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Waking up to why workers can’t get no IT satisfaction

Satisfaction with IT – that one factor alone – presented a 38 per cent variance in the level of job satisfaction.

This is because success at work is probably dependent on the consistent performance of the IT infrastructure. Through no fault of their own, employees can suddenly find their productivity deteriorating or quality control non-existent and there’s little they do about it other than assert once again that, yes, they have tried turning the damn thing off and on again to see if that would fix the problem.

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More than 200 participants from a diverse range of job levels and industries took part in the study, all of whom had a job reliant on IT support, both human and non-human.

The findings revealed satisfaction with IT – that one factor alone – presented a 38 per cent variance in the level of job satisfaction. While it is also true (and obvious) that the characteristics of a particular job have an even greater influence, there’s no denying the severe and significant effect a clumsy IT framework has.

“The experience of using IT, which penetrates almost all fabrics of the entire work domain, becomes a crucial part of employees’ overall work experience,” explain the researchers. When IT is operating as it should, employee self-confidence swells. Their job satisfaction, too, can surge when well-functioning machines relieve them of dull tasks or repetitive processes.

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And if there’s one thing that triggers widespread employee consternation and cynicism, it’s an IT transformation project gone wrong, one where swollen expectations have been popped and a long list of promised efficiencies have reversed. Not just halted but reversed.

That’s commonly referred to as a “downstream consequence of technology use”, which is to say business leaders often implement IT initiatives with little consideration of how those changes will impact the end user.

Which is why the professors urge managers to appreciate just how influential the IT user experience can be on their employees’ job satisfaction and to therefore exert substantial effort to eliminate substandard IT performance “such as programming errors, poor documentation and application crashes.

Adequate and timely IT support should also be available to enable users to cope with technological issues at work. More importantly, IT practitioners need to understand the psychological experiences employees have when they use IT.”

In sum, when businesses set up their IT infrastructure so that it’s designed to fit the work, rather than adjusting the work to fit in with IT’s limitations, employees end up believing: “the company values their work experience and engages in investing in IT to support their work. Such a belief among employees can turn into a positive attribution related to the company … and enhance positive evaluations of their job.”

The alternative is known as technostress, which is honestly something no one wants, though in many workplaces – perhaps most – it has already arrived.

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