How to improve employee productivity

Being a strategic partner, Human Resources cannot ignore the employee efficiency issue. HR has a shared responsibility with other business leaders to increase the operational effectiveness of the organization. The competitiveness of the firm always depends strongly on the productivity of the workforce. The best organizations outperform competitors, and this competitive advantage allows them to invest in the research and development. They can invest into new markets and run the business at a loss there. Moreover, these companies invest into the development of employees. Being the top performer from the performance and productivity point of view brings tremendous benefits, and it has no weaknesses. However, the increase of the employee productivity is a complex task for the leadership team, because it is the essential component of the employer brand.

Also, it is important to mention that by the improvement we usually mean the sustainable increase of the labor productivity. Most managers still do not think out-of-the-box when it comes to new people management practices in the business. They still use old ways that do not work today. Employees have more opportunities to change the job, and the fear as a management tool does not work anymore. The active stimulation is always a plus; in this case, it is a must. Just the highly engaged and motivated employee can think about the job creatively and propose relevant improvement and changes. Managers are not the best source of innovations; employees are.

The employee productivity improvement should always be a long-term initiative. Most leaders and managers are great in gaining a short-term increase, but it is usually followed by a long slide again if it is not supported by the fundamental changes in the organization. The constant pressure on employees does not work as the best management tool. It brings a tremendous result, but they are not sustainable. Moreover, the workforce does not respond positively to another wave. They expect the same approach just repackaged again. Another mistake is mixing employee engagement and employee satisfaction. The satisfied workforce does not have to be the most efficient one.

How to improve employee productivity
How to improve employee productivity

From the financial point of view, the employee productivity is always reflected in net profits. The best performing organizations always have a higher net profit per headcount than the competitors. It is a source of a very strong competitive advantage. These businesses have found a secret how to produce more with fewer resources. They can also use it as a communication tool towards employees. Everyone want to work for a winner. No one intends to work for a loser. Each man in the company wants to be proud of the employer. He can identify with a strong brand name of the company. He can promote different techniques used in the business, and he can promote the corporate culture and values. Everything mentioned has a significant influence on net profits.

The productivity in the workplace is always a question of the management. It makes the issue highly complex because Human Resources cannot bring a significant improvement without influencing and changing the mind of the line management. Most managers have to change their approach to manage employees, and they have to become true partners. Employees can usually run their tasks autonomously, and they just require help. They do not want to be told how they should perform individual tasks. It is also about the mismatch of employees´ and managers´ expectations.

There is a great employee productivity measure that indicates a significant yet hidden issue. It is the retention of the key personnel. When top performers and high potentials start to leave the organization, it is a sign that the business will significantly suffer in coming days. They usually talk about better job opportunities, but they do not see a future for them in the business. They do not ask for a change because they gave up. It is a serious leadership issue that needs an immediate attention of the CEO. It is not just another mission impossible task for Human Resources.

The best way how to improve the employee productivity

First, Human Resources has to make sure that all leaders understand their roles in the business. The employee morale is not a responsibility that can be delegated to lower hierarchy levels. It always starts with the CEO. She always acts as the role model. If the CEO is positive and open minded, most managers will follow this attitude. It is the role of Human Resources to teach the CEO how to demonstrate the full ownership and accountability for the employee productivity. If there is no owner, Human Resources has no chance to bring a better operating model. It would rather not start any initiative.

Most leaders and managers do not know where to start. They know they can upgrade and increase personal goals and objectives. However, this is not the right approach. They should focus on employees first. They have to ask them where they see the potential. Employees have to express what they miss in the business. The Employee Engagement Survey is the best tool how to catch emotions, feelings, and ideas in the organization.

It has to be followed by several closely focused workshops where employees can talk about results. Employees are the ones who know everything about questions asked in the questionnaire. They can evaluate the position of the organization against competitors. It is usually based on interesting facts, and the leadership team should know them. The team should also understand them. The CEO has to ask employees to be open, honest and willing to change the business. He can ask individual groups to compose the action plan that can be prioritized later.

The leadership has to read the action plan carefully. It usually contains small visible improvements in the workspace and individual cubicles. Employees often wish a quieter workplace, more colors and a better relax area. These items are easy to improve, and the leadership team should take actions quickly to keep the momentum. However, there are issues about the corporate culture, Human Resources and management practices used in the company. These are much harder to tackle and require a coordinated and committed answer from leaders.

Next, it is time to update the HR strategy. It has to reflect all findings from the employee survey. It is usually about the corporate culture and the need to improve managerially and leadership skills in the organization. It has to strengthen the role of the direct superior. It also has to introduce a new look at the empowerment and delegation skills. Most managers do not like changes that limit their power. However, the business is in danger, and they have to understand that without this transformation the organization will die. Managers are usually the biggest obstacle to improving the employee productivity. The update has to focus on a new and meaningful goal setting procedure. We usually stick to old processes that do not work anymore.

The last step to improve the employee productivity is the change of strategic planning processes. The leadership has to invite employees; everyone has to feel the opportunity to influence the future of the business. This is the only way how to make sure that the organization does not stop and stagnate. It has to gain its speed again.

How to design a great business HR Strategy

The competitive and performance driven organization always set up a great HR team that creates an excellent HR Strategy. This company always invest in the people management practices. However, even the best business in the world does not implement a great strategic piece of work in one go. It represents the commitment of the leaders to design and develop a great one. The leader takes over the ownership of the entire exercise. It is not just a just a job of Human Resources. It can prepare the one, but the leadership team has to own it and demonstrate the accountability. It is a source of the long-term competitive advantage. All leaders in the firm have to implement particular projects and initiatives. The HR team has to play the role of the glue to ensure that the big picture makes the sense.

