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Solving the employee productivity puzzle

 

February 8, 2018

European governments and organisations have been puzzling over productivity for years, as economic outputs vs. inputs have failed to keep up with the rest of the world. Productivity growth across the Euro area currently sits at less than 0.5%, down from 2% in 1995, and significantly behind the and other advanced economies.

People are at the heart of the productivity puzzle, which is why, as part of The Workforce View 2018, we asked European employees how they feel about their own productivity in the workplace. The findings show that many employees are struggling, with a fifth saying they only reach maximum productivity ‘some of the time’ and one in ten ‘rarely or never’ able to be at their most productive.

But perhaps the most revealing findings relate to the reasons behind these productivity issues,, inefficient systems and,, the influence of social media and smartphones is named by only a small number of respondents.

 

How can employers overcome the barriers to productivity?

  1. Focus on skills: Employees will naturally be more productive when they have the optimal skill-set for their role. That requires a strategic approach to talent management to ensure people are deployed in the best way possible and that staff undergo regular skills development to fill any gaps.
  2. Invest in managers: Line managers have a critical role in getting the most out of the workforce, by providing direction and motivation in line with organisational goals. Organisations therefore need to ensure they are selecting, developing and supporting managers in the right way, so they can fulfil this role successfully.
  3. Give employees autonomy: Studies have shown that employees who are given greater autonomy and control over how, when and where they work are more satisfied and productive. Employers can support this by finding a balance between providing structure, but also giving staff discretion over how they manage their own workload.
  4. The right tools: Technology can either be an enabler or a drain on productivity, so it’s vital to match the tools to the job, and update them regularly. Productivity is about working smarter not harder so if slow, outdated technology is hindering progress, it could be time for an upgrade.
  5. HR support: HR teams have a vital role to play in supporting organisational leaders and managers in getting the most out of employees. This includes helping to resolve conflict and providing guidance on navigating complex employment rules, which can be a drain on their time.
  6.  

Unfortunately, there is no simple solution to the productivity puzzle, which depends on a whole range of different factors and requires a highly nuanced approach. But having greater insight into the perspective of employees, and the changes that will make a real difference to them, is a really good place to start.

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