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Are Your Employees Craving Technology More Than Cigarettes, Alcohol And Sex?


3/19/2012
By Mandy Aguilar

 
Mandy Aguilar
A recent study just released by the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago presents some very revealing results in terms of how employees regulate, or more to the point, try to regulate, their desires in their daily lives. The study’s subjects wore devices that recorded incidents of desires during daily routines. Although it is widely assumed that tobacco and alcohol are considered addictive, desires associated with them were the weakest, according to the study. Not surprisingly, desires for sleep and sex were the strongest, while desires for media and work proved the hardest to resist; specifically frequently checking your work email ranked high in the hard-to-resist group.

Do you check your work email often or do you limit yourself to checking it only during working hours? Or, do you also check it on the weekends, on holidays and on vacation? In my case, Your Honor — I’m guilty as charged. Somehow I feel it’s expected of me and worst of all, I’m actually happy to do it.

As an executive, it’s probably already expected of the position itself; even more so is expected of someone who is in sales, like I am. What I do find interesting is that more and more, several of our employees who are in a customer support position, perhaps in our warehouses or on the counter, have also taken up the habit of checking email regularly, even after working hours and on weekends too. Oftentimes I wonder about this and believe that the increased availability of email on our smartphones has created a workforce that is available and willing to communicate within the company and with customers and vendors even when they leave our warehouses and stores. We never mandated that these employees had to answer their emails after hours, but guess what? More and more they are doing it voluntarily. Maybe the desire for checking email does run deep among us, like the study reveals.

Study or not, I see this from our day-to-day interaction with our team members: they crave technology. They want everything they can get to make them better, quicker and cooler at their jobs, from GPS mapping, to tablets and handheld scanners and more so smartphones. They also want better and faster apps, programs and websites. They are swift to hit the “Like” button on Facebook and twice as quick they’ll unlike you just as well if you fall short of their expectations. And these are not just the oft-touted tech-savvy Millennials who have recently joined our employment ranks, I see this craving for all things tech across all generational groups within our company.

Unbeknownst to me, I also got to do a little sociology field study on subject recently right at our home lab, uh... I mean home office. We are a fairly large company with and even larger geographical footprint. It’s very hard to get all of our team members under one roof as we are spread throughout a couple of states and the Caribbean. But earlier this year we did precisely that and gathered more than 150 of our salespeople and customer service reps at our headquarters in Jacksonville, Fla. A big part of the event was a vendor expo with more than 70 booths. We asked everyone to visit every booth, but the length of time and level of engagement each employee gave to a vendor was entirely up to them.

Booths that showcased technology, connected visitors to websites, let them play with mobile apps, showed You Tube Videos and raffled iPods and iPads got the most interest. You don’t need a sociology degree to figure out the Pavlovian response to a free iPad, but interestingly enough that was not the only motivator.
Three vendors in particular did a great job of engaging our participants:

ACDelco
These folks probably took the prize at the expo in terms of engagement level at their booth. They had a whole team of reps tightly packed inside the booth, each with their own connected laptop as they register each and every one of the booth visitors in their e-learning Web training classes. Our employees were happy to wait their turn at the booth to get registered and have access to a vast library of knowledge that will help them do a better job for our customers. Gotta love it!

WHI Solutions
These are the folks that were recently acquired by eBay Motors; no doubt the Web’s auction giant saw what so many of us have seen in them for years: These guys know our industry! They have fulfilled several technological needs and have made us a better company for it. At the expo, they actually had a simple booth with one lonely PC on it, but they engaged the entire crowd. Instead of their rep doing the training, our own team members took over the PC and started showcasing each other’s tricks, shortcuts and features they each have learned and implemented back in their stores. The wealth of knowledge shared in a few hours was a thing of beauty; impromptu crowdsourcing at its best.

Schrader

Can you reprogram a TPMS sensor? Yes, now we can. This is fairly new category in the aftermarket and certainly for us. To reprogram TPMS, you need gadgets and these folks have them in spades. I was amazed at how our team members gravitated toward their booth, wanting to learn hands-on how to program a fungible universal TPMS for a KIA, reset it and turn it into a unit for a Suzuki within a “flash!” Super-cool stuff. No doubt the tech appeal on this category will run high for several years to come.
I went back home to Puerto Rico after our gathering in Jacksonville that weekend, knowing more so than ever that we must commit ourselves to the long-term strategies to increase our technological business insightfulness; most of all, we must share that commitment equally across all team members within our companies, our suppliers and our customers. Not sure we can get all of our guys to regulate their desire to smoke, but if a bit of technology gets them engaged for a few minutes longer before their next cigarette break, then we will all be better for it.












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