What are the true catalysts for low or decreasing productivity in employees? Due to the array of varying reasons and circumstances, it can cost an organization millions, even billions of dollars to pinpoint the true cause(s).
For example, work-related stress alone, may cost companies between $200 billion and $300 billion due to absenteeism, workers’ compensation claims, and employee turnover, in additional to other costs. In some cases, “toxic” coworkers, unreasonable demands (i.e. tight deadlines for a large workload), and poor communication can have a negative effect on employee productivity.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the annual productivity of non-farm workers decreased at an adjusted seasonal rate of 2.2 percent during the last quarter of 2015. This is despite a 1.0 percent increase in output, as well as a 3.2 percent increase in hours worked.
A WSJ report confirmed this as “the weakest productivity reading since the first quarter of 2014.”
In 2013, a Gallup poll discovered that 70 percent of American employees are not fully engaged at work, affecting the nation’s economic growth.
So, how can employers directly and effectively enhance the productivity of their workforce?
1. Management should lead by example
Generally, employees are expected to be engaged and productive at the workplace. However, workers need to see that managers are also following company rules. So, if employees are expected arrive to work on time, managers should follow suit, and not be late either. Additionally, disciplinary action should apply to anyone guilty of wrongdoing of any form, within the organization. There should not be exemptions based on position.
2. Identify and remove anything that demoralizes employees
One common cause of low productivity is low morale. A few causes of employee disengagement are a hostile coworker environment, lack of opportunities for professional development or advancement, and feeling a lack of appreciation.
a. Deal with negative employee behavior
Speak with the worker regarding your concerns. Highlight the positive results of changing negative behavior. Allow the employee to “rant” somewhat if necessary, but be sure to emphasize that negative behavior will not be tolerated.
b. Offer employee training
Offering training and seminars to your employees will allow them to develop new skills and hone in on existing expertise. This builds confidence, which can positively affect morale. Also, encouraging growth and presenting opportunities for improvement to reach their full potential, shows your workers that you care about them.
c. Offer incentives
Offer bonuses, cash, paid-time-off (PTO), and travel perks. When employees know that they will receive more than their regular paycheck for a superior quality of work, they will be motivated to provide excellent output.
d. Show appreciation for a job well done
Sometimes, offering a simple “thank you” or “well done”, is enough. These simple words make employees feel valued.
3. Set standards and realistic goals. Be clear about the organization’s expectations
All employees should know what the company expects from them. They should not have to question their specific responsibilities. A clear understanding of their duties makes employees accountable if they do not meet company goals.
4. Effective communication is important
Your workforce is your team. To achieve success, all members of your team should be on the same “page”. Everyone should be clear about the company’s mission and vision; understanding its goals and the strategies needed to take part in order to achieve those goals.
5. Invest in the latest technology
Instead of buying the most expensive software, purchase collaborative applications that will enable employees to communicate more effectively. These apps can also enable effective collaboration among employees from different locations.
Although there may not be one foolproof method to ensure consistently high levels of productivity, we can agree that treating your employees as your company’s most valuable asset is certainly a step in the right direction toward increasing employee productivity. Give these tips a try, and expect to see some positive changes in productivity within your organization.
by, Fred Coon, CEO
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