Measuring productivityIt’s widely appreciated that measuring something is a sure-fire way to raise its importance. We found in the Culture Economy report that the most common way SME decision makers are measuring their productivity is analysing money in versus money out. But is this really the best way for your business? When it comes to productivity, the measurement options are many and varied, from production volumes, headcount and revenue to 360 degree feedback and even specialist apps and technology. One size doesn’t fit all, but understanding how your competitors measure their productivity can help to define how best you should measure yours. There may be lessons to be learnt or a way of benchmarking your performance against your peers effectively.
AuditingAuditing your use of technology can be extremely helpful too, especially to analyse time doing administrative tasks as that will often be better spent elsewhere. Tasks such as approving holiday may only seem minor and only take a couple of minutes each time, but if you were to add up how much time this takes over a year, it may not seem so minor. There are many areas within a business that can be automated, freeing up huge amounts of time that would be better spent on developing the company culture or focusing on business development.
Understand employee engagementA company also needs to monitor culture, happiness and employee engagement, as it’s vital to understand what makes your staff tick and fuel productivity. The more you can understand this, the more you can realise what does not work to keep your employees engaged. For small businesses, this is often done in terms of employee satisfaction surveys, which include questions about work life balance, if you feel valued in the workplace, managerial styles and many more. Often, start-ups have face to face meetings instead to gain an understanding of their employees honest thoughts. With these, honesty and openness is an integral part of understanding engagement and therefore enhance productivity.
IncentiviseNaturally, humans love to be rewarded. In the workplace it helps us to feel valued and appreciated. It is a way to provide recognition for hard work and incentives can be directed for certain areas of the businesses such as business efficiency and greater productivity. However it’s important to ensure the rewards are actually incentivising employees and, as most companies have a diverse range of employees, incentives may have to differ from person to person. For someone, free breakfast may be a huge benefit but for others, the flexibility to be able to work from home may be more appealing. With productivity being one of the key questions of our economic times, it is a challenge that needs to be recognised and addressed. And it is worrying that so many businesses appear not to be aware of their relative performance. Improving productivity has a huge range of benefits from business performance and survival to individual incomes and wellbeing. It is positively correlated with employee engagement and business culture. And as the UK redefines its business identity on the international stage post-Brexit, this surely must be at the top of everyone’s agenda. Jonathan Richards is CEO and founder of specialist HR software company Breathe. In association with Breathe, Real Business is running the SME Culture Leaders List 2019, the only league table of its kind catering to the UK’s thriving small and medium businesses that put company culture first.
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