It often happens that the people misinterpret the strategic planning and the strategy. These terms are not same. The higher in the organizational hierarchy we tend to mark our tasks strategic. However, we usually participate in planning sessions. We do not design a new strategy for the business.

In a performance and goal driven organization, the HR team has a clear aim to develop attractive and efficient policies and practices. It is about the internal environment, corporate culture and individual and personal commitment of all team members. They are all committed to bringing the most suitable solutions for the business. The mature HR Management practices and policies are always the key driver of any changes in the company. However, how does the company design an excellent and competitive HR strategy?

A great HR Strategy
A great HR Strategy

A story always starts with the leader of the organization. She has to share the vision with the team. She has to engage everyone, and she has to draw a clear picture of the excellent company in the future. The plan cannot be short-term, and it has to be challenging. Easy plans do not raise any personal commitment. Everyone want to be a part of a great story. We all want to be mentioned on the first page of the newspapers (positively).

Next, the leader needs to design or update the business strategy in close collaboration with the team that elaborates the vision in higher detail. The team has to turn the idea into desired objectives and descriptions of the successful accomplishment. It still does not include any specific HR initiatives. It just sets the boundaries for the function in the organization. It puts the essential components of the corporate strategy in place. It also indicates required and preferred skills and competencies. Without the business strategy, HR cannot define its one.

This is the moment for the HR team when it can join the effort. They were represented just by the HR director so far. In larger organizations HR senior managers can be included in strategic talks and discussions. However, from this moment, the team can start formulating the HR mission and the HR strategy. They cannot start before the business is ready to communicate the general vision because employees could not see any connection between the leadership team and Human Resources.

However, it is important to clarify the question of the ownership right from the beginning. The CEO is the owner of the final product; she can delegate the implementation responsibility. She cannot delegate the accountability. If this question is not clearly answered, the team will bring a solution that is never implemented. A great HR strategy usually brings significant gains, but it also pains.

Moreover, there is always a close cooperation between the HR and Leadership teams in the performance driven organization. It creates the internal environment that supports and enables creativity, a competitiveness and the collaboration across teams. This business always defines and implements the open and honest corporate culture. During all sessions the participation of senior managers from other functions is essential. This is the best way how to make sure that all immediate and valuable feedback is incorporated.

Human Resources has to produce the functional story from the wider business one. Each strategy has to tell a story that is attractive to the audience. Employees have to see the clear future, and they have to find a clear position in it. They have to dream about the challenging journey. They have to imagine all benefits.

All HR Managers have to allocate time to communicate and engage. No story can catch all hearts immediately. HR employees have to become the Angels promoting and explaining the content. They have to find all positive examples. They have to present the HR roadmap. They have to explain what are the key milestones.

A great HR strategy is not a complicated document. It is a journey that is challenging and achievable. Employees can recognize that it is not just a dream of a few chosen employees. They have to find a place for everyone who is willing to join the adventure. They have to see much fun. They have to see the recognition for everyone who helps.

Connect HR Strategy and HR Analytics

Too many things happen in Human Resources. Everyone is late, deadlines are not met, and everyone works on several projects at the same time. We miss our strategic goals and objectives because we spend a way too much time dealing with daily operational issues. We solve immediate problems instead of line managers; we re-invent the wheel every day. We put them in front of tasks required to deliver the new HR strategy. We do not use the predictive HR Analytics to ensure the proportion of operational HR agenda decreases. However, we need to find a way forward. We have to align the HR Strategy and HR Analytics again, including learning the skills of data mining. The organization pays for Human Resources because we promise to deliver the strategic change; we promised to give a competitive advantage.

The HR Manager is the most critical resource in Human Resources. She has to dedicate her time to create the value; she should not just pass papers in complicated HR processes. She should advise internal clients how to manage employees better than they manage them now. In reality, this story is not true; the HR Manager spends time recruiting new hires and solving workplace issues instead of managers. She does not use the benefits of the HR Analytics to be more productive and efficient. That creates the constant pressure on Human Resources because the department is not delivering on its promises. Everyone works hard, but no one sees any results. HR does not provide any value added. HR Managers are overwhelmed by daily routine and operational tasks.

HR Strategy and HR Analytics
HR Strategy and HR Analytics

It is time to return to the basics of the people management. Human Resources cannot solve issues and problems instead of line managers. They just like it because they do not have to deal with difficult persons in their teams. They just call the HR Manager to solve the issue. However, we are here to design procedures for managers; we are not here to run them. In such a case the HR Director can be called the CEO.

Human Resources has to focus on its primary goals – delivering the HR Strategy and building active HR processes and procedures for line managers. Moreover, it has to support both activities by the HR predictive analytics. Managers in the organization have to be autonomous and fully accountable for teams. They just have to learn best and compliant approaches from HR Managers. The HR Team needs to teach managers to act on their own.

The HR Team needs to deliver the HR Strategy first. It is the change the organization requires. The HR leader cannot make any compromises when it comes to implementing the strategy that builds a significant difference. The sustainable competitive advantage is a must. The HR team has to employ the HR technology to enable the improvement of the people management practices in the business.

The implementation of the HR Strategy is the best moment to introduce a significant change in the HR Analytics. The strategic goals and objectives need to be supported by trends in the industry and the business. That is the target area for any analytics in Human Resources. The HR team has to connect meaningful data and information with the main HR processes. It has to demonstrate the value added.

The critical imperative for Human Resources is the simplification of processes and procedures. It has to introduce the full service-service portal for employees; it has to bring automated smart reports for line managers. It has to allow to HR Managers spend time with the key employees in the business.

HR has to employ the predictive analytics to ensure that it manages trends. The leadership team needs to be informed about the healthy and unhealthy trends in the business. That is the real value added created by HR. The HR Analytics is the only way how to ensure that the leaders do not miss any opportunity how to manage employees better.