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Worker Productivity Questioned

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A woman named Amanda Hite had made a routine visit to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. While waiting in line, she noticed an employee playing computer solitaire—and managed to snap a picture with her cellphone camera.

Amanda Hite posted a comment on Twitter, along with this grainy photograph:

This evidence might be connected to any number of explanations. Perhaps a BMV worker was on a break and taking a few minutes to relax, or the screen was left on from a previous shift. However, Ms. Hite probably took the photograph out of frustration. Most people already perceive government offices as fairly inefficient. Many would argue that the image shows our tax dollars are wasted on video games. Does one fuzzy photograph really prove incompetence and laziness at the BMV?

We all know that one quick picture from a cellphone camera is not enough to make sweeping generalizations. Maybe one employee did goof off for a few minutes and just happened to be caught. But this story should remind everyone who works in business, government or non-profits that customers are stakeholders too. The BMV may not have much competition for renewing drivers licenses, but what if Amanda Hite had snapped the same picture while in a long line at the bank? If someone appears to be unproductive, others will assume they are not actually getting anything done. It may be a bad idea to try and look busy, but looking bored is often even worse.

At AccelaWork, we help organizations improve stakeholder satisfaction and productivity by looking  beyond employees to include customers. We investigate beyond appearances to discover which processes work effectively and efficiently. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should ban computer solitaire. Instead, organizations must carefully assess how stakeholders perceive the actions of others.  For more information, contact our business consultants. We help operations increase both the perception and reality of productivity.

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