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Productivity vs. Efficiency – What Are the Differences?

In any given organisation, productivity and efficiency are highly regarded. Most managers and employees get their feedback based on these two factors. But what exactly do we mean when we say productivity or efficiency? Apparently there are some questions around this topic that haven’t been answered yet.

In order to explain the differences between productivity and efficiency, we must first understand what they exactly mean. To put it in simpler terms, we are talking about differences between quantity and quality. It is nearly impossible to obtain 100% quality, while having productivity levels up at maximum. There should be a middle ground in order to optimise your results.

Both productivity and efficiency are absolutely crucial for building a fantastic work ethic. If you manage to learn how to handle both of them and what makes them distinctly important, you and your business will thrive. As a beginner, you may be tempted to focus too much on efficiency and although this isn’t a bad thing to do, understanding the key variables between efficiency and productivity is imperative.

Given the complexity of this issue, insight is required on what these two factors actually are.

Productivity

At its very core, productivity shows you the rate at which products are being developed or a task is being completed.  When you are measuring productivity things get a little more complex than that. You have to take into account whether it’s physical or office work, if the job requires a certain quality factor or the impact a specific industry’s requirements may have on its workers. Nonetheless, productivity is an integral part of any successful company.

Efficiency

Efficiency is all about the comparison between what is really being produced or performed with what can be produced taking into account the same amount of resources, such as: money, time and labour. In simpler terms, efficiency measures whether there is any waste in your company. Depending on the industry you work in, efficiency may be more desirable than productivity, but usually their importance is proportionate.

Efficiency vs. Productivity

Everyone wants to be as productive as possible, but there are always problems of various sorts that keep us from getting the job done. Firstly, don’t waste more time than necessary when completing a task. Try and set your own rhythm and pace and stick to it. Try and write down every step necessary in order to complete a certain task and follow that process religiously. Once you have the whole process set in stone, you will see that the amount of time you require will steadily decrease.

Many people ask if it is possible to be productive and efficient at the same time and the answer is yes. All you have to do is analyse the task at hand and try and find out what it requires more; whether it is quantity or quality.

It all comes down to the importance of the task. As an example, let’s talk about employee enquiries towards the HR department. We all know they must be dealt with in a respectable amount of time. This type of task is considered to be more on the productive side, due to the fact that it is the same process over and over again, with the same forms and documentation that need to be filled out every time. You can finish all the enquiries quickly and with complete certainty that their quality is top notch as long as you deal with them in the correct manner.

With efficiency tasks, most often than not they do not have a precise and by the book approach. These tasks obviously require more time and a high level of due diligence. In this scenario, quality trumps quantity. Of course, every task has a deadline. But if you happen to have the misfortune of dealing with it poorly, it doesn’t necessarily matter too much. You should always work at your full potential, but given the fact that the assignment doesn’t have a methodological way of dealing with it, you have some wiggle room and the possibility to improve it.

As mentioned earlier in the article, it is very important for both productivity and efficiency to be part of your workflow. It provides you with time, expertise and discipline in order to handle distinct assignments. Balancing productivity and efficiency may seem troublesome at first, but once you find it, certain tasks will stop being such a burden on you.

In conclusion, one more idea that is important to remember is this: never sacrifice your work. If you need to do good, solid work then don’t rush it by any means, and when you are looking for quantity don’t get yourself lost in too many details. With this in mind, you can accomplish anything you want. Do the work you have to do the way it was meant to be done and never compromise. It is essential you know and understand the differences between these two practices in order to ensure your work never has to suffer again.

Great People Inside provides easy-to-use tools and processes to attract, assess, match, select, onboard, manage, develop, benchmark and maintain workforces anywhere in the world.

We help you find the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. The GR8 Productivity Gap tool is excellent at showcasing the evolution of any given employee over time. By contrasting two assessments made before and after training, it allows you to analyse both your employees’ development and their involvement in the process as well.

