Labor productivity crisis?

The Netherlands is in a labor productivity crisis. More people are working part-time than ever before, meanwhile millions of Dutch people are facing burnout. All this while companies are becoming more digital by the day, but are not automating enough. Someone who researches labor productivity, the causes of burnout and the lack of job happiness is Martijn Aslander. In this blog, we further explore the link between these issues and automation as a solution.


According to Martijn, many companies today are set up using standards devised in the 1970s. And the way the value of our labor is measured dates back to the time of the industrial revolution. The idea of rewarding people based on hourly rates, salaries and productivity is not only old-fashioned, he says, but also not appropriate with human nature. What also doesn't help is that many companies require their employees to work with only one form of software. For example, your boss buys a Microsoft Office package for each employee so that everyone can submit files in the same format. Very convenient for administration, but killer for your staff's creativity. The irony is that many companies are hugely progressive in terms of digitization while clinging to old-fashioned notions.

Where does it go wrong?

Low labor productivity, burnouts and friction at work are all symptoms of a much larger problem. So where do many companies go wrong now? Digital fitness is one of the main factors, according to Martijn. Digital fitness actually includes everything to do with a computer, think Microsoft Office skills, for example, but also knowledge about a computer itself. According to Martijn, the vast majority of the 5 million Dutch who work behind a computer are not digitally fit. And while this is a problem, it doesn't have to be. In fact, Martijn explains that most people, of those 5 million, are hired to think. To think about problems, processes or customers. And in order to think, a person needs to be able to focus, something that in ideal circumstances can be done effectively for a maximum of 5 hours a day. It is then a huge waste if you lose a large part of your time because you have to perform tasks on a computer that don't need to be done at all, or that can be done completely automatically. Martijn also emphasizes that people with a "full head" cannot effectively focus on or think about the problems they are working on. It is therefore quite logical that people become frustrated, can no longer be productive or run into burnout. All because we are engaged in work that a robot can do better, in an environment where we don't belong. 

The impact 

Now you may be wondering about the exact impact of all this friction, burnout and so-called digital fitness. How bad can it be if someone is not competent with his or her computer, or has a full head from sending emails all day? Pretty bad, apparently. Martijn explains the numbers in great detail during the broadcast, and don't be shocked, but it turns out that an average office worker can lose between 40 and 400 hours a year due to not having the necessary skills with a computer. Similarly, Microsoft research shows that we spend an average of 240 hours per year searching for information that we can't quickly find. In addition, people spend an average of 40 days a year compensating for things they have forgotten, simply because the average person takes in too much information in a day. He further explains that obtaining a typing course, or general proficiency with a computer, can save hundreds of hours again. But it does not solve the root of the problem. And either way, there remains an enormous amount of work that Martijn says simply doesn't need to be done, but gets done anyway. 

So the bottom line is that many companies, per year, waste hundreds of hours per person. Hundreds of hours that are paid for, that produce frustration and that could be much better spent elsewhere. Now the only question is, how do you solve this?

The road to freedom

Within an organization, of course, you can modify many things to improve. For example, there are courses that can greatly increase people's digital skills, and there are programs that are a lot more user-friendly. Martijn himself also offers the opportunity to learn more and become more digitally fit for free. On his website https://www.digitalefitheid.nl/ you can work on your own digital fitness. And while it is important to be digitally fit yourself, it is important to know that this is not the only way. 

VionA helps companies eliminate unnecessary administrative computer work with smart automation. This automatically frees up time with yourself and your colleagues, which in turn reduces workload and increases work happiness. Thanks to the revolutionary gen-2 RPA technology, this is now attainable for many companies. Want to know if this is also interesting for your organization? Then get in touch with us.