On average, employees spend around 3 hours of their day actually working. The rest is spent on other tasks such as looking at news, checking social media, and conversing with other individuals in the organization. From an individual standpoint, this lack of effort seems harmless but think about every employee doing this. That means the average organization is working at about half of their potential. Personnel cost are one of the highest costs of an organization. That means that more than half of that expense is essentially wasted on other activities outside of work. It would be fantastic if we could raise a wand to make all that wasted time go away, but we are dealing with the human portion of the process. It is not as easy as changing settings on a machine to reduce the waste. The question gets posed frequently on ways to increase productivity of each individual employee. Everything from watching people the entire time they are in the office to installing a ping pong table for employees during breaks. Today we are going to go over a few topics I have seen used in the workplace, with varying effectiveness, and some suggestions that might help in your organization.
Organizations consisting of teams working on consistent tasks go the tracking route. A great example would be call centers. How many calls per hour? How many sales per week? From there, employees will have reviews based on these numbers. Such tactics work out for getting people to produce a certain number. Most will do enough to make by but stop before achieving too much. “Just raise the bar high enough so people cannot slack off Anthony”. While this sounds good in practice, the backlash from employees not happy the numbers tend to ruin any potential increase in production. In fact, some individuals will quit if they feel the amount of work is too high compared to what they are getting paid. Yes this works but there are limits.
Laissez Faire Work Schedule
Culture is pushing for the flexible work week. As long as the work gets done, that is all that matters. On top of that, some groups are offering unlimited vacation on top of this flexible schedule. Giving individual employees the ability to choose schedule does give them the feeling they control their destiny. From my experience, most employers pressure through other ways such as deadlines and quotas. Most employees do not take any vacation out of fear of not getting enough done. While the intention is to not strike fear into individuals certain personality types thrive with freedom while other individuals need structure.
Bonus System Based on Production
Essentially the carrot on the stick tactic. Often beneficial this task directly relates hard work to extra compensation. Most individuals have some drive towards extra compensation. Some employees simply do not care about increase pay but the number seems to be small enough. The only negative of this process has to do with employees getting too focused only on metrics that help towards getting them extra pay. Wells Fargo shows a great example of a company that focused numbers and compensation to the point that many employees were committing fraud in order to make their metrics. This means there was a total disregard for customer service. As long as leadership keeps people honest to the process and keeps customer service above all else, this is a good tool that I have seen.
Summary and other Ideas
These tools work well in the right place with the right people. Every individual is special and because of that, the solution is unique to the individual. My advice on this subject is to have the conversation up front of what each person wants out of working at your organization. Encourage them to have candor. If they want to go up in the business be honest with the potential movements they could obtain. Maybe money is what gets them going. Create a plan for their raises in the next year. Even the individual that is working there as an in between job before getting to the next part of their career. It would be nice to know this up front in order to lead people with the right carrot. On top of that, make sure everyone sees the vision of the company and wants to be a part of it. Certain individuals may choose not to care what the organization sees as the macro reason for existing. They might not be the right fit otherwise. Occasionally, the optimistic, hard workers, jumps on to the team for no particular reason. Quite the rarity.
The best idea however is to list to every person and understand what they want out of their work and ultimately their life. Showing individuals you care in this way will give them a greater feeling of belonging. That is one of the best ways to increase production.
Helping Managers assist their employees in finding their why, creating a path to achieve that why, and keeping them on that path.
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