Saturday, 24 September 2016

You Can't Watch Productivity into place

Do your employees turn up at 9am and leave at 5pm, having completed their day's work.  Was it satisfying for you to watch them beavering away?  Were they productive?  How much more productive might they have ben working from home or from their local coffee shop?

Employees often find certain tasks difficult to complete in the office - report writing, coding and anything else that demands a high level of concentration and a low level of distraction.

Yet, few employees take the logical step of closing or shrinking their office space and allowing employees to work where they feel most comfortable.  Few even experiment - and measure performance/productivity differences.

But surely its worth a try?

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Is there a key activity?

When you hire new people how do you induct them into the organisation?  Too often this consists of introductions, 'policy sessions', issuing of email ids and passwords .... and little else.  Your new people are informed - but bored.

Yet, in many organisations there is one activity in which you could engage new staff that would tell them more about the business - and its success factors - than all your hectoring and rehetoric.  This might be customer service, handing customer complaints, picking and packing orders  ... or something else.  You want your new staff to understand what it is that your customers value above all - and how that can be delivered.  So find the activity - or set of activities - that does this  and make all your new employees work on this activity, reflect on it and synthesise for themselves a list of customer success factors.


Saturday, 10 September 2016

Half way house

Automation brings rewards to companies that invest.  The auto industry has installed many thousands of robots over the last 10 years - numbers of employed people have fallen, quality has risen, productivity is up.

Great for the companies -and their shareholders: not so good for those now unemployed workers whose jobs have gone to the robots.

Of course in some industries and sectors , using robots is not quite so easy - automation requires highly repetitive, highly standardised, highly consistent work.  Robots are fast, regular and relentless - but nowhere near as flexible and adaptable as humans.

However, we are now seeing the rise of a new generation of 'co-bots', machines that work with humans to take out some of the effort and drudgery of tasks while allowing humans to exercise their flexibility and control.

And one section of the workforce is gaining more than the rest - women.  Where work requires precision and strength, women can provide the precision while the cobot provides the strength. Productivity rises, work improves.

We need to work with the 'bots'.


Saturday, 27 August 2016

Incentives

Japan is offering employment subsidies to organisations that improve their productivity.  So 'winning' companies get a double boost.

Is this a sensible role for government - to reward the successful?

One reason for their action is to prevent companies from using job cuts to fuel growth.

What does matter is that the aims of any government intervention are clear - and seen to be fair.
And, as a general rule, government should not 'shore up' the unsuccessful and uncompetitive.

so, perhaps this is a valuable experiment.  Certainly i will be interested to see the results.

Japan currently ranks 22nd out of 34 OECD countries for its productivity.  Perhaps this initiative can move it up the list.



Saturday, 20 August 2016

Does buisness dress matter?

More firms are allowing workers to come to the office in less formal attire.  does this have an impact on productivity?

There is little research on the issue.  The arguments seem to boil down to:

allowing people to dress casually makes them more comfortable, more relaxed and more content - and this has a positive effect on their performance.

encouraging people to dress formally means they wear a 'business uniform' which puts them in the right frame of mind - and this has a positive effect on their performance.

Perhaps we should just offer people the right to choose.... within certain limits of course.

it seems to be an irreversible trend, anyway - perhaps we are better just accepting the fact - until and unless we get some evidence to make us think again.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Vicious circle

Nations are (quite rightly) urged to improve educational standards and attainments to help boost national productivity.  An educated - and skilled - workforce is a key underpinning of higher productivity.

This is actually a vicious circle (or cycle).  Low education standards results in lower productivity - and lower productivity results in less money to invest in education. And the cycle continues.

Nations have to find some way to break out of the cycle. And wealthier countries who provide aid to developing countries should focus a great deal of their efforts on education and skills.

Its the 'teach a man to fish' paradigm.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Don't get too friendly

We know that teams that share values tend to knit together better.  A culture in which people 'get on' and work for each other is considered to be productive.

Yet, tension can provide creative sparks; competition raises effort; oysters need an irritant to produce pearls.

So, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Allow team members a degree of freedom in which to be 'sparky, create and encourage (friendly) competition and rivalry.

You will end up with a more creative workforce.