Are workers' hours being put to good use?

Automation can combat wasted time spent on data entry, says expert

Are workers' hours being put to good use?

There is an urgent need for employers to automate some routine tasks in the workplace, judging by the results of a recent report.

More than three-quarters (76 per cent) of workers say they spend up to three hours per day on data entry tasks.

This leads to many (81 per cent) spending less than three hours a day on creative work and 76 per cent spending less than three hours a week on strategic work, while 18 per cent spend less than an hour a day on their core job functions, according to a report from Zapier.

And many are struggling because of this, says Carly Mouton, manager of communications at Zapier, in an interview with Canadian HR Reporter.

“A lot of us don’t realize how much time we spend in our day-to-day work just moving data from one place to another. So, I think what a lot of times happens is that people aren’t focusing on their main task at work because they are focusing on this more tedious, busy work. And they’re not really finding fulfillment or joy in their job when they’re focusing on that type of work,” she says.

On top of that, this scenario opens a lot of possibilities for human error, which can be costly for the business.

“When we think about something like data entry, it’s a lot of work, it’s tedious, it can be very boring. So we’re really not paying much attention to it when we’re doing it, which results in typos and mistakes,” says Moulton.

Carly Mouton

“What happens is when a lot of your work is focused on that data entry, human error does come into play… and you’re spending more time on those documents, on that data trying to correct those mistakes.”

“If you’re not spending that time on your main task, it affects a whole bunch of different things. It can affect employees to the point that they feel burnt out.”

And burnout (38 per cent) is the top barrier to productivity, ahead of time management (35 per cent), multitasking (31 per cent) and repetitive work (30 per cent), according to Zapier’s survey of 1,000 U.S. workers.

More than two-thirds (67 per cent) of U.S. office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again, according to a separate report released in May.

Automation and guidance

How can employers address this? Automation is the answer, says Moulton.

“To overcome that, you have to equip workers with the right tools that allow them to focus on the job that they’re hired to do. That’s things like creative work, strategic thinking, things that you can never automate or get in a computer. Whereas something tedious, like data entry or just moving data, if you have tools that would automate that, that would really free up the time of your workers.”

Developing good workflows can increase productivity, efficiency and motivation within an organization, according to another expert.

Also, managers have a role in helping workers who are struggling with time management, says Moulton.

“For a manager, it’s really important to sit down with employees and say ‘What are you working on? Let’s look at these different tasks and see what you can delegate? What should you be spending your time on? What’s the highest priority work that will actually have an impact on the business?’” she says.

“The business benefits from that. So you’ve got happier employees, more productive workers, workers who are contributing to the business in a meaningful way. So it has this cyclical effect that once you have people focused on these high-priority, high-ticket items, it definitely impacts the business in a positive way.”

Messaging apps

Also, 90 per cent of workers spend five hours each day checking their messaging apps, according to Zapier. Despite the time spent on this activity, this may not be bad, says Moulton.

“A lot of people who are now using it are not in the office, it’s kind of become the supplement for the office. So you chat with colleagues on it, you do a lot of work on these apps, you use it to have off-beat conversations that don’t have anything to do with work and build relationships with colleagues,” she says.

“It really helps with isolation and collaboration between teammates, because you are getting to know people and talking about your shared interests. It allows you to replicate the watercooler talks that might happen more naturally in an office setting.”

Six in 10 (60 per cent) are lonely many times during the week while 46 per cent say they feel lonely every day, finds a survey from the GenWell Project and the University of Victoria.

Latest stories