There is no question that human resources play a critical role within any company, but sometimes we are not seeing the full potential of this function realised for many reasons that we won’t cover in this article. However, synchronising human resources efforts with organisational objectives, will in turn help increase productivity. It is well documented that a happy and engaged workforce is a more productive one and human resources play a key role in both, but it goes beyond just these two initiatives. As such, today, we are going to discuss some effective ways in which HR departments can help businesses with productivity efforts.
1. Conduct surveys at an individual level
As a first step, explore what roadblocks are hindering productivity through a survey. No point in guessing what the issues might be, ask your workforce to tell you instead. Surveys offer excellent insight into how your workforce is feeling and it is undeniable that their productivity is directly impacted by their general mood.
Be sure to ask a combination of open and closed-ended questions, for example, query if they are happy at work, even if the question feels too simplistic. Sometimes a question that is asked bluntly leads to some honest answers.
It is also important to ask your team members if they feel their work-life balance is going well or if they are struggling to handle both. This is an important factor for consideration, as it does help you identify how your employees may be feeling.
While some companies prefer to be anonymous about surveys, others like the idea of talking to each team member one on one. This is a good way to gauge current issues at any given time.
Finally, it is crucial to be prepared to take steps based on the feedback provided by team members, and whilst you might not be able to action everything, some commitment for continuous improvements and change is a necessity from management.
2. Embrace flexible work
There are many benefits to flexible work such as improved retention, increase attraction and depending on the role, flexible work can increase productivity by minimising distractions and increasing concentration, and eliminating impromptu meetings.
Nowadays considering the implementation of flexible work hours and a combination of remote work and office work is important for any business. Furthermore, this is even easier now due to how the pandemic forced so many companies to adapt to remote work.
The main thing to keep in mind when this happens is that your team members are likely to be more productive as a result of increased flexibility. This comes from many studies that have shown an increase in productivity for workers that are in environments with little distractions as they set private office spaces in their homes. Some recent examples of such studies from world’s leading research institutions include Gallup, Harvard University, Global Workplace Analytics, and Stanford University.
1. Productivity — Teleworkers are an average of 35-40% more productive than their office counterparts, and have measured an output increase of at least 4.4%.
2. Performance — With stronger autonomy via location independence, workers produce results with 40% fewer quality defects.
3. Engagement — Higher productivity and performance combine to create stronger engagement, or in other words, 41% lower absenteeism.
4. Retention — 54% of employees say they would change jobs for one that offered them more flexibility, which results in an average of 12% turnover reduction after a remote work agreement is offered.
5. Profitability — Organizations save an average of $11,000 per year per part-time telecommuter, or 21% higher profitability.
Remote work is not just something that happened due to the pandemic anymore. The many benefits of this type of work environment have been well documented. This is the reason why a large number of companies are still embracing the remote work approach.
3. Keep technology updated
One of the best ways to ensure your workforce is more productive is to provide technology that allows this to happen. Technology should be utilised to streamline workflows and processes. Nowadays most software has the ability to reduce repetitive and time-consuming tasks. Ensure that your business assigns repetitive and monotonous tasks to automation in order to free up the time of team members to focus on important revenue generating work instead.
Furthermore, since remote work is now the new norm, it is important to have the right technological solutions in place to enable your teams to stay connected, engaged, communicating and collaborating. Ensure that your technology solutions empower your team members to share ideas and issues they encounter, to collaborate towards solving issues and allow them to effortlessly share their knowledge and experience with one another.
Technology can also help your teams with efficient time management and scheduling of their days. Practicing proper time management will enable your teams to get the most out of their day. Appropriately scheduling their day and completing tasks in the allocated timeline should lead to more being achieved in a workday. They can even set reminders if they need them.
In order to achieve greater productivity, it is essential for team members to have access to a learning management system, where they can access training materials in order to further their knowledge and skills. Technology once again plays an important role, as the appropriate learning management system will have an impact on your teams’ learning and development, and in turn their productivity.
4. Make sure the office environment is optimal
Lack of proper lighting can be a problem for employees and is a common complaint. Some offices have extremely dim lights and others that have very harsh lighting. There needs to be a balance in terms of illumination to ensure a comfortable working environment, as too much or too little causes eye strain. Furthermore, harsh intense lighting can trigger migraines for some team members. Where possible, make use of natural lighting.
We are not experts in lighting, but we found the below image insightful as it provides recommendations on variations of colour temperatures and what setting it should be utilised in.
You also need to make sure that the temperature inside the office is comfortable. A hot office is a huge problem that leads people to being irritable, but if it gets too cold, it can also affect productivity. You need to keep the temperature at a comfortable level to avoid the issue. According to a study by Professor Alan Hedge from Cornell University raising the temperature to 25º C reduces errors by 44% and increases keying output by 150%.
Noise is also often a problem in open space environments. Remind employees to be courteous and establish a workplace culture that demonstrates awareness of their surroundings in order to know when to move a conversation to a designated meeting room.
Might sound trivial but make sure that all your employees have access to clean water and cups. People need to stay hydrated at work and it makes a huge difference in their performance.
5. Encourage creativity and innovation
This is also going to prove to be very important and it will help you create a very dynamic work environment. Your employees should be encouraged to work creatively and to think outside the box.
It is very important to evolve as a business and the only way to do that is when people are constantly looking for ways to be creative and innovate. When a workforce is limited in their approach to the business, there is little chance of improvement.
When people have an innovative mindset, the results are always going to be better. This is the main reason why you need to encourage creativity in your workforce. Some of the best business strategies come from innovative thinking.
6. Invest in skill development
If you want to improve productivity in your workforce, the best approach for that is to ensure that your workforce skills are fine-tuned and improved constantly. You can enroll your employees in training and courses that can help them achieve a higher level of efficiency and productivity.
This is crucial because you will be the one taking the initiative and investing in their improvement. This creates a sense of loyalty to the business as the team member feels that you are interested in helping them develop their skills.
A team member that feels like you are invested in their future is going to be much more productive and enthusiastic. Make sure that you are looking for the best courses and the most relevant subjects for employees at an individual level. As highlighted earlier, you might also want to provide access to a learning management system to promote self-paced and self-service learning.
Other relevant human resources tips for productivity:
• Stay vigilant to ensure that no toxic behaviour is allowed at the office
• Check up on team members by dropping in once in a while
• Provide team members with opportunities to provide feedback regularly
• Conduct meetings with different departments as often as possible
• Keep up with the latest productivity trends in the industry
Final thoughts on human resources and productivity
Now that you have a better idea of the approach, it is clear that Human Resources can offer some great strategies to boost productivity in the workforce. This is the main reason why it is essential to keep those tips in mind at all times. The more you put them to use, the better the outcome.
At HR Expertise, our HR consultants in Melbourne and across Australia can design strategies to support your workforce and their productivity whilst keeping return on investment front of mind. Contact us today, we would love to work with you.