People have their own concept of what represents productivity. Yes, they are aware it revolves around the requirement to produce more, but it’s not simply achieving greater output. If you are producing more but it requires your organisation significantly greater resources to achieve that output, then you might not be reaching the productivity growth you perceived or desired.
Productivity in essence is that connection between output and the inputs needed. Measuring productivity, therefore, becomes more complex and the variables greater depending on the industry or sector.
What is critical to measuring productivity are labour and capital, followed by those intermediate contributors such as energy, services, and materials.
Data collection and statistics are critical to determining productivity. Frankly, consistent, quality data gathering is bedrock of superior decision-making.
We’ve certainly come a long way from the construct that throwing more money at employees, for example, will automatically result in a more energised and engaged worker, eager to go the extra mile. The surveys and research have proven money alone will not necessarily enhance worker productivity.
In fact, a significant percentage of employees are not leaving their jobs because they want more money. Of course, who would say no to an increase in salary? Workers, however, are saying in survey after survey they want a more positive corporate culture that is transparent and friendly, and where their contribution is valued.
Millennials, who were born between 1981 and 1996 are an interesting group in the workforce. Born in the technological age, they tend to be adaptive and creative but are likely to challenge the status quo. They generally prefer to work across functions and resist the top-down approach that pervades the corporate hierarchy. Getting the best out of millennials in the workplace often requires building relationships through communication and mentorship.
As we learned during the COVID-19 pandemic years, employees across various age groups have begun prioritising self-care, family time, mental health and pursuing passions, rather than the trappings of climbing the corporate ladder.
The millennial workforce and their Gen Z professional counterparts who were born after 1996 and are in their 20s, share many common characteristics. They are more likely to be digital natives and can be equally engaged in some far-flung area of the world as they would be in the corporate office cubicle.
GenZers and Millennials are more task oriented where the quality of the output brings greater satisfaction than delivering at a specific time. Managing these groups of workers requires flexibility to be built into the productivity matrices.
Of course, blue-collar workers with fewer options largely do not enjoy such luxuries in the way knowledge workers do. Their concerns are more kitchen table issues – keeping food on the table, paying rent and ensuring their children receive an education that improves their chances of upward mobility. Measuring productivity for employees on the production line becomes a simpler task.
The core of most workplaces today will comprise GenZers and Millennials. Therefore, if there are two management actions that are likely to positively impact their productivity, they include feedback on how they are performing and acknowledgement for a job well done. Recognition by supervisors and managers with positive praise of their work are key motivating factors in achieving greater employee productivity and reducing turnover.
Managers and corporate leaders should, however, be mindful that the aspirations of GenZers and Millennial blue-collar workers are similar. Their immediate needs may be different, but their goals run parallel and are rooted in personal advancement and feeling valued.
Technological innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI) are catalysts for significant change in the workplace. Older workers are concerned about their adaptability to the evolving environment. While valuable institutional knowledge rests with the more seasoned employees, Millennials and GenZers embrace technology and are more flexible to these changes.
These two groups of employees have the capacity to bring along their older counterparts in a way that reduces the adjustment curve of technological changes, while also facilitating knowledge transfer.
Evolving company cultures
Also, of importance to employee productivity is creating an environment that embeds social interaction and teamwork. We are not talking about cooler gossip but quality interactions that encourage a happy, fun workspace. Finding innovative projects that have collaborative, entertaining features incorporated into them provides the interplay millennials enjoy.
Initiatives that cost the company no expenditure like relaxing the old, stuffy dress codes and accepting employees being their authentic selves can do wonders for workplace productivity. Topping that with consistent opportunities for upskilling is a definite fillip.
The leading-edge tech companies have certainly mastered the art of making their employees’ lives easier so they can do what they do best. We all can learn something from them.