There is an interesting story in today’s business news about time wasted in the work place. The story contends that employees waste 20% of their working hours. Because this conclusion was arrived at from a survey, and people lie on surveys, the figure is much likely higher. Let’s stipulate that time is wasted at work.
I disagree with the conclusions of why the time is being wasted. The article says:
The reasons why people wasted time were varied with nearly 18 percent of respondents questioned by e-mail in June and July said boredom and not having enough to do was the main reason.
The second most popular reason for wasting time was having too long hours (13.9 percent), being underpaid (11.8 percent), and a lack of challenging work (11.1 percent).”
I’m certain boredom plays a role in the time wasted but “not having enough to do” certainly does NOT. Neither does being underpaid. If people goof-off because they feel underpaid, money won’t change them. That’s a character issue.
Having too long hours? That’s almost laughable. Ok, I’ll goof-off so I have to work more hours so I can complain about having too long hours. And I’ll get overtime pay. Makes sense. Managers, you create that mess with the huge inducements to work overtime. In many work places, people consider overtime a part of their regular pay. Have you ever heard someone say, “I make $5,000 a month with overtime”? They don’t say, “I sometimes make $5,000 if I have overtime hours”.
None of the aforementioned hits the real issue. “Lack of challenging work” comes close but still isn’t the issue. I would substitute the word challenging for meaningful. If your people feel like their work makes a difference, they will work harder, smarter and happier. If they feel like they have a voice, they’ll innovate.
If you’ve “standardized” all your processes, you’ve cut the guts out of your workers and you’re headed for sloppy work. The stupidest thing I’ve ever heard was “if the process is perfect, the people doing the process don’t matter”. That’s being taught today—business schools, seminars and consultants—and it’s DEAD WRONG. Beware of the “perfect process”.
Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog
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