Henry David Thoreau, an American philosopher, said, “It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is: “What are we busy with?”
The same applies to an organization’s workforce. Keeping them busy doesn’t necessarily imply that they are productive. Employees should add value, contribute to organizational growth, and help meet strategic goals.
However, it’s not as easy as it sounds. There are several productivity killers at the workplace that can negatively influence employees’ performance. Some of them are intrinsic, including a lack of motivation, personal issues, etc. The extrinsic factors are poor ergonomics, inconducive work environment, unclear roles and responsibilities, biased treatment, etc.
Therefore, organizations must identify these productivity killers and take measures to combat them effectively. It will help maintain a high-performance culture and enhance employee engagement.
This article enlists these productivity killers and proven ways to beat them. But before that, let’s first understand:
1. Why does employee productivity matter?
Highly productive employees are more actively involved in organizational activities and engage with their coworkers on a regular basis. Moreover, when the workforce is productive, they give 100% effort to the task assigned, which enhances the quality of products/services and enriches the customer experience.
Increased productivity ensures timely project delivery, preventing unnecessary overhead costs incurred due to schedule overruns, sub-optimal efficiency, etc. All these reasons are why employee productivity takes center stage for every enterprise.
The following section discusses some major productivity killers that affect the workplace.
2. 8 major productivity killers at the workplace and how to overcome them
As discussed above, various factors can affect productivity at the workplace. They can range from work stress and unfair treatment to workplace distractions and micromanagement.
Let’s understand each of them in detail and how to tackle it effectively.
A. Unclear roles and responsibilities
A lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities makes it challenging for employees to figure out what exactly they are supposed to do. With this ambiguity, they fail to understand how they contribute to the enterprise’s success, which eventually lowers their engagement. Moreover, it may lead to conflicts arising out of the loss of every individual’s accountability or ownership. All this can cumulatively hamper the team’s productivity.
So how do you combat this issue?
Solution – Clearly define key responsibilities to avoid role ambiguities
No matter how competent your resources are, they can only give their best when they have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. This gives them a sense of purpose, making them better positioned to align their efforts with the organization’s end goals. Once they understand the expectations, they are more inclined to contribute and put their best foot forward, which elevates their work rate.
For example, if you are managing a marketing team, and the strategic goal is to increase website traffic and generate leads, you should convey this and then explain the key responsibility areas (KRAs). It will help every individual contributor understand how their work will help attain the end goal.
B. Frequent and unnecessary meetings or emails
Frequent meetings or calls, particularly those without any pre-decided agenda and discussion points, consume a significant amount of time from employees’ daily schedules. Moreover, when each member is invited to attend a meeting that does not require their input or contributions, it blocks the time they could have spent on critical work. Furthermore, constantly being distracted by email or other app notifications can also become a roadblock for productivity.
So, how to tackle this issue?
Solution – Set a standard protocol and agenda for every communication
Managers should ensure that meetings are held only on pressing matters and as deemed necessary. Moreover, they should set the agenda beforehand, circulate previous minutes of the meeting, and only invite those directly involved with the topic of discussion. Further, the management should check everyone’s availability beforehand and schedule the meeting accordingly.
Similarly, while sending emails, the senders must refrain from adding people who are not required. It will help employees keep their focus intact and improve productivity. Moreover, a standard protocol must be developed to ensure the right use of asynchronous and synchronous modes of communication to minimize unnecessary meetings and other threads.
C. Non-uniform workload distribution
Non-uniform workload distribution is one of the most significant productivity killers at work. If a resource is overutilized, it will cause fatigue and burnout, whereas if they are underutilized, it will lead to disengagement. Moreover, when an under-skilled resource is working on a critical task, they may feel clueless. On the contrary, an experienced resource allocated to an admin task will not be able to utilize their expertise the right way. All these scenarios can lower an employee’s work rate.
So, what is the solution?
Solution – Ensure uniform workload distribution
The managers should consider resources’ availability and utilization rates before scheduling them for project tasks. It will ascertain that every resource is working according to their available capacity.
A resource management tool warns managers in real-time if they overbook a resource in real-time, thus preventing burnout.
In case an employee is overutilized, managers can also optimize their schedules using appropriate resource optimization techniques and retain their productivity.
Furthermore, managers must ensure competent resource allocation to prevent a skills mismatch. They can implement the tool and gain enterprise-wide visibility of the resource pool and their skillsets. Using the advanced filters, they can ascertain that the right person is working on the right task.
D. Favoritism and non-conducive work environment
Favoritism at the workplace can be counterproductive. First, sometimes the favored employees, intentionally or unintentionally, can neglect their duties, disturb healthy team dynamics, and lower overall productivity. Second, bias may make the remaining people feel undervalued and disconnected from the team, which will negatively impact their productivity.
Additionally, poor ergonomics and physiological conditions such as ventilation and illumination, etc., can also hamper employees’ physical and mental well-being, reflecting in poor work rate and performance.
How can you mitigate this issue?
Solution – Build an inclusive and conducive work culture
The key to overcoming this productivity challenge is fostering a diverse, inclusive, and positive work culture. Therefore, managers should treat their team members equally irrespective of various backgrounds, ethnicities, races, etc., and conduct dedicated training sessions to inculcate diversity intelligence. It will facilitate mutual understanding and respect among team members, and foster a positive work culture, thus resulting in better productivity.
Besides, organizations must provide proper ergonomics and a physically and mentally conducive workspace. For instance, exposing employees to more natural light or LEDs that produce similar lighting effects can keep them energized and highly productive.
