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Productivity Flatlining?

The last year has thrown major spanners in the works for how most businesses operate.

Lots of businesses have had to find a way to continue working remotely or create a mix of remote and on-site operations.

Even if you have everyone back in the office and it feels like you’re operating as normal - you may be noticing productivity and performance has not returned to previous levels.

Employee performance is heavily connected to their wellbeing (emotional and physical) and there are some important employee wellbeing measures that may have fallen by the wayside.

How connected are your people?

The sense of personal connection is important and highly underrated.

Having a sense of community, belonging, shooting the breeze and kicking back a bit with your fellow employees has huge benefits to productivity and problem solving.

It may seem counter intuitive. Many workplaces are getting more competitive, with a dog eat dog mentality driven by KPI’s that value numbers and outcomes but forget to take into account latent benefits each employee might be providing.

More and more employees are opting to stay at their desk and work through lunch, or eat on the run, in an attempt to indicate they are more driven and committed, or being more productive / loyal.

We need to reset the attributes we value in our employees!!

The value of not leaving a desk, of working through lunch isn’t always so valuable. We all know the benefits of taking a step away from a problem to gain perspective - if you’ve ever had the panic of forgetting a person’s name when you see them at an event, only to remember their name hours later while you’re relaxing at home, you’ll be able to appreciate this concept.

This same benefit is achieved by stepping away from your desk, hitting the staff room and having seemingly innocuous conversations with your colleagues.

It’s predicted that on average 60% of employees are connectors. They may be slightly less productive and they may not look as good on paper as some of your other staff, but these connectors play an important role in assisting overall performance.

Let’s say Sean is a connector - he achieves average output and isn’t a top producer, but he’s social, personable and gets on well with pretty much everyone.

Then there’s Tom, driven and focused and one of the top producers in the company.

If Tom has a problem with a project he’s working on, and he has a chat with Sean at the water cooler, it’s likely Sean will know who Tom should go and talk to, or work with and be able to direct him to a solution.

These ‘connectors’ are now losing their influence because they’re not getting that opportunity to learn, build relationships & trust with their fellow workmates.

Can you think of a connector you might call on in your workplace? That person you often go to, even if it’s just to download your issues to. They are probably not the superstar sales person or the winner of the employee of the month awards, but they’re ability to listen and then connect you with the person you need is undeniably valuable to overall productivity.

Yet the old days of catching up for a casual chat around the water cooler are less and less frequent.

Its important as an employer, to be willing to look beyond the numbers. Take the time to assess the unseen or unmeasured value an employee might be providing and also to foster an environment that enables the ‘chit chat’ time.

So many businesses have struggled to stay operational, with lockdowns and closures - sometimes for weeks or even months at a time.

Purses are tighter - a lot has been lost and I get it! There’s always going to be a CFO looking at the bottomline and having to make tough calls in the name of reducing costs and increasing outcomes.

However, now more than ever placing value on things that can’t necessarily be given a dollar value might just be the hidden key to improving wellbeing and in turn increasing productivity and employee performance.

Some relatively painless measures you can incorporate:

- if you’re working remotely, allow an extra 10 minutes or so before or after scheduled zoom meetings to give people a chance to ‘catch up’

- encourage staff to hit the lunchroom, or to step away from their desk and take that lunch break.

- maybe even include a ‘walking meeting’ instead of sitting across a desk for less formal conversations.

- introduce a staff lead ‘social-club’ style group. You will always find some staff members who are happy to volunteer their time and energy into organising a weekly / monthly or even just quarterly social event. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive, and may even involve getting a team together to volunteer at a food shelter or a ‘random acts of kindness‘ day.

Things to consider

1. What are your corporate values ?

- and are your performance measure in alignment with those values

2. How is your communication pipeline?

- when it comes to employee wellbeing (which if managed correctly WILL improve performance) is the line of communication open and transparent? Are you asking for feedback / input from ALL levels of employees about what they feel is missing, or what things they’d like to see made available to them.

3. How accessible are your wellbeing measures ?

- what are you offering (in the name of employee wellbeing) and how many employees are using it? Are you measuring the success of what you have in place?

If employee performance is not where you’d like it to be, it may be time to bring in a consultant to fine tune your wellbeing to create a more cohesive and successful program.

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