Canadian HR Reporter

August 11, 2014

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 1 of 15

Canadian HR RepoRteR august 11, 2014 2 NEwS Recent stories posted on Check the website daily for quick news hits from across Canada and around the world. web O n t h e Melbourne and author of the study Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing (WILB). "Concentration levels begin to wane fairly quickly when con- centrating after about an hour or so. But not all breaks restore con- centration to the same extent," he said. "For example, a walk in the forest will refresh concentration much faster and to a greater ex- tent than simply sitting in a lunch- room. My data shows evidence that WILB is an enjoyable activ- ity, which enables efficient resto- ration of concentration." Employers and managers may need to redefine their percep- tion of what is an acceptable use of break time throughout the day, said Connie Stamper, regional vice-president, management re- sources at Robert Half in Toronto. "If you look over the gen- erations, going for a cup of cof- fee, standing around the water cooler… some people go out for cigarettes, and all of those things become kind of embedded in our (perception) that it's OK to do that once in a while," she said. "I'm wondering if, as soon as you walk by somebody who is on the computer but not on office work, if there is a stigma attached to that. So is it at a place where it's part of the respectability of taking a break from our regular day, just to refocus and re-energize, or is it still something that's identified as a time-waster, and maybe even a time-stealer from our employers?" Removing stigma around In- ternet browsing on breaks could help improve employee motiva- tion and performance, said Coker. "Overwhelmingly, manage- ment research suggests that workers who feel they have a de- gree of freedom in the workplace perform better than those who feel they are stifled and not in control," he said. "Health benefits are also evi- dent: ose who feel they are not in control at work have a higher chance of heart attack. e Inter- net is now so firmly ingrained in our lives that if you block or re- strict access to it, it makes us feel like we are not in control. e result is less motivation and less loyalty to an employer." Of course, there are some tasks where you do need to stay focused for long periods, and Internet breaks just may not make sense, said Andrea Plotnick, national di- rector of organizational effective- ness at Hay Group in Toronto. "If you're adding long lists of numbers, to take a break in the middle of adding your long list of numbers probably isn't going to be very productive. Or if you're editing a document where you've really got to get through the flow of the document and stay im- mersed in it, taking a break prob- ably won't be as effective. But, as a general rule… it makes sense," she said. "Some of it is job-dependant but I do think it represents a dif- ferent philosophy in really need- ing to think through: What are you holding people accountable for during the day? Are you man- aging their tasks and closely su- pervising them, or are you holding them accountable for outcomes?" This may require a shift in management philosophy around whether employees should be heavily supervised or trusted to complete their tasks without su- pervision, said Plotnick "Are people going to totally abuse the system, and we need to control them? Or is there some trust involved here, and if you set challenging goals for people, you hold them accountable for what they need to do at the end of the day, then you trust that they're go- ing to get it done and not have to zero in on the minutiae of what they're doing throughout the day." A lot of the negative attitudes about browsing on worktime centre around perception, said Stamper — especially perceptions by management. "(We did) a study not that long ago asking CFOs... 'What are the greatest time-wasters at work for employees?' And non- business-related Internet use was ranked as the second-greatest time-waster, at 25 per cent," she said. "How much of it is related to perception?" ese perceptions can target millennial employees in particu- lar, said Stamper. However, the study found that younger workers seem to particularly benefit from periodic Internet breaks. "The need for more instant gratification, and the reduced attention span, does impact the millennials more... they're used to taking more of those breaks," said Plotnick. Managers of millennials should bear that in mind, said Stamper, perhaps changing their approach from trying to forbid Internet browsing to simply trying to help employees manage their time. "Most folks who manage millennials will scratch their heads a little bit about how to manage them, how to set expec- tations, so perhaps this is a good indicator for managers of millen- nials if they're always harping on, 'Get off Facebook, get off Pinter- est…' Maybe that isn't something we need to be harping on as much as, 'How much time are you on that?'" she said. It's important to note that it's not only millennials who enjoy browsing and social media breaks — in fact, it likely depends more on the individual than the genera- tional cohort, said Coker. "It depends on whether the person enjoys Facebook or gains enjoyment and has a social inter- action or not. is suggests it is the attitude — not the age — that matters," he said. e major implication the study puts forth for managers is that periodic, reasonable Internet use on worktime should not be treat- ed as "cyberloafing" and seen as an offence to be punished, wrote Coker in the study. "Obviously, employees who spend all their time on social me- dia sites are not going to be very productive," he said. "But if social media is an option during normal periods of mini break activity — such as taking place of chatting at the water cooler, cigarette break, making a coffee, et cetera — then employers could accept it. Rather than simply blocking social web- sites, many employers are now monitoring its usage to ensure it doesn't eat into too much produc- tivity time." Some companies have already shifted from locking down social media sites to simply monitor- ing them for excessive use, said Stamper. "Certain companies will clock how much time the average em- ployee uses company resources for non-company-related items, and then highlight the outliers. And then that goes to managers to take care of," she said. But, ultimately, it's the atti- tude that needs to change, said Plotnick. "ere needs to be a little bit of trust around how people are go- ing to use (the Internet), especially since the boundaries between work and home are so blurred now. When people go home, if the expectation is they're check- ing their emails and they're doing work-related things at home, then I think the reverse needs to hold as well." Still stigma around browsing on breaks CYBERLOAFING < pg. 1 ACROSS CANADA Franchise owners launch constitutional challenge against TFWP LMos can be suspended 'based on ever-changing public policy considerations,' says law firm Police, fire and ambulance personnel face high PTSD rates, seek new aid Provincial workers' compensation laws changing Calgary pilot project tries to find IT jobs for people with autism only 20 per cent of those with autism are currently employed AROUND ThE wORLD Fewer U.S. layoffs mean job security at strongest point in more than 8 years hopes rising that pay increases will accelerate China meat supplier faced claims last year over unethical work practices Worker claimed he was forced to do 'unethical work,' exposed to dangerous chemicals Hundreds of postal workers protest at Chicago Staples over outsourcing Say 'mini' post offices result in fewer jobs, work hours Employee engagement and the bottom line our expert panel talks about the relationship between employee engagement, customer service, and sales Featured Video

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Canadian HR Reporter - August 11, 2014