How and Why We Measure Productivity

One of the best ways of improving employee performance is through productivity measurement. There are multiple reasons for this. Firstly, measurement provides quantitative and qualitative evidence on whether an employee is meeting the targets set by the company. Also, in relation to an employee’s job and their set tasks, measures have the potential to improve understanding of the concepts of quality, productivity and continuous improvement. It should be noted however that in measuring productivity, a lot depends on the approach the organisation takes to measure performance. If the right activities, behaviours and outcomes are captured through the approach, they can be effective motivational tools for employees as they demonstrate desired behaviours and important strategic tactics adopted by the organisation.

In their article, ‘Use Measures to Promote a Culture of Quality- Measures can help embed quality into the way employees work and think’, the American Productivity and Quality Centre (APQC) state, ‘Enterprise leaders cannot dictate  or mandate quality, but they can influence the culture of quality for their staff’.

So saying, within any organisation, a culture of productivity measurement should be cultivated in which a compass of performance is set by developing objectives, goals and targets. An organisation should then measure its performance in relation to these targets, as it is through them that managers are able to delegate performance expectations to their staff.  Today, performance measurement and the use of key performance indicators are considered organisation competencies and thus, it is expected that all managers implement them, especially those within human resources. HR Managers are accountable for the significant investments made by a company in its employees and therefore are required to be on top of their game when strategic questions are asked. There are differing ways that they can do this, but some of the most notable include;

 Recruitment

The recruitment process is expected to be led by managers these days. Their job in doing so is to process and participate in the development of job descriptions which accurately reflect the duties to be performed by the employee and which meet organisation targets. They must also have a system for monitoring performance on a monthly and quarterly basis and maintaining the link between strategy and operations.

Training Needs Analysis and On-the-job Training

In addition to having an assessment of their staff’s performance, managers and line supervisors must be able to provide researched advice on the training needs of their staff to match the future talent requirements of the organisation. In some cases, they are expected to deliver the training or know where to source the most appropriate technical and general training.

Employee engagement and Motivation

Employees now expect that the organisational climate will meet employees own needs and motivate them to perform their duties within or even exceeding the expectations of the organisation.

Return on Investment

Management will be keen to know whether the investment made in salaries paid, training conducted and occupational safety standards maintained is indeed yielding results evidenced by increased output, sales and profitability. The HR practitioner will be expected to conduct the analysis, using key performance indicators and other types of trend analysis, to respond to the questions.

It is apparent that whether the central focus is a local company or a nation at large, a measurement of productivity must take place. It is an evidence based activity which is vital to assessing whether or not goals and objectives are being achieved. Even though viewed at different levels, company managers and bodies such as the NCPC are seen as being accountable for the process of productivity measurement.

However, even though a lot of responsibility does fall on their shoulders it is necessary for each individual in society to see productivity measures as being a concept which can be implemented a little closer to home.  It is important that a culture of measurement is entrenched within the population. This is essential, so that whether at work or at play each member of society should be able to measure and assess their own performance in helping to build a productive nation.

About the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC)

Established in October 2013, The National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC) is responsible for the identification of key issues related to competitiveness and productivity in Saint Lucia.

The NCPC and its Technical Secretariat is committed to providing the necessary advocacy and research to produce timely and effective recommendations to policymakers on issues that affect both competitiveness and productivity on island. For more information about productivity or on the NCPC, visit www.stluciancpc.org; www.facebook.com/stluciancpc, call 468-5571/5576 or send an e-mail to stluciancpc@gmail.com

 

Are Your Meetings Productive ?

In today’s competitive business environment productivity is key to the success of enterprises. It is an essential element in helping any firm grow. In light of this, businesses should continuously work towards maintaining high levels of productivity. However, there are some day-to -day business activities that may work against this objective. One such activity is an unproductive business meeting.

In his article, ‘Why Meetings Kill Productivity’, author, businessman and motivational speaker Ray Williams states, ‘How often have you sat through a meeting and said to yourself, “what a waste of time, I could be doing something better!”  Meetings take up an ever-increasing amount of employees’, and particularly managers’ time. My experience in working with executives and managers is that 40-50 percent of their time is taken up with meetings, that either they call, or have to attend. Which leaves precious little time left to actually get work done.’

However contrary to Williams’ opinion, meetings do not have to be completely unproductive. A poorly managed meeting does have the potential to subtract valuable time of the day. On the other hand, if well planned and executed, a meeting can prove to be a fundamental component of a productive day.

Mihir Patkar, a frequent contributor to the ‘lifehaker’ site, in his post ‘How to Have a Meeting That Isn’t a Complete Waste of Time’ details some practices that can ensure that meetings are productive. Prior to any gathering, he mentions that there are three W’s that need to be addressed, that is: when, who and why.

