How To Boost Productivity in the Workplace

Smart companies have learned to do more with less. The Kaizen and TQM movement that started in the 80’s helped foster a culture of constant improvement of internal processes in organizations. Most companies today try to maximize employee productivity by giving more work/responsibilities to already over-worked employees (in most cases.) I am a big proponent of getting the best out of what or who you have, but most companies are going about it the wrong way. Asking more of your employees without developing them to do more, is like lighting a stick of dynamite and hoping it procrastinates on exploding. 

Most people want to give their best at work and in life, but they just don’t know how. Why? They are not engaged in their area of strength. The Gallup organization conducted a survey that showed an increase in productivity in employees who use their talents at work. Organizations that focus on helping their employees work in their area of strength will get so much more out of them.

The specific benefits are threefold:

  1. Engaged employees work more.
  2. Engaged employees learn more.
  3. Engaged employees innovate more.

Engaged Employees Work More:
The Gallup work engagement survey showed that only 28% of our adult work force are engaged at work. Simply put, only 28% use their talent in their role at work, enjoy what they do, and like the person/team they work for. If this holds true, and I believe it does, it tells me that most people at work are not working their full 8 hours productively. They may be at their desk, but their brains are most likely elsewhere. How much is this costing companies? With disengaged employees being more easily distracted, let’s assume they muster about 3.5 – 4 hours of productive work daily. What is the net loss to the company?

Employees who use their talent/strength at work enjoy (love) what they do. This increases focus, minimizes distractions, and even when they get distracted are able to get back to where they were easily. Your engaged employees take less days off, are healthier (due to the energizing nature of doing what they love,) and as a result call in sick less. If they work 8 hours a day, you will most likely get about 7 hours or more of work from your engaged employees.

Engaged Employees Learn More:
It is true that most people would rather entertain themselves than educate themselves. However, when employees are engaged in their area of strength, they take every opportunity to develop this strength or skills complimentary to their talents. It is called the “Matthew Effect;” and it simply means that in your area of strength, the more you know, the more you want to know. Let’s take this further; in your area of talent, you learn faster and go further than others for whom this attribute is not a natural talent.

For organizations, it means your ROI on developing employees in their area of talent is much higher, and it also means that employees are learning new things on their own outside the confines of work. When a person is turned on to an area in which they can perform very well, chances are higher that they will seek mastery in this area. Research has shown that one of our core needs is competence; others are autonomy and relatedness (Vallerand & Houlfort 2003.) Smart organizations help their employees identify and engage their talent at work because they know that employee will give so much back to the company.

Engaged Employees Innovate More:
Innovation! What every company would love to see more of, but are unable to implement a culture that drives it. Why? They focus on the wrong thing. Innovation cannot be driven by memos and company policies, but by a corporate culture that emphasizes employee engagement, encourages experiments and recognizes/rewards attempts at innovation. One simple word will help you understand this; Google. Read up on how they apply 20% of their work time to pet projects.

Before you run out to implement this, understand that innovation comes from the engaged employee who is learning more and who is encouraged to try new things. It may be something as simple as cutting down the time it takes to execute a task to something as major as developing a new product or service. Pulled together, a workplace where employees are engaged will brim with new ideas.
It is imperative that companies focus on helping employees discover and engage their talents at work. And if, if you find that an employee has no talent for any of the roles at your company, you do both parties a favor by helping that employee transition to company where they will be of better use. You need to find the right people for your positions, and develop the heck out of them.
The Talent Revolution focuses on getting all your employees into their Sweet Spot @ Work.

Smart companies do more with less, and they do it differently.



Talent Resources

DNA of Talent
A Blueprint for Discovering Your Talents and Putting Them to Work

Finding Your Sweet Spot
Where your Talents, Interests and Passions converge to deliver the life you were born to live.