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Human Factors and the Culture of Technology in the Workplace

In May I will be speaking at the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE) Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. Below is the abstract for my talk.


As workers in established industries approach retirement, younger generations are entering the workforce with radical new views about what it means to work and how. Workers today have an arsenal of technology tools at their disposal, yet most companies still require work to be done as if many of those tools don’t exist. Fear of electronic threats, productivity concerns, and outdated views on work are driving policies within organizations that are having unintended consequences.


A lack of recognition of the influence human factors have on the adoption of technology has a profound effect on motivation in the workplace. Generational differences confound the effect and result in a clash with Draconian technology policies. Such policies stand in the way of productivity, innovation, and employee satisfaction.

Long-standing evidence suggests that successfully motivating people at work requires both extrinsic motivators (money) and intrinsic motivators (a sense of accomplishment). Without implementing appropriate motivational tools, enterprises lose not only talent, but also the innovative drive that fuels the continuous improvement efforts required to remain competitive. An economy driven by information cannot afford to ignore the motivational tool that technology management can become.

This presentation builds awareness about how workplace culture and technology adoption affect employee satisfaction, retention, and productivity. The concept of technology as an extrinsic motivator is discussed, with examples ranging from corporate social media policies to IT integration in a maintenance, repair, and overhaul environment. The presentation helps change agents rediscover the roles both human factors and technology can play in process improvement efforts.

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