The Power of Delay- balancing technology with human behaviour!

We often get caught up in the hype of introducing new technology – and there are many positive features that can make our lives more productive and exciting. However, one of our greatest challenges using modern technology is ensuring we remain distinctly human and avoid becoming insignificant in our Digital world.

One of the exciting and emerging themes coming into both the Technology and Human Capital space, is the realisation of better managing the interface between human behaviour and technology. This is the area called Behavioural Technology. As new and advanced technologies expand their reach into our lives, they are also being built in ways which promote Personalisation and Individualizing. These tools offer organisation opportunity to build behavioural aspects directly into the software to ensure a better experience as well as improve focus areas such as Employee Wellbeing.

This short video shows how including a simple time delay can have powerful and positive repercussions.


Video Transcript:

Hey everyone, what you just experienced with the opening of this video, is what we call a "Labour Illusion" - It creates an impression that work is being done behind the scenes - it's making you wait for something by purposefully introducing a delay..  Conventional wisdom would suggest that the longer you have to wait, the less satisfied you become. and while this may be true when you see the spinning wheel related to slow internet, from a psychological perspective, we are more likely to appreciate and accept the results after the delay, because at a human level we perceive the delay as effort and work which we can relate to, and therefor value and appreciate more.

In many of these cases, the delay is technically unnecessary, the underlying database is quick enough to show an instant result - but when this happens in certain cases, we may cast doubt over the results. It's a bit like going to a restaurant and your food order is delivered very quickly.... you may wonder if your meal was actually freshly prepared, or something that was quickly tossed into a microwave oven.

As a behavioural Technologist, getting the balance between human perception and the outputs of technology correct, is really important, especially if you are consciously building an employee experience which involves technology layers. One thing we are seeing in the People technology space - in HCM and WFM software solutions, is the expansion into personalisation - in other words, what you see and read on an application, is not necessarily what other will see. This type of personalisation can be very valuable and a powerful ally to positive experience but can easily be undermined if you don't configure it with human behaviour in mind, such as the "Labour Illusion".

Let's look at a practical example around Fatigue management using the "Labour illusion". Let's assume you have configured your software to show fatigue alerts when excessive hours are worked. In the first example, as soon as the employee has entered the high hours, the technology instantly displays the alert. From a human behaviour perspective, you are likely to just see this as a mechanical trigger and there is a high possibility it will be ignored, which undermines your overall employee wellness objectives. Let's look at what the impact of introducing a "Labour Illusion" can have. Once the user enters their time, the system shows a delay.... this implies that its' checking something, in some ways mimicking a human behaviour and then displays a personalised message to raise awareness and offers some meaningful suggestions. The employee reaction is likely to be quite different and the experience far superior to the first example.

We are operating in exciting times with powerful technologies, and when we blend human behaviour into it - we get powerful outcomes and great experiences.

Stay cool and thanks for watching.


Rob Scott

Author: Rob Scott

Joining from Deloitte, where he was a Principal in the Consulting Human Capital Practice, Scott brings over 30 years’ HCM, human resources (HR), innovation, strategy and advanced technology experience, working directly with businesses and technology leaders including SAP and Oracle. He served as Global Lead for Strategy & Innovation at Presence of IT before Deloitte acquired it, and spent four years on the HR Technology Advisory Board of the Australian HR Institute (AHRI). Rob brings a wealth of experience in opening up this mindset and improving communication and collaboration from the coal face through to the shareholder. We’re confident we can continue to grow and help organisations get real visibility over their entire workforce and HCM tools when they need it most. View all posts by Rob Scott