Depressed Warehouse Worker

Tech’s Effect on Warehouse Morale and How to Fix it

It has become appallingly obvious that our technology
has exceeded our humanity.

The quote comes from Albert Einstein.  Is his point that technology is a force against humankind valid? I’m not sure I see it, and I don’t think it’s appallingly obvious. But it is hard to argue against the role tech has in reducing the quality of interpersonal interactions these days, and the workplace is just another example of this.

While certain advancements have resulted in greater productivity and organizational effectiveness, they have also reduced the need to communicate effectively. In warehouse and factory settings in particular, technology has often served to create separation between people, leading to the dehumanization of workers.

Machines are constantly pushing human productivity and encouraging employees to be ever faster and more efficient. Digital time-tracking and payroll systems have made the life of HR departments easier, while reducing workers to identification numbers. Self-service platforms and online annual reviews have removed the need for interaction with management and human resources personnel altogether- except in cases of disciplinary action or termination. It’s no wonder the notion of meeting with HR can often dreaded by the workers on the shop floor.

In a 2015 NIH review, Kalina Kristof describes how this kind of dehumanization can have a terrible impact on employee morale. In its extreme form, employees are likened to objects and are viewed as lacking warmth or emotions; this is frequently seen in interpersonal interactions within organizational settings that are driven by technology. Another study shows that dehumanization can result in workplace bullying, harassment, and social rejection, reducing employee engagement and organizational effectiveness.

This technology-aided lowpoint of employee engagement in warehouse environments has intersected perfectly with an increased demand for workers in transportation and logistics roles.  According to a recent study by Richard Hamilton of Cushman & Wakefield’s 3PL Advisory Group, 73,000 new jobs have been created in the industry since January 1, 2018. High demand and low engagement are a perfect storm for warehouses, distribution centers, and factories to see annual attrition rates of up to 300% in some cases.

I’m not suggesting that technology should be removed from these workplaces in order to make workers engaged again. However, wouldn’t it make sense to use technology to bolster communications and connectedness by equal measure? In other words, employ one of the causes for turnover as a solution.

At Qlicket, we’ve done just this, by creating a platform where technology is utilized to include all employees in decision-making, to increase employee commitment to organizational values and culture, and to analyze real-time data around employee sentiment.  We have a solution-focused approach, which means our system also allows management to collect and utilize data to determine- with feedback from employees- and then communicate what solutions would be best to improve the workplace.

Qlicket’s kiosks both collect and distribute information in a natural and consistent way, creating a level of engagement that is nearly impossible through existing methods of communication.  While this kind of workplace innovation flies in the face of what Einstein once said, it’s not rocket science. If you’re interested in learning more, please connect with us at hello@qlicket.com.