Opinion piece from Edward Guest, Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Unlimited group
Productivity has been one of the biggest buzzwords over the last few years as organizations look to maximise the potential of their diverse, remote workforces. But talking about productivity and creating and embedding a culture that encourages employees to thrive are very different things.
A culture of productivity means understanding potential issues that could prevent effective work practices and addressing them with structures that help people get work done more efficiently. A strong culture of productivity is shaped by critical elements that organise teams and inform their actions, including the type of people in the organisation, teamwork, work structure, leadership and management, and technology.
How technology drives greater productivity
Technology is increasingly crucial to boosting productivity levels. For example, robotic process automation (RPA) helps to drive optimal productivity levels by helping businesses build, deploy, and manage robots that emulate human actions and interact with digital systems and software.
RPA allows businesses to reduce the number of mundane tasks that employees carry out, cultivating a happier and more engaged workforce. This makes RPA well suited to functions like HR and finance admin, populating timesheets, traffic and resource management, centralising client contract lists, and job management setup.
As a result, a typical automation project offers significant time- and cost-saving potential. It also frees up capacity for employees to focus on billable jobs that add value to the organisation, which eases any potential concerns about automation replacing people’s jobs.
Building a productivity culture
Insight from our Human Understanding Lab – a 120-strong community of neuro, behavioural and data scientists, technologists and strategic planners – establishing a corporate culture drives expected employee behavior, which shapes people’s regular activities and, in turn, enhances productivity. It’s therefore vital to ensure a culture of productivity continuously thrives and improves through training and development and encouraging employees to ask for support. This helps to remove obstacles and ensures team members have the resources they need to work as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Furthermore, with the right processes in place, team members are aligned with corporate goals and understand the strategies and methodologies used to achieve them.
Businesses can also boost their productivity culture by following these five steps:
- Regular vision reinforcement: Employees must be clear about what they’re trying to achieve and produce. But lacking a clear vision can result in work drifting and people becoming disengaged. While a clear vision and strategy increase buy-in, encourage engagement and commitment, and help employees take the initiative rather than waiting for senior staff to tell them what to do.
- Openly discuss productivity behaviour: Creating a thriving culture of productivity relies on talking openly and honestly about productivity data and behaviour. Employees need to be comfortable voicing any concerns, and leaders need to be transparent about their challenges.
- Set productivity goals: Productivity is often overlooked when businesses set their goals. But defining metrics can help to understand what employees need to achieve their goals and be more effective. Organizations can also look to tools like analytics software that tracks how employees spend their time and advises whether additional resources or workload changes are required.
- Measure productivity impact: Measuring productivity enables businesses to assess the effectiveness of their tools and software, compare teams’ performance in real-time, see which applications consume employees’ time, and reveal any stagnant workflows. This is particularly vital with remote workforces, helping leaders assess employee productivity across different locations and environments. Busin
- Identify team friction: Friction is a significant threat to productivity, causing employees to become distracted by email alerts, notifications from social networks, and taking on tasks that don’t add value. Employees may not realise they’re unproductive, but leaders can use data to identify these issues and minimise distractions.
By instilling these processes, businesses can increase productivity through effective resource allocation and automation. Productivity is further enhanced by good collaboration between teams and employees to find the best most effective way of doing things. Process optimisation is a key stage in the journey towards automation. Automating unnecessary tasks or poor processes massively reduces productivity. This requires being prepared to look outside our comfort areas and embrace new and different ways of carrying out work. A culture of continuous improvement encourages constant evolution and change allowing employees to thrive.
“Only that which can change can continue: this is the principle by which infinite players live.” ―Dr. James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games
Finally, don’t forget at the end of the day you are working with humans (it can often be forgotten!) so having a human understanding is key.