Forget About March Madness Killing Productivity, Teach Your Employees How To Use Computers

from the easy-fixes dept

We keep seeing ridiculous stories about how much productivity is lost through things like employees watching March Madness or personal surfing at work. However, the latest report on where companies are losing out on productivity actually makes some sense. It seems that basic IT illiteracy is a productivity killer. The better trained employees are in basic computer skills, the less likely they are to waste half a day trying to figure out how they gummed up their system with spyware, for example. Apparently studies have shown that a lack of good IT literacy can have someone waste up to 40 minutes per day. Of course, the real question is how to solve this problem. As the article notes, the answer is in better training for employees -- but it's not yet clear what kind of training is really needed. Perhaps part of the problem is that it's different elements of basic IT skills that are tripping up people and there isn't really one silver bullet for solving all those problems.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    Borat, Mar 20th, 2007 @ 5:59pm

    Do poo

    I do poo do you too?

     

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  2.  
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    Ben, Mar 20th, 2007 @ 7:37pm

    Belief

    I can certainly believe what htis has to say. We have a lady at our small business (10 employees) and when she first started working here click-and-drag was particle physics for her. Which is surprising as we are an internet company. This IT-illiteracy not only stalls her work b/c of spyware and the lot. It also makes it so she doesn't understand the basic workings of a computer. Such as a computer will only do what you tell it to so if it messes up YOU did something wrong. I swear she's convinced it 'makes up it's own mind' sometimes which loses productivity because she will blame the computer for doing something that it turns out she did. So she goes about trying to fix the computer instead of the problem.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    AGREE!, Mar 20th, 2007 @ 7:48pm

    IT nightmare

    I have to agree.... we have a person at our company who can't seem to grab the basics.... and, unfortunetly for the rest of us, we're a software company.... after almost 2 years, she still swears at her computer, can't put together a system and blames everyone but herself when something goes wrong.... trying to explain to prospects what they need and why usually goes something like.. "I don't know why it has to be that way, but it has to do with that internet thing" and she's talking about printers....

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    CB, Mar 20th, 2007 @ 7:57pm

    alt/tab

    Not using alt/tab to switch between apps accounts for a good day lost each year. It drives me crazy watching people mouse around the screen instead. Microsoft even makes a mouse with a 'application switching' button on it!

    And PLEASE learn ctrl c and crtl v.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Home-grown IT, Mar 20th, 2007 @ 7:59pm

    heh

    99.999% of everything I know about how to fix a PC is because I broke it in the first place.

    If more people have spent time fiddling with a crappy PC at home, then this problem would be a non-issue.

     

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  6.  
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    Tashi, Mar 20th, 2007 @ 8:24pm

    I've seen this first hand in a system migration.

    Training costs money. What's typical is to train a handful of employees and have them train everyone else which has pluses and minuses, the biggest plus being cost savings. The minus being training is pretty much hit and miss.

    Employees are taught the bare minimum skills to do their job. If there are 20 ways to do a job related process, employees are taught one. Whether the other processes come into play just depends on circumstances. Even though there may be more efficient ways, employees are taught what's easiest or the most simple.

    People are naturally resistant to new processes, especially the oldschoolers where I work. Many had never touched a PC before the migration.

    The ironic thing is all the effort in upgrading technology and processes to cut costs and produce bigger profits is countered by the fact that that technology is not being maximized. Overtime for instance and the number of employees needed to do a job. The knee jerk reaction to this type of problem is to throw more employees at it instead of investigating how the tech can actually streamline the process. It's a slow painful realization that will come too little and too late.

     

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  7.  
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    haywood, Mar 20th, 2007 @ 8:49pm

    Slightly off topic

    One place I know of gives everyone a network folder and wipes all the workstation hard drives and reloads the O.S. and software every night. The process is completely automated and they have no virus, spyware/ malware issues at all. A little extreme perhaps, but it works like a charm.

     

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  8.  
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    Ray, Mar 20th, 2007 @ 10:24pm

    Re: Slightly off topic

    Or you can just use group policy to lock down workstations. Reloading PCs every night seems a little overboard.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 12:04am

    Re: Re: Slightly off topic

    That only works if the users aren't forever trying to unlock the computers, like in a school.

     

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  10.  
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    Justin P, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 1:17am

    mother

    those stories remind me of my mother i switched her to Linux (as no one computer retarded should use windows and no one smart does) for months she told me about these error messages witch included windows blank or Internet explorer that. On the posts i learned everything looking up porn getting spy where, getting rid of it, and not getting it again and getting around firewalls in middle-high school.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 3:20am

    no spyware when browsing

    ultimate security is using VMware and your favourite OS/browser combo, then when you close the window, don't save the state, so each time you open it, you hav a clean system, and your base OS is clean of all the crap. Natuarlly, you should still use the browser directly when doing important and legit stuff that needs to save changes.

    >no one smart [uses windows]
    waht about DirectX only games? Like it or not, there are a lot of games which are only available in a windows/directx version.

     

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  12.  
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    Vincent Clement (profile), Mar 21st, 2007 @ 6:41am

    Garbage In, Garbage Out

    If the software is not well designed and the information that that software uses is incorrect and not maintained, then training is meaningless.

    I work for a municipal government and 3 years ago we migrated from a text-based GIS system to a graphic-based GIS system. Unfortunately, very little of the information from the text-based system was transferred to the new system.

