Creating a culture of productivity – five tips to a more productive workforce

Liam Butler
- Leadership - Jun 20, 2018

The 20th June marks World Productivity Day, an event that celebrates and encourages people to achieve their goals both at work and in their personal lives.

Having a productive workforce is essential for a successful business, but keeping employees motivated can be tricky for managers.  A recent study by Fellowes found that productivity levels in the UK have hit a low point, with half of workers admitting to being unproductive for a whole hour every day at work.  This equates to more than 21 million works days lost each month.

So, what’s a manager to do?  Below are five proven ways to bolster your workforce’s productivity for good.  They may also have a positive impact on employee retention rates.

1. Connect Employees

The impact of social tools and how they affect businesses is growing larger.  It’s no longer a question of ‘if’ businesses will engage with social tools, but ‘how’ and ‘when’.  Social tools can have a positive impact on workforce productivity because they allow for enhanced collaboration, self-directed learning and enable real-time training and support.  There are a wide range of social tools out there to experiment with, including Yammer, Slack, and Facebook’s Workplace.

2. Manage Performance

In a busy workplace, performance reviews can often slip off the agenda.  It is easy to get caught-up in urgent tasks and postpone reviews with your employees – but this is likely to impact their productivity.  For modern employees, having career prospects is extremely important.  Without regular reviews, employees might not feel valued and their performance is likely to suffer.

By implementing performance management tools, managers can improve the performance review experience for their employees without their own workload suffering.  For employees, feedback is more impactful when given immediately.  It enables more timely behaviour change and keeps them focused on the most important goals.  So scrap your annual review process in favour of a continuous feedback approach to employee development.  This keeps the employee accountable for reaching their goals, as well as helping you to ensure your company is delivering on its promise of career mobility and progression to that employee.

3. Be Mobile

Studies show that almost all businesses enjoy an increase in productivity when employees can use mobile devices outside of the office.  By having a more flexible working culture, and allowing workers to take themselves out of the office, employers can see improvements to efficiency and productivity.  If employees are working in environments that they perceive to be more conducive to work, they are more engaged, happier and output is likely to be greater.

4. Harness Your Data

Brandon Hall study found that 64% of organisations believe talent analytics is important or critical to their business, but only 4% were ready to use talent analytics at present.  We are producing so much data, but are we using it to its full potential?  This data holds invaluable insights for workforce management – whether that’s increasing performance, identifying learning opportunities or uncovering trends.

As companies navigate today’s dynamic economy, many have only a partial understanding of their current and future employee needs.  Too often, the data required for true talent analytics is found in a range of systems, from various HR systems that address recruiting, compensation, performance and learning, to those that are geared towards sales and operations.  Many organisations struggle to integrate data from these disparate sources; they are slow to move from tracking basic transactional data to turning their big data into actionable intelligence that can drive strategic decisions.  To be truly valuable to the business, employee data should be combined with business performance data to generate trends and correlations that push towards the ‘why’ rather than the ‘what’.

5. Consider Your Office Layout

While the open plan office may suggest a more democratic workplace, research by Oxford Economics throws a wrench into this popular trend.  Of the employees surveyed, 53% said the ambient noise reduced both their satisfaction and productivity, with 41% admitting to not having the proper tools to block out noise and focus on their work.  But while this might tempt you to suggest an office layout overhaul, noise-cancelling equipment can help employees to mute the sound of distraction and offer the best of both worlds!

Ultimately, well looked after employees are productive ones.  By offering employees perks such as mobile and flexible working – and using the wealth of technology available today to improve the employee experience – managers can ensure that their workforce is both content and productive.

Liam Butler is the AVP of HR software company, SumTotal, a Skillsoft company

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