Keeping Productivity High

Tuesday, August 9, 2011, 10:47 AM


Last month I read an article about some city hall workers in Dallas Texas. Among other information this article revealed that many of the workers had spent as much as 68 hours on over a 3 month period. Personally, I don't find this number shocking at all, there are many other studies showing that many employees spend as much as 1.5-2 hours a day using the Internet for personal use.

What I do find shocking the lack of "action" on the part of employers to curb or limit this kind of time wasting. I do not own my own business but if I were a business owner and found that my employees were wasting 20-25% of their day on "personal" Internet use, I would want to do something about it.

This brings up the long standing debate of "should we just block it?" and "is checking your personal email really that bad of a thing?"

Let me tell you about an organization that had this same issue. For the sake of anonymity I will call them "Company X".

Company X had employees wasting time online, some spent most of their day playing fantasy football, others spent enormous amounts of time updating their profiles, while some engaged in long IM conversations with friends about non-work related topics.

After a debate about what "can we block it?" and "should be block it?" company X decided to implement a Content Filtering solution but just set the solution to monitor, instead of  block or limit access to certain content.

After implementing the new solution the CEO called a company meeting to show the employees the new solution and advise them that their managers could "potentially see what they do online".  The CEO shows a few sample reports of what could be seen and then advised that the solution was implemented to help limit company liability if there was an "event".

After the meeting the productivity of employees at company X increased by 35%, and employees started doing better quality work. It turns out that the productivity increase came from employees exercising self control, based on "my manager might know what I am doing". It also was revealed that some employees would rush through the job to get "free time" to surf the web, chat online, or update their social media profile.

The managers in company X never had to pull any reports, and never even logged in to see the data. The mere fact that it "could" be seen was enough to help employees get back on task.

I can't say I agree with this method of management entirely, but when you think about the money saved with better productivity, it is hard to argue with its effectiveness.