For decades, businesses obsessed about being efficient as a means of boosting profits. It wasn’t necessarily a bad strategy, although it could only go so far. That’s because there always comes a point when there’s simply no more efficiency to be gained, no more blood to squeeze from that turnip.
So what happens then?
Smart companies evolve. They realize that improving productivity in the workplace is a better strategy for increasing profit margins from a long-term standpoint.
Culture is King
It’s no coincidence that after decades of management practices that focused on a company’s bottom line at the expense of its employees’ needs, the tides are shifting. Those old-fashioned corporate hierarchies that date to the days of Henry Ford’s model T assembly lines are giving way to the flatter management structures of leading companies such as Google or Zappos.
As the nature of business evolves, companies have to come realize they have to be responsive, not just to their customers but to their employees.
Michael Mankins, a partner in Bain & Company’s San Francisco office, explains the changing dynamic. Efficiency, he says, is about doing the same with less. But productivity is about doing more with the same.
Understanding the difference is essential — because productivity is directly tied to performance.
Productivity in the Workplace
Mankins outlines 3 ways business leaders can foster productivity in the workplace:
- Workers want to be productive, so get out of the way and let them be productive. That means reducing all the “organizational drag” — can you say “checking email” or “going to meetings” — that keeps people from getting things done.
- You’ve been fighting the war for talent, so take advantage of your victories. Put your star employees in roles critical to the business.
- Inspire your people to bring their “A” game:
“Inspired employees bring more discretionary energy to their work every day. As a result, they are 125% more productive than an employee who is merely satisfied. Stated differently, one inspired employee can produce as much as 2.25 satisfied employees,” Mankins says.
Kindness Counts — Especially When It Benefits the Bottom Line
Making all this happen may require adapting the way you manage your workforce. A simple and effective step would be to offer an employee rewards program. That benefits not only your team, but your company culture — which ultimately translates into the bottom line:
“Our research suggests that the best companies are more than 40% more productive than the rest. And this difference in productivity results in significantly higher profits — operating margins 30%–50% higher than industry peers — and faster growth,” Mankins says.
That’s why recognizing the link between company culture and employee productivity is a hallmark of successful bosses and profitable businesses. Studies have repeatedly shown the value of rewarding your employees. When you boost employee engagement, you reap the rewards in a positive atmosphere, increased productivity, and longer retention.
Mankins isn’t the only researcher to emphasize this crucial connection. Emma Seppala of Stanford University and Kim Cameron of the University of Michigan also proved how “a positive workplace is more successful,” in everything from maintaining employee health to improving company culture.
“When organizations develop positive, virtuous cultures,” Seppala and Cameron say, “they achieve significantly higher levels of organizational effectiveness — including financial performance, customer satisfaction, productivity, and employee engagement.”
When you’re ready to take your productivity to the next level, to benefit both your company and its employees, give Bucketlist a call and we’ll guide you through the process.