Workplace psychology

Useful information and advice on Role ambiguity and Computer monitoring.

workplace psychology fresh hr insights

Role Ambiguity – vagueness of one’s role:

When roles in a group are not distributed properly, group performance suffers‚ π. A quote from Social Psychology by Kassin Fein & Markus, 2014. Company’s face the same situation when employees who are distributed work are not completing it. This may be due to a number of factors such as unreasonable deadlines, an employee being asked to complete work above their level of expertise, role ambiguity or an employee using company time for personal tasks.

It seems obvious. You hire a person for the role of receptionist and expect that the person knows what tasks they are to perform within the job. After all, their resume speculated they have several years experience in receptionist and administrative type roles. Of course, the type of roles your new receptionist held in the past will almost certainly never match all the duties they are to perform when working for you. It would be unwise for you to assume they do. There are various types of receptionist positions for instance ranging from ones at large organisations, within hair salons, small non-for-profit company’s and then there are personal receptionists who sometimes take on the role of an EA as well as receptionist.

The specific duties you wish your new employees to undertake must be made clear during the induction and if needed reinstated during employee evaluations. On that note, though you want your employees to be self reliant and responsible, do not let the power of inquisitive behaviour be undermined. An old psychology experiment known as the Hawthorn Effect can attest to the fact that when employees are aware an eye is kept on them, they are more productive. The Hawthorn Effect results suggested that the productivity gained was the result of the motivational effect felt by the employees having had an interest shown in them.

Computer monitoring ‚ ¨ an in depth look to worker’s minds:

Any good boss in an office environment knows or will soon know the importance of computer monitoring and its effects. Computer monitoring of employees was first put in place to monitor employees’ behaviour on their computers each day. Time spent on a specific task, time spent browsing Ebay and time spent away from one’s computer can all be monitored. Computer monitoring is widely used to ensure employees utilise their working hours for the tasks set out for them in their position descriptions and inductions. Another reason for computer monitoring has more to do with social psychology and less to do with making your employee nervous about ‚ ≤being watched’. Learning about your employees habits and interests whether professional or personal, can tell you a lot about the future productivity of your company.

Various realms of psychology including social, workplace and criminal have shown us in the past that employees who have a healthy balance between work-life, home life and personal interests are more productive, more energetic and enjoy coming to work more each day. Did I mention this balance also ensures workers are happier and less likely to feel depressed? Considering mental health costs Australian businesses more than $10 Billion dollars each year, a figure that is growing, keeping your employees happy is a fairly important factor. By monitoring your worker’s computer you can see what interests them and the ways in which they prefer to do simple tasks. An employee who spends their lunch break online looking to purchase children’s books or merchandise tells me this person is probably a devoted parent. Does this employee have access to flexible working arrangements? An employee that spends hours logged into iTunes or Netflix most days tells me that this employee would rather be somewhere else. Can someone else do this person’s job better?

Tips from this article:

  • Do not assume
  • Be kind and understanding
  • Monitor more
  • Value your hard workers
  • Lose the time wasters

Simone Ortolani ‚ ¨ Fresh HR Insights

Reference – Kassin, S., Fein, S., & Markus, H.R (2014). Social Psychology. Retrieved from