Management was her preference. In addition to hierarchical structure,

at BFGym, a medium sized gym in Birmingham, has encountered various issues with
regards to the well being of their workforce, mainly due to its bureaucratic
structure and role-based organizational culture. As a result, BFGym are at risk
of an increase in employee turnover. The resulting issues include a lack of
motivation, stress and alienation of some employees. This essay aims to explore
the main issues with BFGym’s bureaucratic structure and role culture, as well
as identifying causes and solutions to issues surrounding employee motivation
and performance. Arguments will be made based upon academic literature and findings
from analysing the case study.


In order to
understand the bureaucratic structure at BFGym, and the advantages and
disadvantages that the structure creates, an understanding of the principles of
basic bureaucracy must be achieved. Max Weber, a pioneer in the study of
bureaucracy in the 1920s, outlined various principles that form his
ideal-typical bureaucracy (Swedberg and Agevall, 2005). These
principles include a hierarchical structure with established lines of authority
and a clear chain of command. This hierarchical structure is evident at BFGym,
as management has clear authority over the trainers, and provides trainers a schedule
of classes and sessions that must be administered, instead of giving personal
trainers freedom in deciding upon the types of classes they wish to instruct. Jo,
a fitness instructor at BFGym, noted how she “has to go by the agreed upon
classes set by management”. The hierarchical structure and the formal rules and
procedures it creates also gives rise to a sense of uniformity. However, this
structure also creates an impersonal work environment between employees, due to
the strict expectation that employees effectively perform their roles without
consideration of personal factors such as fatigue or motivation. For example,
Jane, another fitness instructor, was allocated back-to-back classes,
regardless of whether or not it was her preference. In addition to hierarchical
structure, the bureaucratic principle of specialisation is also present at
BFGym. Trainers are allocated to lead classes based off their expertise, in
order for the classes to be conducted as effectively as possible. Phillip, for
example, specializes in spin classes and as a result leads the spin classes at
BFGym, as he is most qualified to do so.  

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While a
bureaucratic structure has various advantages, it also has clear disadvantages
and as a result may not be ideal for BFGym’s work environment. However, a
notable advantage of BFGym’s bureaucratic system is the significant level of
control and organization that management possesses. With a workforce size of 50
people, a sense of organization and control is vital to ensure efficiency and effective
performance. This level of control is a result of BFGym’s hierarchical
structure, and the set roles and procedures that follow the chain of command. Customers
at BFGym have seemingly been satisfied with the professional services provided
thus far. Additionally, membership size has increased from 200 to 540, which
has increased the need for uniformity between employees and management in order
to effectively satisfy the increasing member-base. Another advantage of the
adoption of a bureaucratic system is the principle of specialization, and the
allocation of certain tasks to the employees who are most effective at carrying
out that specific role. This helps ensure that customers are satisfied with the
services provided. 


However, the
main disadvantages of a bureaucratic system in BFGym’s case surround the
impacts on employee morale and performance. BFGym’s strict structure doesn’t
allow for extensive consultation between trainers and management, and as a
result, employees have felt stagnated. Jo, for example, enjoyed autonomy as a
personal trainer, but now finds herself having to go by agreed upon classes set
by management who often do amendments without consultation, and on occasion has
become upset as a result. BFGym’s assigned classes are also repetitive in
nature, and trainers are allocated to re-occurring roles. Due to this,
employees have found themselves to become bored with the repetitive nature of
their work. For example, spin instructor Phillip has become ‘very bored and
uninspired’ due to teaching the same spin class for a year. A lack of
consultation and employee boredom hampers employee morale, which may transfer
across to employee performance, which then may reduce customer satisfaction,
the key goal for BFGym. As a result, management at BFGym may want to consider a
different approach to organizational structure in order to ensure employee
satisfaction and retention. (Buelens et al., 2006)