For some workers, the thrill of a demanding, unpredictable role is supremely inspirational. For others, the familiarity of a repetitive job is comforting and reassuring.
While all employees value different jobs, repetitive work can sometimes be challenging. Here we dive deeply into the nature of repetitive work and explore new ways to boost your team’s morale, increase engagement and make their performance top-notch.
What is repetitive work?
Repetitive work means performing the same task over and over. Repetitive jobs take many forms. For instance, factory production lines that involve assembling, warehouse pick packing, cashiers at shopping centre checkouts and manual labour like bricklaying.
Repetitive work is also performed in offices, particularly in clerical administration work such as data entry. A 2021 UiPath survey of office workers revealed that more than two-thirds (67%) feel they are repeatedly doing the same tasks. 68% said they wish they had more time to explore how to incorporate new responsibilities into their day-to-day routines.
While many enjoy repetitive work, others can find that it can become monotonous. As a manager, you must be strategic and imaginative to understand which team members need more inspiration and motivation to help them excel in a repetitive environment.
What studies say about repetitive work
Numerous studies highlight the impacts of repetitive work on employee wellbeing. One paper, The Stress of Boredom and Monotony, revealed that boredom and monotony could adversely affect morale, performance, and quality of work and act as stressors. When coupled with the need to maintain high levels of alertness, boredom and monotony could represent a combination capable of eliciting physical and mental stress, let alone safety issues.
When a job is physically repetitive, there is a risk of problems like carpal tunnel syndrome or repetitive strain injury. Some of the most common work-related repetitive motion injuries include tendonitis, bursitis, and nerve entrapment syndromes.
Of course, more physical risks arise when the worker loses focus and attention drifts, and long hours at a computer or standing at a checkout can lead to issues like poor posture.
Ways you can motivate your team in a repetitive job
1 Create an engaging environment
If your team is performing routine tasks, then it’s even more important to up the ante to keep their spirits high. If safety permissions allow it, something as simple as a radio or letting employees have their own music can help lift the mood.
Consider fun group activities that encourage everyone to get involved at kick-off meetings and breaks. Make planning and choosing them a communal experience so the activity will ignite genuine excitement. Offering weekly activities during lunch breaks like football, yoga, table tennis or card games is a great idea too.
Beyond these ideas, building a positive working culture that centres on employee growth can be beneficial. Celebrate achievements and milestones so the team feels appreciated and supported and give continual team feedback.
2 Offer opportunities and pathways for growth
As the UiPath survey showed, 68% of office workers long for the chance to incorporate more responsibilities into their routines. In short, many repetitive workers would thrive on a challenge!
Perhaps the kitchen hand is an aspiring chef and could be offered a trial? Maybe the production line worker would make a great supervisor?
Scheduling individual employee meetings to establish their hidden talents, skills and aspirations within the company can be beneficial. A personal development plan could nurture your team’s professional development and signal that you value them – as well as tap into some valuable resources you didn’t know you needed.
3 Create meaning and purpose in work
If workers carry out linear, routine work, they may not see the result of what they do. Providing opportunities to see their finished product or the value of what they’re doing can significantly lift morale and motivation.
Hearing device company Cochlear invites children and families who have experienced a Cochlear implant to share their stories with the assembly workers of their devices. Sharing the stories of how the team have helped a child to hear for the first time helps to inspire their workforce and gives their work meaning and purpose.
4 Ensure the team feels valued
Sometimes teams performing repetitive work are overlooked when it comes to attention from the CEO and leadership, they are not invited to company events as they need to keep the operation flowing, kitchens and amenities may not be kept clean and tidy. While these elements may not motivate employees, they can serve to demotivate.
Ensure facilities are well managed and maintained and that employees understand their contribution in keeping them clean and tidy. Try and find ways that the team can participate more broadly in company activities and events.
Leaders can set a fabulous example by doing the occasional shift. Not only will leaders earn respect for their participation but will also build trust and gain real insight into the role.
5 Streamline and improve their workflow with tech
Although AI and automation are slowly replacing many repetitive jobs, this is not to say tech can’t be used effectively to support your team to make their work lives less monotonous and more productive.
If your accounts clerk spends time manually entering invoices, maybe you could invest in scanning software to speed up their workflow. If your factory workers are performing the same routine tasks, perhaps a layer of automation could remove the monotony of their duties.
6 Let your team mix it up
Consider ways you can give some autonomy to your team to allow them some flexibility. Can any of the tasks they carry out be done in a different order? Would it be possible to do job rotations? Maybe there’s a new side project certain members would be interested in completing? Better still, can any of their tasks be completed with a hybrid working-from-home setup?
By giving them some freedom and flexibility, your employees will become more engaged and interested in their job. Ask them what they would value if offered more flexibility, and then work together to create opportunities to carry out their duties in a less rigid environment.
7 Boost confidence
Sometimes workers in repetitive roles feel they lack the skills, experience, or education to try new things. They may have accepted that this is their destiny and while they do the job and do it well, deep down they may long for some new opportunities. Over time these employees may find their motivation levels flagging.
Their motivation may be increased by being supported to help achieve their goals. Offering educational opportunities, languages classes, mentoring programs and chances to test and try new jobs in the same organisation may give these team members a motivational boost!
1.More than two-thirds (67%) of office workers feel they are repeatedly doing the same tasks. 68% said they wish they had more time to explore how to incorporate new responsibilities.
2.Repetitive jobs can lead to boredom and monotony, which have adverse effects on morale, performance, and quality of work.
3.Create an engaging, growth-based environment by permitting music, offering inspiring activities and celebrating achievements and milestones.
4.Schedule individual employee meetings to establish their skills and aspirations before establishing personal development plans to nurture your team’s professional progress.
5.Give your team the chance to see the result of their efforts by providing customer, CEO and director interactions, and become more hands-on yourself.
6.Make an extra effort to reward and incentivise your team’s hard work by subsidising travel and food, leaving early or establishing an employee reward program and employee of the month schemes.
7.Where possible, give your team more freedom and flexibility to increase engagement and interest.
8.Incorporate new tech-related systems or software that will streamline and improve workflows.
If you are open to new opportunities, contact a recruitment agency like Trojan Recruitment Group and receive advice from the experts in labour-hire, permanent and contract staff.