We live in a hyper-connected digital world that moves at lightning speed.
So why don’t we get more done?
In large organizations, things move slowly. Meetings drag on. Emails pile up. Delays are common. Everyone seems impossibly busy. But employee output is still much less than it should be.
This fact is a cause of frustration not just for business leaders, but for employees too.
“There seems to be an unbridgeable gap between what people at every level think they ought to be producing and what they are actually able to do.” Time, Talent, Energy
It makes logical sense that increasing productivity results in business growth. But developing a more productive workforce still presents a challenge for most organizations.
Productivity or efficiency?
Some would say the secret to business growth is efficiency. Others argue this is a red herring.
Efficiency, writes Michael Mankins in Harvard Business Review, is about “doing the same with less”.
“Companies most often improve labor efficiency by finding ways to reduce the number of labor hours required to produce the same level of output. This translates into savings because the company spends less on wages and other labor-related costs.”
Productivity, by contrast, is about “doing more with the same”.
“Growth in labor productivity is measured by the change in output per labor hour over a defined period of time. … For a company, it is directly tied to performance. With higher labor productivity, a company can produce more goods and services with the same amount of relative work.”
So ignore the efficiency myth. It’s productivity that enables an organization to offer more to its customers.
Increasing productivity results in making more money
In 2017, Bain & Company presented comprehensive research into how to liberate people’s time, talent, and energy to boost organizational productivity.
Australian Industry Group goes one step further, stating that increasing productivity results in more profit:
“The way to increase profit in a sustainable way is to increase the value added by your business through higher productivity. The most effective organisations are the ones whose productivity increases exceed their competitors.”
Now, organizations are increasingly aware of the role employee performance management plays in driving business growth.
A report by Deloitte concludes that:
“Many organizations used to think of performance management as a backward-looking assessment program owned by HR.
No longer. Performance management is being reinvented for a new, forward-looking purpose: to serve as an efficient, focused business process that improves employee engagement and drives business results.”
An individual employee’s productivity is now recognized as a defining factor in the organization’s success or failure. So, employee training is more important than ever.
Tips for increasing workforce productivity
When developing training initiatives, keep these tips in mind for improving employee productivity.
1. Show strong leadership
A ship with a decisive Captain and strong leader at the helm will go further. It’s the same in business. Employees need strong leadership to be at their most productive.
2. Develop employees
Employees must be trained and developed to grow their skills and capabilities.
Effective employee training programs can teach staff to absorb new ideas and technology. They can get employees to problem-solve and innovate. Take the time to identify employees’ specific training needs.
3. Engage and inspire employees
Take time to develop initiatives that engage and inspire employees.
Part of this is working towards a common goal. Employees are more productive when they’re engaged in the overall and mission of the organization. Dr John Kotter calls this “the big opportunity.” Use it to motivate employees to do more.
4. Invest in productive technologies
“New technology can be used to create competitive advantage through enabling new business models, new products and services and improved processes.” AIG
Many leading organizations are investing in technology to help improve productivity. For example, a Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) can accelerate the onboarding process for new employees.
5. Set goals and track progress
Employees need to know what is expected of them in terms of productivity. They should have clear guidelines, so they know where they stand.
Setting goals gives employees something to aim for and a means to track their own progress. These can be reviewed as part of the performance management process.
6. Improve processes
What core processes can be changed to improve productivity? Don’t be afraid to ask employees and managers for their thoughts on this.
If an automation program can allow individuals to achieve more with their time, consider implementing it.
Consider the needs and learning styles of all potential stakeholders. Use a mix of methods and channels to reach them. Remind them of “the big opportunity” and how training impacts it.
Enable the easy sharing of information, encouraging others to become more productive. Give employees useful data to consider, rather than watercooler gossip.
8. Reward and recognize
This is perhaps the best tip I can give you. Reward and recognize employees for their productivity. It boosts morale and positively reinforces the behavior.
There is a direct link between employee productivity and a boost in the bottom line. There’s no doubt about it; increasing productivity results in business success.
So make sure you consider employee productivity when developing your next training program. The CEO will thank you.