June 18, 2024

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Digitally first class

Technology introduction in a given field should go with its enabling factors

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Issues connected with the introduction of a certain technology in a Rwandan company have inspired me to write this article. I’ve learnt that the company’s employees are complaining that this technology has become an extremely heavy burden and job insecurity source for them, instead of being a solution. A new study in 2020 indicates that only 17% of employees give their companies an exceptional rating for employee experience. It means that 83% rated their employer companies poorly. Only 17% said they were enjoying exceptional employee experience. One of the factors for this poor score is the use of inappropriate technology.

The study writes “They [HR employees] say they’d rather go to the dentist, do the dishes, wait on hold or sit in traffic than complete HR tasks like submitting and approving PTO requests, reading HR benefits or compiling and submitting expense reports.

The time employees waste on completing HR-related tasks adds up to a whopping 40 million hours waste each month and about 8.15 billion $ in lost productivity across large companies in the U.S and the United Kingdom.” The research explains that nearly 60% say their HR tools are disjointed, difficult, outdated, and glitch or provide a poor user experience. It adds that only 8% of HR professionals are able to obtain the right data and insights from their tools to take smart decisions. “37% find approving or submitting PTO requests more annoying than doing the dishes.” According to the website, prnewswire.com, the study was published by Topia. It is an HR tech company specializing and leading in Global Talent Mobility.

Normally, technology is expected to assist employees in implementing their work better and faster. Most of the tools you view on the above photo are designed to facilitate the work of people using them. The tools constitute a technology of which they avail themselves to quicken their work more easily. For this reason, employees particularly in the developed world generally ask their employers to provide them with up-to-date technology. It’s usually its absence that becomes and should become a very heavy burden for employees. So, it’s weird to hear that the introduction of a technology has constituted an insurmountable burden. Yet, that’s the reality in some places and companies.

In fact, the lack of convenient technology is the same as the introduction of a certain technology but which isn’t accompanied by enabling factors. The story of the employees in the Rwandan company is going to help us comprehend the issue. I’ve recently talked with one of the company’s employees. But I won’t name the employee and I won’t identify the company either, as I won’t reveal its type.“They’ve brought us a digital method of serving the company’s customers but it is frustrating and worrying us intensely. For example, before, I used to serve 60 to 80 customers a day, but now with the technology I can’t serve more than 20,” says the employee.

We are anxious that we will end up losing our jobs because we’re not really delivering, since based on performance evaluation, our supervisors score us as non-performing and the poor performance is self-evident, though they know the problem. Yet, it’s not we that are the reason for the poor performance.

The employee explains that the company has introduced the technology but that it has not improved internet connection. “The internet is almost always off; we can’t work properly. However, the digital system requires us to rely on the internet.”

Alliance for Affordable Internet[A4AI (https://a4ai.org)] is an institution bringing together businesses, governments, and civil society actors from across the globe. It does so for those to deliver policies needed to reduce the cost to connect and make universal, affordable internet access a reality for all. A4AI states that broadband policy can help economies grow and address societal issues. But it highlights that the policy needs high-level commitment to expand connectivity and build wide foundations for a digital economy that has room for growth.

What A4AI says stands at the macro-level. However, in this article we are dealing with a micro-level which applies to an organizations or some organizations. Specifically, we are addressing the issue of the company already mentioned. Nonetheless, A4AI indicates that an organization adopting digital systems to expedite its operations has a price to pay. The price involves high-level engagement to expand connectivity, among other things. It signifies that as company embracing a digital technology, you need to enhance internet connection. If you don’t do so, it’s better to leave the technology out until you’re prepared to expand the connectivity.

Align Group Asia (AGA), www.aligngroup.asia,is a people consulting firm. It partners with business enterprises in the implementation of effective people solutions. Its goal is to help companies create sustainable productivity, strong alignment and to bring the best out of people. It says the next step, after hiring the right people into your company, is to drive these employees to excel in their capabilities. You do so by providing adequate resources with the help of your human resource department, according to AGA. It points out that resources do not necessarily need to be a physical one like a laptop or stationery. “Basically, anything that helps an employee get the job done in the quickest possible way, is a resource.

