Worker Productivity Is Down 4.1% in the US in 2022, and Ennui May Be the Cause.

An epidemic of ennui (boredom and lethargy) has set in across the US and shows no signs of leaving. In 2022, worker productivity took a shocking 4.1% dip, and experts believe this may be the root cause of the decline. Could listlessness and dissatisfaction have become too much for us to bear? Perhaps. 

But with economic decline on the horizon, the worst drop in US worker output since 1947 has worried many organizations. Luckily, automation, specifically robotic process automation, could answer this head-scratching trend. But how? Let's get into it. 

Why Are US Workers Less Productive?

Employers everywhere are troubled by their employees' diminishing work output - and the facts back up that anxiety. While productivity in manufacturing is still solid and other areas of the private sector are experiencing a decline, as reported by Diego Comin, professor of economics at Dartmouth College. Moreover, data from the US Bureau of labor statistics show that the US workforce could be more productive than a year ago. But why? What's going on here?

Like so many economic trends, worker productivity is complex, and many factors likely contribute to this drop in worker output. For example, many experts believe that significant swings in the job market have led to feelings of listlessness, boredom, and lethargy in the workforce. An eye-watering 20 million people were laid off in just a few weeks at the pandemic's start as companies prepared for a financially rocky future. And the workers who were spared were overworked to the point of burnout, causing fatigue and anxiety to skyrocket. 

But months later, these same companies were suddenly desperate to hire, and layoffs reached historic lows. This meant that the power lay in the hands of the workforce, and many new hires benefitted from higher wages or didn't have to meet the exact stringent requirements they may have done in the past. The result? This chaotic job market period left many workers powerless and demotivated. The overworked employees who were lucky enough to keep their jobs saw their new colleagues get a more leisurely ride. At the same time, those fired and then hired elsewhere felt disposable and were less likely to pledge loyalty to their employers in the future. 

Essentially, many workers are left feeling that their work is ultimately pointless. They feel powerless, and this lack of agency impacts their work pace and enthusiasm. 

So, workers are unhappy in their jobs, but they're not worried about unemployment either - in January 2023, unemployment hit a five-decade low in the US. This means employers can only respond to poor worker output by firing people if there are enough unemployed people to fill those jobs. 

How Can Automation Combat the Ennui Epidemic?

Once ennui takes hold, it can be challenging to stop. Humans are social creatures - we display our emotions on our faces, our body language, and of course, our words. And how we feel tends to rub off on other people. As a result, a few demotivated workers can soon lead to a demotivated workforce. And that is what's happening today. 

However, there is hope. The best thing employers can do is support their workers with tools and resources that make their jobs easier. This is where automation comes in. Automation technologies can remove a good deal of the tedium involved in many daily front-office and back-office activities. 

For example, the repetitive (but essential) administrative work necessary in many departments across the business is incredibly time-consuming and prone to error. We have AP approvals, invoicing, AR journal entries, and more in accounting. And in HR, we have activities like employee onboarding and time-sheet management. 

Each of these activities manually requires many hours of work and a keen eye for detail. For example, a simple mistake in accounting can cause costly delays and hurt the company's bottom line. At the same time, the work could be more engaging for employees, driving up job dissatisfaction and error rates. 

But with automation, employees are freed of much of this mundane work and can focus on tasks that require uniquely human skills, like higher-order thinking and creativity. This kind of work gives people a sense of agency and motivates them to come to work every day and give their all. 

Final Thoughts

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can be a game-changer for businesses, allowing employees to break free from mundane and repetitive tasks and focus on more meaningful work. With RPA, employees can spend their time on innovative, creative projects that bring about higher job satisfaction and improved worker output, as well as boost profits for the business. Who wouldn't want to work smarter, not harder? Let RPA help you and your team make the most of your work and workday!

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Published On:

July 19, 2023

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