Mobile devices: Hinder the productivity of employees? | Kelly Services Australia

Mobile devices: Do they help or hinder the productivity of employees?

3 August 2011

Specialist recruitment consultancy Kelly Executive is warning employers to monitor the amount of time spent by employees outside of work hours on their mobile devices to avoid employee burn-out.

There is an enormous appeal for employees to work anywhere, anytime. Mobile devices are removing the process of work from the constraints of an office, which means that employees can work in a way that suits their personal agenda and capabilities. Due to the growing popularity of mobile devices, employees are now able to work away from the office and while this provides greater freedom and flexibility, Australian employees run the risk of working longer hours for no real gain.

The appeal for businesses is that these mobile devices reduce response times, cut costs, improve customer service and can ‘theoretically’ enhance the efficiency and productivity of employees.

While this may be positive for increasing productivity and work-life balance in the short term, Kelly Executive warns of the risk of a long term trend in overworked employees as they are working longer hours and feel obliged to have to log on and stay ‘switched on’ after hours.

Kelly Executive fears that an employee will always be in the work mind frame, which is not the healthiest work-life arrangement. 

Sally Charles, General Manager, Kelly Executive said, “Mobile technology lifts productivity but can lengthen working hours for Australian employees. The biggest concern is the potential of overworked or ‘burnt’ out employees. It is possible that employers may abuse the capability of these mobile devices, even inadvertently.

“Employees may become overwhelmed and overworked by technology. Employees may feel that they are unable to escape work and they may begin feeling powerless about the pace of job goals and tasks. Technology offers greater convenience but can potentially fuel the flames of stress that may cause more mistakes. It is crucial that employers communicate the importance of rest and down time outside of work to avoid these issues.”

Employers need to find a happy medium when addressing this issue and understand how to achieve optimal performance from their staff without overstepping the boundaries. 

Kelly Executive offers employers the following tips to avoid technology abuse: 

  • provide constant feedback and the right environment to nurture enthusiasm  
  • work on providing the most effective tools to increase business skills while at the same time providing leadership that aligns the workers around the companies vision,  with that being – ‘we want you to work hard, but take sufficient breaks and have some down time’  
  • realise that employees can only reach peak performance when they are given the right kinds of tools to succeed. Employers need to better understand worker capabilities and what drives optimal performance  
  • recognise when employees are not working at their optimal level due to blurring of work and personal time. When employers notice a change in working habit, it needs to be addressed immediately. 

Charles said, “Employees also need to take responsibility for managing their time and prioritising to ensure they are able carry out their job role within designated working hours. There is no question that sometimes work requires us to go above and beyond and be available after hours, but this should be the exception and not the rule. 

“Most employers give out mobile devices as a perk and convenience while ensuring adequate client service and accessibility, not with the expectation that employees are always online, which is often misinterpreted. Hence, employees needn’t be afraid to speak up if they feel they are being overworked.” 

About Kelly Executive
Kelly Executive is part of Kelly Services Inc. and focuses on recruiting executive and management professionals in either a full-time, contract or part-time capacity across all industries. Kelly Services, Inc. (NASDAQ:  KELYAKELYB) is a leader in providing workforce solutions. Serving clients around the globe, Kelly provides employment to more than 530,000 employees annually.  Revenue in 2010 was $5 billion.


Media contact: 
Michelle Taylor
Recognition PR
02 9252 2266 

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