Is unnecessary administrative work costing trucking big bucks?

Oct. 24, 2016
Study says unnecessary admin work costs U.S. $687 billion

Here’s an unpleasant thought: all the workplace technology that’s been deployed in recent years by the U.S. business community to make administrative work easier and more efficient is doing basically diddly squat.

In fact, if a new global study from The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated and Coleman Parkes Research is correct, U.S. businesses waste $687 billion per year on unnecessary administrative work, significantly more than any other country.

That equates to an estimated cost of $4,554 per employee per organization on “burdensome tasks” that are not directly related to employees’ core job roles this study, entitled The $687 Billion Question, determined.

How much of that $687 billion is coming out of trucking’s pocket? I shudder to think about it.

“It’s clear that a small thing, such as a single hour wasted, can make a huge difference when multiplied across hundreds or thousands of employees,” noted Joyce Maroney, director of the Workforce Institute at Kronos, in the report.

“At the same time, this research shows that the average day is also becoming increasingly complicated for employees, with a large proportion of time being spent managing complexity instead of adding value,” she said.

“This is not how employees want to spend their days. As a society, we’ve reached an important junction where workforce demographics, working patterns, and employee expectations are changing,” Maroney added. “Treating people as an asset rather than a commodity is essential to achieving true workforce engagement, which will only further support efforts to attract and retain top talent.”

This study also found that the U.S. workforce is “hindered” by complexity, low productivity, and poor-performing technology.

Here are a few of its findings that explain why:

  • By reducing the burden of admin work by one hour per week, U.S. organizations would save $1,518 per employee, for a total of $229 billion annually.
  • According to the study, respondents average 3.1 hours per week on administrative tasks unrelated to their core job roles.
  • Just 15% of all respondents say employee productivity is very strong within their organization.
  • Manual processes are burdensome, with 78% of respondents citing this as a cause of lost productivity.
  • Nearly three-quarters (72%) of operations/line of business managers report that outdated systems/technology are the biggest workforce management challenge.
  • Up-to-date technology would improve employee engagement, according to 72% of all respondents.
  • Only 12% of all respondents surveyed rate employee engagement as very strong within their organization.
  • Communication continues to be a barrier, as nearly three out of every four respondents (73%) said better communication with management will help them feel more engaged.
  • Some organizations may feel as though there is a leadership void, as nearly three out of five respondents (59%) believe that the CEO is focused on finances rather than employees.
  • Only 31% of human resource (HR) professionals surveyed rated their people among the top three assets of their organization, despite national discussion about the importance of employee engagement.
  • Some 65% percent of respondents find it difficult to complete all of their tasks in a typical work day (which mirrors a 2016 Workforce Institute survey on overtime.) In fact, 48% of operations/line of business managers, 47% of HR professionals, and 38% of employees say their working life is too complicated.
  • Management demands, internal politics, unrealistic workloads, lack of staff availability, plus poor technology support create a “perfect storm” of complexity that detracts from providing high levels of customer service, according to respondents.
  • Respondents believe reducing administration and paperwork, providing the right technology to automate tasks, and improving structure/support within and among departments would allow them to more time to think and plan, address high priority tasks, and focus on customers.

Here’s another tidbit from this survey that trucking should pay close attention to: Monetary rewards are no longer the sole motivator for employees, noted Ian Parkes, director of Coleman Parkes Research, which is why organizations should focus on communication, collaboration, and culture to keep employees engaged.

“Employees need to feel valued to go the extra mile and provide discretionary input, and managers must lead by example to create a culture of communication and collaboration,” he said in the report. “However, this just isn’t possible in many organizations as both employees and managers are faced with increasingly complicated workdays.”

Parkes added that, when it comes to reasons to leave their job, compensation is seventh on the list, with respondents stating they are more likely to resign due to lack of direction, lack of focus, not seeing their future role in the company, not feeling valued, not feeling understood, and not getting along with their manager.

[Note this, though: 58% of the workers polled in this study admitted that rewards and incentives would likely increase productivity.]

Parkes also stressed that while technology remains “essential,” but if it is outdated, poorly implemented, or lacks a purpose, it will only add to the complexity. Instead, organizations should focus on technology investments that help everyone focus on, and streamline their core job duties and add value to the company – and that includes managers, too.

“By reducing the unnecessary administrative burden that managers are also facing, managers will be able to dedicate more time to communicating the organization’s vision, collaborating more closely with team members, and fostering a high-performing work environment,” Parkes pointed out.

And if it helps trucking win back some of that $687 billion pie to its bottom line, all the better.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr 1 | Senior Editor

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