Employees are at their desks on average for over five hours every day, and organisations are paying for that time.  A consistent problem with these hours is that they are often unproductive.  Employee productivity is determined by how well an organisation takes piles of raw materials, stacks of paperwork, or groups of employees, and turns them into useful goods or services.

Practical businesses strive to increase employee productivity, as it results in sizable benefits to the bottom line.  The return on investment for policy changes that encourage productivity can be enormous. 

In some sectors, a five percent uptick in productivity can lead to up to a fifty percent increase in total shareholder returns. 

Implementing just six key management practices can be all it takes for employee productivity to increase and give organisations that additional competitive edge.

1.               Foster interpersonal relationships
Within a large company, employees run the risk of becoming little more than numbers on a piece of paper.  A lack of personal engagement between management and employees can leave them feeling unappreciated.  Bring a sense of personalisation to the workplace and get to know your team.  In doing so, employees will want to go the extra mile for the company.  It’s important to remember employees are going to become stressed from time to time and it’s therefore crucial that adequate support is given to maximise productivity.  Research has found that “happy employees have, on average, 31% higher productivity; their sales are 37% higher; and their creativity is three times higher”. 

2.               Set realistic goals
One way to quickly decrease an employee’s motivation is to set unrealistic goals.  Pushing staff to work to their best can set a strong tone, but overwhelming them can be severely detrimental.  Boosting team productivity can be a fine line between the two and finding appropriate and achievable goals within set timeframes is crucial.  An excellent way to combat this is to set sub goals.  Sub goals break down the steps which are needed to reach the end goal.  They simplify what might start out seeming like a massive task.  They allow the goal to become more achievable as employees work on completing smaller steps.

3.               Provide meaningful feedback
Everyone likes to be told that they are doing an outstanding job.  That even applies for those employees who you feel could be working more effectively.  Feedback keeps employees’ work-related activities directed toward desired personal and organisational goals.   Communication is vital for effective, constructive feedback.  Constructive feedback takes the negative criticisms of an employee’s work and offers improvements with a positive spin.  Encouragement here is also vital, as discouraged employees are far less likely to increase their productivity. Effective constructive criticism can go a long way in helping employees learn and understand more efficient strategies. 

   4.               Create incentives
Who doesn’t love to be rewarded for producing excellent quality work? Reinforcement is the key to effectively get team engagement around productivity.  Establishing a reward system for employees who consistently increase their capabilities will promote motivation around the workplace and prompt employees to work harder as they know it will be recognised.  Incentives don’t need to be monetary - employee-recognition programs are a strong method of acknowledging the work of staff.  These can include reward perks such as extra time off, free lunches, or better parking spaces.  Recognition of employees meeting their KPI’s will ensure a higher standard of productivity.  It may even create some friendly competition between employees! 

5.               Provide skill development
Invest in employees through skill development programs.  Being able to master the skills of related roles within the organisation can allow employees to better recognise and embrace wider organisational goals and vision.  Productivity is increased as individuals gain interdepartmental training, which broadens the understanding that employees bring to a larger team who all rely on each other.  This allows employees to realise that they can work more efficiently and keeps them engaged with new challenges as they align their roles within the company.  As a side benefit, employees even become better equipped to progress internally into leadership roles.   

6.       Recruiting procedures
These suggested practices can significantly increase productivity in many employees, however some people are better aligned with certain positions.  This is where the importance of recruitment and selection procedures can come into play and really set your organisation apart from your competitors.  Introducing selection criteria for potential employees based on psychological assessment can help you save time interviewing sub optimal candidates.  This can also reduce costs as you’re more likely to find employees who fit the job requirements, not just in their capabilities but also their personality and values.  Recruiting the right person for the job increases the likelihood of high productivity and results in a better outcome for your company.

Implementation of these six simple steps can dramatically increase employee productivity and ensure greater organisational outcomes.  Placing a greater emphasis on these management practices provides employees with the greatest opportunities to produce their best work.

In many organisations positive thinking is a vital predictor of productivity.  The Business Personality Reflections® (BPR) is a personality questionnaire that measures business-related competencies to assist in selection and personnel development decisions.  Developed by Psych Press, this assessment contains 70 personality scales that can be tailored to any organisation’s needs.  Below is more information about the Positive Thinking scale in the Business Personality Reflections®.

Positive Thinking
Positive thinking describes an optimistic attitude that focuses on the bright side of life.  Optimistic individuals have faith that their abilities and actions can cause significant positive impact on their future (Kluemper, Little & DeGroot, 2009).  The positive thinking scale measures the degree of positive mood and feelings across the range of happiness, enthusiasm, optimism and joy. 

An example of an item for this scale is, “I feel lots of happiness in my life”.