    You could not look up building/structure information, development application information and so on. You couldn't trust the zoning information because about 30% was incorrect - you had to refer to the paper zoning maps.

    A co-worker spent about 16 months creating a digital version of the zoning maps that was geo-coded, meaning the maps could have been added as a layer to the new system. That was never done and as far as I know, his digital version was never updated.

    Other municipalities have much more advanced systems and even make it publicly available. I still have to refer to paper copies of the Official Plan, Zoning By-law and Zoning District Maps.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    PT, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 6:50am

    Re: mother

    "...no one smart does."

    Talk about an elitist attitude. Are you insulting the vast majority of computer users who even remotely touch Windows for their work as being stupid BECAUSE they use Windows?

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    haywood, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 7:14am

    Re: Re: mother

    It is the same old argument, Windows is full of holes and sucks. While Linux is a fine O.S. for the technically capable, it wouldn't really suit most "mothers". Every time a new piece of hardware or software was installed, the technically capable person would need to be there, and spend considerable time making it all work. This is not to say Windows upgrades are seamless, but drivers and such are usually included & not, only found on some obscure site. I like to play mainstream games, so Linux isn't for me. I have loaded a spare computer just to have the experience, but was underwhelmed.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    haywood, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 7:14am

    Re: Re: mother

    It is the same old argument, Windows is full of holes and sucks. While Linux is a fine O.S. for the technically capable, it wouldn't really suit most "mothers". Every time a new piece of hardware or software was installed, the technically capable person would need to be there, and spend considerable time making it all work. This is not to say Windows upgrades are seamless, but drivers and such are usually included & not, only found on some obscure site. I like to play mainstream games, so Linux isn't for me. I have loaded a spare computer just to have the experience, but was underwhelmed.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    malhombre, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 8:10am

    R U compooter literat?

    I have 25+ yrs in tech fields ranging from equip. repair to software development to ISP management. And here is one problem I have seen repeatedly: every application (as in, apply for a job) asks if the applicant is computer literate.
    Well, now, we here on TD know that literacy is a hugely undefined quantity...from your grandma who can ebay and email to those who can recompile a kernel just so.
    The method usually involves some "Windows Lite" quicky test that ensures the user indeed knows about those buttons on the mouse, and has some decent keyboarding skills, and some minor level of word proc and maybe even spreadsheet (and almost always Windows products only, btw). And generally, the testing is done by peoply with no more than mid-level competence themselves.
    Heres some amusement:
    We had one lady who could use a PC pretty well, for the most part, but who would only save and retrieve her files from floppies - she only knew how to go to A:, so thats what she did with every single file. She had in excess of 350 3.5" disks on a rollaway next to her desk. Never could convince her of the magic of C:
    Our office manager - and head of admin dept - puts in a priority request for a larger monitor ("screen")...she can't see all her emails, only the upper portion. Solution is to show her how the scrollbar works (in fairness, the Co. had just gone from a long-term TTY mainframe system to individual PC's, but still.
    Same lady wants to fire a girl for violating her order that all admin PC's have precisely the same identical layout, same desktop, etc. for uniformity. But they each have different jobs, and so they each have to install different software packs. When the icons on Susie's desktop are suddenly different from the others, Ms. Manager goes nuts getting ready to can the girl in order to set an example (we saved her before she lost her job, of course).
    And I was the only one in the company who had enough experience to develop a damn spreadsheet that would bring together the information necessary to properly bill our equipment lease customers for lease taxes in individual states, counties, and municipalities. Saved the Co. $35 large the first year. In the past, they simply paid the taxes since the entire admin dept had zero Db skills. Now thats nice of the service manager, dont ya think? The real killer was the a'hole acct that the Co. used, who had to drive across town to have me resort the output of the spreadsheet! every freakin' time he needed it sorted!
    But then, that's job security at its best, I suppose.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    PT, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 9:07am

    Are computers counter-intutive?

    Are computers, by their very nature, counter-intuitive? The concept of digital information, virtual space, how we interface with a computer through typing and clicking a mouse, all of that. Is it just too overwhelming for some people? Considering there are a lot of stories out there where people just don't get it no matter how much training they receive. They either don't care or really have problems understanding seemingly basic computer skills.

    But the problem isn't entirely the computer. It has to be deeper than that. Why are people resistant to change or do not care to learn new processes that could improve their work flow? I wonder if the people who have trouble using computers have anything else in common with each other. Maybe there's a pattern.

    Maybe IT training needs to focus on first getting people to openly accept new information and teach adaptation skills. Once that is taken care of, the rest should come easier and the user should actually be able to retain the basics.

    Or maybe these same users just need to be surrounded by computers 24/7 until they "get it." Hmm, a computer boot camp, locked in a large complex where in order to pass (or escape), they have to accomplish a series of "obstacle" courses using the computer.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    K Wells, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 9:13am

    Not willing to learn

    I support state agencies within the State of Wyoming government. The problem is not necessarily that users are IT illiterate - they are - but, that is merely a symptom of a bigger problem - the problem that older end users are just not willing to learn how to effectively and properly use their computer and the basic applications (IE, Office suite, etc).

    So how many IT illiterate end users are really open and willing to learn? I think that the work force is slowly phasing out that generation of employees, but it is taking time, and we as IT Admins must remain patient with those users who still refuse to learn.

     

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