Workplace productivity is one of the biggest areas of concern for business leaders today. It is an issue of growing importance as organisations of all sizes attempt to cut costs while keeping pace in an increasingly competitive landscape.
Businesses have tried all sorts of things to help make their employees more productive. These include flexible working initiatives, reward programmes and investments in new technologies. However, doing so is proving to be easier said than done.
For example, in 2017 the International Monetary Fund warned that governments around the world need to take urgent action to increase productivity. In the UK specifically, research from 2018 showed that productivity contracted at the fastest pace in a year.
In addition, our own research into the working habits of 650 UK business decision makers revealed the extent of the productivity problem. Over half (53%) of respondents admitted that they waste up to 208 hours a year – equivalent to 26 working days – on inefficient processes. Examples included paying bills, inputting data and collecting customer information.
Clearly, the issue is proving to be trickier to solve than many people thought. What areas have businesses traditionally focused on? Furthermore, what more can they do to try and increase their employees’ productivity levels over the coming months and years?
A widely used initiative to tackle productivity has been the introduction of flexible working hours. Advances in technology has enabled employees to work from anywhere and collaborate with colleagues on a global scale.
By giving employees a say in when they work – e.g. starting and finishing work an hour later to cater for the morning school run – they will be more motivated and engaged when they are in the office. Indeed, flexible working is now a key consideration for three-quarters of UK employees when looking for a new job.
Of course, there are still some factors to take into consideration such as how changes to hours would affect their customers. Another challenge is that the poor productivity won’t simply be solved by technology and flexible working. The problem may be deeper.
When it comes to boosting output, one of the key areas that businesses have tried to tackle is meetings. Whether face-to-face, over the phone, or through video-conferencing tools, needlessly time-consuming meetings are commonly known to have a negative impact on employees’ productivity.
Our research found that half (50%) of C-level executives spend more than ten hours a week in either internal or external meetings, while 29% spend more than ten hours a week on external phone calls. Well-structured meetings with a clear purpose can reap great rewards. But there are also occasions where meetings aren’t productive, and time and energy could potentially be spent on more valuable activities.
Solving the productivity problem
If businesses are truly serious about making their employees more productive there are a number of steps they can take. The first should be to conduct an audit of where employees are spending their time. Then, the results should be analysed to build an honest picture of where improvements could be made. They will then be able to equip employees with the products and platforms they need to plug any gaps in efficiency, such as:
- Deploying collaboration tools
- Video conferencing, instant messaging software and project management solutions are all ways to foster team-work and boost productivity
- Transferring business process management systems to the cloud
- This can allow remote employees to access data, is often more cost-efficient, scalable and flexible, in comparison to on-premises systems
- Go mobile
- There are many systems, such as ERP, that allow employees to quickly, and easily, create applications on their mobile phones while in the field. This allows them to access the data they need, and perform core business functions outside of the office.
- Appraise well-being culture
- Happier employees are likely to be more productive. Look at ways to increase well-being, such as subsidised gym membership or team lunches. These can have a positive knock-on effect on productivity,
With our working lives and our personal lives so closely linked, the key is being able to provide employees with an improved work-life balance. Not only will this improve employee satisfaction, but businesses will also benefit from workforces that are more engaged and motivated when they are in the office.
However, this can only become a reality if businesses put the right tools in place to support employees in their daily tasks. Technology like ERP and collaboration tools can be used to automate administrative tasks, aid collaboration and enable employees to work in a more flexible way. All of which is key to boosting productivity, and unlocking the growth potential of businesses around the world.
Priority Software empowers businesses of all sizes by providing the most comprehensive, flexible and affordable ERP solution on the market. Founded in 1986 with the mission of making ERP easier, today, Priority‘s business software solutions and robust technology platforms deliver flexible, scaleable and highly intuitive ERP solutions. Our customer roster boasts over 8,700 companies across a wide range of industries in 40 countries who rely on Priority to manage and grow their business.