Perception vs. Reality - Employee Productivity Myths Part 1

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What is the divide between how we think we and others around us perform, and the reality of what we truly accomplish? In a webinar held on February 19, Debunking Employee Productivity Myths, Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino explained the science behind how we perceive ourselves, and the impact that can have on our decision-making process.

She addressed the four top biases for which the human brain is wired. With the help of Verint’s Craig Seebach, vice president, back-office workforce optimization, she presented some ways we can close the divide between perception and reality with system-generated activity data and performance metrics.

In this first blog, we will address the first two biases: A bias for action and a bias for completion. In the second blog we will address the next two biases: an outcome bias and a “self-inflated” bias.

Bias for Action

When confronted with a problem or a challenge, we are compelled to take action, whether it is the right action or not. Professor Gino shared the results of a study where a leading company in the business process outsourcing industry was able to improve employee performance by 23 percent, by allowing employees 15 minutes per day to reflect on the work done, rather than continuing to work through those 15 minutes.

Craig shared the story of a national insurer who implemented Verint’s Productivity Visualizer™ solution. The insurer was able to increase time-in-production by 17 percent and process 40,000 more items annually by providing employees with 1) the time to reflect on their performance, and 2) the data-driven metrics in a role-specific scorecard that highlighted how they actually spent time vs. their perception of how they spent time.

Bias for Completion

We are programmed with a desire to complete things. The simple act of being able to check off items as completed can increase employee performance. In a study conducted as part of Professor Gino’s research, she compared two groups. One checked off items as they were completed, and one simply continued on to the next task. Employees who were able to check items completed were 30 percent more productive AND experienced greater task enjoyment. On the flip side, this desire to check things off as complete interferes with our ability to make sound decisions about what should be done first/next. According to Professor Gino, “We often choose urgent work over important work as a result of our desire to get things done and check things off our to-do list.”

Craig shared the story of a global P&C insurer who implemented Verint Work Allocation Manager, a solution that delivers a prioritized list of work items to the employee desktop based on skills, availability and service deadlines. The solution helps:

  • Ensure the most important work is done first
  • Reduce lag time between work items, as employees aren’t searching for the next piece of work
  • Enable employees to check off work when completed.

In the next blog, you’ll learn how context is crucial to understanding true value, our ability to identify will vs. skill issues, and how multi-tasking is not as beneficial as we might think. Click here to listen to the webinar on-demand.

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