How to boost employee productivity quickly

HIGHLY PRODUCTIVE EMPLOYEE is every employer's dream. Most organizations pay recruiters through their nose to find one. Almost 70% of the times, they claim to have paid for an average hire and not the highly productive one they were looking to hire. What's the implication of that?

70% of most workforce then, comprises of average employees whose productivity is a suspect, isn't it? The real challenge is to figure what to do with ones who aren't unproductive either. We'll handle that a few lines down in this article. If you hire regularly, this lot comprises of your maximum workforce. Employees who aren't highly productive but ain't unproductive either. Can you guess what the impact would look like?

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Productivity multiplies

While hirings adds

If we can imagine productivity as an outcome multiplier with 1 being the average outcome, highly productive would mean greater than 1 value for the multiplier and underproductive would mean a value less than 1. So when you say you are a 300 employee company, the productive value of that workforce is determined by the average multiplier of the team's productivity. Each hire with value under 1 impacts your organization's productivity negatively and each productive hire does you tremendous good. Why knowing that is important?

When you are adding manpower, you are actually multiplying productivity. Hiring isn't a additive operations its a multiplicative one. That's the math for frontline staff. For manager and leaders whose span of control is larger, the scaling factor might become LOGARITHMIC.

In plain english this means more than hiring, productivity matters.

That brings us to what to do with what we have, that is, 70% of average workforce.

Here are a few thoughts that can help you improve the productivity value of each employee. 

1. FAMILIARITY can improve productivity. People tend to do better on things that they know than things that are new to them. Your immediate task once you hire someone is to make sure that most of the things about your business, industry, organization, product, team gets into their familiar zone than leaving it to them to acquire that knowledge at their own pace. Most HR teams run something called "Induction" for new hires. There is a high chance that your are doing it already. Question is, do you know what's inside your induction? How good is it in serving the purpose it's meant to? When was the induction content updated? Who is measuring effectiveness? At 300 employee size, a transition of productivity value of one employee from 0.9 to 1.2 can have dramatic impact on your organization's productivity value. Induct well.

2. RAMPING UP on the job means having a structured path built for new hires to come up to speed with existing highly productive employees. This is again linked to first point of familiarity. Path to high productivity in your workplace is something that you know internally but new hires needs to find out. One way is to leave her on her own to find it out through roughing on her own. Other way is to document the path well, have drills and milestones defined that ensure a timely ramp up of the new hire. If productivity is important to you, why would you leave it for chance? That email content that works, that successful pitch, frequently asked questions, shortest way to demo your product, whatever. All the tricks of highly productive employees must be out in open for all to emulate and get there. HR calls it "Functional Induction" but that's a weak term. Call it "Productivity Rampup" and get down to it. Absence of this step is what's keeping your workforce average.

3. HIRE BETTER. It's easier said than done, I agree. But not doing anything doesn't work either. One straight forward way for finding highly productive people is to figure what's the profile of existing highly productive people in each department. Do their DISC profiling and find the type that's working for you well. Now you'd know what to figure during hiring process. Wish it was this easy :). Knowing won't help, you got to train your hiring managers and functional assessment chain on skills to assess candidates around the required measures. When was the last time you did a hiring manager's skill building session? Or a coffee chat at least? What, you never trained your hiring managers? 

4. TARGET SETTING remains one of the most mishandled areas in organizations with catastrophic effect on both productivity and performance of the organization. On any given day, you can easily expect unto 60% workforce without clear knowledge of what their target is for that day or week or even month. Annual targets, some people have knowledge of, but that's like we all know one day robots will take over all job. Most managers aren't trained on "how to set targets", so most managers do a pretty bad job at setting those. Here are a few indicative thoughts on target setting methods. What's your target setting frequency? How many targets does each employee carry for that frequency? Do you give differential weightage to different targets or equal weightage? How difficult or easy are the targets set for each employee? What happens when an employee does not meet targets? I would admit, this is not easy part and apart from some guidelines, there isn't one magic formula on targets. But again, not doing what you know already isn't an option either. At least attend to these questions and start applying.

I titled this blog as "How to boost employee productivity quickly". May be "quickly" was a bit ambitious. There is work at your end. If you are a highly productive employee yourself, you'd do it quickly, otherwise you'll keep complaining about quality of humans in general. But I showed you, ball is in your court. Productivity can be improved.

plugHR works with ambitious entrepreneurs and committed HR heads to dig deeply on each area of their talent practice and re-engineer it for driving employee productivity