|Abstract or Summary
- The Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to identify the tasks
performed by low-ability office employees as viewed by
office supervisory personnel, and, also, to analyze these
tasks. The study was conducted in Alberta, Canada.
To analyze tasks performed by low-ability office
employees, it was necessary to identify:
1. Tasks being performed by low-ability office employees
2. Skills required to perform low-ability tasks
3. Equipment and machinery operated by low-ability office
4. Tasks low-ability office employees might perform if
provided with additional training
5. Skills required to increase the employability of low-ability
6. Unattractiveness of low-ability tasks
7. Opportunities for advancement in low-ability office
8. Opportunities for decision making in low-ability tasks
9. Tasks performed more efficiently by low-ability office
An instrument was designed to obtain the data for
this study from office supervisory personnel employed by
member firms of the Administrative Management Society.
Data were collected in a structured-interview format
from thirty different organizations in Edmonton and
Calgary each, making a total population of sixty respondents.
The data were organized according to frequency
distribution. Suearman Rank Order Correlation Coefficient
was used to analyze the data.
1. Low-ability office employees perform 60 different
tasks in the firms surveyed. These tasks are
distinguished by: being mastered in a very short
time; involving simple, repetitive manipulations
or movements; and, generally being done without
cooperation or communication to other employees. The
most common task performed by low-ability office
employees is operating the photocopier. A greater
variety of low-ability tasks exists in larger offices
than in smaller offices.
2. Low-ability tasks are performed by both low-ability
and higher ability office employees. Seven office tasks are performed better (in terms of productivity,
efficiency, and amount of resistance) by low-ability
employees. Employers prefer to hire low-ability
persons for these tasks.
3. Low-ability persons have very limited opportunities
for advancement. None of the more frequently performed
tasks offers the low-ability office employee
an opportunity to advance.
4. Low-ability tasks are unattractive to office supervisory
personnel. The most unattractive tasks
involve simple, repetitive hand motions, such as
operating the photocopier, typing from copy, refiling
cards, and stamping and sealing envelopes. Employers
prefer to hire low-ability persons to perform
unattractive low-ability tasks.
5. Low-ability office employees operate 28 different
pieces of machinery or equipment. The most common
piece of equipment used by low-ability office
employees is the electric typewriter,
followed by the
photocopier. Low-ability employees in larger offices
operate more equipment and machinery and are more
specialized than low-ability office employees in
6. Office employees require 55 different skills to perform
the low-ability tasks in an office.
Approximately one half of these skills can be learned
or developed in the classroom, while many of the
others relate to physical and personal characteristics.
A low-ability person with severe physical
handicaps is not employable in the office; however,
a high-ability person with similar physical
handicaps may be profitably employed in the office.
7. Low-ability persons cannot complete high-ability
tasks, nor can they perform a variety of low-ability
tasks. This reduces the opportunities for employment
of low-ability persons, for they can only be
hired by organizations having positions consisting
purely of low-ability tasks related to one activity,
such as filing, duplicating, or delivering