Change during the introduction of new system to control attendance

The control of staff attendance has been a problem for Co-operative Food, a UK retail organisation, and it has been looking to improve its systems to monitor attendance of its employees. Co-operative Food wants to bring effectiveness in their work, e.g. through procedures and systems, for actively delivering their services to the consumers. That is why it is ensuring that they are efficient enough to do that. In order to pursue this, Co-operative emphasises on time management of its staff by bringing in a new system for the control of staff attendance.

In the UK retail sector, Co-operative is one of the pioneers to introduce such a new generation system for control of staff attendance as compared to other big supermarkets like Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. More specifically, Co-operative has introduced a biometric system which became operative in 2010, and requiring Co-operative staff to touch their finger at identification points to get verified.

The new attendance recording system is a technological change to monitor employee’s attendance, when they start and finish their shift, by giving their finger print. If an employee leaves the premises of the company he signs out and then sign in again when he returns to the premises. This system has benefited the company to control its wastage of time and labour cost.

Originally, an older system was being operated at Co-operative Food till two years ago by signing manually the attendance register. This register was usually placed near the manager’s office and the employees had to sign in and out before and at the end of their shift. This system was seen as a failure as employees gave little importance to this system. For example, they got paid even if they missed to sign in by requesting the manager at the next day that they forgot to sign in.

This manual system was replaced in 2008 by a swipe card system to monitor staff attendance, which also had some drawbacks. In the swipe card system someone else, other than the employee, could also swipe it for him/her, without the knowledge of the supervisor.

This is an important issue because such a change affects employees to a great extent if it is not planned and implemented properly. For example, due to the frustration employees could abuse the system by taking long tea or lunch breaks. Or they might waste company’s time to do unnecessary activities e.g. they could go up in the canteen and sit there hiding without the knowledge of the managers or supervisors. Or if they haven’t accepted the change their way of work could be slackened, which will affect the performance of the organisation.

It will be studied in the dissertation how this change has affected employees attitude towards their organisation. The research will look into employee’s perceptions of this change. Do they feel a sense of distrust from the organisation being monitored in a way that they have to give the finger prints to get recognized by the system or are they happier than before due to this innovation?

1.2 Research aim

This study will focus on the effectiveness of change management practices and procedures in the organisation and will find out how these have helped in smooth implementation of this system.

This research will help to understand how new staff management system was implemented in the Co-operative organisation, and if any issues like dissatisfaction or behavioural problems among employees have occurred and how these issues were dealt with.

1.3 Objectives

1: To find out at what extent has Co-operative achieved the objectives planned with the introduction of a biometric staff attendance system.

2: To analyse what issues evolved among employees.

3: To study the effectiveness of the implemented change.

1.4 Research Questions

What are the issues that a new staff attendance system brings in the organisation?

How can change management procedures deal with those issues?

To what extent has Co-operative achieved the objectives planned with the introduction of a biometric staff attendance

Chapter 2. Literature Review

This chapter will review literature about change management procedures and implementation issues.

2.1 New technology and the related issues

There is a major issue of human resistance attached to the introduction of new system. Gregson(1994, p. 23) gives an example of the introduction of new technologies and the human resource issues related to the implementation process. He depicts that when automatic teller machines (ATM) were launched in banks, it gave huge benefits to customers but at the same time the bank employees were discouraged by this new technology and its usage by the staff posed a threat to their job by this new technology.

2.2 Resistance to Change

Skarlicki (1999, p. 36) has defined resistance to change as, employee behaviour that seeks to challenge, disrupt, or invert prevailing assumptions, discourses, and power relations.

Deloitte and Touche has carried out a study of 400 companies about the resistance to change which is cited by Prochaska (2001). They found out that resistance to change causes the change process to fail or not completing.

Hauschildt (1999) carried out a study of 151 companies in Germany which concludes that the resistance or opposition to innovation in these companies benefitted the organisations. This benefit includes the criticism of the new system by pointing out the defects of the system which is a way forward for organisations to improve it. Employees by pointing out defects in the new system get more involved in the organisations.

Proctor and Doukakis (2002, p. 268) point out that resistance to a change could be because employees fear the new change will put their job safety at risk, or they fear of unknown, or it might be the lack of information and knowledge about the advantages attached to this change.

Another example of innovation in organisations and its effects is the Bemmels and Reshef study in 1991 which is cited by Zwick (2002). Bemels and Reshef studied 206 Canadian companies which introduced innovation over a specific period, and found out that the employees generally accepted and supported the innovations, but it was resisted from personnel just because of the presence of Union and the technological advancement clauses in the employee’s contract.