E. Micromanagement and lack of trust in employees
Research reveals- 79% of respondents said that the micromanagement they experienced interfered with job performance.
Often, managers tend to be skeptical of their subordinates and their capabilities, making them resort to micromanagement instead of supervision and guidance. Micromanagement makes the workforce feel less valued and trusted. It also deprives employees of their freedom to be creative and innovative. This reduces their morale and lowers productivity.
So, how do you beat this productivity challenge?
Solution – Delegate responsibilities and promote autonomy
Entrusting resources with the right roles and responsibilities fosters a culture of autonomy and individual accountability. When the onus is on resources to complete the work all by themselves, they are sure to do it with increased focus and dedication.
In addition, providing regular constructive feedback without penalizing employees for every small mistake motivates them to learn and grow without the fear of retribution. All of it helps them perform to their full potential, increases their productivity, and contributes to the company’s growth and sustainability.
F. Ineffective employee rewards and recognition policy
A survey reveals that 66% of employees say they would likely leave their job if they didn’t feel appreciated.
Employees put in a lot of hard work and effort to prove their mettle and accomplish every task with utmost diligence. However, if it is not acknowledged and suitably rewarded, it will lower their interest, disengage them, consequently, reducing their productivity.
Solution – Appreciate employees’ effort and good work regularly
Appreciation and acknowledgement of good work are imperative to overcome this productivity killer. Rewarding high-performers makes them happy and motivated to keep doing better in the long run. It also encourages others to perform at their best, set new benchmarks, and receive recognition.
The management can reward employees with salary increments, bonuses, extra paid leaves, free gym memberships, etc., as appropriate. For exceptional performances, both promotions and increments can also be given on a case-to-case basis.
G. Lack of initiative in employees’ professional development
Every resource has personal aspirations regarding their career and professional growth. However, the absence of an Individual Development Program to cater to them may generate dissatisfaction and insecurity. Moreover, monotonous work responsibilities without any new areas to explore and learn about can disengage them. All these factors cumulatively lower productivity in the long haul.
What is the ideal solution to deal with this?
Solution – Implement suitable upskilling/training programs
Companies should understand every individual’s career goals and create a feasible roadmap to help achieve them. They can also assess the employees’ performance and find areas where they need learning. Accordingly, they can initiate upskilling/training programs at all hierarchical levels.
These programs help resources acquire new skills and competencies and expand their portfolios. It will also give them opportunities to participate in multi-faceted projects. Additionally, the fact that the organization respects employees’ career goals while keeping theirs in mind reinforces a sense of belonging and purpose. As a result, employees will be more productive and dedicated to work.
H. Absence of the right tool inventory
The advent of the digital era has introduced different software that can help ease employees’ workload and let them focus on strategic activities. However, suppose an organization fails to implement these tools and technologies. In that case, it will lead to employees spending their time on admin and BAU activities, shifting their focus from human-critical work. Thus, a lack of the right tool inventory becomes a significant hurdle for workforce productivity.
Solution – Equip employees with the right software and tools
The management can look into each department’s technology and/or infrastructure requirements and fulfill them effectively. For instance, graphic designers may need two desktops and premium graphic designing tools. So, organizations can invest in the necessary tools and tech to help designers do their job more efficiently.
Furthermore, managers should also stay abreast of technological advancements and adopt them. So, they should constantly evaluate the health of the current tool inventory and replace the old software or tools with the latest ones to help employees stay productive.
Pairing the ways mentioned above with resource management software will help boost productivity to the next level.
Let’s see how.
3. How can resource management software help boost productivity?
Resource management software and its advanced features enhance productivity in different ways, as follows.
- It provides enterprise-wide visibility of the resource pool, their profiles, competencies, skills, etc. The advanced filter helps select and allocate the best-fit resource for each job, thus ensuring productivity.
- Managers can view the utilization levels on a comprehensive color-coded heatmap to understand if anyone is over or underutilized and take corrective measures.
- Additionally, the forecast-vs-actual time or utilization reports also help understand the actual time taken against the planned estimates. In case there is a deviation, managers can connect with the respective team members, understand the reasons, and offer appropriate guidance to course-correct. Lastly, the managers can also consider the employees’ interests in addition to skill requirements and assign the work accordingly. It will help foster higher engagement and commitment and enhance productivity.
4. Additional productivity hacks
In the words of Paul J. Meyer, an American writer and the pioneer of the self-improvement industry, “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”
Therefore, the onus is on the managers to take the lead in maximizing workforce productivity. In addition, employees can also follow a few productivity hacks to excel at the workplace. They are as follows:
- Declutter the desk before starting the daily work for a clear and structured mindset.
- Minimize the use of social media or non-work-related web surfing during work hours.
- Prepare a to-do list, prioritize tasks, and work accordingly.
- Group similar tasks together, assign time limits, and adhere to them.
- Use the Pomodoro technique to break your work into small chunks, complete them, and take small breaks after finishing each.
So, what are the productivity killers that you face at the workplace?
5. The Glossary
6. The SAVIOM Solution
SAVIOM is the market leader in offering the most powerful and configurable solutions for managing enterprise resources efficiently and effectively. Having more than 20 years of experience, this Australian-based MNC has a global presence in over 50 countries. It is also popular with more than 100 customers and helps them achieve their business goals. SAVIOM also has products for project portfolio management, professional service automation, and workforce planning software which can be easily customized as per business requirements.