Improving Your Workplace Productivity In Business

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article |Workplace Productivity|Improving Your Workplace Productivity In BusinessIt’s key that workplace productivity is at it’s very best, all the time. Any dip in productivity and the business growth and success will suffer as a result. There are, however, a number of changes that you can make across your business to ensure that the organization continues to work at maximum speed. Here’s how to improve your workplace productivity in business.

Invest In Technology

There are a lot of software and systems that now exist thanks to the advancement of technology. It’s hard to believe that this wasn’t something that existed so predominantly as it is now. A lot of businesses are putting a budget towards investing in technology to help improve workplace productivity. As an example, task management software can be very useful for those working in teams to avoid miscommunication and those individual staff members who are taking on the slack of others. There are many other systems that now exist, including mobile device management for better asset management. This helps with monitoring and managing devices that your staff have, which can certainly come in useful when staff members have any IT problems that halt their work.

Hiring Valuable Staff

Whenever you hire someone new for your business, they need to bring something to the organisation that’s of value and can help with improving the productivity levels. One of the reasons why productivity is lacking may be due to the fact that your staff are working more than their fair share. This can make them feel like they’re being taken advantage of, so if you have the budget to do so, hire someone new. However, make sure they tick off the requirements in terms of adding value to the company but also that they’ll work well with your current staff. Particularly if there are different departments within the organisation, you want to ensure that they’ll get on well with colleagues because if there’s a dislike amongst others, that can also impact the level of work that gets done on a daily basis.

Create The Right Environment

Your staff are probably working in the same place every day for however long they decide to stay within the company. Obviously, you want them to stay for as long as possible, but a poor work environment can seriously affect the happiness of the organization. A few ways of creating the right environment include:

  • Open spaces but also a selection of private spaces and offices to appeal to all members of staff. Everyone has a preferred way of working after all.
  • Creating a naturally lit space using natural light and ambient lighting. Natural light has a particularly positive impact on your mood.
  • High-quality appliances and work stations are always appreciated because it means that they can work at full capacity without having to deal with IT problems or furniture that’s uncomfortable to sit on or work at.

The right environment isn’t just within the office space, it could also be by offering flexible working. This is a scheme that businesses across industries are trialling because it offers staff the ability to take time off or to work from home remotely. They don’t have to take off vital annual leave for doctors appointments or household emergencies.

Create Reasonable Goals & Objectives

For a business to continue moving forward and hopefully in an upwards trajectory, creating goals and objectives on a regular basis is a must. However, these goals and objectives need to be reasonable for what staff can achieve with the skills, budget and time scale they have. Working under immense pressure can end up affecting the health of staff, and that can eventually have a negative impact on your business. These objectives should be dished out by managers or heads of departments who have a clear understanding of what’s needed. That way, there’s no confusion about what staff are given in terms of these goals or objectives.

Think about offering incentives or rewards for their hard work. Perhaps commission on projects or sales is something that’s possible for a business to give. Help them achieve goals that are doable and support them in reaching these goals by offering rewards that will enable them to continue their hard work. It will also help with staff retention, as staff want to feel valued after all.

Have A Good HR Department

HR can sometimes be given a bad name by staff who feel like they’re not being heard or feel like there’s a lack of HR in the organisation. HR are seriously important to any business to make sure that staff feel protected and can approach them, should they have any concerns about other staff members or to do with their role or certain elements of their contract. So it’s good to focus on building an excellent HR department who can help hire the right staff and are able to contribute to retaining your staff for as long as possible.

Offering support to your staff is always something that HR can help with, but it’s also good to set up regular meetings between HR and staff as well as staff members and their managers or HODs. The reason for this is to build work relationships on a professional level so that everyone feels like they can approach someone within the organisation, no matter what that conversation is about. These meetings can help offer support and guidance in trying times, and that allows staff to feel appreciated.

