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If your small business is losing profits and not producing to the best of its capability, part of the problem may be human error. In fact, Marketwire reports that, in 2008, human errors among employees cost businesses in the United States and UK more than $37 billion in lost productivity. To account for human error at work, take several factors into consideration.
In certain situations, human error is almost inevitable, particularly for workers employed by disorganized businesses with subadequate training and human resources programs. When companies hire unqualified staff members who lack the knowledge and training to perform efficiently, increased instances of human error are likely to occur. Minimal experience, poor applicant selection and insufficient training opportunities also contribute to an increase in human error, according to the Lifetime Reliability Solutions website. If your employees are continually making mistakes, evaluating your training agenda may help get to the root of the problem.
High stress levels also can affect a human being’s ability to act efficiently in the workplace. In some cases, high-pressure jobs and working conditions elevate employees’ stress levels to proportions that cause distraction, indecision and confusion. Other times, personal issues weighing on a worker’s mind carry into the work environment, also causing distraction. In either scenario, employees preoccupied with stressful issues — work-related or not — lose focus on the tasks at hand. When you find that a certain staff member is consistently performing below company standards and is responsible for a significant amount of errors, he may be overwhelmed by stress.
Studies performed by the University of Illinois Human Factors Division (UIHFD) have shown that human beings have limited working memory. The term “working memory” defines the part of the human memory that processes the microanalysis of a task and retrieves information from long-term memory. According to UIHFD, it is possible for one’s working memory to become overloaded and degrade her performance. Placing the responsibility of too many intricate tasks on a single employee is an invitation for increased human error. If your employees appear overwhelmed and prone to making mistakes, they may be overloaded.
Absence of Worker Engagement
Sometimes human error at work is simply a matter of forgetfulness or lack of communication. EHA Today believes that the key to minimizing human error at work is direct engagement between management and staff. When supervisors and coworkers remind each other of safety and operational procedures, they tend to remain more conscious of them while performing their duties. For example, a simple reminder from a manager to workers to wear safety goggles may save someone from losing an eye. Taking a moment each morning to inform and remind staff of new developments, policy changes or daily workloads prevents workplace catastrophes and increases productivity and profits. Assigning staff members to monitoring positions helps engage workers in proper work ways and reduces accidents and mistakes.
An individual’s physical capabilities also account for human errors at work in some instances. Business owners sometimes find that increased errors and decreased productivity are present when employee schedules are adjusted. This is particularly true in cases involving excessive overtime, split-shifts and nighttime schedules. Humans have built-in biological rhythms and patterns that generally create a natural waking and sleeping schedule. Working against one’s natural pattern can increase fatigue, which leads to reduced performance. If you’ve recently reformed your business hours and changed or prolonged staff schedules, the adjustment may account for some human errors.