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Productivity Improvement Requires Employee Engagement and Relentless Pursuit of Process Improvements

Productivity Improvement Requires Employee Engagement and Relentless Pursuit of Process Improvements

There is a productivity crisis looming for your organization and for North American economies. The Conference Board of Canada estimates that by 2031, only 23 workers will be around to do the work that 50 do today. To make this more concrete, take a look around you and imagine that only half your coworkers are left to do the existing amount of work.

Slipping productivity will also hurt your organization’s ability to compete because your competition will be striving to do more work for less cost, decimating your margins.

Because I am in the leadership development business, you can anticipate the first recommendation: Be an employer of choice. Great leadership will help you attract and retain great employees and those great employees can create the productivity you are looking for. Let your competition suffer from not having enough workers to fill the orders they have while your company enjoys sustainable profitability.

But even that will not be enough…

Recommendation number two: You need to relentlessly pursue ways to get greater output from the same number of workers. Labor advocates might fear this means asking employees to work harder. In reality that won’t solve the problem. Generally people put in the same amount of effort over time with occasional blips that are higher or lower.

So the solution is to look for ways to improve work methods and apply technology to get more output from the existing resources.

And that means mobilizing your workforce now to get on with those improvements. Getting ahead of the curve in the short run will allow you to grow without adding resources and boost your bottom line. As older workers retire and fewer younger workers are around to replace them, you will be able to stay in business when your competitors cannot.

Both of these solutions require both strong management and strong leadership.

Reflection Questions

What active steps is your organization taking to both boost the output of existing resources while creating a work environment that attracts the best talent? What will happen to your organization if it does not take this challenge seriously?

Action Items

Examine your existing leadership practices. Now is the time to create the kind of leaders great employees want to work for.

Help teams of employees make meaningful changes to eliminate unnecessary steps, introduce time saving technology and improve output.

Wherever possible redeploy affected employees to growing parts of your business to avoid them resisting improvements because of job loss.

If downsizing is a likely result of your efforts, consider making those adjustments earlier, then help remaining employees devise better ways of doing the workload under the new conditions.