 

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Sources:

www.smallbusiness.chron.com

www.doityourself.com

www.differencebetween.info

www.selfthrive.com

Skill Gap: Why is it still a Major Concern (Part 2)

This article is part of a series. For part 1 click here.

There is a steady decline in the U.S. system’s possibility of nurturing these midlevel skills, due to the fact that automation is cutting down the need for low-skilled workers. Luckily, there are local initiatives which are trying to address the respective skill gap in their areas.

A good example on how to narrow the skill gap is represented by internships specifically tailored to college graduates in order to meet the more evolving needs of today’s employers. Some university programs include the so-called “cooperative degree programs” also known as co-ops. This type of approach will allow both employers and future graduates to assess the market and their specific place in the world of work. Employers have the chance to evaluate skills such as: employee attitude and work ethic, but also offering their training to their temporary recruits, specifically tailored to the organisation’s needs. These co-ops and internships help students earn their necessary credit in order to graduate, earn proper work experience, and best of all getting them to apply classroom studies in the real business world.

For over 20 years, there has been a shortage of “transferable” workplace skills, and although there have been many initiatives in terms of laws, guidelines and goals, not many problems have been resolved.

These “transferable” workplace skills have represented a real problem for the private sector for the past 20 years. HR managers have stopped putting too much emphasis on skills such as reading literacy and computational aptitude. In today’s workplace, soft skills are dominating the office needs, and they are as follows: interpersonal and intrapersonal knowledge, time management, ethics, teamwork, personal organisation, interpersonal communication, problem solving, anger management and reasoning.

At a global scale, Millennials display unique attributes that conflict with society and the idea of work as it currently stands. This group of people have spent their entire or nearly entire life connected to technology, rapid accessibility of information and a permanent connection with family and friends. Straight from birth, Millennials have been told they are special and they were rewarded nearly instantaneously for even the smallest of accomplishments.

Millennials are much better equipped to handle active learning that can teach them metacognitive skills. Such operating systems are being beta-tested as we speak, in order to assure the teaching of a higher-order and analytical skills. In the United States, the successful applications of e-learning for workplace training are expected to be introduced into the K-12 curricula where they are foreseen to shrink the metacognitive skill gap in public schools. Games and simulations offer a great basis for education and training, with at least 45% of Millennials being active learners.

In approximately 10 years, companies everywhere will move all types of employee training programs towards the online. Nowadays, distance education done through e-learning is just a stepping stone towards a new structure of education.

The level of information a worker can acquire at the workplace takes half the time compared to the classical classroom delivery, thus retention can be increased by 30% and the cost of training can be reduced by 40%. There will be a quick and positive ROI because employee efficiency is substantially increased.

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Skill Gap: Why is it still a Major Concern (Part 1)

Although the latest economic recession has ended a few years ago, the rate of unemployment in the United States is still high. This still remains a problem, even though employers are in a continuous struggle to fill certain job posts, most of them in the area of middle-skills jobs: nursing, computer technology, high-skill manufacturing, etc. These vacancies require education at a postsecondary level and in some special cases, even college math degrees or courses. At the moment in the States, 69 million people are involved in middle-skills jobs, which represent about 48% of the workforce. The skill gap is obvious.

The U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics doesn’t do estimates on vacancies based on skill category, but if we were to combine the data from the government on education and the training requirements needed, it can be discovered that almost 25 million, or 47%, of new jobs that will appear from 2010 to 2020 will be in the category of middle-skills.

CEO’s and HR leaders need to figure out which method of training people will help their organisations fill those vacancies, thus mending the wage stagnation that has engulfed the country and limiting the gap between households with high and low income.

Given the current work climate, companies should take charge and develop programs in which workers can be capable of filling the skill gap. To be realistic, such a thing can happen on a global scale only if companies cooperate with each other, with educational institutions, with unions at both regional and national level.

