The technology of today is both amazing and challenging. It’s amazing because it allows companies to do so much more, increasing efficiency and the bottom line. The challenge, however, is that technology can be abused, as well as used, when it comes to employees.
Companies think of themselves as being run on a rational basis. That’s just fine for a machine or an algorithm — such things are inanimate and obviously have no emotions. But human beings, while striving to be rational, are often irrational for so many reasons that it would take years to list them all. And a group of human beings, in an office for instance, are going to have a lot of irrational feelings floating around. Or at least reactions that, on the surface, don’t seem all that rational. That’s one reason that business teams are all the rage nowadays; they help individuals bond together and disregard their individual idiosyncrasies and prejudices for the greater good.
Another example of this concept is a recent experiment done at the retail giant GAP. Instead of using algorithms to determine when the maximum amount of sales force should be working, which resulted in complete scheduling uncertainty for the staff, the stores instituted a policy whereby sales people could choose their own hours. The results were two-fold — first, employee turnover dropped drastically, and second, sales increased an average of seven percent. A cadre of veteran employees sold more because they were less stressed and because they had been around long enough to absorb better sales techniques.
The smart business operator will never ignore new technology; but he or she will always make sure that the needs of the staff come before the imperatives of technology.