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Productive workforce starts with letting people do their jobs


Just what are people thinking when they make such requests? Sure, in a true emergency, it is all hands to the wheel, but a bit of snow falling in a country where it is commonplace is to be expected and should be in any competent plan of management. There are those who are skilled, and indeed insured, to use shovels. While I have the utmost respect for the teaching profession, I must confess that there are likely to be only a small sub-set that I would trust with a shovel.

Duty creep is a real problem, and is emblematic of poor or even bullying management. There is only so far one can push the flexibility philosophy before you enter the realms of people being asked or even required to do things for which they are not adequately trained, physically suited to, or even remunerated. I am not getting nostalgic about 1970s demarcation disputes, but if you want a fast-track to an expensive work-injury claim, or to create a demotivated and disengaged workforce, then demanding people to take on job irrelevant tasks is a proven winner.

The most obvious explanation for this behaviour is a concern to save money, by getting people to do the work of two or more others. However, sometimes it is not about money, but simply a failure to think beyond the immediate problem, and specifically an inability to see things from the perspective of other staff members.

If you want a job done well, employ the right people for the right jobs, and think twice about the nature of the job if it involves shovels and toilet paper.

Jim Bright, FAPS, is Professor of Career Education and Development at ACU and owns Bright and Associates, a career management consultancy. Email him at or follow him on Twitter @DrJimBright

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