Technological Advancements And Worker Happiness: Unpacking The
“The relationship between workplace satisfaction and the willingness to work is almost intuitive:” there must exist a positive relationship between the two. A happy worker is in such a state because he presumably enjoys work. Further, they also make predictions about the implications of such an intrinsic relationship between worker happiness and productivity for the happiness and productivity levels of entire populations; if every industry is able to achieve increased happiness levels and as a result, increased productivity for even 50% of its employees, the translated results for an economy would be massive. However, how does an organisation achieve these higher levels of happiness and all the benefits that follow? While there could be several responses to that question, the third decade of the 21st century highlights an obvious winner: technology.
Technology at the workplace:
Since time immemorial, man has looked for ways to increase marginal output. With time, however, this task was assigned to specific people within an organisation and millennia later, we have a name for that special group: Human Resources (HR). HR departments around the world are actively looking for ways to increase an organisation’s marginal output by amping up productivity, and one of the most popular methods remains the use of technology. A recent, yet significant contribution of technology has been its potential in positively affecting employee productivity, and subsequently, happiness. As human needs evolve, so does technology, ultimately shaping the next version of human needs in this cyclical, seemingly never-ending process. It follows, then, that in order to identify the exact channels of these effects of technology, it would be necessary to consider these effects first. The latest developments in technology are capable of bringing about higher levels of happiness among workers in the following specific ways: increased productivity, greater employee retention and lesser administration costs, all of which have the potential to translate into greater profits.
“People use machines to decrease workload and increase output” this maxim has held true since man began working with machines, and will probably continue to hold true for the foreseeable future. A productive worker is one who knows how to harness the machines at his disposal and uses them to the best of their capability. It would follow then, that an employee, to some extent, is as good as the machines he uses. The increasing use of devices such as smartphones, tablets, machines that harness artificial intelligence, as well as machines that are programmed to imitate human behaviour but at much larger scales than humans themselves, has resulted in a surge of productivity in the last decade. Investing in the latest industry-specific technology is an excellent way to increase workplace productivity; this two-part investment is designed to succeed. The larger investment in the machine, when combined with the smaller investment in the training of employees results in greater human capital, which translates into greater efficiency. So how is this relevant to worker happiness. Well, it’s a bit of a chicken and an egg situation: productive workers are happy workers, and happy workers are productive workers. However, of the two, an organisation can tangibly affect only one: productivity. As a result, investing in the latest efficient technology would be an excellent way to affect greater happiness at the workplace and consequently, greater happiness.
Greater employee retention:
“Technology can be used to affect worker happiness not only at the workplace but also outside of it.” Aside from happiness, worker health is an important determinant of their capacity to work and work well. Home environment, as well as the division of time between working hours and leisure time, both have an extremely important role in determining worker health and happiness and as a result, productivity. With the strides that are being made everyday in medical technology, organisations are faced with the golden opportunity to extend their care for employees to their homes. Some examples of such methods include encouraging the use FitBits and health monitoring apps, as well as virtual therapists and nutritionists – all ways to increase the focus on the importance of a healthy work-life balance, assure employees that organisations have their best interests at heart, and benefiting from the increased happiness and health levels of their employees.
Reduced administrative costs:
When machines have advanced to the extent that they can be trained to imitate human behaviour, why not train them to complete the clerical parts of various workplace roles, beginning with the monitoring of workers? Programs that would ensure a worker has completed tasks by a certain period of time, and is dedicatedly working at the given task could prove invaluable to an organisation. Further, it could also collect vast amounts of data and analyse various aspects of a worker’s pattern – right from gauging productivity levels during the different times of the day to identifying areas for improvement, these programs could not only replace managerial positions but also increase their scope, all the while seeing a possible reduction in investment by the organisation. Such a shift would allow the workers who have been replaced, to focus on arguably more important tasks, one of which could very well be the innovation of more such programs.
“Technology is slowly but surely taking over an increasing number of aspects of our lives. There is a direct correlation between the use of technology and benefits such as productive, healthier and happier workers. It would be prudent to harness it, in order to increase productivity and happiness levels, to the extent that we could possibly see paradigm shifts in the way we work, think about work and formulate it in the future. “