Poor employee productivity negatively impacts the profitability of businesses. According to Gallup, for example, disengaged and unproductive workers cost American businesses about $550 billion every year—businesses just like yours.
There are many factors which contribute to diminished productivity—everything from a weak internal communications strategy to lack of accountability, ineffective onboarding practices and inadequate employee training. The bottom line, however, is that productivity counts. As Dynamic Signal notes:
"Employee productivity is important to any business. After all, when teams are able to make substantial gains and improvements in a short amount of time, it can have a huge impact on the bottom-line. The more efficient your employees are, the more successful you'll be as a business. Most agree that employee productivity is important, but there's a lot of misinformation about it."
Major Factors that Contribute to Poor Productivity
Every business is different, and each one faces different productivity challenges. For most, however, the key factors which weaken productivity are the same, including the following 4:
- Poor training strategies: employees who lack the requisite skills and competencies to adequately perform their jobs are less satisfied and less engaged—and "actively engaged" workers are 27% more likely to register superior performance.
- Ineffective onboarding strategies: the first few months of employment are the critical time for businesses to communicate job expectations and company values, like collaboration and teamwork. Lacking a clear understanding of company culture, workers tend to be both confused and less productive.
- Excessive distractions: workers who are inundated with emails, phone calls and unnecessary meetings are distracted from the core responsibilities of their jobs, diminishing their productivity.
- Unrealistic or unclear goals: it's difficult for employees to achieve key objectives if those objectives aren't clearly articulated or if they're demonstrably unattainable. When employees don't know in other words precisely what's expected of them, they tend to underperform.
How Businesses Can Improve Productivity
Nothing kills productivity more than worker disengagement. Although (as Gallup notes) engagement among U.S. workers has been rising in recent years, through the end of last year, only 34% of surveyed workers described themselves as "engaged," and almost 20%--or 1 in 5—reported they were "actively disengaged." Think about that—if your business is like most, a sizable share of your employees arrive at work every morning feeling little or no stake in your business, and little or no incentive to be productive.
The good news is that you can take proactive steps to boost the productivity of your workers—and your business—including the following 4:
1. Provide Economic Incentives at All Levels
The tendency in business is to optimize the performance of senior managers and C-suite executives to boost productivity. But you can't expect to improve productivity if you neglect employees at lower levels in your organization. Although it might at first seem cost-prohibitive to offer lower-level workers salary incentives, in fact not doing so will be a drag on productivity that will cost your business more over time.
2. Create an Effective Communications Plan
If you want your workers to be more productive, you need to tell them on a regular basis what you expect of them. More important, you also need to listen to them. Providing opportunities for effective communication and feedback (for example, through regular meetings and performance evaluations) helps you both articulate your expectations and gain valuable insights about worker concerns and problems—both of which positively impact productivity.
3. Model Productive Behaviors
Nothing will diminish the impact of your productivity strategy more than asking your employees to do something—and not doing it yourself. If for example you insist employees be at their desks at the start of business but consistently show up an hour late yourself, your workers will conclude that you're not serious about productivity—and will likely feel both frustrated and resentful. Simply stated, if you want to boost productivity, model those behaviors which tend to increase productivity.
4. Give Your Employees the Tools and Training They Need to Succeed
You can't expect your employees to do their jobs effectively if you don't give them the tools and resources they need to succeed. To summarize, a smart training strategy ensures workers have the requisite skills and competencies they need to perform their jobs in the most effective manner possible. Increasingly, that means leveraging the power and efficacy of robust eLearning platforms to provide employees the training they need to succeed.
Increasing the productivity of your workforce can mean the difference between success and failure for your business—but it can also be both complicated and confusing. Fortunately, there are experienced businesses who can give you the advice, guidance and tools to simplify the process—and make it demonstrably more efficient.