Let’s take a little time to reflect upon this point of ‘adequate resources.’ AGA recommends you to assure that your employees are lacking no resources, if you intend for them to outshine in their work in the fastest possible manner. Yet, AGA’s suggestion goes beyond not lacking resources. It instead underscores the sufficiency of the resources. It can be right that your employees possess resources but which are insufficient.

In the case of insufficient resources, don’t actually expect your employees to perform excellently. The foremost thing for their excellent work execution is to provide them with enough/satisfactory resources. Otherwise, they won’t perform. Consequently, you won’t be able to outcompete your stiff rivals.

Back to the company, can we say it’s giving its employees enough resources? The answer is no. It’s not supplying them with enough internet connection. Nevertheless, the latter one is the lifeblood for their work to be easily and rapidly done.

There are employees who are worried that they will lose their job. This is unfortunately unfair. It’s not the employees that are obliged to provide the company with the resource. It’s the owner who bears that responsibility. Even the supervisors should not penalize the employees, giving them a poor score them for defaults they’ve not perpetrated. The management should instead present the issue to the owner as the most pressing one.

Such penalization is illegal. It can be punishable by law, if an employee manages to prove that you’ve given them the poor score which is the reason for their dismissal. You can’t punish anyone for a default they’ve not committed. A poor score to an employee who has failed to deliver enough is a kind of punishment. It is a basis for them to be fired. The poor score while the true reason is inadequate resources is an unjustified punishment. Employees are usually evaluated and scored, for them to be motivated. A poor score not only represents the basis for dismissal, but also stimulates those who are found non-performing to work harder. Of course, those who are scored excellent are also inspired to work even much harder. The excellent score operates both as a reward/recognition and impetus to work a lot harder.

Let’s ask ourselves a question here: how will the employee penalized work harder, while the fault isn’t really theirs?’ It’s self-evident that they won’t, since they are not the reason for the non-performance. The employees will instead work hard to seek other jobs, if they are weary of such frustrations. It’s underlined by AGA. “The last thing you want to happen in the company is to hurt your staff retention rates with your top talents leaving you simply because they cannot work fast enough for you!

You need to note that those frustrations can impel some of your employees to establish their own businesses. However, employee retention especially talents is paramount. Beware that there are those who can sue you in a relevant court, if you exclude them from work for faults they’ve not committed. Yet, they have to prove it. If they document conversations/ correspondences/ communication you hold about it, you can lose the case. Yet, I don’t advise anyone to take this path of courts. I instead recommend people to be professional in their positions. A professional business owner or leader won’t punish their employees for issues they’re not responsible for.

Another important issue to note is that when you don’t provide adequate resources, it causes you huge losses. Back to the case of the company, an employee could serve 60-80 customers a day. But they now serve around 20 ones. Is this generating profit? Conduct your own analysis, you’ll find the response is no. The company even risks losing its customers.

To conclude, we have used the Rwandan company to serve as an example that any system introduced in the company must be immediately accompanied by other systems which will enable it to function. A company can adopt any new working approach. This is even the reality in today’s world of great and unexpected issues which compel us to effect certain changes. Yet, if there are any problems identified, no one should be penalized while they’re not really responsible for those problems. We strongly recommend the use of technology since it actually accelerates work and facilitates employees’ tasks. But again, introduce it with all its enabling factors.

By Jean Baptiste Ndabananiye

Experienced Journalist with a demonstrated history of working in the broadcast media industry and peace-building. Skilled in English and French, M&E, Media Production, Peace-building, Leadership, Marketing, Advocacy, and Kinyarwanda- English-French Translation. Strong media and communication professional with a Bachelor’s and Master’s focused in Journalism& Communication and MBA-Project Management respectively from University of Rwanda and Mount Kenya University.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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