Looking at the stats, South Africa has a major productivity problem. So how can your business increase employee productivity?
South Africa’s employee productivity has dropped by 4.40% year-on-year as of June 2020, compared to a drop of 0.48% in the previous quarter. The pandemic driven disruption to workplace structures and processes accounts for some of that. But the problem is actually endemic in many businesses.
To put the situation into a broader perspective, between pointless meetings, excessive email and interruptions, 60% or less of work time is actually spent productively, according to Atlassian.
While some obstacles to employee productivity are environmental, others are people performance problems. Some employees are certainly stressed and distracted, while others are just disengaged.
What is productivity?
Productivity SA defines productivity as:
“A mindset that continuously aspires to better ways of accomplishing tasks and conducting business. At the heart of productivity is the individual. An organisation can only become more productive through continuous upgrading of knowledge, skills, discipline, effort and collaboration.”
Productivity is an outcome. When people are engaged, satisfied, supported and motivated, they’re productive. Productivity improves by 20 to 25% in organisations with connected employees.
How to improve employee productivity.
Employee productivity is crucial to the success of any business. Teams that are able to make substantial gains and improvements in a short amount of time have a massive impact on the bottom line. Here are 8 ways you can drive productivity in your business.
Offer flexible and remote working
While remote work has become pretty standard among many businesses due to COVID-19, offering flexible and remote working has proven to increase productivity. Many companies have found that their team gets more done when they work from home, even during the pandemic.
Remote teams just perform better – they take less sick leave, log more hours (up to five more hours a week), are more engaged, are happier and healthier and are 13% more likely to stay at their current job.
Consider your flexible and remote working policy. If it doesn’t reflect how your employees want to work, it’s time to update it.
Show employees that you value them through recognition
66% of employees say that feeling valued in the workplace and being recognised for their work is vital to their productivity levels. This can be anything from a ‘great work’ remark from their boss, to continuous feedback and a formal employee recognition and rewards program.
A strategic recognition and rewards system from Achievement Awards Group enables you to foster a positive, respectful corporate culture that motivates high performance and increases employee engagement.
Support your workers’ wellbeing
A recent Human Capital Trends study from Deloitte reports that when organisations focus as much on wellbeing as they do on productivity, it results in a concurrent increase in both the output and health levels of workers.
It’s not enough to simply subsidise a gym membership and replace the snack bowl with fruit.
There needs to be a shift in corporate wellbeing programs to a more holistic approach, encompassing mental, social, emotional, physical, spiritual and financial health. In addition to physical health, next-generation wellness programs need to focus on financial health, loneliness and social isolation, healthy sleep and other factors that can affect health.
Use analytics to understand your teams
There are many productivity tools available, from time-tracking apps to project management tools.
One way to use a productivity tool (besides to save time) is to use the analytics from it to understand your employees better. For example, use it to spot warning signs of burnout when an employee is working too many hours. You can also see which projects are going well, where there might be problem spots and who has room to take on more tasks.
Look at your highest performing teams and see what patterns and insights emerge. Use the data available to analyse what they respond positively to.
Create a great employee experience
A productive, positive employee experience has emerged as the new contract between employer and employee. To improve employee experience, HR needs to refocus its efforts on building programs, strategies and teams that understand and continuously improve the entire employee experience.
Leadership, organisation structure and teams, career mobility, learning, diversity, employment brand and HR services, all affect an employee’s experience.
Gamification for business uses game elements to motivate employees to perform at their best. It uses prompts to encourage employees to compete with their own goals, their team members or their past performances. It basically turns work activity into a more game-like experience.
TalentLMS’s 2019 Gamification at Work survey found that gamification makes employees feel 89% more productive and 88% happier at work. It also found that gamification in the workplace still has a significant impact on employee engagement, motivation and psychology.
Make work meaningful for employees
“When an individual’s strong suits are incorporated into his or her daily role, the employee is likely more inclined to be engaged, happy and productive,” according to a journal from Deloitte.
It’s important to make work meaningful for your employees. Put a focus on leadership, learning and coaching and be transparent about career development opportunities.
A ConnectSolutions report found that reducing work distractions is good for productivity. Remote work helps eliminate workplace distractions like background noise and interruptions from coworkers.
However, workers are still interrupted by email, instant messages and other digital distractions nearly 14 times per day on average. Digital distractions are major hindrances to productivity. While they can’t be completely eliminated, it’s important to change how they are used.
Encourage employees to be more intentional about when and how they check communication tools.
Productivity is an outcome.
Finding ways to improve productivity is driving the movement around creating a better employee experience. When employees are more engaged with their job, they’re happier. And when they’re happier, they’re more productive.
Create a great work environment that focuses on the employee experience from a holistic perspective. That’s your solution for improving employee productivity.