There industry to a service sector, technology has

There have been significant changes in the work places because of the
advanced technology has influenced how the world carries out business and has
interconnected countries in carrying out business. This essay will be
highlighting how technology influences job quality through hours worked, the
area of focus throughout this essay will be on the topic of how technology
influences work intensity for individuals and how organisations utilise this
within service sector. The case study will analyse how technology is utilised
by organisations through control, technologic tools and organisational policy. The
case study will be focused on the organisation Hays Recruitment Ltd and has
been created based on strategic reports published by the organisation, articles
on technology within the workforces and published articles regarding work
intensity. As technology is increasingly growing and shaping the world of work,
it is important to understand how this can affect and change employment
practices and employee well-being. As there is evidence that suggests this, the
key issues that will be explored is regarding employees’ welfare such as mental
well-being, work-life balance and job satisfaction.

 

Literature Review:

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Currently, Great Britain and the world has changed significantly because
of the interconnected economy stimulated using technology. Technology has
increasingly been used in businesses changing the way in which individuals
work. Moving from the manufacturing industry to a service sector, technology
has significantly changed the range of jobs available and revolutionised the
labour market creating obsolete jobs (Singh and Finn 2004). Technology has
influenced the production process, creating a more efficient and productive
working environment (Whiteley 2004).

 

Britain amongst other countries is highly renowned for it’s long working
culture environment.

Research of Burchell and Fagan (2004) used the ‘speed of work’ as an
indicator to measure work intensity which revealed Europeans were working more
intensely in 2001. These findings have been later supported by Green (2001) in
his study of concentration of extensive work effort identifying trends in
working hours in the later twentieth century using the average hours of worked.
The study highlighted the increase in the dispersion of hours worked and
working effort had increased by 46% in non-manual workers establishments,
required effort increased by 61.% within the UK.

 

Furthermore, work intensification has created detrimental effects to individuals’
well-being within the workplace. There has been a significant increase in
reports surrounding the concerns of the stress industry known as the ‘British
Disease (Burke and El-Kot 2009). The literature can further highlight the
continuous growth of this industry with little solutions being created to solve
this issue in contrast to other European countries. As working intensity is an
increasingly researched topic, it is important to note there is lack of qualitative
understanding of changing work pressures that can help evaluate social and
national economic performance when referring to the previous literature of
Green (2001), Bruchell and Fagan (2004). Therefore, this can pose further
implications the findings discussed because of the lack qualitative
understanding achieving more indepth and specific analysis in regards to the
quality of data produced to further build on (Bryman and Bell 2016).  

 

How does technology affect work
intensity?

As previously discussed, Technology is a significant
driver of how the labour market has changed and as a result, work intensity is
an implication that is arising alongside this. Literature has highlighted the
ongoing divided debate of the impact of technology on job quality with regards
to work intensity (Rubery and Grimshaw 2001).

 

On one end of the spectrum, research argues
the importance of technology as tools a move from direct intervention on
transformation process to a control role. This implies that technology is a
positive step towards a working environment fostering the up skilling of workers
(Krueger 1993).

 

For example, employees are given more
responsibility and access to individual projects through ‘desktop computing’.
This technological tool has influenced the shape of an individuals’ role by
allowing individuals to take on new tasks and further improving IT skills and
work experience. Also, this tool has encouraged the individuals’ ability to
multi-task and work flexibly (Whiteley 2004). Furthermore, research how technology can shape the way
work is carried out in the workplace in a positive way. These findings provide ‘optimistic’
views of the use of technology positively contributing to the workforce and
labour market. From the employee perspective, equipping their employees with IT
tools to carry out their job more efficiently and heightening productivity
because of individuals’ ability to multi-task.

 

On the other hand, research identifies
‘pessimistic’ views with regards to technology creating efficiency methods as
previous discussed with reinforcement of increasing intensity of work (Whiteley
2004 and Burchell et al 1999). Technical control systems (example of this) adopted by organisations in
interactive service sectors, obtain control systems which can determine the
pace and intensity of work.  Research has further identified that to
obtain a sustainable information value chain through technology, notions of
continuous flexibility and constant communication must be implemented to do so
(Kamarkar 2004).  This can
increase intensification of work and limit the opportunities for employees to
create personal space for themselves (Batt and Moynihan 2002).

