How Tech Can Help the Employee Health Crisis: An Evening with Jeffrey Pfeffer

In mid-November, Quorso gathered the best and brightest in UK business (think folks from Barclays, Marks & Spencer, and dozens more) at our offices for an engaging chat about the pressures facing the modern workplace, declining employee health, and how technology can help.

Jeffrey Pfeffer talking about the worldwide decline of employee health
Jeffrey Pfeffer chatting with senior UK business leaders

Dying for a Paycheck

The evening kicked off with Jeffrey Pfeffer – Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford and one of today's most influential management thinkers – who shared research from his latest book, Dying for a Paycheck.

Professor Pfeffer laid out evidence that the modern workplace is killing people. (120,000 people a year in the US alone; It's the 5th leading cause of death.) Commonplace practices like long hours, low job control, and a lack of social support at work often lead to poor physical and mental health, and sometimes death.

A real skeptic listening to the talk might acknowledge how awful that is, but also might question: Well, isn't that just the way it is? We have products to make and services to offer, and that's kind of the nature of doing business and having a job, right? Wrong.

According to the Professor's talk - and research laid out in his book – the things contributing to workplace stress (long hours, etc.) don't. do. anything. to drive financial performance. It really is a lose-lose situation. So, really, the right question to ask is: Why? Why don't we make employee health a priority?

Live tweet from the event

The future of work doesn't have to look as grim as its past

The discussion continued – led by Quorso founder and CEO, Julian Mills – who pointed to low growth and stunted productivity as a reason why companies are pushing their employees harder than ever.

According to data in Quorso, top performers in any business are twice as productive as lower performers – and everyone is good at something. This proves that a lot of companies are already equipped with the knowledge they need to be successful. It just needs to be unlocked. But getting "knowledge and brilliant ideas out of the heads of high performers" and sharing it at scale just hasn't been possible until now.

Until technology caught up.

Technology, and AI specifically, can give people more autonomy at work, help us accomplish more, and make us more productive with less effort and less stress. But it's not a silver bullet. The title of the event was Rehabilitating the Workplace: Human Ingenuity + Artificial Intelligence, and that was really the main point that Julian was making. People can't do it alone, and (despite what other tech companies would have you believe) technology can't do it alone.

So it all kind of boiled down to this point: When it comes to employee health and what's best for business, we're in a lose-lose situation ... but teaming people up with the right technology can turn it into a win-win. And, as a tech company who cares deeply about improving people's working lives, we have to ask: Given the irrefutable evidence of this huge moral and financial problem, and the knowledge that it doesn't have to be this way ...

What are you going to do about it?

See a bit more of what you missed in the quick video below:

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