CoAdvantage- Figuring out the right strategies to improve worker productivity isn’t easy, in part because everything affects worker productivity. Poor air quality affects productivity! Rheumatoid arthritis affects productivity! Ambient temperature affects productivity!
So, the answer is not figuring out some single magic action or set of actions to take. Instead, it’s assembling the right constellation of workplace practices and circumstances that align with each other to maximize productivity. It also means going for big wins and identifying the variables that affect productivity in a big way versus those that have only marginal impacts.
Employees who can work at times and under conditions when they’re more likely to be more productive will sensibly make them more productive. For example, if they’re rushing to work because they need to get their work done before they leave will probably erode productivity; working at a normal pace after they get back will probably enhance productivity, if their employer gives them the flexibility to do that.
According to MetLife’s 19th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study 2021, employees who feel their employer provides the flexibility they need are 40% more productive. That may be why, according to Randstad Sourceright’s most recent Talent Trends Report, 39% of companies believe their workforce has been more productive working from home than before the pandemic.
Stress is another big mediator of productivity. MetLife also found that the number of employees who say they feel productive has dropped 6% since 2020. That’s likely correlated to the unprecedented stress brought on by the pandemic and its ensuing disruptions to work and home life. By contrast, those who identify as mentally and financially healthy are 37% more likely to be productive.
Interestingly, however, the relationship between stress and productivity isn’t linear. One study published in the Public Productivity Review found it to be an inverted U-curve as “the level of performance increases up to a point then declines with further increases in stress.” That means employers need to be mindful of the times and way in which “eustress” – positive, stimulating levels of stress – begins to bleed over into distress.
Re-Think Productivity Entirely
Perfect productivity isn’t necessarily an ideal target. Instead of thinking of productivity as an output, think of it as a resource to be spent. For example, if you aim for 100% utilization of your workforce’s capacity, you’re spending all of your resources and leaving nothing in reserve. It effectively means you’re understaffed, with no capacity to grow or accommodate sudden changes. What are you going to do if a client adds new work, or another project grows in scope? You’re already at 100%. It also means you’re likely pushing your workforce towards burnout.
Instead, bake a certain amount of “slack” into your expectations for workforce productivity, knowing that it will give you an improved ability to navigate future events and help your workforce stay closer to the “eustress” than the “distress” side of the U-curve.
CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about CoAdvantage’s ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.