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.

Best HR Management Articles, week 33

My selection of the best HR management articles is clearly focused this time. It is all about the leadership and the management style, people management approaches, performance-driven corporate culture and unlucky top performers. There is also a small bonus – why Monster failed. The summer is turning slowly into the fall. I suppose the activity of all fellow HR bloggers will increase soon, as well. The community is still very active, but I expect they all think about new creative ideas to improve their marks.

Moreover, I want to have more articles to comment. I like the first article about the image of Human Resources most. It describes the reality we enjoy. Also, it covers the future challenges all HR professionals will face. It also shows the HR roadmap how to become the valuable strategic partner.

Why we will all love new HR

I will start with the optimistic article about the future of Human Resources. It covers the leadership development in general. The HR Manager will become one of the most valuable employees shortly because all organizations will face many issues like the aging workforce, competitiveness, and millennials. Yup, even millennials will become the issue because their approach to work is not compatible with the current corporate set-up. It will become a great dilemma for all leaders.

It emphasizes the strategic planning and the necessity to include Human Resources into it. The HR professionals can bring a new perspective; they can also hear interesting insights from job applicants. They have to be the essential part of the core strategic team.

Best HR Management Articles, week 33
Best HR Management Articles, week 33

HR will have to introduce a new workforce planning procedures shortly. The competitive organization has to predict all needs in advance, and HR will have to discover the predictive analytics. Working in Human Resources will be fun, once again.

Dear Leaders: Please revisit your corporate culture

A great leader cannot exist without a friendly and honest corporate culture. Also, many best talents research the approach of the organization before they agree to join the company. Most performance-driven businesses advertise their values; they also post examples. Right now, it is time to revisit our corporate culture. We cannot do any significant changes without touching it.

It is often linked with the retention issue in the firm. Many employees leave because they cannot live values and accepted unethical behavior of others. They leave because they look for a more friendly, fair and honest environment. We usually do not see our internal environment as the unfriendly one. We have to ask employees regularly how they feel.

There is another issue – we have to mix the new corporate culture that can cover all groups of employees. It is not just about the age, race or sexual orientation. Even a small start-up business is multicultural, and we have to unlock the potential and creative of all.

So, let us start solving this leadership challenge.

Wellness is a Culture

Well-being becomes an imperative for HR leaders. We love to work, but we cannot just work. The employer has to create the environment that supports our work-life balance. It is not just about paying any fitness contribution. Well-being needs to become an essential part of our DNA.

It is also about turning line managers into real wellness champions. Employees tend to stay long at work when the manager stays. They do not want to look lazy. It is a great challenge for both because the change of behavior needs to start at a top of the business. It means that the CEO has to participate in the program. She has to sponsor it.

Wellness should not be seen as a pure benefit. It is the feature of the corporate culture. This should change how Human Resources communicates the program to employees. Being healthy and fit becomes one of the main HR roles.

People Who Create Find New Ways to Thrive.

It is a pretty short article inspired by the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street”. However, it looks at the film from the HR perspective. It does not judge any person; it clearly summarizes what happened after.

Mr. Belfort is a successful speaker who earns money by making speeches about being a successful sales guy. The market believes that he is the man who creates the value. It is clear evidence that success is not just about meeting goals. The networking is the essential success component, as well.

Each Talent Manager has to find right opportunities for the employees in the program. She has to ensure that all participants have the chance to be visible in the business. The leaders will not remember just results. They tend to remember faces.

Why Monster failed

Do you remember Monster.com? It was a large corporation, but it is pretty tiny today. It was one of the first websites specialized in job searches. It was great for connecting candidates and HR recruiters. However, those great times are over. It was bought by Randstad. LinkedIn dominates the field today because it acts as a social network.

It is a great story of a company that was once an industry leader. It was just too slow in innovations. LinkedIn came with the idea of a friendly network that is not focused purely on Human Resources. It offered to make connections. It was the beginning of the end of Monster.

All leaders should read the story to be brave enough. They have to make tough decisions that can turn their businesses to LinkedIn ones. It the winner of this battle. Even it was bought by Microsoft lately.

Your Start-Up needs Human Resources. Now.

Start-Ups are built around a great idea. It can be a new service, a revolutionary product or a great cost management tool. They put the idea into the center. They usually forget about the team, because they are all so enthusiastic about bringing the BIG THING to the market. However, the founders should start thinking about the fundamental HR Management processes and procedures before it is too late to bring a significant change that matters. They have to split responsibilities among team members and bring some discipline. These are the essential components of each success. They can also be ingredients of the failure, but they usually help to avoid one. Most start-ups have the sustainability issue, and Human Resources can be a cure.

Most start-ups are not stable organizations. Their operation is not based on formal processes and procedures. The founders act as an internal Wikipedia that answers all relevant questions. They usually lack a clear business vision, and they have no clarity how and when the product should go live. Usually, there are two competing ideas – DO IT NOW and WHEN THE PRODUCT IS READY. No one can answer this question when decision-making process is put in place, and no one understands who is the guy in power.

Start-Up HR Issue: Sustainability
Start-Up HR Issue: Sustainability

The team grows exponentially, and founders are overloaded by requests to make important decisions. They have no time to build the valuable opinion and judge proposals fairly. They tend to make a decision based on the personality of the employee who brings the proposal on the table. They miss clear roles and responsibilities in the team that could make lives of everyone easier. This is a classic story and a key reason to introduce at least the core set of the HR Management practices and procedures.

An ambiguous start-up needs to grow fast. It needs to hire new talents, and they need to go through many job interviews. Even the new organization needs to set up the basics of the corporate culture. It has to differentiate itself from others. That is another task for Human Resources in a start-up.

Most founders do not want to introduce Human Resources function from the beginning. They are worried to lose the speed and agility of the organization. However, they can introduce the limited scope of the HR Management Practices.

The modern HR Management can be a great help for the start-up organization. Bringing the clear roles and responsibilities can make the start-up quicker and agiler. Founders and leaders can focus on shaping the product; they do not have to spend time splitting tasks and checking the progress of important non-value added tasks.

The HR Manager in the team can introduce the new recruitment and staffing process that ensures the high performance. She can also find best talents across the world, and can bring them to the office. The team does not suffer from lack of resources; they are available at the moment when needed.

It is not true that the start-up business does not need any Human Resources. It is necessary and required; the organization deserves it.