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Attempt at AWA - Timed 30 minutes

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Attempt at AWA - Timed 30 minutes  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Jul 2019, 19:19
Sample Analysis-of-an-Argument Writing Prompt

The following appeared in a memorandum issued by the human-resources department of Capital Bank:

"Capital Bank has always required that its employees wear suits at all times while at work. Last month, Capital’s employee absenteeism and attrition rates both reached all-time highs. In order to reverse these trends, Capital should adopt a company-wide "casual Friday" policy, under which all employees would be permitted, and even encouraged, to dress casually for work every Friday. After all, most companies in the software industry allow their workers to dress casually for work anytime they want; and those workers often remark that this policy enhances their job satisfaction. Moreover, most software firms experience lower rates of employee absenteeism and attrition than companies in other industries, including banking."

Discuss how logically convincing you find this argument. In your discussion, you should analyze the argument's line of reasoning and use of evidence. It may be appropriate in your critique to call into question certain assumptions underlying the argument and/or to indicate what evidence might weaken or strengthen the argument. It may also be appropriate to discuss how you would alter the argument to make it more convincing and/or discuss what additional evidence, if any, would aid in evaluating the argument.


In the memorandum, the human resources department states that Capital Bank has always had a strict policy regarding employee dress code such that employees are required to wear suits to work. The human resources department suggests that this may be the cause for increased rates of absenteeism and attrition seen last month and proposes a policy of casual Fridays. To support this point, they provide an analogy of software companies who also have a casual dress code requirement and often see lower rates of absenteeism and attrition. Employee absenteeism and attrition is a matter of great concern for any organization as it poses problems for hiring, retention, training and associated costs. However, the human resources department has failed to consider other causes that may be leading to the issue of absenteeism and attrition. They have also made a flawed argument with regards to the timeline by using only last month’s information on employee attendance and linking it to a policy that has always been in place at Capital Bank. Finally, the human resources department has also made an analogy with the software companies without taking the differences in employee preferences and organizational culture into account.

First, the human resources department has failed to present any concrete data on the various causes that may be leading to employee absenteeism and attrition. They have not considered other potential causes or have asked the employees via a survey regarding the causes behind their absenteeism and attrition. It is highly likely that a multitude of other causes may be the contributing factor behind employee absenteeism and attrition. For example, if there was a higher rate of absenteeism and attrition last month, it may be the case that there was a virus going around town and many of the employees feel sick during the season. Furthermore, the human resources should analyze the data on employee absenteeism and attrition and investigate the reported reasons when employees report missing work, spanning over a long period of time.

Second, the human resources department has made a hasty conclusion by using only last month’s data on employee attendance at work and have linked it back to a dress code policy that has always been in place at Capital Bank. If employee were always required to wear suits to work, it is highly unlikely that a large number of employees will all of a sudden start missing work due to the company’s dress code. As such, it would be highly valuable for the human resources department to conduct a survey with the employees to determine the root cause of their absenteeism and attrition and also seek their opinions and feedback on the company’s dress code policies.

Third, the human resources department presents an analogy with the software companies that allow their employees to dress casually at work. They also claim that there is a lower rate of employee absenteeism and attrition at those companies. However, the human resources department has failed to take into consideration that there are vast differences in the organizational cultures, employee personalities and preferences in the banking industry and in the software industry. Moreover, the human resources department has also failed to provide any concrete data or numbers to support the claim that the casual dress at software companies is related to lower rates of absenteeism and attrition.

Employee attendance at work is a key factor that contributes to the overall success of an organization. As such, higher rates of absenteeism and attrition are a key concern for any organization. Given that the human resources department is demonstrating concern regarding this matter by discussing it in the company’s memorandum is a great step in the positive direction. These issues definitely need to be investigated further and appropriate measures need to be put in place to effectively combat employee absenteeism and attrition rates. However, based on the information provided by the human resources department, it is not clear whether it is the dress code policy that is in fact leading to the higher rates of absenteeism and attrition. As such, further research is required where data is collected from the employees and their input is taken into consideration before changing the company’s policies.

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New post 09 Aug 2019, 18:53
The following appeared in a memorandum from the director of research and development at Ready-to-Ware, a software engineering firm.

The package of benefits and incentives that Ready-to-Ware offers to professional staff is too costly. Our quarterly profits have declined since the package was introduced two years ago, at the time of our incorporation. Moreover, the package had little positive effect, as we have had only marginal success in recruiting and training high-quality professional staff. To become more profitable again, Ready-to-Ware should, therefore, offer the reduced benefits package that was in place two years ago and use the savings to fund our current research and development initiatives.

Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underlie the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound, and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate its conclusion.

In the memorandum, the director of Research and Development at Ready-to-Ware makes a recommendation to cut the benefits currently being offered to its employees and revert back to an older version of the benefits plan that the company had two years ago. This recommendation is made in light of the increased costs of the benefits program to the company, whereby the director claims that the savings from a reduced benefits plan can be better used for the research and development efforts. The claims being made in the above mentioned prompt are of great merit however, there are several flaws that must first be thoroughly investigated before making such significant changes to the benefits plan. First, the director has failed to take into account the effect of the better benefits plan on the existing employee retention rates. Second, no data has been presented to back the claim that the company may be able to operate more efficiently if cuts are made to the benefits plan. Third, the director has failed to take into consideration other areas of the company’s operations where cuts can be made with lesser impacts.

First, the director claims that the increased benefits plan has not been successful in increasing recruitment and training of staff at the company. However, he has failed to take into account that the plan may have contributed positively to the retention of existing employees. For example, existing employees with great qualifications may change employers for better compensation package and perks. Hence, it is possible that the better benefits package by the Ready-to-Ware company may have encouraged some employees to stay with the organization as it shows that the organization cares for its employees and their families.

Second, the director has not presented any data to back his claims. For example, it is unclear what percentage of the total operating budget is being spent on the benefits plan in comparison with other cost items. Similarly, the director has not presented data on how the cuts to the benefits plan can improve the cost efficiencies of the company’s operations. Therefore, to further investigate the effects of the better benefits plan, the company must conduct some internal research using employee surveys and interviews to determine what the employees think of the benefits plan. Such form of data is highly necessary to help make informed decisions based on evidence.

Third, the director has failed to take into consideration other areas of the company’s operations where cuts can be made with lesser impacts. When such strategic decisions are made at a higher management level in an organization, it is crucial to look at the organization as a whole, whereby the costs and benefits of expenditures on each component of the organization’s operations need to be taken into account. In the case of the Ready-to-Ware company, it may be possible that the expenditure in the area of benefits to employees makes up only a small proportion of the total expenditures made by this organization. If this is the case, then efficiencies in the business operations can better be achieved by reducing costs in other sectors of the business.

In conclusion, the decision to reduce the benefits to employees is a crucial one that has the potential to have a great impact on the organization’s workforce, morale, culture, and reputation. Hence, various key factors of the company’s operations need to be evaluated and data needs to be collected from the employees as well as data on financial costs and benefits of each major expenditure category of the business. Empowered with such data and insights, the management team would be in a better position to make such crucial decisions about cost cutting.
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Attempt at AWA - Timed 30 minutes   [#permalink] 09 Aug 2019, 18:53
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Attempt at AWA - Timed 30 minutes

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