Businesses rarely disclose any information regarding their expenses on training programs, and when they wish to cut costs, their first target is represented by HR investments. Nowadays, many organisations shy away from training investments because they fear that their competitors won’t make the same investments and they will also steal their workers. In order to minimise this risk, combined investment is recommended. Such collaborative work has been put into effect in a number of countries such as the U.S., UK, Australia and Sweden, with great success.


Read also: Top 7 HR Trends for 2017


Things have greatly shifted since we’ve entered the 21st century. For the majority of the 20th century, people had two ways in which they acquired their skills and prosperity. The first one is, obviously, on the job. Organisations promoted people from within, and it enabled their employees to develop towards higher-level occupations. Unions were invested into negotiating specific career ladders that were directly connected to seniority and skills, and also accompanied employers at an industry or occupational level in order to host various training programs and apprenticeships. Having such a system in place guaranteed a constant flow of talent, very well equipped with skills of the highest level.

A second approach to acquiring skills was represented by college. The American dream has always represented an ideal for any fellow American. Young people across the U.S. were told that in order to achieve the highest peaks of the American dream was to follow the rules and study hard in a field that best suited their talents and interests. However, problems always arise. People with degrees in liberal arts have seen a significant drop in job opportunities. The numbers speak for themselves: only 15% of college graduates have majored in math, science, engineering and technology. This percentage has been a constant for over 2 decades although demand has grown exponentially.

This article is part of a series. For part 2 click here.

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Wellness programs: an integral part of employee wellbeing

In October 2016, a survey of 3,100 people conducted by CareerBuilder discovered that a high percentage of employees take sick leave due to the fact they are stressed out and sleep-deprived, not because they have fallen ill. This is an increasingly worrying issue.

Nowadays, employees find it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance and manage their stress levels, even after their office hours. At the same time, employers are dealing with this issue poorly because they are implying the employee is the one in the wrong. Some employers go to extreme lengths such as regularly checking their employees’ social media profiles in order to try and catch them in the act.

As mentioned above, workplace stress is a growing and troublesome issue, thus managers are recommended to look into various wellness ideas and programs in order to keep their staff healthy and productive.

First of all, you as a manager must gather all the available data on the current situation at the office. Surveys are a good tool to get a feeling on how your employees are feeling about their workload, satisfaction and engagement levels, and also what is bothering them. Transparency within the workplace is something very sought out and encouraged. Employees wish to be heard; therefore open communication should be an integral part of your organisational culture.

When your employees are regularly struggling to meet their deadlines and they have to deal with a lot of stress, their wellbeing will suffer tremendously, and they will eventually start losing sleep and falling ill.

Nowadays, technology plays a huge role in almost every aspect of our lives. Inevitably, we now have apps that help us develop a healthier lifestyle and diet. Given the attention employee health is receiving from HR departments these days, employees all around the world are encouraged to get fit through wearable wellness.

ABI Research has discovered that, over the next 5 years, 13 million wearable devices are going to be used in corporate-wellness programs. The most popular devices are: Jawbone’s UP 24 activity tracker, Fitbits and Nike’s FuelBands. They are used to monitor people’s movements, eating and sleeping patterns. Thus, using it in a corporate environment, colleagues can motivate one another towards a healthier lifestyle, leading to significant drop in sick days, fewer health insurance premiums and also a steep rise in productivity.

This type of technology has come a long way, given the fact that users can now set their own alerts to be reminded to hydrate more or to get out of their chairs for some exercise. The device also allows employees to connect with one another, form teams and compete against each other.

TheSquareFoot has emerged as one of the best employers through their wellness program. The company provided all their employees with UP bands to show them how much they cared about their health and wellbeing. It is becoming a prominent trend for companies nowadays to integrate wearable devices into their health plan because it can be an attractive way of retaining talent.  This is what Aron Susman, co-founder of TheSquareFoot, had to say about the company’s wellness program: “It is a totally different type of investment than paying for a gym membership because it becomes a talking point in the office. It also shows you are willing to try new things and create a team over and beyond just professional responsibilities.”