Improving your workplace productivity is something that will never be perfect. So invest in technology because having the latest in software upgrades and systems can improve how fast daily tasks can be completed. Always aim to hire valuable staff and consider current staff members and whether they’ll fit in within the organisation. Create the right environment so that staff will enjoy coming to work rather than loathing it. Don’t forget to create reasonable goals and objectives on a regular basis to help keep the business moving and ensure you have an excellent HR department to offer full support to all staff in the business.

9 Ways Your Employees Can Hurt Your Business

StrategyDriven Risk Management Article |Hiring Employees| 9 Ways Your Employees Can Hurt Your BusinessYou’d like to think that everyone you invited into your organization would help your company to do nothing but grow, but alas, what we think and what we get aren’t always in sync. When it comes to your employees, there’s always a chance that they will do something that ends up harming your business. You can limit the chances of this happening by hiring correctly, but there isn’t a foolproof method of hiring excellent employees. It’s always a risk. But just how can your staff cause harm? We take a look at nine ways how below.

Poor Productivity

The act of being present in the office isn’t going to do all that much for your business. It’s what happens when you’re there that counts. Now, you’ll know yourself that there are days when you’re a little more sluggish than normal, and thus get less work done. And your employees will be the same. However, it’s a different story when you have an employee who consistently underperforms. If they’re only working for, say, a couple of hours a day, yet they’re getting paid for 7.5, then that’s a huge waste of funds. There are ways you can boost your employee’s productivity, however — paying them well, giving them interesting work, and all-around making sure they’re engaged with the company.

Bad Atmosphere

Everyone can point to a working bad working environment in their past. The troubling thing about offices is that one person can have such a huge effect. All it takes is one employee to cause trouble and create a bad atmosphere, which will lead to an unhappy and unproductive workforce. Of course, there are days when people are off and not in the cheeriest of moods, but if it’s happening consistently, then it’s an issue that should be addressed. Making sure you have employees who are pleasant is something you can incorporate into your hiring process. Ask about their past work, why they left, and, just at the moment, see how well you can get along with them. It’ll save a lot of trouble later on if you’re reasonably sure they’re friendly souls before inviting them to join the team.

Data Issues

Your employees don’t have to be lazy or rude, or otherwise malicious, to have a negative effect on your company. Sometimes, they can do so without even realizing what they’re doing. Take your data, for instance. Cybercrime involving data is a growing problem for small to medium size businesses, and many of the attacks are a result of employee negligence. A staff member can inadvertently leak sensitive information, or make it easy for outsiders to access the company’s information. One way to combat this threat is to incorporate an identity governance platform into your business. It’ll help ensure that employees only have access to the information and data that they need access to. There’s little need for all workers to have access to all information!

Internal Crime

However, while we should talk about the very real threat of cybercrime, it’s also important to keep in mind that most crime that takes place against a company happens internally. That means that an employee you hire — and pay — to work ends up defrauding your business in some way. One of the best tools against this is to conduct a criminal background check before you offer someone a position within your company. For your present employees, it’s about bridging the gap between trust and monitoring their behavior to ensure they’re not harming your business.

Harming Reputation

Your employees aren’t just there to do a single job for your business. They’re also ambassadors for your brand, and this means they have a lot of potential to boost and harm your brand, especially if they’re customer facing. There are employees who have won a company a lifetime customer because of their polite and helpful nature. On the other hand, there have been employees who have caused a customer to turn their back and never return. If you’re hiring for a position that deals with customers, make sure you’re paying extra attention to their temperament.

Lack of Teamwork

There’s been a shift in the working practices over the past couple of decades, and especially so in the last few years. It used to be that people would more or less work on their own; if everyone did their job well at an individual level, then the whole company would prosper. Now, the emphasis is more on collaboration and teamwork. As such, it’s important that all employees at least have some capacity to work with their fellow colleagues. Group effort only works if everyone’s on board. If there’s one employee making it difficult, they’ll be the weak link in the armor.