 

Subsequently, work intensification can pose emotional strains for the
individuals at work because of a 24-7 connected world through technology. Particularly,
jobs within the service which involve employees using high levels of emotional
effort to complete work tasks. Combining the 24-7 connected world of technology,
with emotional aspect of the job, this can cause detrimental effects to the
organisations. For example, Jobs within the service sector require high levels
of emotional effort needed to cater to customer demands alongside business
demands. Individuals can be left feeling emotionally exhausted because of the
style of their working environment (Brotheridge and Lee 2002). As a result,
organisations may suffer with an increased rate of absenteeism within the work
place known as ‘temporarily withdrawal’ (Schalk and van Rijckevorsel 2007) for
individuals to disconnect from the demand role that technology has heightened.
Absenteeism will negatively affect productivity in the organisation and
increase costs.

 

As identified, there are several advantages
and disadvantages that technology used in the work place can contribute to an
individual’s job quality. However, Zamarian and Maggi 2010 argue that whether
the effect of technology improves working conditions or not, it is organisations
decision to decide what methods of technology should be utilised by employees to
promote best practices. They highlight three main drives of work intensity
‘design, adoption and use of choices’ which is significant to understanding how
technology influences work intensity as this is a product of the organisational
strategy. The stance an organisation obtains alters work processes for
employees, which influence areas of time dimension that affect the individual’s
ability to adequately carry out their work tasks to business standards.

 

Furthermore, there is significant research
that highlights the importance of technology within organisations that has
transformed the type of jobs available and has altered the way individuals
carry out work. For example, technology used within organisations is argued to
transfer the workload to individuals to achieve competitive advantage at the
extent in which costs are lowered for the organisation as this encourages
multi-tasking and a multi-functional workforce (Strassman 1985). Besides the
continuously growing topic of the advantages and implications of the use of
technology in the workplace, there is a lack of research surrounding factors
affecting individuals in the workforce. The effects and implications of the
increased use of technology surrounding psychological affects and the
implication on the individual at work. This idea of how technology effects work
intensity for individuals and the organisation in Hays Recruitment Ltd and
assessing whether this poses more implications than benefits for both the
organisation and employees.

 

Case Study:

Hays plc
is a FTSE 250 organisation operating in over 33 countries which specialises in
recruitment across permanent, temporary and contracting markets. Hays’ business
model incorporates ‘sector business leading technology recruitment tools’ which
enables employees to ‘develop and deliver the best services and products for
clients and candidates meeting their evolving needs’ (Hays 2017).  Hays places themselves in delivering high
quality service through embracing technology which allows them to adopt a high
road strategy. The Hays Report 2017 identifies ‘mega trends and future of the world
of work’ that influences their business model. Firstly, the report highlights
their emphasis for employees to remain flexible to client demands to achieve
customer satisfaction and growth. This is achieved through the emergence of new
and evolving technologies such as 3 story software, cloud based vendor
management and workforce management software. The technological tools discussed
allow recruitment consultants to efficiently process and share information to
increase their competitiveness within the recruitment industry.

Technology controlling work
influencing work intensity.

The
organisational strategy Hays had adopted is a High road strategy which has
adopted the approach in invested and equipped their employees with tools and
resources that enable employees to grow and learn on the job. Hays Ltd have adopted
a High Road Strategy approach by providing technology called ‘OneTouch’ which
is central to their business. This is a database that controls all data of
customers, employee performance to information about clients. The adoption of
this technology by Hays has obtained great influence on the way in which
workers carry their work. The implementation of OneTouch is an example of a
prevailing method for analysing office work from clock in devices, time sheets,
reports on what staff are doing on small time intervals, software determining
how many unsuccessful phone calls have been attempted.

 

Hays
have adopted the use of technology in which workers carry out their work through
broken down into controlled parts where information is standardised through the
OneTouch system being easily accessible and efficient for employees to use. Although,
this does suggest directly negative effects on the individual carrying out
their job, this mirrors the idea of ‘Tayloristic’ practices (Karmarkar 2004; Whiteley
2004) being utilised at Hays.

 

These
‘best practices’ adopted by Hays reinforces management to understand time
consumed in standard office activities (Strassman 1985) and which increases the
control on individuals and pressure to achieve targets at work. This supports
the research of Zamarian and Maggi (2010) that highlights organisations adopt a
strategy to utilise technology and at Hays Ltd can utilise their software to
control and monitor individuals’ work. This can pose long-term effects of
individuals that can influence lack of motivation because of subtle
micromanagement techniques.

 

Technology influencing work life
balance?  

