Eight tips on productivity

I am quietly musing to myself – laughing on the inside really. I sat down to start this blog on June 3… more than a month ago – and it’s all about productivity. There is no doubt that I needed to attend the lunch to launch the Ernst & Young Productivity Pulse Survey.

Of course I listened with big ears, the challenge though is what did I take out of the presentation? And how will it make a difference to my business? [I write as I check my phone for messages and respond to a colleague on a query]. Focus could be a big key to productivity.

The survey discovered that:

  • A third of Australian workers waste almost a quarter of their time at work.
  • Employees reportedly spend most of their ‘wasted’ time reading and responding to emails, dealing with technology issues and waiting for approval from management.
  • Wasted time costs businesses a collective $41 billion in lost wages and productivity costs each year.
  • The survey suggested that only 58% of work conducted adds real value to the business.
  • 54% of workers say people management issues have the biggest impact on lost productive time.

The best way to improve people ‘productivity’ is simply to ask them to work harder, apparently. However, I would argue that people need to know what they are working on. If employees know what is expected of them, and they are noticed, there can be a massive shift in productivity.

‘I know what I’m there to do, somebody noticed, and I go home feeling like a winner.’

The eight tips on productivity from Sean Pyper, general manager for business productivity improvement at the Commonwealth Bank, presented at the lunch were:

1. Specify the value in the eyes of the customer – focus on what is important to customers rather than what you ‘think’ is important to customers.

2. Create flow in processes – no double handling or backtracking.

3. Eliminate waste.

4. Reduce variations – that is, consistency saves wasted energy.

5. Do it correctly the first time – look for the cause rather than the symptoms.

6. Make performance visible – (e.g. scoreboards in public places).

7. Actively manage all processes – reviewing and improving.

8. Coach people for excellence in performance.

As I read through this list, I think to myself all of the above will take commitment from leaders and employees: And to achieve such flow in process takes leadership, commitment and ongoing execution.

So the questions I pose are: Do people in your organisation know what they are there to do and what success looks like? And are individual and team contributions recognised and celebrated?

Perhaps that is the first place to start on reducing the 25% lost time in one in every three Australian businesses.

Naomi Simson is considered to be one of Australia’s Best Bosses. An employee engagement advocate, she practises what she preaches in her own business. RedBalloon was named as one of only six Hewitt Best Employers in Australia and New Zealand for 2009 and awarded an engagement scorecard of over 90% two years in a row – the average in Australian businesses is 55%. BRW also nominated RedBalloon in its list of top 10 Best Places to Work in Australia, behind the likes of Google.

One of Australia’s outstanding female entrepreneurs, Naomi regularly entertains as a passionate speaker inspiring people on employer branding, engagement and reward and recognition. A blogger and a published author, she has received many accolades and awards for the business she founded, RedBalloon.com.au.


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