Writing exercise 1 : compressed workweek editing exerciseSent: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 2:32 PM
From: Bill Ward
To: Selected managers and supervisors
Subject: Work hours and schedules
Earlier this week I met with the Executive Management Team to review a number of different Human Resources related initiatives relating to a variety of topics. One of them was the consideration of reviewing compressed work weeks, in light of the gas prices and the escalating cost of commuting. With their agreement that we can begin to at least look at the possibilities via a task force if you will, I asked that each of them provide me with the name of a representative from each of their areas who will serve on this group.
“Congratulations,” you have been selected.
This group will meet to discuss ideas and options for a compressed work week. Management will not impose any pre-established ideas or limitations, so that the group can begin its discussion of the issue with no bias or limitations or advanced rules set in stone by management — none at all.
I first attempted to schedule a meeting for all of us on Outlook. A couple of observations, some of you appear not to use the calendar feature in Outlook, and I am very surprised by that and I don’t really understand why you don’t. But for those who do, at first look, it appears that it is going to be extremely difficult to find even an hour in the short term that works for all of us. It could very well be that our meeting will be from 7 to 8 a.m. some morning or it could be that we will have to hold the meeting late in the day. If so, we expect you to make sure you attend.
So please, if you will, take a few moments to update your Outlook calendars to see if potentially you can free up that one hour we will need to get this review started. I would like to convene within the next week or so, as after our initial meeting it is each of you who have the lion’s share of work to do, before we reconvene to assess where we are.
A couple of warnings up front. A compressed, or 4 day work week, will OBVIOUSLY NOT work in all areas, we “all” know that, and it is something you may have to be prepared to inform your staff after the analysis is complete. For a point of clarity, where a 4 day work week will be offered, by necessity, it will be a rotating 4 day work week in those areas where it can be employed with some members of the unit working their 38.75 hours M-Th and another group working their 38.75 hours Tue-Fri.
Some of the circumstances or factors that will need to be considered in our analysis of those areas in our organization where we can offer a compressed work week will be staff size dependent, the level of customer, policyholder, agent and potentially internal customer, service, contact and dependency resident in some jobs versus others, exempt versus non-exempt, those of us who manage and supervise employees, the ease or complexity of scheduling employees around the rotation of core hours and days and there are more.
But above all else, here are the critical MUSTS that we will have to ensure in those areas where we can roll this out:
● All operational requirements must be met at all times.
● Service to the customer, all customers, must be maintained, or ideally improved.
● The cost of doing this will not exceed our normal and customary costs of doing business.
● Each office, function and operational area must be covered during normal or core business hours.
● The introduction of compressed work week schedules will not diminish or restrict our ability to assign responsibilities and/or accountabilities to individual employees for the provision of services and the performance of their duties.
● In positions and/or departments where a compressed workweek schedule is permitted, requests from employees for any type of change in work schedule or work hours will be considered on the basis of the preceding bullets and the workload.
● Once set, the workweek schedule will remain constant.
● And the final critical MUST will fall on all who manage or supervise staff as work schedules will have to be developed and monitored, in particular given a typical 7.75 hour day with staff working in excess of 9 hours each day, work results must be assessed to ensure we continue to hit our marks in all areas, and in general, being confident that a condensed work week is a viable and practical option for the area, and work product of that area, they manage.
If I could again ask each of you to take a moment to take a look at your Outlook calendar to see if there is a window of time over the next 2 weeks you can free up, for instance is there a “tentative” that is no longer needed. Also, keeping in mind the bullet points offered above, you may want to do a preliminary scan of your staff, the functions they perform and for whom they do them in doing a preliminary assessment of how the introduction of a compressed work week either does, or does not, allow you to meet the business demands of your functional area(s).
I will again attempt to schedule a meeting for all of us in Outlook in the next day or two. Thank you for taking the time to begin thinking about this option for your area. I want us to all enter the meeting open minded and without any preconceptions or prejudices either for or against our plans to explore more flexiblity in work hours and working location. Please contact me if you have any questions.
• List the reasons why you think Bill wrote this e-mail, in order from most important to least important. What was he trying to accomplish?
• Outline Bill’s message by writing a sentence fragment or two that describes what is happening in each paragraph.
• Compare your hierarchical list of Bill’s objectives with the outline of his document. Did the structure match the hierarchy of objectives?
• Did he write in direct or indirect order?
• Was his selection of direct or indirect effective?
• Analyze his tone. Does Bill trust people and like people?
• Does any portion of the e-mail make you feel disrespected? If so, which section?
Writing exercise 2 : tax withholding editing exercise
The federal withholding tables were revised recently due to changes in the tax law as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The new stimulus bill which incorporated changes to the withholding tables reflect, in most instances, a reduction in the amount of federal tax to be withheld. The new federal tax withholding tables are effective with your pay dated 3/20/2009. You may notice a difference in your net pay due to these changes, and in most instances any change is likely to be a change of less tax withholding and more money, in total, in your paycheck. After reviewing how these changes may have affected your pay you may want to review your federal tax withholding or make changes to your tax withholding if you believe that is necessary and beneficial. If you choose to make changes to your federal tax withholding you can make the changes in Lawson Selfservice.
What is the nature of this email? General informational? An assignment asking readers to do something? A set of instructions?
What is the key point of this email? Write one sentence that sums it all up.
Rewrite the entire message. Your goal is to provide more focus to the message so that busy readers can get the point and take action if necessary
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