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Another main concern of employees regarding innovations in organisation is that it could lead to the reduction in staff. Effective innovations could cut down the staff in the organisations.

2.3 Biometric System

A biometric system is an automatic system which requires the physical characteristics of a user to recognise him/her. These physical characteristics could be finger prints, hand prints, facial expressions or iris pattern of eyes. According to Braghin (1998), the biometric system performs authentication process in two different stages.

1: Enrolling stage

In this stage a specific biometrics characteristics is given to the system data base which could be located centrally or distributed. The scanning of the biometrics is performed, and then the system creates a digital representation called template, which is then recorded into the data base. This process is performed only once.

2: Identification stage

In this stage the system scans the biometric characteristics and then creates an optimized digital representation, which it then matches to the template to identify the person.

Biometric system is a new technology which also brings issues that are linked to this system.

Braghin (1998) depicts that a biometric system is not good at handling problems. If someone’s template is stolen, the system can’t provide any help for that. These are the characteristics of a person which is not easy to get back if lost and biometric system is not helpful in order to deal with the problem. It is not like a password which you can change. So it means if you lose it, you lose it forever.

Advantages of biometrics

O’Gorman (2003, p. 2037) highlights the advantage of the biometric as, the details are hard to get stolen of a user using the system as compared to other authentication system, like ATM. The token system which stores the identity of a user should also be a used by a user as a second option to make it more secure against stealing and thefts of the details.

2.4 Change Management

Kotter and Schlesinger (2008, p. 4) have explained how to diagnose resistance (2008, p. 4) caused by the change. They point out that every change brings some human resistance to the change process. In order to deal with the resistance it is important to find out about the causes of potential resistance. By analysing the situation managers can come across the factors of resistance when the change is being introduced.

1: Parochial self interest

People can be resistant to change because they feel less concerned about the organisation and see their interests coming first before the interest of the organisation.

2: Misunderstanding and lack of trust

Misunderstanding can develop among employees if they don’t understand the implications of the change. Or if they perceive it wrongly. It is essential for change to be effective that all employees understand the change process and its implications, and for managers or change agents to interact with employees to clear potential misunderstandings.

3: Different assessment

Employees could assess the change differently than the change agent or managers due to lack of information. Because both the employees and the change agent think that the information that they have is right and they assume about each other of having the same information. So it is very important that both the change agent and employees have up to date information because otherwise this could lead to resistance.

4: Low Tolerance

Sometimes it is very hard for people to give up their old habits or working style which they are used to. For example, if the implemented change requires some new skill and behaviours and employees are not catching up with those behaviours or skills it would be problematic.

5: Old beliefs

People are reluctant to change because they don’t want to be disturbed in their daily routine.

For example an employee working 9 am to 5 pm shift, who is required to change shift from 3 pm to 11 pm two days a week will be resisting because it will disturb his/her daily routine.

Kotter and Schlesinger (2008, p. 6) have suggested several ways of how to deal with resistance when it emerges as a reaction to change.

1: Communication

Communicating about the desired change could really be helpful as it will make employees to embrace the change. Communication both with individuals and to a group is very essential as employees want to know about activities in the organisation. If the employees are put in dark about their organisation they feel a sense of ignorance. All sources like audio or video can be used to communicate.

2: Support

Organisations can offer training about new skills or support to the employees where the managers find the employees are struggling to overcome resistance. This training can be in the organisation or out of the organisation as well.

3: Involvement

Employee’s involvement in designing and implementation of the change process is another way to stop resisting powers being emerged. Involvement of employees will make employees feel that they are a value to the organisation.

4: Negotiation

Negotiation is a way to offer benefits to resistors to accept the change. It’s a process of luring the employees who are resisting. For example negotiations could involve dealing with unions as offering them pay rise in the lieu of acceptance of change. Negotiations are an expensive way of dealing with resistance as the change initiator has to give something to resistors for the acceptance of the change. The disadvantage of the negotiations is that people who take part in the negotiation process could use it as blackmailing.

5: Manipulation or Co-optation

This process is also called Co-optation, when employees who are potential resistors are given an attractive role of their choice to involve them in the change process. This is not considered as participation of employees because the employee who is co-opted, his/her advice doesn’t mean much to the change initiators.

