WIN-WIN - Increase workplace productivity and improve workplace positivity!
Often when people start talking about increased productivity it is easy to conjure up an image of the manager just reaching for a bigger and stronger whip. However Paul J Meyer, the founder of Success Motivation International, once said "Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort." In this article we take a look at the seven productivity drivers that can not only help to improve business productivity, but can also provide an opportunity to create a more inclusive, positive and innovative place to work.
These following seven productivity drivers were highlighted by a working group of businesses, union representatives, academics and government personal as part of the Workplace Productivity challenge report. (Most of this article is a summary of that report.) These drivers provide a great checklist for workplaces to see where they could improve their productivity. So let's take a look:
1. Building better leadership and management
Effective leadership is all about having a clear vision of where your business is heading. It's also about identifying new opportunities and inspiring your team to pursue those opportunities. Leadership is required from individuals and from teams.
Building leadership and management includes:
- encouraging leadership at every level of the organisation
- leading by example and creating a positive and productive work environment
- making sure your staff have the skills and resources to improve their learning and go on learning
- investing in management development and training
- supporting innovative thinking and making use of new ideas
2. Creating Productive Workplace Cultures
Creating positive relationships between staff, teams and managers is definitely a feature of productive workplaces. A positive work environment motivates people and helps them commit to the organisation. That's when people feel encouraged to 'go the extra mile'.
It is also important to value people's insights and experience. Their ideas can help your workplace to do things smarter and better. That means your organisation will become more innovative and productive over time.
Creating productive workplace cultures includes:
- treating people at all levels of the business well
- all staff sharing the same goals and values
- all employees having the chance to suggest how they could improve their part of the organisation
- rewarding participation and good ideas
- gathering feedback on staff attitudes and ideas for improvement
3. Encouraging Innovation and the Use of Technology
Innovation is a key part of raising workplace productivity. Productive workplaces are innovative in the way they use technology and plan and organise themselves. They generally employ more highly-skilled and highly-paid workers and through innovation they increase their market share.
Encouraging innovation and the use of technology includes:
- working out what new technologies could be useful to your organisation
- regularly investing in research and development
- consulting employees and giving them training when new technology is introduced
- being open to innovation and doing things differently
- giving people opportunities to suggest new ideas or processes
4. Investing in People and Skills
The more skills your staff have, the more innovative they can be. They will also be more capable with new technology. Skilled workers can also work more quickly with fewer mistakes. They generally require less supervision, accept more responsibility and are better communicators. Training leads to higher skills and wages and lower staff turnover.
Investing in people and skills includes:
- giving employees the training they need to be effective
- providing all employees with opportunities for formal learning (e.g. industry qualifications, job specific training)
- structuring the workplace so that experienced employees can give support/coaching to less experienced staff
- auditing the skill level of your employees, and making sure there are high levels of literacy, numeracy and computer skills
- providing staff with personal career development discussions or plans
5. Organising Work
Productive workplaces have structures and processes that enable them to adapt and grow as products, technology and markets change. A well-organised workplace is able to get the best out its staff and technology.
Organising work includes:
- making sure that all employees understand their role in helping your workplace achieve its goals
- recognising and rewarding people whose efforts support your organisations' goals
- regularly analysing work processes and work flows
- encouraging staff to make suggestions about how the workplace can be better organised
- regularly sharing information across teams, processes and networks
6. Networking and Collaborating
You can improve your workplace productivity by exchanging ideas and information with others in your industry. Collaborating with others can reduce the cost of doing business and give you access to new ideas and new technologies.
Networking and collaborating includes:
- building relationships with other organisations and industry bodies in your sector
- joining regional or national industry/trade organisations
- creating good business relationships with suppliers and other organisations that add value to your organisation
- getting involved in local, regional or national government agencies or programmes (e.g. New Zealand Trade and Enterprise)
7. Measuring what Matters
It is really important to assess the value of any investment you make in improving your workplace productivity. This helps you understand the things that make the biggest difference. For example, is it the size of your organisation's structure, the skill levels of your staff, the size of your market or some other factor?
Measuring what matters includes:
- making sure information systems provide the information needed to work out how well your business is doing
- measuring performance against a range of goals, rather than just focusing on financial performance
- identifying key performance measures/indicators and regularly measuring them throughout the year
- making sure all employees know what the key performance measures are
- measuring or monitoring customer satisfaction, employee morale and supplier feedback
- benchmarking your organisation against industry best practice.
Obviously there is no one-size-fits all solution to improving workplace productivity but these drivers are a start for anyone looking to improving their workplace productivity.
Increasing workplace productivity can not only be beneficial for your bottom line, but also an opportunity to build smart, innovative and inclusive workplaces, where anyone's ideas for improvement can be considered and implemented, where possible. Sounds like a most positive, fun, joyful place to work!!
For further information about this Workplace Productivity challenge report along with relevant case studies, visit the Department of Labour website (see below).
1. Department of Labour - Workplace Productivity website.
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