  • Why- It is essential that before any meeting is called, the meeting leader should know why the meeting is called. If this is not clear, nothing constructive will be gained from the meeting. Patkar continues ‘A meeting shouldn’t be the place where you brainstorm ideas, you need to tell the attendees to do that in advance and show up with a clear list for discussion. Similarly, the meeting organizer should send the required reading at least three days in advance, and make it concise enough so that everyone can actually read it before they show up.’
  • Who- Remember that not every individual needs to be present at every meeting. If a meeting does not require a contribution from a certain individual but this party wishes to be kept informed of the discussion; consider the option of sending the minutes after the gathering. If you are the one invited to the meeting and your workload is heavy, there are certain questions that you can ask the person inviting you that can determine whether you really need to be a part of the occurrence or not. Such questions include, ‘Will all in attendance be called on to make decisions?’ and ‘Are you going to ask for something at the end?’ Depending on the answers received one can determine whether or not your presence is needed.
  • When- Patkar goes on, ‘Coordinating with multiple people is difficult, but not impossible. Online meeting scheduling service, ’When Is Good’ analysed 100,000 responses to 34,000 events and found that Tuesdays at 3pm is the most agreeable meeting time for most people. Of course, you don’t need to stick to that, coordinate and find out your own most agreeable time. It is also wise to remember that the length of the meeting is important too.’

Once the meeting is scheduled and participants are invited, the meeting must be focused.  Meetings can go off-track easily, and hence, time and energy can be wasted discussing matters which are not on the agenda. Productivity guru Merlin Mann says that each meeting needs a designated “parent” who steers the meeting responsibly.

In addition, it is important to ensure that extra writing material is available in case this is needed by participants. Participants should be encouraged to take notes. Notes help clarify thoughts and are also useful in post-meeting discussions. It is also essential to have a person designated to take the minutes of the meeting. Minutes provide a record of the discussion that can be mailed out to persons who need to be kept informed.

After the meeting, participants should benefit from the experience and there should be an understanding of all future plans. Patkar states, ‘In his article- “Seven Imperatives to Keep Meetings on Track”, Robert C. Pozen, Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School, says there are three questions that should be asked at the end of each meeting. These questions include:

  • What do we see as the next steps?
  • Who should take responsibility for them?
  • And what should the timeframe be?

The answers to these questions by each participant, should be recorded and sent out. In doing so it will confirm everyone from the meeting is on the same page. It will also provide accountability since no one can say they weren’t sure or didn’t remember what happened.’

Business meetings cannot and should not be avoided when they are necessary, but as is evident, there are certain things that can be done to make a meeting productive.

About the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC)

Established in October 2013, The National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC) is responsible for the identification of key issues related to competitiveness and productivity in Saint Lucia.

The NCPC and its Technical Secretariat is committed to providing the necessary advocacy and research to produce timely and effective recommendations to policymakers on issues that affect both competitiveness and productivity on island. For more information about productivity or on the NCPC, visit www.stluciancpc.org; www.facebook.com/stluciancpc, call 468-5571/5576 or send an e-mail to stluciancpc@gmail.com

 

Mental Health and Its Impact on Productivity

Everyone has the right to employment in conditions of security, equity, freedom and human dignity. For persons with mental health problems, achieving this right is a challenge.

According to the World Health Organization (2001), mental health is defined as ‘a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community’. However, in today’s workforce many people seem to be plagued by this disease and it is often overlooked as they are usually hidden by individuals in the workplace. For people suffering from mental illness, social exclusion is often the hardest barrier to overcome and is usually associated with feelings of shame, fear and rejection. Therefore, the stigma that is attached to having a psychiatric disorder dissuades most from admitting to its existence. There is also a reluctance to seek treatment out of fear that it could result in job loss.

As a result, mental health disorders often go unrecognised and untreated. This is not only detrimental to an individual’s health and career but it also influences productivity in the workplace. Mental illnesses have a huge effect on interpersonal relationships at work. People who suffer from mental illness may withdraw from others, act in unexpected ways or take a lot of time off. This can therefore strain relationships with supervisors and co-workers.

Employee performance, rates of illness, absenteeism, accidents and staff turnover are all affected by employees’ mental health status.

Treatment, if applied could ultimately alleviate symptoms for the employee and improve job performance. However, accomplishing these aims, especially in St. Lucia, will require a shift in attitudes as they relate to the nature of mental health disorder. Common mental health problems that can be found in the workplace include depression, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety. The symptoms of which are all highly documented, but they tend to manifest differently at work. Although, effective mental health services are multidimensional, the workplace is an appropriate environment in which to educate individuals and raise their awareness on mental health. It is highly suggested that companies acknowledge and invest in the mental health of their employees. Not only for the sake of their employed workforce but also for the company. When organisations focus on the practical things that can be done to alleviate mental illness in the workplace the numbers of hours worked and productivity improves. Therefore, in the long term, costs spent on mental health care may represent an investment that will pay off- not only in healthier employees, but also for the company’s financial health.

About the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC)

Established in October 2013, The National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC) is responsible for the identification of key issues related to competitiveness and productivity in Saint Lucia.

The NCPC and its Technical Secretariat is committed to providing the necessary advocacy and research to produce timely and effective recommendations to policymakers on issues that affect both competitiveness and productivity on island. For more information about productivity or on the NCPC, visit www.stluciancpc.org; www.facebook.com/stluciancpc, call 468-5571/5576 or send an e-mail to stluciancpc@gmail.com