Thursday, February 11, 2016

Behavior - Browser usage an indication of performance at work?

The book "Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World" talks about a peculiar case when economist Michael Housman was leading a project to study customer service agents' attrition behavior. With data from over 30,000 employees, he struggled to identify a pattern. 

Hunting for other hints, he observed that employees' browser usage was also captured. On analysing further he came to the startling conclusion that Employees who used Firefox or Chrome (F&C) browser stayed in their jobs 15 percent longer than those who used Internet Explorer or Safari browser (IE&S). 

Thinking it was a coincidence, he ran the same analysis for absenteeism. He was stunned; the same pattern emerged. F&C users were 19 percent less likely to miss work than IE&S users. 

He then analysed performance. F&S users had higher sales and shorter call times.

On further introspection, he came to the realization that 'How' users obtained their browsers was more important than the actual browser being used.

A Windows PC would have IE by default and likewise a Mac would have Safari pre loaded. However in order to use Firefox or Chrome one would have to download it. Instead of accepting the default, the person took an initiative to seek out a better option and that initiative is a tiny window into what you do at work. The customer service agents who accepted the default browsers approached the job the same way. They stayed on the script and followed standard operating procedures for handling customer complaints. The employees who took the initiative to change their browsers looked for novel ways of selling to customers and addressing their concerns. They created the job they wanted.

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