A high demand for the employee productivity lacking in today’s workforce leaves management teams wondering exactly what to do. The dazzling distractions of a high tech world constantly bombard the work environment. Employees are so busy texting, “tweeting” and updating their Facebook statuses that employers are left with unfinished assignments, missed deadlines, and wasted financial resources. Increasing employee productivity should be on the forefront of any managerial mind.
You might think the only solution for the problem of decreased employee productivity is getting rid of the unproductive people. You might go as far as thinking that what they do behind the walls of their small cubicle or office is their business. If this is your mindset, don’t fret. Accept this post as an invitation to open-mindedly envision your employees’ productivity as your responsibility in management. Remember: leadership is influence, not control.
As with anything, there is a simple approach to the problem of decreased employee productivity. The three main aspects to improving employee productivity are as follows:
1. Measure employee productivity in your company
“The closest to being in control we will ever be is in that moment that we realize we’re not.” – Brian Kessler
It is impossible to find a solution to a problem when you are unaware of its exact existence. As managers it is easy to say, “We need to increase employee productivity.” However, you will not be able to implement a strategy for increasing employee productivity until you know the specific productivity snags your employees face.
The solution to this lack of knowledge lies in the creation of what are called Employee Productivity Metrics. In simple terms, you must develop a statistical and measurable way to rate each employee’s actual production and then balance those numbers against the cost of each employee. A few criteria for measuring productivity are:
- How much time does each employee spend online outside of business related tasks?
- How much time does each employee spend on their cellular phones for personal use?
- What is the gross sales revenue produced by each employee versus their salary and time requirements?
- How many products are manufactured by the employee versus production time?
- What is the sales revenue generated by the employee at various times of day?
The list and number will vary depending on your organizational structure and company type. However, the necessity of this step remains the same. In order to improve employee productivity you must first measure the current state of their production.
2. Implement a process for improving employee productivity in your company
“Productivity and the growth of productivity must be the first economic consideration at all times, not the last. That is the source of technological innovation, jobs, and wealth. “ – William E. Simon
Once you are aware of where the productivity hitches lie, you can attack them with the vigilant determination required to increase employee productivity. It will take a proactive approach to supporting your employee’s in their quest. However, you will gain a greater understanding and appreciation for your employees when you are able to get your hands dirty with them. A few ways to increase your employee productivity is:
- Maintain positive employee morale through production recognition and awards;
- Always promote from within the company;
- Create productivity incentives within the company;
- Ensure your employees are taking adequate breaks;
- Limit employee access to internet content that distracts and decreases their productivity;
- Invest in employee development (after all, an educated employee is 10 times more productive than an uninformed employee).
You will notice that your employee’s morale is proportionately related to their productivity. It is important to treat your employee’s with respect and tact. A demanding taskmaster does not get more accomplished than a helpful and accommodating manager. Unhappy employees do not care about their work and an employee that doesn’t care about his work is unproductive.
3. Review and reward employee productivity
“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” – Paul J. Meyer
There needs to be some form of regular review and evaluation in order to continue improving employee productivity. These reviews should be completed on a regular basis. Some companies perform them quarterly, bi-annually or annually. As managers, you should compare the employee’s previous productivity reviews with the current one to measure their productivity improvements. This is the time to reward a productive employee for a job well done or discuss with the employee what can be done to improve their productivity.
Your employees should not feel threatened by these reviews. Otherwise, they will not participate open-mindedly with your ideas for employee productivity improvement. Also, try to reward those select employees whose productivity increased, even if they are not the best in the lot. This will ensure they continue to do the work necessary to improve their employee productivity rating.
Improving employee productivity is a great way to build a solid team behind you. By implementing your productive improvement program in a way that is non-threatening and rewarding, you will gain your employees respect and admiration, causing them to be even more productive and increase their loyalty to the company.
Improving employee productivity can be tricky, especially in a larger corporation or in an online environment of telecommuters. However, the key to improving employee productivity does not rest with the masses. You improve employee productivity one happy individual at a time.
(Image courtesy of hm.matheus under a Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution license.)
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