Unhappy at work? Blame the system!

Friday 25 November 2011, 12:45PM

By Greentree International


Business systems and processes are a prime source of workplace discontent, according to a recent survey.
The Insync Surveys and RedBalloon 2011 Dream Employers Survey, which attracted over 7100 responses from the general public in Australia and New Zealand, found that just 45% of those questioned considered themselves satisfied with their job.

When asked what annoyed them most, 41% of those who said they were job-hunting cited better systems and processes as the main reason they were reading the job ads.

So why do businesses end up with computer systems that their staff hate? That’s a tough question to answer, according to Cameron Hallmark, Greentree’s Chief Product Officer and resident business psychologist. However, he thinks at least part of the solution lies in employee involvement.

“People who make the decision on what software to buy are often not the people who use it the most,” he says. “In the forefront of their mind is: these are my current problems – does this software solve my current problems? They don’t often get into the nitty gritty of what it’s like for their staff to enter a transaction, or how hard it is for them.”

Cameron has done many demonstrations for potential Greentree customers, but too often, the people he’s demonstrating to are not the ones who’ll be using the new system every day.

“Satisfaction is not always about the ability of the software,” he says. “Sometimes it’s just about how the user interacts with the software, and how easy it is for them to do things.”

Implementation, therefore, needs to be thought out with more than just the cost and the processes in mind. Management needs to think about how their business works. Good business software should be readily adaptable to the needs of the particular customer, rather than just turned on once it’s taken out of the box.

“If people put the time in, and think about all the users, they’ll get a better result,” Cameron says.

Greentree makes a point of monitoring customer response once a system has been implemented. In a customer survey we conducted in 2009, the majority of businesses questioned said their staff were satisfied and produced more with Greentree, and that they were able to service their customers better.

Our partners approach customers wanting to know what their pain points are. It’s not about selling a product; it’s about giving them a solution that fits their needs. However, in order to do that, the partner needs good customer input.

“Just sitting down and talking about processes improves them before you even get on to implementation,” Cameron says.

So if you’re shopping for a new computer system, take the time to work out just what you want it to do. Appoint a project manager whose brief includes communicating with everyone who’s going to be using the system. Cameron says this often reveals flaws in a company’s processes that have nothing to do with computing.

Making staff feel involved will improve the introduction and training process – and hopefully keep them happy in their work.

Read the Full Dream Employers report here.