Wellness Program Tips

If you’re still not convinced about corporate wellness programs, I am going to present you with some tips from none other than Alan Kohll, founder and CEO of TotalWellness. Alan is known for his work with employers in order to carry out plans for improving employee productivity and health. Next, I will present you some of his most important tips:

  1. Incorporate games into the team challenges. As stated earlier, colleagues can use their devices in order to create teams and work towards a universal goal. Besides the fact that it will boost motivation amongst employees to utilise the devices, the overall office morale will greatly increase. In his past experience, Kohll has seen a lot of impressive accomplishments, such as: 10,000 steps in a day or 5 million steps over the course of one month.
  2. For companies that have offices across the country, a good example of employees engagement through wellness would be the following: You have one office in New York and one in California. A fun challenge consists of the number of steps necessary to get from one office to another. Employees will engage and motivate one another in order to reach their goal of improving their overall wellbeing, thus creating a more productive work environment where each member of the team feels encouraged and supported.
  3. Company culture is something every employee resonates with. Bring wearable devices into that culture. One of the best features of these devices is that users can set reminders and be notified they have been inactive for the past few hours. When you make your employees feel good about taking a break for a walk outdoors, or inspire them to leave their desk for some push-ups or stretching, not only do you support the devices being used but also make your employees know that you care about their health.
  4. Probably the most important tip is saved for last. Don’t make participation mandatory. You have to understand that not everyone will be thrilled about the wellness program. Although it is imperative to make the wearables available to everyone, there will always be people who do not wish to partake in such activities, as Kohll himself states: “They can be great for individuals who are interested in making changes to their health behaviour but need that extra push, but they aren’t for everyone.”

All in all, there are countless ways to ensure that your employees maintain a high level of wellbeing and engagement. But, the thing is that no two companies are the same, and what works for one may not work for the other.

The Great People Inside employee assessment solutions and technology can be tailored to your company’s specific needs and organisational culture and can help you to boost the levels of job-fit and skill-use in your employees, generating job satisfaction, improved motivation, health and happiness, and boost employee retention.

Try out our assessment in order to measure the level of wellbeing in your organisation and find out the best approach to improve it.

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Sources: Entrepreneur.com

What are the leaders of today truly made of?

There’s been a long debate whether great leaders are born or made… As pointed out in an article on Forbes, it turns out that both parties are right. A definition of leadership, as suggested by researchers, would be a mixture of some genetics and of a whole lot more hard work and persistence. In fact, one study from The Leadership Quarterly on heritability (that is, the innate skills you bring to the table) and human development (what you learn along the way) estimated that leadership is 24%  genetic and 76 percent learned.

However, some people strongly believe that you are brought into this world as a leader – and you cannot do anything about it.

Well, this stands true for a small percentage of the population. As a matter of fact, over the course of history,  there were some people that undeniably had the leadership gene imprinted in their DNA. It is the case of those who gained followers due to their sheer presence and charisma: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi are just a few of them. People with a similar kind of gifts are born every day, even if they don’t have the same impact.

Research show that there are two innate traits that are common to the majority of successful leaders: extroversion and conscientiousness.

According to a meta-analysis led by Timothy Judge, Ph.D., a professor at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, extroversion is the best predictor of leadership effectiveness, followed closely by conscientiousness.

As it is mentioned in an article from Business Insider,  “psychologists define extroversion as sociability and enthusiasm, while conscientiousness refers to your organization and work ethic. More recent research has found that conscientiousness is the only major personality trait that consistently predicts success, largely because highly conscientious individuals are good at setting and working toward goals.”

What does this mean for the aspiring leaders? Well, if conscientiousness and extroversion are the only innate traits that commonly predict leadership effectiveness – and even those can be worked upon – then all you have to do is to improve and develop your other skills and behaviours that would make you a great leader. Aside from the well known qualities that have defined great leaders since the beginning of time – the ability to communicate effectively, fairness, foresight and inspiration – the dynamics of today’s business world require leaders to develop a whole new set of skills and abilities if they want to thrive in the VUCA environment that we live in (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity).

