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Increasing workforce productivity

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Productivity is a measure of the efficiency of a person, team or system. It is the rate at which inputs are converted into useful outputs. Productivity is computed by dividing the average output per period by the total costs incurred or resources (capital, energy, material, personnel) consumed in that period.

High productivity means accomplishing more with the same amount of resources or achieving a higher output in terms of volume and quality from the same input.

The following are essential elements of increasing workforce productivity
1) Assessment; No solution can ever be preferred without first identifying the problem. Assessing and understanding the extent of the problem to be solved is key. There are many ways to assess productivity and the best approach depends on a variety of factors, including the size of the organization and management preferences.

2) Communication; Employees require regular meaningful, insightful and constructive interaction and engagement to be productive. Effective communication builds positive team spirit, reduces errors, increases collaboration, cooperation, and productivity.

3) Provide Continuous Feedback; Immediate, continuous feedback lets team members know that their actions affect the team, department, and company. Goal-setting and attainment is a key productivity driver. People are motivated when they’re making progress especially towards achieving goals. They also want to be given positive feedback about what they’re doing well and areas they need to improve on. In order to make the best of feedback, it must be specific and direct. Instead of just saying “You did a great job,” compliment him by telling him specifically what he did well. “That presentation slide was very creative”, “that presentation was very powerful”, “I particularly liked your storytelling presentation style”. These specific feedbacks will encourage him to apply his strengths at his next presentation.

4) Correct Privately; Negative public feedback can be very counterproductive, because of their embarrassing nature. When giving performance-related negative feedback, it must be in private, with the door closed. Think about the next productivity or performance cycle; use this failure as an opportunity for learning. As a team leader remember Deming’s 85/15 rule, which suggests that most performance problems are actually outside of a team member’s control most times. If it is something they can change, it’s up to you as a leader to present the issue in such a way that he feels he can correct the mistake and most importantly learn and grow from the situation.

Inadequate feedback will lead to wasted energy, increased errors and lower overall productivity.

5) Train, train, coach, coach and train and coach some more
The more an organization invests in developing talent, training and coaching its people leads to improvement, growth and more productivity. Technical Training and coaching for skills are very key to personal and professional growth and peak performance. Training is never too much, coaching is never wasted, and there is never a case of too much knowledge.

Organisations always reap the rewards of providing training and coaching for their employees because well-trained workers help increase productivity, performance, and profitability. Investing in employee training and coaching also improves retention rates, customer satisfaction and creativity for new product ideas. Coaching helps save emotional labour, wasted time, solve problems, save money and improve the organisation’s financial standing. Poor performance often results when employees don’t know exactly what to do, how to do it, when and why.

6) Employee Satisfaction and Self-Esteem; Job satisfaction generally increases, and self-esteem improves when employees better understand the workings of the company. Coaching helps boost morale and builds loyalty to the organisation. Workers who believe their organization cares about them are generally less likely to resign within a year of the coaching engagement.

7) Expectations and Needs; Coaching plays a very critical role in employee commitment. The coaching program must be specifically tailored to the competency gaps, expectations and needs of the employees. An employee that receives such bespoke coaching is better equipped to perform better on the job. The coaching sessions help them take greater initiative and responsibility, having run several scenarios and identified how to build self-confidence, overcome potential productivity and performance barriers. Employees who are competent and on top of their game help organisations take top industry positions.

8) Addressing weaknesses; most people have strengths and weaknesses in their workplace skills. Coaching help develops strengths and improves weaknesses, bringing the coachee to a higher level of skill, knowledge, and productivity. Every team member could be a weak link, hence the reason why coaching for weaknesses is key to productivity.

9) Coaching for increased innovation and adherence to quality standards; This automatically increases, creativity, initiative, ideation, process and systems efficiency which eventually deliver project success that improves organizational turnover and market share.

10) Reward; Beyond the obvious financial rewards, leaders can provide non-monetary recognition that increases energy, excitement, loyalty, and motivation. These non-financial factors may include recognition, exposure to new challenges, positive feedback and new learning opportunities. Awards and profiles in organizational communications (newsletters, all-hands meetings, etc.) demonstrate that management values and reinforce achievement. The most productive organizations have a defined culture and formal processes to ensure achievement and dedication are recognized.

11) Better workplace environment; the workplace environment and climate are directly proportional to workplace behaviour, which over time becomes the workplace culture. Which invariably promote and reinforce productivity or the lack of it. Employers must understand the importance of creating the right climate and environment especially one that encourages creativity and enhances peak performance.

The psychical, psychological and emotional workplace, where you spend hours on end has to positively impact your well-being, which indirectly influences your productivity and performance. To create the right climate make sure that the temperature, air quality, lighting, noise conditions and smell in the office enhance focus, concentration, and productivity. Get rid of stale and polluted air, it leads to tiredness, headaches, and lack of concentration. According to the YouGov survey, almost 70% of office workers believe that poor air quality is having a negative effect on their day-to-day productivity and wellbeing. In addition to this, a study by Harvard on indoor air quality showed that employees in a ‘greener’ air environment performed 61% better on cognitive tasks than in the standard office conditions, with other research suggesting that improved indoor air quality can improve productivity by 10%.

The cost of providing better quality environments in the workplace may be considered a factor limiting organizations from being productive. Human beings have an inherent need to connect with nature and green spaces. Reports from the UK Green Building Council and other bodies have all revealed that natural light is the most desired feature employees want in the workplace. Natural is now known to enhance concentration, creativity, and learning – all of which are crucial for workplace productivity. Studies have shown that workers with good access to natural light have increased their productivity by up to 40%. New technologies such as dynamic glass offer intelligent, electrochromic windows that automatically tint to maximize natural light, depending on the time of day and availability of sun. Increasing the use of natural products in the workplace is also vital to enhancing productivity.

Having plants in the office improves the quality of clean air as well as helps improve employee wellbeing and happiness. A study from the University of Exeter found that when plants were brought into the office, employee performance on memory retention and other basic tests improved substantially, and overall productivity was increased by 15%.

The people’s state of mind, wellness, wellbeing as well as their psychological, emotional and physical environment are very important, as they, directly and indirectly, set the tone and mood at work.

The ability to stay focused, efficient, happy, and productive depends on how comfortable employees feel in their work environment.

To create and maintain the right climate at work, conflicts must be resolved instantly and amicably.


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