There is a popular saying that seems to come standard with most CEO speeches.
We hear it so often that we’ve come to believe it’s true.
Wanna know what that saying is? Yes?
Well, here it is!
“Our people are our greatest asset.”
Though this could be true, chances are that right now at your company, this might not be the case!
You see, employee satisfaction drives employee engagement at work and studies are showing that 70% of employees are disengaged.
That’s not a small number, it literally means that 7 out of 10 employees don’t really want to be at work.
It changes your perspective when it’s worded like that, doesn’t it?
Let’s break down the three kinds of employees that are at your company right now:
These are the loyal and emotionally invested people. On an employee satisfaction survey, they rank the highest.They really love their work and are brilliant at their jobs.They add the cherry on top by being willing to take on responsibilities that are way beyond their job descriptions.
They take pride and “ownership” of their work and see themselves as “in it for the long run” thus they will stay with the organisation far into the foreseeable future.
Alarm bells should ring as these employees are the most difficult to identify.
They appear happy, they don’t really do anything wrong, are liked by a lot of people in the company and seem pretty satisfied with their jobs.
Be warned though, they tend to do as little as possible, don’t really care about the company's mission, vision, values or goals…Simply put, they are just at work for the paycheck!
There is hope however for employees that are not really engaged because, with the proper approach, they can be transformed into engaged employees that thrive in the organisation.
Actively disengaged employees:
These are the employees that you need to keep a close eye on. They say that it only takes one bad apple to ruin the bunch and this...this is your bad apple.
Actively disengaged employees carry a significant amount of sway over your workforce as they tend to be extremely knowledgeable about their jobs and are generally senior in number of years compared to everyone else.
On any employee satisfaction poll, they will rank the lowest and are so disgruntled that they won’t hesitate to complain to fellow colleagues.
These are your lowest levels of producers. Not only do they do the bare minimum, they also tend to also look for shortcuts and ways to entirely avoid doing certain tasks.
At the highest level, these are the three different employees you will encounter.
If these kinds of employees are present at all companies, then we're sure you must be asking yourself right now “What’s the worst that could happen?”
A decrease in productivity levels is probably one of the worst things that could possibly happen to your company, but it is not low productivity that is the problem…
It’s the effects that accompany that low productivity!
What Are The Effects of Low Productivity in the Workplace?
1. Low profitability
Productivity and profit are directly proportional; when the one goes up, the other follows.
Let’s say you have a factory that makes widgets. Every month there are fixed costs that you have to pay…things such as salaries, rent and electricity.
When your widget factory starts making fewer widgets, you sell less but the fixed cost prices remain the same, therefore you make less on profits.
2. Downsizing and low morale
The knock on effect is that with fewer profits, you will struggle to pay for everything and cutting jobs is usually what companies do to reflect profitability when they find themselves in this situation. This is a quick win and helps in the short-term.
Though job cuts will never improve your productivity, they do however reduce labour costs and allow you to keep your company in business.
The employees that do survive the job cuts tend to experience a drop in morale due to worry and anxiety about the security of their own jobs.
Cutting down the workforce doesn’t reduce the amount of work. You now have the conundrum of a demoralised workforce having to do more work, a recipe for disaster which can lead to shoddy work.
3. Absenteeism and increased turnover
When workers start questioning why they are doing the work that they are doing if all that is going to happen is they’ll be retrenched, they are more likely to try and skip out wherever possible.
This may include taking shortcuts in certain tasks or not showing up for work at all. Unmotivated, low-producing workers may call in sick periodically based on a limited perception of the value of their roles.
4. Lowering of standards
All that happens, in the end, is that everyone in your company becomes demoralised and struggle to meet the targets and goals that have been set.
The knee-jerk reaction when companies realise that targets will not be met is to lower targets in an attempt to keep the employees motivated.
This is a crucial error as a widget of lower standards will never win in today’s competitive marketplace.
What you end up with is what is called the Vicious Circle of Low Productivity, a cycle that is difficult to get out of and will eventually drive your business to ruin.
Okay, we all know that not everything has to be doom and gloom and we have now understood the reasons why we should do all that we can to avoid low productivity.
So Let’s Fix It with the 5 Ingredients of Employee Engagement
Ingredient 1 - Make sure that the right people are in the right roles
All your employees have a unique set of skills and the biggest disservice that you can do to them and your company is to put people in roles and to give them responsibilities that they are not well suited towards.
There is a popular analogy that requires you to envision your company as a bus. What you want to do is get the right people on to the bus and then take it a step further by putting the right people on the bus and into the right seats.
On their own the talents of your employees can be powerful, but when put together in the right manner they can become unstoppable!
Ingredient 2 - Provide them with training that builds them up and opens internal career paths
Engaged employees become that way because they understand how your company’s mission and vision statements fit into their core values.
They see themselves as part of the company and thus they will strive for positions of greater responsibility and influence. They understand that this can be achieved through further training and learning.
This is where you come in.
Provide them with opportunities for further training and continued learning. Provide them with opportunities for advancement in your organisation. Draw out a clear career path and determine how your employees are able to get there.
Ingredient 3 - Ensure they have work that is meaningful
As mentioned in the bus example, it is not enough to just have talented people in your organisation. Make sure the work they are tasked with aligns with their skills, passions and talents.
You need to ensure that people’s skills and talents are being fully utilised and that there is an alignment to shared core values between the employee and the company.
When people have a sense of meaning in their work, they become more committed to the organisation they work for and have a greater drive for producing results.
Ingredient 4 - Check in with them often and provide continuous feedback
The days of the annual review are now a thing of the past and we can no longer backtrack.
Your employees will always be searching to gain more fulfilment from their work and you can help them with this by providing continuous feedback.
You need to provide your employees with the right feedback at the right time.
Continuous feedback and reaffirmations give direction to your employees as to what they could be doing better, provides opportunities to adjust what they are doing in real-time and increases their level of engagement in the company.
Continuous feedback allows for an extremely fast iterative process, thereby allowing your employees to grow and develop within the company at a faster pace.
Ingredient 5 - Encourage work/life balance
The year 2018 is proving that the 9 to 5 is slowly dying.
There has been a blurring between the lines that once separated work and other activities in life.
No longer do we clock into the factory at 9 am and clock out at 5 pm and thus we often confuse when the right time to switch off from work should be, or when we can do a little more work from home.
You must continuously work at ensuring your valued employees achieve this delicate balance.
Employees who feel there is a level of harmony between their work and other responsibilities outside of work feel a higher level of employee satisfaction and tend to become more engaged.
The best way to combat low productivity is to nip it in the bud before it spreads beyond your control.
If you suspect your organisation’s productivity rates are decreasing, take action immediately. Have a look at what the possible causes might be. Create an action plan that addresses all the issues and avoids getting caught in the vicious cycle of low productivity.