Positive thinking plays an important role in generating positive mood.  Research has found that emotions and mood are related to success in occupational settings, people who are happy are more creative, see opportunities and tend to be more comfortable in taking strategic risks (Fredrickson, 2001; Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005).  Cable (2017) also suggests that positive emotions help with decision-making and problem solving. 

Organisational leaders who display positive thinking help employees feel included and increase cooperation and task performance (Allen & McCarthy, 2015).  Further, positive actions and emotions enhance the efficiency and the rate of task execution, increasing productivity in the workplace (Anchor, 2011; Cable, 2017).  It has also been found that positive mood and emotions lead to a more amicable communication style and therefore result in lower levels of conflict between employees (Allen & McCarthy, 2015). 

In addition, research has also found that optimism correlates with subjective wellbeing and that it promotes positive feelings during stressful events (Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005).  Thus, it is shown that positive thinking leads to better stress coping in individuals. 

Individuals who score highly on the Business Personality Reflections® Positive Thinking scale are more likely to experience these positive emotions such as enthusiasm, happiness and joy, as well as actively express them in the workplace. 

You might consider using a positive thinking scale in your recruiting and development processes if employees often deal with;
  • ·         Stressful situations in the workplace in which positive thinking is required
  • ·         Challenging and complex tasks that may involve setbacks
  • ·         Building and maintaining professional relationships with customers or employees
  • ·         A fast paced work environment where enthusiasm is necessary for task completion and efficiency
Organisations need employees who think positively in the workplace to help breed enthusiasm and optimism and hence maximise productivity.   We hope that the Positive Thinking scale can provide useful information, amongst other relevant scales, about potential candidate performance within your work context or environment.  It can also assist with team construction or team dynamics within an organisation.

If you were interested in learning more about the Positive Thinking scale, or the Business Personality Reflections® personality questionnaire please simply enquire now for a free trial.

A crucial competitive advantage in bringing talented individuals into the organisation can be exploited by successfully avoiding some common pitfalls in the recruiting process.  The leveraged advantage can be quite significant - bad hiring decisions can cost competitors organisations a lot of money.  A mistake made in the recruitment and selection process leading to employee turnover can cost half to two-thirds of an employee’s annual salary. With costs that high, can any organisation afford to make mistakes in recruitment? No business wants to hire the wrong person for the job. We hope these five tips may aid in your candidate selection.

1.       Too much about the money, too little about the brand value
It’s easy to assume that a great salary package alone will attract top candidates. Often however, it is not all about the money. Research shows that a job seekers’ perception of a company’s reputation affects how much they want to join the company. If the company is held in high regard, candidates are less likely to make a decision based on remuneration alone. To achieve a positive brand image among potential candidates, HR managers can add significant value by identifying what is valuable for their target candidates and advertise accordingly. For example: fresh graduates will want to develop their skills and expand their network, therefore graduate job advertisements could emphasise mentoring programs, networking events, and on-the-job training. Senior roles however might emphasise coaching and development opportunities, flexible work arrangements, engagements and involvement in innovation.

2.       Relevant department input into the role. 
Most candidates value contact with or attention from the functional head of the area in which the role sits – so their early involvement can be crucial. Writing job advertisements is usually the recruiter or HR partner’s job, but the relevant department manager can ensure clarity and accuracy around the duties, skills and key competencies. This will prevent miscommunication, especially for highly specialised roles. It can be frustrating for candidates when recruiters aren’t specific enough about the role. Set clear expectations about the position, and utilise the experience of your organisation to present a clear and attractive value proposition. Candidates value a real world presentation of the job and role.

3.       Too much reliance on resumes and interviews, too little on psychometrics
The resume and interview process is a mainstay of recruitment and a useful tool to aid in shortlisting candidates. However there is a significant body of evidence that the predictive validity of unstructured interviews is about the same as tossing a coin. One reason for this is difficult to admit, but the resume and interview can unconsciously bias recruiters about candidates based on race, gender, age, social context, and more. In a perfect world, interviewers would evaluate people objectively; however judging people naturally becomes subjective.
Research has shown that candidates who are different from an otherwise similar group of finalists have a very little chance of being hired, even if they’re the most qualified candidate. Further, candidates who are similar to the hiring manager are also prioritised as we naturally gravitate towards people who are similar to ourselves.

To minimise the risk of bias, psychometric tests can ensure candidates are objectively assessed as much as possible. This can offer a clearer rationale why one candidate is a better fit for your organisation. A psychometric scale examining resilience is much more likely to differentiate people than an open-ended question during an interview process. Furthermore, you are provided with an objective, comparative metric to probe particular competencies in an interview context. The use psychometric assessment in a recruitment and selection process avoids placing the organisation in an uneasy legal position because of unconscious biases, or having to admit that the composition of the staff in general or leadership team in particular differs widely from the general population in terms of gender or ethnicity.