Hays Ltd (2017) highlighted the extreme pressure to cater to the
‘evolving needs’ of customers of the business. Therefore, technological tools
such as emails have been used as a driver to achieve this for businesses within
recruitment. This is evident in an interview conducted by Computer Weekly with
Hays IT service providers on the use of emails within hays. They stated ‘if
consultants can’t access productivity tools like email, they can’t make sales’ (Computer
Weekly 2016), this emphasises the attitude Hays has on email use within the
organisation. The idea that emails are utilised as a key performance indicator
determining and measuring their success in the role and a tool needed to succeed
at their job.

 

In addition, technology
has influenced how organisations structure their working days, the digital
evolution has influenced the concept that employees are available 24-7. Further
research on Hays’ email policy has highlighted ‘the whole point of emails is
that it makes communication easier, so the last thing anyone would set out to
do is reduce that advantage’ (Hays 2017). Research has identified recruitment
consultants have resorted to the use of social media and mobile applications
increasing time spent on their devices (Chang 2015). For
example, ‘WhatsApp’ has benefits of accessible communication through texting
and confirmation of messages received (Hays 2017), yet arguably can take the
‘human touch’ element out of communication. Informal routes of communication
through accessible devices has altered how individuals carry out their job
effectively. As the recruitment industry is based on creating relationships,
creating ‘trust’ of customers and obtaining control of work. This can imply,
that the extent in which this tool of technology is used in recruitment has
posed negative affects towards organisations on outcomes of technology influencing
lack of control individuals hold over their work to achieve business outcomes
disagreeing with the literature of Karmarkar (2004) and Whiteley (2004).

Although, this change can be argued as a more convenient way of carrying
out business, this highlights the use of technology devices as mobile access
does not necessarily increase the efficiency of recruitment processes within
organisations (Taylor 2013). The workload for individuals increases, posing
greater strain on work intensity for the individual. Due to increased pressure to be connected
to work if emails are being used through accessible devices such as smart
phones which agrees with literature from Zamarian and Maggi (2011). Hays’ email
policy suggests the benefit for clients and the business to communicate to
achieve business goals. However, it does not highlight information surrounding
the limitation of email use for the employee. The strategy Hays has adopted
with technology ‘catering to clients evolving demands’, this has created a
culture where employees feel as though they are constantly available for work
and is an ‘unwritten organisational etiquette’ to commit (Clarke-Billings 2016).
Working practices adopted regarding the use of technology at work have blurred
the boundaries between the work and non-work domains (Duxbury and Smart, 2011).
This therefore poses further detrimental and negative effects on employee
well-being and impact areas of motivation, increased work stress which
contributes to excessive job pressures impacting job quality for individuals
and productivity for organisations (Heuvel 2017).

Technology has in this case extended working hours and have posed a
source of work-life imbalance. As technological devices has allowed employees
to work at all times (Jung 2013), this phenomenon affects individuals non-work
activities and pose strain on relationships as people are constantly in working
mode (Adisa et al., 2017), Such devices have blurred the boundaries between the
imbalance of working and personal life and therefore have long-term effects on
individuals performance and wellbeing at work.  This can therefore lead to employees feeling ‘burnt
out’ as a result of such commitments and pressures .

Conclusion

In
conclusion, the exploration and analysis of technology influencing work
intensity from the individuals to the employees perspective. There are key
factors to consider. Technology is constantly evolving and therefore
organisations must proactively have a strategy in place to address implicants
of the known ‘British Disease’ and long hour culture in Britain.

 

The case study has highlighted that although technology in organisations
can be used to an advantage for employees to make work easily accessible, the
same use of technology can monitor and control individuals for profits in
organisations. Secondly, technology has changed the shape of working styles
which will ultimately alter the way in which business carry out business and
must adapt their organisation to do so. Thirdly, to what extent does technology
influence efficiency for employees and whether the impact on using technology
on a 24-7 basis poses more detrimental than positive effects to the
organisation.

Hays operate within the service sector catering to customer demands.
Despite their ‘high road’ strategy towards employees, what is crucial for the
future of the service sector and organisations like Hays is for organisations to
actively understand the implications of the use of technology, how much time is
being spent on technology devices and to create policies in place to benefit the
well-being on being used and individuals as a long-term strategy.

Ultimately, for the UK Labour market to achieve high performance and
business success, it is vital for such policies and best practices on the use
of technology for employees should be implemented in their organisation. There
is further work, success and research to be carried out within this growing
topic, however once issue is clear. To maintain employee wellbeing and engagement,
organisations must take ownership in creating a working environment that allows
employees to escape the 24-7 technology culture to promote a healthy work-life
balance which businesses and European countries can and have evidently
benefited from.