THE GREAT BRITISH PRODUCTIVITY SWINDLE PAINFUL TRUTHS No 3. The Employee

As a business owner, do you know from one day to the next, what your employees actually do? Can you, hand on heart, say they’ve produced a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay? Or do you have niggling doubts as to whether they’re as productive as they could be?

In the last of our series The Painful Truths, exploring the causes of low productivity for business owners, The Employee is the third factor in the equation, after The Business and The Manager.

Recent surveys have highlighted some alarming facts, which start to shape the possible causes of the biggest downturn in productivity the UK has experienced since 2008. Office workers are devout procrastinators, confirmed by a 2016 survey of full time office staff around the UK, where the average staff member admitted to wasting more than 33% of their paid hours on non-work related activities.

This blatant admission of time wasting could be costing your business as much as £11.5k per time waster per year (based on current UK average salary of £28,000 and E’er on costs). If you could recuperate just half of that by improving productivity, with 10 employees on your payroll, that could improve your bottom line by nearly £50k a year.

Pull your socks up: a case of woolly management

The sad fact is that, thanks to weak management skills, which we explored in the second article, The Employee has two fundamental dilemmas:

  1. They don’t know what is expected of them, and ipso facto
  2. They don’t know whether they’re productive or not

If the prevailing management style in your business measures performance once or twice a year through the (dreaded) Performance Appraisal, and for the other 50 weeks of the year employees are told to “pull your socks up,” or “you’ll have to do better than that” by their poorly trained managers; then it’s hardly surprising they’re setting their own sights and deciding for themselves how far up their socks need to be pulled!

Align your employees to your business goals

The solution lies in setting clear expectations, and engaging with each employee, individually, to ensure they have a thorough understanding of the standards of work required. I previously mentioned setting Key Performance Indicators. For your employees these will probably be non-financial measurements, and normally need to quantify the volume of work required, within defined time frames, and with clear quality guidelines. All of these parameters will form part of the Management Control Systems driven from the top, and aligned right down to the staff on the front line, to ensure your whole organisation is working towards common goals. Everyone should understand what good productivity levels are for their own job role.

Energised teams go from Productivity to Profit

Once you’ve got the numbers working, your employees will be much more focused, and probably feel a lot more motivated, with greater job satisfaction. Working in an environment of ambiguity and uncertainty is never comfortable for anyone, but with a focus on objective, fair and factual management; crystal clear targets and expectations, fluid dialogue and communication, you’ll start to see a marked improvement in productivity which can only reflect positively on your profit margins.

This is the last in the three-part series of The Great British Productivity Swindle: The Painful Truths, and in summary here are the key drivers to move your organisation’s productivity to the next level:

The Business

  • Design and implement robust Management Control Systems
  • Define solid Key Performance Indicators and productivity measuring mechanisms

The Manager

  • Communicate the standards of work expected from the Manager and their Team, required to meet the business goals
  • Develop your Managers people skills in communication and delegation through CPD and Training

The Employee

  • Ensure each employee knows exactly what is expected of them in measurable terms
  • Achieve greater employee engagement and job satisfaction by training them in how to achieve great productivity in their role

Alluxi Consulting offers a CMI Recognised Leadership & Management Development Programme, delivering the tools, techniques and skills your management need to take your Productivity to Profit. If you would like further details or are interested in registering for the next course, starting in January 2018, please contact us by email at linda@alluxi.co.uk or call 07717 221368.

Maximise your business potential. Alluxi Consulting is an industry expert recognised for putting productivity back into British businesses. We work with ambitious business owners to provide external support and expert advice on developing management systems, processes and teams. Alluxi Consulting Ltd offers Business Productivity Consulting and Executive Development programmes. An initial exploratory discussion can quickly uncover what you need to move your business forward.