Strategies to Optimize Employee Productivity
By Kim Ziprik, MS,
According to recent economic impact studies, including one by
Salary.com, at least 52% of U.S. organizations have reduced their
staff through layoffs in the last year, while 60% have implemented
hiring freezes. In many cases, this has left one employee doing the
job of two or more. Add to this the accelerated rate of change in
today’s business world, where employees are asked to learn new and
complex skills in shorter time frames, and it is easy to understand
why employee productivity has suffered in today's economic downturn.
But what can front line managers do when there is no choice
but to squeeze every ounce from their diminished team? How can
cost-conscious organizations minimize risks, while improving output?
The answer may not lie in the number of people employed, but in how
well-prepared individuals are to execute their jobs while keeping up
with changes in their industry.
Most companies rely heavily on traditional training methods
such as memorization and formal classroom structures to meet
employees’ common learning needs. While these strategies are
effective to a point, they are also time-consuming, cost-prohibitive
and interrupt the workflow.
Today’s business environment demands a better solution that
doesn’t dictate when, where or what learning takes place. Smart
managers are embracing innovative tools and resources to help
employees gain critical knowledge at the moment of need, while they
work. How can your company improve productivity? Implementing these
five strategies will provide for a quick return on investment:
Leverage technology and human strengths – Research shows
employees who utilize their strengths are 6 times more likely to be
emotionally engaged on their jobs. Unfortunately, many people spend
a significant part of their workday executing predictable,
repetitive tasks. Smart companies realize that a more effective use
of human capital is to relegate these processes to technology-based
solutions and leverage their peoples’ skills in solving complex
business problems, enhancing the customer experience, or creating
innovative products and services.
2) Make it easy to keep up with change
– The way we do business is changing and it is accelerating
exponentially. For example, the first commercial text message was
sent in 1992 and today the number of texts sent daily exceeds the
population of the planet. There are currently 540,000 words in the
English language, 5 times as many as when Shakespeare was alive. The
amount of technical knowledge is doubling every year. Who is
impacted the most by this rapid pace? Staff. Consider building and
deploying a Systematic Performance Support tool (PST) or online
coach to help employees keep current. PSTs allow management to
quickly relay updates in process, product and pricing, virtually
eliminating employee errors. Helping employees ‘get-it-right’ each
and every time is imperative to improved bottom-line results and
keeping up morale.
3) Capture your
– In today’s information age, the key to productivity is getting
important data and best practices out of people’s heads and into
tangible and usable formats. With fewer people on staff, the
experience and wisdom of veteran employees is more valuable than
ever. By systematically documenting best practices and processes,
along with the company’s systems and regulations, forward-thinking
organizations are dramatically decreasing training time and costs.
Building a repository of knowledge is invaluable to the bottom-line
and feeds future growth.
Encourage social learning– It’s estimated that 80% - 90% of
learning occurs informally on the job. Yet many companies fail to
take advantage of this knowledge base by making it accessible to all
employees. In today’s highly-socialized and media-driven world,
providing employees with easy-to-use authoring tools can have a
positive impact quickly and with minimal investment. Encouraging
employees to author blogs, wikis or manage discussion forums will
allow information to be shared quickly. Providing employees with the
resources to create, add to or modify content leads to greater
collaboration, innovation and problem-solving skills.
Develop coaches and mentors – Experienced employees are one
of your company’s greatest assets; it is imperative to utilize their
skills in optimizing the learning process. Leverage seasoned
employees as Subject Matter Experts (SME) and coach them to be
mentors. This role provides them the opportunity to show off their
natural strengths while fulfilling a vital business role.
Additionally, today’s manager must learn how to be an effective
coach. Providing real-time feedback is imperative to productivity
and improved performance. Together these roles are critical to
growing the company’s greatest asset, its human capital.
By integrating the learning process into on-going, daily
processes, many companies are improving productivity by up to 60%,
while cutting overall training costs in half. If your organization
is looking for innovative ways to maximize employee performance,
consider incorporating these strategies into your business. You will
not only improve collaboration, competence and productivity, you
will empower your best people to succeed.
Kim Ziprik holds
a Masters degree in Organizational Leadership, is a certified Human
Resource (PHR) professional, and an active member in American
Society for Training and Development and the Society of Human
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