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6: Coercion

Here the employees don’t have many choices as if they don’t accept the change they are threatened or warned of taking disciplinary action against them or being fired or by stopping their promotion. In this way they would worry about their job security and would show the acceptance of the new changed system.

Caluwe and Vermaak (1994, p. 49) explain that the change process is a step by step process of learning. It can’t be enforced on someone as it takes time and learning can’t be enforced.

According to Bovey and Hede (2001) change in an organisation is often implemented in a way that the whole process of planning and implementation takes all the time and the human factor who will be dealing with this change after implementation is ignored. They argued that the consideration of a new system and its rationalization for the company gets importance leaving behind the people who will be affected by this new system.

Aladwani (2001, p. 268) gives a comparison of marketing and implementing an information system based change. He holds the view that both marketing and implementing change in the organization are change processes and reflect the exchange process between two parties. Therefore, as the marketing policies and procedures are developed and communicated, organizations should communicate with their employees for the required results and to overcome the resistance to change. In marketing these communications are between seller and buyer, while in an organisation it should be between employer (the person who is brining the change) and the employees who are getting affected by this change.

The above literature has discussed about introduction of staff attendance measurement in organisations and related issues, biometric system and related human-resource issues, and finally change management.

Kotter’s(1996)Change management model

Create sense of urgency

Create a guiding coalition

Develop a vision and strategy

Communicate the vision for change

Empower broad-based action

Generate short-term wins

Consolidate gains and produce change

Anchor new approaches

Source: Kotter 1996

Kotter’s model (1996) is the 8 phase change management model which deals with the change through a systematic way. It takes the top down approach from creating a sense of urgency to anchoring change in the culture. It produces good results by dealing with the resistance issues caused by the change. Kotter’s model deals with the resistance in the best way for smooth implementation of change.

Although this model has met with a lot of criticism as in its step 5 encourages risk taking and not traditional ideas and activities, and change in the structure of organization but Kotter explains that it is the essential part of the organizational change. As he explains that the structure which undermines the change vision by becoming a hurdle needs to be rid off.

Kotter’s model is focused on communicating the vision to employees and provides good guidance. I like to use Kotter’s model for my research because it is a systematic method, a top down approach and is more effective than other models. It deals with the issues of resistance properly.

Chapter 3. Conceptual Framework

The literature review in Chapter 2 is a critical activity resulting in a conceptual framework.

This research will use the change model of Kotter (1996) as a conceptual model. It is assumed that the eight phases proposed by Kotter are a useful model to compare the change at the case company. The following table shows in an exemplary way how the phases of change at the Co-Operative can be mapped on Kotter’s eight phases.

Phases of Change at the Co-Operative







1. Create sense of urgency

2. Create a guiding coalition

3. Develop a vision and strategy

4. Communicate the vision for change

5. Empower broad-based action

6. Generate short-term wins

7. Consolidate gains and produce change

8. Anchor new approaches

Table 1: Mapping Change at the Co-Operative on Kotter’s Leadership Steps

Source: Kotter 1996

Each of the eight phases has its own dynamics and challenges. For example, in the first phase, organisations need to look at the competitive market, trends are traditions which need to be updated, profit margins to start the change process, if enough urgency is not established there is a risk of process to fail.

The 2nd phase is appointing a team to carry out the change process together energetically. Then comes the 3rd phase which is about the development of proper vision and strategy to implement the change. It is about, where would the change lead to and how.

The 4th phase is about communication of the vision to all employees by interaction. The 5th phase is to remove barriers which are obstructing the process of change. The 6th phase is about bringing more improvement in the performance, and rewarding the employees who maintain the required standards. The 7th phase is about producing more change by promoting the employees or hiring new one to carry out the change process with more determination and persistence and the final one is about to make the change permanently stick to the organisation.

These phases will be tested to analyse the change process which Co-operative food has carried out by comparing the eight phases of Kotter’s model. Kotter (2007, p, 99). All the phases of the model from establishing a sense of urgency, Kotter 2007, p,97) to anchoring change in the culture (2007, p,103) will be compared to find out, have they been taken into the account for successful change at the case study company.

Chapter 4. Research Design

A deductive case study approach will be applied for this research. This case study is deductive because it uses existing concepts in the field of change management and theory about resistance caused by the introduction of new staff attendance control system.

Furthermore a qualitative case study will help to attain insights and detailed viewpoints of the employees and managers.

