Stop Wasting Your Employees’ Time
by The Center for Creative Leadership’s Jennifer J. Deal for Strategy + Business Magazine:
Not so long ago, the idea that an employee could connect anytime, anywhere, was seen as a revolution in work–life balance. You could get home in time for dinner or go on vacation even when a project was at a critical point. Your smartphone could turn wherever you were into your mobile office.
Smartphones are not the problem—it’s bad management that people resent.
Many now believe this unlimited connectivity has gone too far. Studies have concluded that late-night smartphone use has an adverse effect on employee productivity and engagement. A growing number of companies, such as Volkswagen and Atos, have enacted email policies intended to mandate unplugging. An agreement in April 2014 between French employers and unions created an “obligation to disconnect” for contract workers to ensure that they don’t burn out, and Germany is currently considering legislation that would ban communication from employers to their workers after hours.
Even though such policies are well meaning and might help reduce some of the stress of being constantly connected, they don’t address the root cause of the problem: wasted time from inattentive management. Sometimes the wasting of time is a side effect of job consolidation, typically after cost cutting. Other times it is the result of ingrained risk aversion and the perceived need to cross-check every decision.
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