The 2 crucial elements for productive employees

Nik Penhale Smith

Are your employees using their time wisely and performing to the best of their ability? The chances are that you can’t answer this with a resounding yes, but how can you improve your employees’ productivity?

In this blog I want to talk about the age old issue of productivity, and discuss how organisations can improve the productivity of employees without increasing the number of hours they work.

Productivity: A recurring concern

Within organisations, productivity has long been on the mind of managers, directors and CEOs. The age old question of how can we help employees become more productive has been an ever present challenge in organisations across the world.

What we have seen from experience is that employee survey results for productivity vary tremendously. Our new global report reveals that the current average global score for productivity sits at 7,2, whereas the scores in some organisations can be as low as 4,4. What this tells us is that there is huge variety in the scores and that one thing is for certain; there is always room for improvement.

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Read detailed insights on global productivity scores, including the current scores, regional trends and changes in score for 17 key HR themes (including employee engagement and cmmitment)

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Social innovation

Studies show that productivity doesn’t rise when you increase the hours or the number of tasks of employees. On the contrary, long and arduous work weeks can lead to staff exodus, fatigue and lower productivity in employees. Simply shoring up costs and recalculating outputs alone won’t increase productivity.

One of the ways that organisations can help increase productivity is through (social) innovation. To innovate, managers and employees need to work in sync to change things for the better. Together, managers and employees should work on finding solutions to work smarter and there should be a focus on advancing current work systems. It can be a real waste of human capital and talent if organisations ignore the opportunity to innovate with their employees.

We’ve seen that a vital component of innovation in organisations is letting employees have input. A great tool to do so is a well-designed employee survey as it provides an accessible platform for employees to be heard.  Employees have the greatest knowledge on what is happening inside an organisation, and are by far the best people to provide input on how organisations can innovate their current work systems!  

Are your employees resisting change?

Energy and direction

As identified by numerous studies, the two crucial elements to successful innovation (and thus higher productivity in employees) are energy and direction.

To provide employees with energy, organisations should create a stimulating working environment, and should create opportunities for employees to work with colleagues whom they can collaborate and discuss ideas with. On top of this, employees can also gain energy come from clarity about responsibilities, as well as inspiring and motivational leadership.

In tandem with energy, there also needs to be clear direction for employees. Providing employees information on and regularly communicating where the organisation is, can provide a solid basis. Furthermore, employees gain direction when they know where their organisation wants to go and how they can do to help it get there.

Organisations that manage to work on improving the energy and direction of their employees, and work with their employees to innovate are some of the most productive organisations that we work with. At the other end many organisations struggle with this, but providing the necessary information and opening a dialogue with employees on how to work smarter is always a great starting point.