Contradictory Actions

There’s another reason why you need to look beyond the skills section on a resume, too: an employee has the capacity to undermine your branding. A company’s branding should be watertight, which means all staff members have to, if not reflect those values, then at least agree with them. An employee who’s at odds with your company mission and branding can undo some of your good work, especially if they’re dealing with the public.

More Work

Employees don’t manage themselves. Depending on the size of your business, you’ll either have an HR team, a third-party company looking after your staff, or you’ll be doing it yourself. Problem employees will require more handling than regular employees, which will ultimately mean that you (or whoever handles employee issues) has to spend more time, energy, and money on keeping them on board, all of which could be better used elsewhere.

Intentional Sabotage

It’s generally a good thing that the internet has given everyone a voice. You’ll see the positive side of this when it comes to your glowing customer reviews. But there’s another side to the internet, too: it gives ex-employees the platform to badmouth your company. There are ways to get these negative comments taken down, but it’s best to simply stay on good terms when they leave.

Predictive Analytics Tools Can Create a Better Workforce

Understanding What Predictive Analytics Is

Predictive analytics (PA) is well known in many business arenas but has never entered Human Resources until recently. PA is a form of technology that learns from other existing data. This process results in predictive results. It is most frequently used to predict very specific individual behaviors in Human Resources.

Predictive analytics examines data or content to answer the question “What is likely to happen?’’ This is important in any business area but is critical to Human Resources who previously depended on intuition to determine future needs of both the company and employees.

With the support of predictive analytics, it’s no longer necessary to make decisions because of intuitive feelings, or ‘’gut’’ reactions to some issue or plan. Data is gathered, analyzed and presented quickly, without stumbling or bumbling on the data or statistics. Intuition or ‘’gut’’ feelings are often unsuccessful, while data mining information that predicts uncertain outcomes is much more reliable and trustworthy.

How Predictive Analytics Affects Recruiting

Applying predictive analytics in Recruiting and Staffing helps companies foresee and enhance several areas, including:

  • Potential top talent is easier to identify with predictive analytics. This makes a recruiter’s job much easier and accurate. Predictive analytics can easily identify the candidates with the most potential, better understand when these talents can be contacted and understand if and why a job opening may be attractive to candidates.
  • Predictive analytics helps companies optimize the responses to their job openings. The analysis can help companies understand how duration, location, occupation and industry will likely affect recruiting results.

Why Companies Utilize Predictive Analytics in HR

73% of companies surveyed said the primary reason they used analytical data was to make the workforce planning process more efficient. 69% believe the main reason to utilize predictive analytics is to more accurately plan for the future and also, create plans to eliminate skills gaps in their organizations. 65% of companies credit predictive analytics as identifying high potential employees.

Other companies indicated that predictive analytics provided better analysis of company needs to align people and company strategy; while others indicated that analysis provided the needed links between performance and compensation; the remaining companies surveyed stated that predictive analytics provided more in-depth knowledge of external talent pools.

Predictive Analytics Helps HR Look Forward

HR has historically been responsible for forecasting the right amount of talent and knowing when to hire additional talent. Unfortunately, before predictive analytics was utilized in HR, the forecasting was more backward-looking than forward. For example, one or more employees terminate, and HR suddenly decides there is talent disproportion.

Unfortunately, few companies have implemented predictive analytics for their HR groups. According to Deloitte, in 2015, only about 8% of global organizations have adopted PA for their Human Resources groups.

The few companies that utilize predictive analytics have had great success and freely share their efforts and results. For example:

  • Google: This company is a strong advocate of statistics and freely admits that it is the most critical tool in their Human Resources group. All interview questions in their hiring process are computerized and perfected to ensure that the best candidates are hired. Additionally, Google’s predictive analysis can estimate the likelihood of future terminations, why they are terminating, and what could have been done to circumvent the termination.
  • Hewlett Packard (HP): HP is also a leader in the HR predictive analytics arena. Recently, HP shared with news media that ‘’when their attrition rates started moving upwards, they utilized predictive analytics to predict which employees were likely to leave by developing a ‘Flight Risk’ score.” This analysis was able to define both the ‘who’ and ‘why’ of their 300,000+ employees who would potentially terminate. For example, higher pay, promotions and better performance ratings were negatively related to flight risk, but the analysis proved that there were strong relationships between these findings. For instance, they were able to analyze that a promotion without a substantial pay increase would likely result in a termination.

