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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

Increasing productivity through technology

The “work, work, work” mentality at the workplace does more harm than good. However, for employers, it makes scheduling much easier when you know where everyone is going to be during the week – at work. But, as you know, that isn’t the right mentality to have as employee benefits are one of the most important job satisfaction factors for employees. So what does this mean? It means that employees are actively seeking jobs which provide them with paid time off, vacation, medical and sick leave. Those these are considered somewhat standard benefits in the workforce, they’re ill-properly used or in other words, they’re not used at all. Which makes you ask yourself, then why are the offered in the first place? However, there are a couple factors which prevent workers from using their employee benefits and these factors are evolved around the workers construct. Many workers are concerned about the workload they’ll return to after paid vacation, they feel they’re the only ones capable of their job and also fear losing their job or being replaced as a result of them using their benefits. Though this seems absurd, these fears are alive and well for a reason as the workplace culture is highly skewed when it comes to employee benefits.

What was found, is that Senior leaders have difficulty approving paid time off for their employees and also feel that they worry time off would place stress on other employees. So, it’s clear that there’s fear from management is that business will suffer if employees use their benefits such as taking vacation, and there’s a fear from employees that they’ll be pushed for using their benefits which are rightfully theirs to use. As you can see, this is a vicious circle which is fueled by fear and a previously established culture on both sides, however, it’s the employer’s responsibility to provide a healthy and positive work environment for their employees as they set to workplace culture. To remind us, culture is the behaviors and beliefs of a particular social group. Thus, every workplace has their own developed and socially accepted culture. For example, if the senior leaders answer emails during lunch, then it’s an accepted and respected that during your lunchtime, you should answer emails and continue working. This goes the same for benefits. If senior leaders are not taking vacation or when they do, they’re connected to the office, then it’s accepted behavior in the workplace and most likely expected from their employees. However, this culture, this idea of constantly being connected to work isn’t productive as it’s proven that work martyrs are more stressed and less successful in the workplace. Thus, it’s clear that the workplace culture must change and it starts with the employers.

Leaders of companies must step forward and recognize that they’re failing and not only provide their employees with a healthy work environment, but they’re failing at the untapped creativity and motivation which their employees could offer their business. Though there’s still time to change, however, leaders must stay committed to the idea of changing. There are three things they can do to show employees support but also increase productivity without increasing the workload.

  1. Most importantly, leaders need to find an efficient way to track employee schedules. Many employers are simply too lazy and thus, place a negative connotation on paid time off because this means they’ll need to reschedule that period of time. But technology has made employee scheduling quite simple and efficient for employers as with a click of a button, they can manage employee requests, organize auto-scheduling and have increase employee visibility. Leaders need to use technology to their advantage if they want to increase productivity and growth.
  2. Set an example for employees. Like stated previously, there is a workplace culture and that culture is established by the leaders. As a leader, you must set the example for your employees. Take vacation time and refrain from connecting to the office. Not only will you be modeling healthy behavior for your employees, you also get the opportunity to shut off from work and restore your batteries. In addition, encourage other leaders and upper-management to be an example.
  3. Talk about it. As a leader, you need to discuss with other leaders and members of management the topic of employee benefits and the effects on business productivity. You need to be on the same page with your leadership team and discuss how their own behaviors are affecting the interpretation of taking time off. This is essential if you want the technology behind employee scheduling to coincide with employees actually taking time off.

Though most businesses rely heavily on technology, such as emails, to conduct business, they can also use technology to ensure that employees take a break from work and get the ability to restore themselves, thus, coming back to the office recharged with ideas and creativity which will ultimately grow your business.

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