Employee productivity might be on the decline in your enterprise, here’s why and what you can potentially do about it.
The majority of businesses are only as good as the employees that work in them. Individual members of your team are who fundamentally drive performance and generate results – particularly if your operations are “knowledge-based.” The difference in performance between your top and bottom employees can be ten-fold.
Keeping productivity high is an imperative, but also a substantial challenge. The reasons for it are highly varied. Some revolve around basic aspects of your business, such as a lack of big-picture thinking. Others have to do with the way you manage your people. They might have productive potential, but you’re unable to bring it out.
Read on to find out more about why employee productivity might be on the decline in your enterprise and what you can potentially do about it.
Lack Of Gratitude Or Recognition
While it might be tempting to view workers as cogs in the machine, taking this approach is dangerous. Yes – you need employees to perform their function. But it helps to continue viewing them as emotional beings too – just like you.
Some workers are more in need of gratitude and recognition than others. You might have colleagues, for instance, who continually produce quality work, month after month, year after year, without any personal input from you. Then you could have other workers who seem to depend on what you say.
As a business leader, this can be a little frustrating but it comes with the territory. What you say is often more important than what you pay.
Knowing this, you can often boost the productivity of your enterprise by merely telling employees that you’re happy with their work and showing them that you’re grateful for it. It may sound surprising, but some workers will actually put in more effort if they believe that you’re happy with what they’re doing. Even a simple sentence, like “I appreciate the amount of effort that has gone into this” can make a difference.
Failure To Use The Right Technologies
Top businesses work hard to gather the right technologies and put them into practice as early as possible. That’s why you see such massive differences in output-per-workers across firms. The top ten percent are using clever strategies and software, while the bottom 80 percent is still relying on last-generation operational models.
Knowing which technologies to choose for your enterprise can be a challenge. You can sometimes wind up in a situation where adding extra tech gets in the way of your processes and undermines you.
One potential method you can use is to see what works for your competitors. If possible, let them do all the necessary trial and error first so that you can go straight to the optimal solution once it becomes evident.
Another is to ask your employees what might help them produce higher quality work faster. Usually, they’ll have some good ideas on the improvements that you can make.
If there are issues at the managerial level, you may want to institute visual planning so that you can see precisely how much progress each member of your team has made towards a project. This type of information (when shared widely) can cut down on unnecessary emails and keep the whole team informed, allowing for better workflow.
Negative Cultures And Bad Behavior
Unfortunately, bad behaviors and negative cultures can develop in organizations. Over time, standards can slip, and people can go against company policy, including at the management level.
Issues like these aren’t just a problem for your brand. They can also hack away at your productivity. If workers are worried about going to the workplace every day, that disincentivizes them to work hard. And that can eventually take its toll on your overall productivity. Remember, some colleagues will have sleepless nights if they’re worried about people starting rumors or harassing them. And that can reduce the quality of their work.
Enact a strict behavioral policy. If necessary, make an example of somebody. Make it easy for employees to come forward with issues they might be facing.
Failure To Delegate
Like it or not, delegation is a skill – and something that all managers need to learn if they want their companies to flourish. It can, however, be difficult to let go of control when you know that you could probably do a better job yourself.
Unfortunately, that’s one of the trade-offs you have to make in business. You have to outsource tasks to others and trust in their skills to get the job done. If you don’t, your organization will become paralyzed. All decisions will need to flow through the top people, and won’t trickle down through the rest of the organization.
Delegation problems can also emerge in other areas. For instance, a supervisor might rely too heavily on one colleague and fail to give work to others.
You can understand why they take this approach. When you know somebody can do the work properly, you’re tempted to hand it all over to them.
There are a couple of problems with this approach, though. The first is that other employees don’t get a chance to build their skills. Thus, you don’t create long-term colleague value in your enterprise. And the second issue is burnout. Employees with the greatest workload quickly become disenchanted and feel unfairly treated, leading to retention issues.
So what’s the solution here? The best approach is to delegate wisely and strategically. You want to make sure that you’re developing your employees so that they can perform business functions by themselves, without constant assistance from senior members of the organization. Spreading skills more widely enhances productivity and makes it less harmful to your enterprise if a critical employee quits.
In some organizations, a lack of supervision is the main reason why employee productivity isn’t where it should be. Ineffective management can creep in, leading to poor outcomes.
Management is a broad field, so the specific issues that you encounter in your organization can vary dramatically. In some instances, managers will play favorites with certain colleagues, putting others off. In other cases, they will attempt to micromanage every decision, making workers feel suffocated. They may also fail to give employees sufficient time to complete tasks, leading to rushed, low-quality work.
As a business leader, it can sometimes be challenging to accurately diagnose the root of the issue. However, there are places you can look. One is manager reports. Read through the kind of issues they flag to get a flavor of the problems in your organization. If you see recurring themes, it’s worth probing further to see whether you can address them from the top.
You can also instruct managers on how you would like them to organize colleagues. Though they have the training, many of them will have bad habits that impair productivity and adversely affect team spirit. Yes – KPIs are important, but they’re often downstream from their basic managerial style.
Failing To Let Employees Know Why Their Work Matters
While people work for a salary, it’s not the only reason they do what they do. A lot of workers yearn for a sense of purpose in their careers. They want to feel as though they’re “making a difference.”
Millennials, in particular, are notorious for this. They have a sense that their lives can only have value if they’re using their careers for some kind of grand mission or project.
Failing to let employees know that their work matters, therefore, could be one of the reasons your productivity is low. If workers don’t have a mission, then they are much less likely to put maximum effort into their jobs. And that could hamper long-term outcomes for your brand.
You might wonder what “grand narrative” your company plays into. Some businesses don’t lend themselves naturally to strong mission statements. However, you can almost always find one and leverage it to motivate employees. Once colleagues feel like they’re making a difference, then it can have a tremendous impact on their overall output, putting your enterprise in a much better place.
You can also introduce a “big picture” view of your enterprise in other more down-to-Earth ways. For instance, just letting colleagues know which KPIs you want them to work towards can make a big difference to their overall productivity levels. Once they understand the purpose of their work, it allows them to achieve a higher quality of output.
Failing To Communicate
This concept ties into the last point we will make in this article: the importance of communication for driving productivity.
Communication can be a challenge in organizations. Many take the view that it’s a one-way street from the C-suite on down.
Unfortunately, that kind of approach leads to a host of negative outcomes. Employees feel unable to voice their concerns, and they can’t provide feedback. They often don’t understand the basic “how” and “why” of your business, making it hard for them to fit in.
You can solve this problem by addressing your current management arrangements. Make sure that supervisors give colleagues opportunities to provide feedback and outlets to raise concerns.