“HP’s Flight Risk scores helped managers make better decisions since the early warning signal from Flight Risk allowed time for managers to intervene or if the loss was unavoidable, it prepped the manager to react accordingly. The predictive analysis in Flight Risk allowed HP to save an estimated $300 million.”

The extensive time previously spent on creating charts, reports, quotients, etc., will soon be history because predictive analytics easily allows organizations to analyze the past and predict upcoming trends for both positive and negative analytics.

The end result of having predictive analytics in Human Resources is the ability to predict future needs that are accurate and verifiable. This becomes the organization value to business that Human Resources has long struggled to create. HR has for years attempted to get the infamous ‘’seat at the table’’ and predictive analytics will ensure this happens.

Human Feedback is the Greatest Path to Efficiency

Feedback, at its core, is simply information about the results of past action that can improve the results of future actions. An airplane’s navigation system, the thermostat in your home’s heating unit, and a flashing electronic sign that displays your car’s speed are all examples of feedback that drives improvement. The plane adjusts its course, the heat turns off in the warm afternoon, and you slow down to the speed limit. Each time an adjustment is made, a ‘feedback loop’ is completed.

It’s not happening in the workplace
This is so not the way information flows between human beings in the workplace. Although employees receive massive amounts of information via electronic sources, feedback from their boss – information that could help them improve performance – dribbles in at a very slow pace or not at all.

Why is this?

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About the Author

Anna Carroll, MSSW, is an organization development consultant, facilitator, coach, and speaker. She designs and leads training and group planning experiences and creates learning tools and assessments to speed up group success. Most recently, Anna has focused on how leaders and team members can overcome their barriers to exchanging valuable feedback in the workplace. Her book, The Feedback Imperative: How to Give Everyday Feedback to Speed Up Your Team’s Success, was published in July 2014 by River Grove Press.

Want to learn more? Visit Anna’s website: or contact her by email at [email protected].

StrategyDriven Podcast Special Edition 45 – An Interview with Sharon Armstrong, author of The Essential Performance Review Handbook

StrategyDriven Podcasts focus on the tools and techniques executives and managers can use to improve their organization’s alignment and accountability to ultimately achieve superior results. These podcasts elaborate on the best practice and warning flag articles on the StrategyDriven website.

Special Edition 45 – An Interview with Sharon Armstrong, author of The Essential Performance Review Handbook explores how to conduct personnel performance reviews that are a positive experience for employees and that helps them and the organization excel. During our discussion, Sharon Armstrong, author of The Essential Performance Review Handbook: A Quick and Handy Resource For Any Manager or HR Professional and Founder of Sharon Armstrong and Associates, shares with us her insights and illustrative examples regarding:

  • what is at the heart of manager and employee anxiety over personnel performance reviews
  • why some managers and employees approach the performance review process with a high degree of cynicism
  • key principles and methods managers and employees should practice when preparing, executing, and following-up on performance reviews
  • the most effective periodicity for conducting performance reviews
  • how executives and managers can ensure performance ratings are consistently defined and applied

Additional Information

In addition to the outstanding insights Sharon shares in The Essential Performance Review Handbook and this special edition podcast are the resources accessible from her websites, and   Sharon’s book, The Essential Performance Review Handbook, can be purchased by clicking here.

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About the Author
Sharon Armstrong, author of The Essential Performance Review Handbook and The Essential HR Handbook, is the Founder of Sharon Armstrong and Associates. Sharon has served as director of human resources at a law firm and several other organizations in Washington, DC. Since launching her own consulting business in 1998, she has provided training and completed HR projects dealing with performance management design and implementation for a wide variety of clients. To read Sharon’s complete biography, click here.

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