has had a low rate of employee turnover, it’s the critical employees that have left the organization and who continue doing so with a recent example being Suzanne Chalmers. The results of this analysis will act as a guiding principle for a better job design and employee motivation.  

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As seen from the case, Chan has observed that most of his critical employees, some of them are less than 40 years are continuously quitting API. 40 years is a rather young age for such employees to retire. The recent case of Chalmers indicates that although she was well paid, she has opted to quit her current job in favor of a position at a startup company which offers her less pay, more work hours but makes her work schedule more flexible as well as offers more extensive stock options. Chalmers had troubles with being motivated enough to perform her work at API as well as with finding satisfaction from her job. There are a number of models and theories that are applicable for explaining the decision taken by Suzanne Chalmers.

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The Four Drive Theory

The Four Drive Theory is an employee motivation theory that posits that there are four main drivers of employees’ motivation. These drivers are: to acquire & achieve, to bond & belong, to be challenged & comprehend, and to define & defend. The theory relies on an intrinsic understanding that integrates rationality and emotions. Chalmers’s drives are to learn and to acquire.

To acquire implies a desire to seek, control and even retain objects or personal experiences. Chalmers’s has already fulfilled her drive to satisfy the basic needs and it seems that she is now focused on the needs of a higher level, including recognition and status. One might conclude from the case study that Chalmers is quite well-off but that she feels that she wants to undertake new challenges.

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Chalmers also has a drive to learn. This idea depicts the ability to satisfy our curiosity by understanding ourselves and the environment around us. This drive is created by the need for self actualization and the need for personal growth. In this regard, we have seen that Chalmers is a senior employee at API and she thinks that she has learned all that she needs to for her position at API. As a result, she is willing to join another company in order to satisfy her thirst of learning new things, which is not applicable to her situation at  API where she specialized only in what she is currently undertaking.

The Expectancy Theory of Motivation

The expectancy theory of motivation is a theory that posits that an individual’s behavior reflects the way they are motivated and selects a certain behavior over alternative behaviors, owing to what they expect the result of that particular behavior is going to be. This theory offers a model that is based on rational logic for predicting an employee’s chosen direction. The theory is a motivation-based theory that relies on an understanding that work efforts or behaviors that people understand lead to desired outcomes.

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In the current case at API, it seems that Chalmers is not satisfied with a proposed higher salary package but she is rather looking for a job satisfaction and higher work challenges. As such, Chan should work on a more innovative way to retain the API’s employees. The core reason for the existence of Chalmers case is the lack of career advancement opportunities and lack of work-related challenges. Although Chan may have taken care of almost everything, he did not focus on a better job design and the area of work motivation, which ultimately led Chalmers to quit her job.

Alternative Solutions

Job Rotation

Job rotation is a management system that assigns employees to various structures and departments over a certain period of time. Presently, it is evident that Chalmers does not enjoy her current posting. She feels that she wants to explore more and she is not getting that with her position at API, hence her resignation. Organizations that utilize job rotation are not only successful but can also retain employees more effectively, as employees are given the desired chance to learn some new necessary skills that would help them to advance. Job rotation is useful for alleviating the mental and physical stresses of those employees who work on the same position for several years.

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Job Enlargement

Job enlargement is an increase in an employee’s scope of responsibilities and tasks, which aims at making an employee’s job more challenging. As a senior worker and an expert at API, Chan ought to have assigned some extra responsibilities and challenges to Chalmers’s job description and thus provide her with the required diversity. This way, by increasing her efforts and exposure to achieving organizational objectives, he may have motivated her to gain a number of skills and improve her earning capacity.

Job Enrichment

Job enrichment is a concept that defines a management model which involves redesigning jobs to make them more challenging to the employees and to reduce the level of job repetitiveness. Chalmers quit her current position at API because she felt that she is not well motivated and that her job entails working on the same thing all the time. She felt that by resigning and taking another job, even though it would pay less, she would have found herself in a more challenging environment. Chan ought to have used job enlargement technique in that he shoud have redesigned Chalmers’s current job description to make it more challenging. That way, Chalmers would have possibly stayed at API instead of resigning.

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From this case study, it is evident that Chan should create better ways of preventing the current trend where the most valued staff at API is resigning. The following are some of the recommendations that Chan must to undertake in order to retain the employees at API:

  1. Increase job satisfaction. Although job satisfaction differs from employee to employee, Chan should be able to understand his employees and know what are their preferences as well as their specific requirements to job satisfaction. This is also true regarding the employee workloads. While some employees may be workaholics, others may not enjoy being overworked. For Chalmers, her work project is almost completed and she is now choosing to de-stress by quitting her job at API. In this case, Chan ought to have asked Chalmers her preferences in regard to with working at API.
  2. Work motivation. It is true that staff motivation increases humans’ intrinsic rewards. To motivate the experts at API, Chan should ensure that their well being is well taken care of. Employees at API it seems that employees when they feel stressed resort to resigning than negotiating improved terms to keep them motivated. Employees feel that API does not longer fulfill their needs in terms of work challenges. In order to motivate such employees, Chan should redesign their job portfolios to make them more challenging and thus keep them motivated.


API should create better plans of employees’ retention as well as offer its employees better and more valued reasons of why they should stay at the organization. For example, API can come up with a better compensation plan, better career path, better plans of job security, striking benefits, and empower its employees through a variety of different approaches. Chan should rely on the Four Drive Theory in order to tone down and motivate employees and to avoid occurrences of cases similar to that of Chalmer.

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