Workplace productivity will always be a focus point for savvy business owners. After all, while actual sickies and ongoing absenteeism has some real and tangible effects in the workplace, a lack of on-the-job productivity can sometimes have an even greater knock-on effect.
Great leaders also know that they have a big hand in empowering employees and boosting productivity, which is why it’s important to take heed of dips in general ampedness and work output among your team members so you can identify the cause and take steps to rectify it.
Recently, things have been more topsy-turvy from an operational standpoint, of course. When the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdowns forced many companies to adopt a remote working model on the fly, many local businesses saw surprising advantages.
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However, while almost 40% of South Africans stated that they would like to continue working from home during a recent survey, many employers claim that productivity has been negatively affected and that it is a key barrier to long-term remote working.
Which brings us to the question - what is the causal link between workplace productivity and employee engagement? It makes sense that workers with low levels of engagement would be less productive than their peers, but could there be an inverse link as well?
Executive coach and leadership educator John Baldoni has a very succinct definition of employee engagement. He says an employee can be described as ‘engaged’ when they want to come to work, understand their job, and know how their work contributes to the success of their organisation. As such, it's no stretch to understand why low engagement causes low levels of workplace productivity.
However, another recent study by Deloitte showed that frustration with operations and an inability to be more productive as a result of issues not of their own making can cause younger employees (specifically Millennials and Gen X) to become disengaged and look around for new opportunities.
Here are a few common barriers to workplace productivity that could be leading to disengagement at your company, especially in the remote working space:
Countless modes of communication
There is nothing quite as frustrating as trying to get work done while there are pings and little flashing notification items going off all over your PC screen and assorted devices. However, this is often the case for newly remote workers whose teams have not figured out a smooth system of communication just yet.
Ideally, every employee should know:
- Where their most pressing job requests are coming from.
- How to submit requests for urgent action.
- Where they can find up to date info on projects quickly and easily.
- Which spaces are suitable for more informal chats.
In short - remote workers need a seamless work management system that connects them to their team members and digital workspace so they can manage their time efficiently.
A lack of project processes and automated workflows
Every business differs, but in most cases it’s safe to say there will be certain tasks and processes that will be repeated time and again, albeit as a part of different projects.
However, when these processes are managed inconsistently from one project to the next, it can lead to a disorganised work environment and waste employees' time as they have no time to think strategically about their jobs and optimise their work while they react to menial tasks that could be automated.
In connected enterprises, knowledge workers can use workflow automation to their advantage by bypassing more 'menial' aspects of their do-list. These systems should also ideally be 'living', so they can be adapted according to emerging best practices and altering team structures.
Ineffectual onboarding and murky admin processes
When you work in an office it’s often simple enough to get up and ask a colleague when you’re unsure about something admin-related, e.g. filing an expense report, or how to get approval for a given project expense. However, when you are working remotely, it’s not always as simple - especially if you were hired via Zoom, introduced to your team members over Slack, and uploading your work to Trello.
Effective onboarding is becoming more vital than ever in the remote space. Additionally, it helps to create easy-to-search company resources that are available to employees at all times via an intranet of sorts. Think along the lines of an internal FAQs system where employees can access information pertaining to the inner workings of the business without having to wait for someone to react to a Slack ping.
There you have it - a few common barriers to workplace productivity that can hamper employee engagement. Check back soon for more helpful insights from the bountiXP team.
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