When times get tough productivity should become an overriding priority. You have to get the most out of every resource, and find ways to deliver more value at lower cost. In my experience a relatively modest investment in management skills can produce productivity increases of 25-40% as managers really help team members contribute fully and systematically develop their potential
Knowing that you need to place greater emphasis on productivity is not the same as knowing exactly which productivity practices are most effective. The five factors that have the biggest impact on productivity according to a recent survey by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (I4CP) are:
- corporate culture,
- compensation and benefit programs,
- training and development, and
- performance management.
These represent the collective and, perhaps, conventional wisdom on how best to boost productivity.
I4CP then analysed their data to discover the primary differences between average and highly productive companies. The analysis found that the most productive organisations really outstripped the average ones in several areas, including:
- The culture of the organization
- Employee engagement practices
Seventy-nine percent of the most productive organizations say that, to a high or very high degree, the cultures of their organizations help raise employee productivity. Training managers to build a performance culture would seem to be a sensible option.
Seventy-six percent of highly productive companies said that, to a high or very high extent, leadership in their companies raises productivity. Programs that teach managers how to boost productivity among their direct reports would also seem to be an excellent tactic.
59% of highly productive organizations said they use systematic processes to engage employees. Engagement means that workers are mentally and emotionally invested in their work and in contributing to their employer’s success. Such employees are usually satisfied with their work and speak positively about their employers. Which is why cracking the whip and exhorting employees to work harder or longer is unlikely to be a good productivity strategy over the long term.
Another difference between highly productive and average organizations is in how they tend to measure productivity. The I4CP survey asked about the various ways in which they gauge productivity and found that the most widely utilized metric was:
- output per work group, followed by
- revenue per employee,
- output per person,
- output per hour and
- profits per employee.
Highly productive organizations were not only more likely to use most productivity measures of all types, they tended to place nearly the same emphasis on output per person as they did on output per work group. Now the I4CP only surveyed for profit organisations – but my take would be that the use of similar hard performance measures in a well designed performance management system would have the same impact in the social sector.
These findings suggest two possibilities:
- that applying such metrics leads to higher productivity levels because what gets measured gets done, and
- that organizations should look at both individual and group productivity metrics if they want to have success in this area.
The I4CP study shows that organizations are placing greater emphasis on productivity in today’s challenging times.
It also suggests that organisations that want to boost productivity should consider doing more to measure and track productivity as well as focus on specific organisational factors, including culture, leadership, employee engagement and, health and wellness initiatives.
You can read the original article on the I4CP website here.
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