4.       A focus on streamlining
In talent starved markets, failing to make an offer to a candidate in a timely manner will risk losing them to your competition. The best organisations have streamlined their recruitment processes to minimise the risk of losing the best candidates for the role. Organisations need to develop a clear idea of what they need and want, and how they will evaluate this, so that the decision-making is as efficient as possible.

A major achievement in this context is that companies have begun to use online demographic, biographical and psychometric measures in the screening process rather than psychometrics in a post-interview context. Organisational financial and people metrics can be positively impacted through: time to hire, cost of hire, and turnover metrics.

Every minute counts, deliver objective and quantitative data before interviews commence, schedule multiple interviews in a single day, prepare any additional testing ahead of time, and automate your recruitment system to maximise the speed of the recruitment process. If your organisation doesn’t have the capacity to quickly review candidates, you can always outsource recruitment to ensure a speedy hire. Once you have made a decision on a candidate, don’t delay. A lot can happen between 4pm Wednesday and Thursday morning, as your role will almost never be the only role a candidate is interested in pursuing.     

5.       Feedback and candidate care
Recruitment can be extremely time-consuming, but any strong recruitment strategy emphasises candidate care. Updating applicants and providing feedback at each stage of their application can emphasise the recruitment’s fairness. Perception of a fair and efficient recruitment process can generate a positive perception of the company, even for unsuccessful applicants. Feedback can range from letting candidates know that they have been unsuccessful with a short ‘thank you for your time and interest’, to providing a brief explanation on competencies that can be further improved. 

Factual and objective feedback that outlines why a candidate isn’t the right fit for the role is far more likely to leave prospects walking away from your organisation with no hard feelings, as opposed to jarring personal statements of inadequacy seemingly based on personal opinion. Appropriate candidate care increases your good press, and increases the likelihood of access to additional prospects.

In summary, the costs of a bad hire have serious financial implications, but also impact workplace culture, performance, and productivity. Maximise your chances of a positive return on investment by developing robust recruitment strategies, and avoid the missteps of competitors to lower unnecessary turnover from and provide significant value add to your organisation.  

In many organisations resilience is a vital predictor of turnover. The Business Personality Reflections® (BPR) is a personality questionnaire that measures business-related competencies to assist in selection and personal development decisions. Developed by Psych Press, this assessment contains 70 personality scales that can be tailored to any organisation’s needs. Below is more information about the Resilience Scale in the Business Personality Reflections®

Resilience is described as the ability of an individual to adapt to changes in their environment and bounce back from stressful experiences. It indicates the degree to which an individual can maintain a stable and motivated working mindset in the face of difficult situations. Resilience is vital for success in today’s rapidly changing and expanding work environment because it allows for the individual to maintain their working standards regardless of the challenges they face. Without it, inevitable changes in working conditions will negatively impact personal and performance outcomes for employees.

A sample item for the resiliency factor that you may see on the BPR or other questionnaires could be: “I struggle to find positives when bad things happen.”

Studies have shown that high levels of resilience are negatively related to a number of psychological outcomes such as burnout (Mak et al., 2011), secondary traumatic stress (Mealer et al., 2012), depression (McGarry et al., 2013) and anxiety (Lu et al., 2014). For example, in separate studies Mealer et al. (2012) and McGarry et al. (2013) both found that high resilience was associated with lower levels of anxiety, depression and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. These studies also found that high resilience was associated with lower levels of burnout, which is described as emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and reduced personal accomplishment in the work environment. Furthermore, resilience has been positively related to work engagement (Mache et al., 2014) and job performance (Er-Xiu & Shu-wen, 2010).

Individuals who score highly on the Business Personality Reflections® Resilience Scale are more likely to work in a purposeful and determined manner to reach goals even in the presence of potential complications preventing their progress.

You might consider using a resilience scale in your recruiting and development processes if employees often deal with:

  • ·         Major and unexpected hiccups that require rapid response.
  • ·         Stakeholders, staff, or clients that have strong opposing views. 
  • ·         Long term-projects that drag on and demand sustained energy and enthusiasm.
  • ·         Crises where remaining calm and optimistic is needed.
  • ·         Intensive periods of work involving long hours, multiple tasks, and tight deadlines.

Organisations need resilient employees that have the capacity to handle a changing, unpredictable or disrupted environment.  We hope that the Resilience Scale can provide useful information, amongst other relevant scales about potential candidate performance within your work context or environment.  

If you were interested in learning more about the Resilience Scale, or the Business Personality Reflections® Personality questionnaire please simply enquire now for a free trial.