Yin (2003) suggests using a case study approach when ‘How and why’ questions are being addressed and it tells about what could be extracted from a single situation. According to Bryman (2001) case study approach is used for in depth findings and to associate it with the theory. A case study approach is suitable for the interpretation of this subject because it will investigate the change management processes in the organisation by the help of existing theory of Kotter’s model in the case study organisation.

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Qualitative approach

I intend to use a deductive qualitative approach for this case study.

Bryman (2001) highlights the characteristics of the qualitative approach as dealing with issues by exploring them, e.g. through counter questions to understand the phenomenon.

Kaplan and Maxwell (1994) give a briefing of qualitative approach that it is the study of a particular situation by exploring peoples attitude in which they react by means of interviewing, observing or documenting rather than by a data of numbers.

As this research is about the perception of employees about this change, the philosophy that will be used in this research will be constructivist.

This philosophy has been selected because I intend to test the Kotter’s model of change management in Co-operative case study.

Chapter 5. Methodology

For this research, the following case study organisation was chosen: the Hackney Branch, London, of the Co-Operative Food unit of Co-operative Group Limited, Manchester/UK. Furthermore employees and managers are accessible for interviews that are essential for accomplishment of the study.

Data will be collected with the help of semi structured interviews by mono method. Semi structured interviews are flexible in approach, and are good in finding the insights of peoples. An understanding will be developed in the perspective of employee’s natural settings, about perceiving change in the organization by employees, their behaviour towards this change, and their thinking about change management practices in the organisation to minimize the effect of this change.

I have talked already with the local branch managers, and they have told about their interest to take part in this research. An official letter will be written to the case company when the research starts, e.g. in September 2010.

The interviews will be conducted after the work is assigned or the proposal for the research is accepted in the Hackney branch of Co-operative food.

Interviews will be conducted by asking all type of questions like open question, Probing or specific questions, closed questions to cover all the aspects of the aim and objectives of the research. Employees will be asked about their point of view about change, their participation, experience and effects of the change on them. Moreover a comparison to Kotter’s change model will be developed by looking into eight phases of the model.

Pattern matching technique will be used to analyse the data. Because I am using Kotter’s conceptual framework for this research, I will test the adequacy of the Kotter’s framework to reveal the findings. Pattern matching is the method which involves two variations, depending on the dependent and independent variables.

In the first variation we relate the proposition from the relative literature to the results of data collection and analysis. If it matches to the predictions then we confirm the theory. At this moment the researcher has no pre defined variables, but when the work is assigned. If one or more outcomes that have not been predicted by the explanation, there is a need to seek an alternative one. (Yin, 2003)

In the second variation the variables are independent of each other. Here we put forward a number of alternative explanations to explain the pattern of outcomes that we expect to find. When the predicted explanation matches with the pattern of outcomes it provides evidence that it is indeed an explanation of the findings.

The method will be chosen when the work is assigned after the acceptance of proposal.

5.1 Limitations

This research will set its limits by contacting Co-operative Food employees in the case study organisation, Co-operative Food which is a supermarket or a retail industry in the Hackney branch London. The employees contacted will belong to the Co-operative. Therefore the findings of this research can not be generalised outside the case study organisation.

5.2 Ethics

The ethical issues involved in this research could be the fear of employees about their names being used in this research. If the employees don’t understand the purpose and aim of the research, it is also an ethical issue. Employees could also have discomfort or stress in answering the questions.

Employees will be provided the information about the purpose of this research, and its aims, and the issue of anonymity that that their names will be kept anonymous if they wish. The data collected will be used by the consent of the employees. I will inform the employees by speaking to them about their right to withdraw from the interviews and also about withdrawing their permission to use this data before I finish the interview.

The collected data will be analysed by the researcher and the dissertation will be submitted by honest means.

5.3 Resources

The resources that will be used to conduct semi structured interviews are audio and video equipment. Before conducting the interviews I will get the consent of employees. Should there be any rejections about being recorded, then I will make notes of the interviews.

5.4 Transcription

I will document the interviews in text processing files with interview numbers, like 01ME,

and 02FE, and so on, where 01 represents 1st interview and M is for male, F is for female and E is for employee. RQ1, and RQ2 will be used for myself representing the first and second of the researcher’s questions and MEA1 or FEA 2 would be used for male employee answer 1 and female employee answer 2 respectively.

6 Appendix

6.1 Time Table

Gantt chart for a research project







week number




















Review Literature

Meeting with supervisor

Read Methodology Literature

Data Collection

Analysing data

Enter data in computer

Update literature reading

Complete the remaining part

Submit to supervisor

Revise the work


Print, bind


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