Boredom and tedium can become an epidemic in the workplace causing problems with job performance, stress, accidents, and absenteeism.
Boredom is often caused by an increase in mundane, day to day tasks such as data entry, time entry, or routine number crunching. In addition, stress becomes a factor when volume increases, coupled with unrealistic deadlines that must be met, and customer complaints. Employees who are bored and stressed are likely to under-perform and, even worse, leave the company.
Employee engagement has become a significant focus of the business environment. EngageforSuccess.org, a UK-based organization provides this definition: Employee engagement is a workplace approach resulting in the right conditions for all members of an organization to give of their best each day, committed to their organization’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organizational success, with an enhanced sense of their own well-being. Statistics show that teams with high employee engagement rates are 21 percent more productive, and companies that encourage engaged employees outperform their peers by over 200 percent. Employee engagement doesn’t only benefit the company, however. It also impacts the employees: Engaged workers experience lower absenteeism, fewer accidents, and reduced opportunity for errors in their work.
Working Smarter and Not Harder
So how do businesses establish the conditions that heighten employee engagement, yet still get the necessary but monotonous tasks completed? Rote tasks often provide critical information for vital areas of your business, such as accounting and finance; if the task itself cannot be eliminated, then the question becomes how can it be automated to become more efficient. Some processes need continuous review to ensure the steps performed to complete the task are optimal. Are there inefficiencies in certain steps, or ways that tasks can be eliminated or consolidated to speed up the process?
Lean manufacturing or lean production, a concept that solidified in the 1930s with Toyota’s production system, involves a systematic method for maximizing value while minimizing waste. Since the initial concept, lean principles have been widely adopted throughout the service sector. In the service industry, being lean means standardizing and improving work processes while providing greater value to the customer.
One of the principles of lean production includes reviewing where manpower loses time. Some causes could be:
- Poor user-interfaces;
- Inconsistent work methods;
- Unnecessary/unneeded operations; and
- Redundant tasks that could be automated.
Repetitive, manual tasks can be greatly reduced through automation. For manufacturing, this brings to mind the use of robots to replace manpower efforts on an assembly line. For business processes, automation includes developing and implementing software to automatically route and complete tasks. Aside from reallocating manpower, automation can also relieve stress if there is high volume and time sensitivity. Automated processes statistically result in a lower number of errors. That’s better for your employees and your business!
Case in Point – From Mundane to Mayhem
One of the largest opportunities for continuous business review is the ordering process. After launching a new e-commerce business, Bob McKee from Mountain View Services found a new task to delegate to the accounting manager: a multi-step, manual order process. The employee had three stages of data entry: entering the order into the Sage 100 accounting system, entering purchase orders into the supplier’s order entry system, and entering tracking numbers into the Volusion e-commerce webstore to notify customers of order shipment. Since the data entry process was multi-step, customers were often calling for order status before the system was updated. Then came the volume. McKee stated, “We started receiving 6 orders a day, then 12, then 24 and before we knew it, we were coming in on Monday to 1000 orders that needed to be processed.” With the increase in volume came errors with data entry, which caused mis-shipments and calls from customers. What started out as a mundane but important data entry role quickly turned to mayhem, especially for the employee.
Mountain View Services was referred to a systems integration specialist. “We’ve been a long time Sage 100 user and automation and integration was the perfect solution to our issues,” McKee stated. “We implemented in phases; first was the integration between our Sage 100 accounting solution and the e-commerce sites, so orders would feed directly into Sage. Then came the next phase of integrating the order data in Sage with our third-party supplier to process purchase orders automatically with them. Once the order was shipped, the tracking numbers were exported back to Sage, then to the e-commerce sites and store. That final piece is what provided our clients with the peace of mind that their order was on the way, and as ordered.”
With automated integration, it doesn’t matter how high the volume is. Information is automatically routed, triggering order creation, inventory updates, and tracking information. All “mundane” data entry time can be refocused to more meaningful work.
Keeping Ahead of Boredom
Reducing the opportunity for boredom and stress in the workplace means running a lean operation that is committed to employee engagement. Automation will significantly increase employee engagement and boost everything from productivity and accuracy to customer satisfaction and increased revenue.
ROI Consulting is the market’s leading e-commerce solution and Sage 100 integration specialist, maximizing Sage 100 customer’s technology investment through integration and customization since 1997. Learn about ROI’s integration solutions for Sage 100 at www.roi-consulting.com or by calling Ruth Richter at 402-934-2223, ext. 1.