Great People Inside through a&dc’ LIVED® model puts forward five elements that leaders need to focus on, in order to deliver tangible business results and shine in the VUCA world: Learning, Intellect, Values, Emotions and Drive. By mastering each of these five dimensions, the leaders will be fully equipped to face the challenges of an increasingly fast paced world of work.

Learning – Willing and able to adapt to new environments and challenges by drawing on learning and feedback from previous experiences.

Intellect – Thinks incisively, deals effectively with complex and ambiguous information, sees issues in the broader context and takes sound decisions based on this analysis.

Values – Acts in an authentic and consistent way, inspires trust and demonstrates integrity, courage and respect for others.

Emotions – Manages own emotions effectively, builds positive relationships and uses emotions to influence and inspire others.

Drive – Sets challenging goals, takes an action oriented approach and shows passion and determination to overcome obstacles, act decisively and achieve results.

These are all aspects that you can improve, and while some people are born with the innate traits that will make their leadership journey easier, none of them will prevail in today’s complex and unpredictable business world without working hard to constantly develop their abilities and without a insatiable hunger for learning.

 

 

We have an impressive assessment library with hundreds of dimensions that can be leveraged in creating a custom skills-based assessment that supports your organisation’s specific competencies and unique vision. Please contact us if you need to assess and develop the leaders in your company.

The Safe Road to Employee Engagement

How can we define what employee engagement really is?

Everyone talks again and again about the importance of employee engagement. Nevertheless, you might still encounter difficulties when asked to define it. This happens because employee engagement is not something mathematical, it represents the connection between the employee and the company – the mutual relationship based on trust, integrity and appreciation. Even so, there are ways to measure it and according to Gallup’s 142-country report on workplace engagement, only 13 % of  employees are engaged in their work. This represents a big problem for companies all over the world.

Why is it so important?

There are multiple factors that contribute to organisational success –  business strategies, the quality of products or services, their price, effective marketing and even organisational culture. But the most important  factor – the one that keeps the company’s engine running are the people. No organisation can achieve success without great people. But what qualities do those people need? Talent and skills are certainly important, but you’ll never be able to use them properly if your employees won’t do their best. A situation where it is guaranteed that your people will give everything they’ve got is when they share common values and identify with the goals of the company. Several studies have shown the benefits of having engaged employees, as it follows:

  • Businesses with more engaged employees have 51% higher productivity
    (Harter, J.K., Schmidt, F.L., & HayesT.L., Psychology, 2002 Vol. 87, No. 2)
  • Engaged employees outperform disengaged employees by 20-28%
    (The Conference Board, 2006)
  • Organisations with engaged employees showed a 19% increase in operating income over a 12-month period, compared to a 33% decrease in companies with disengaged employees
    (Towers Perrin, 2008)
  • In companies where 60 to 70 percent of employees were engaged, average total shareholder’s return (TSR) stood at 24.2 percent; in companies with only 49 to 60 percent of their employees engaged, TSR fell to 9.1 percent; companies with engagement below 25 percent suffered negative TSR
    (Employee engagement at double-digit growth companies, Hewitt Research Brief)

So, the importance of employee engagement should be pretty clear for anyone.

Ok, I get it, it’s important, but what can I do about it?

Well, first of all, you need to understand what you must never try to do.

You cannot manipulate your employees in order to engage them

Several companies are continuously attempting to trick their employees by making false promises in order to boost their engagement level without actually caring for them. This might, of course do wonders on the short term, but, as soon as the people realise what they’re trying to do, it will tremendously damage their motivation, productivity and, in the end, your bottom line. Why’s that? Because they would feel betrayed. Just imagine how you would feel if you trusted someone, gave them so much of your energy and time and dedicated yourselves in order to accomplish your mutual goals (or at least that’s what you thought them to be), just to find out that they don’t really care about you – you’ve just been tricked. Of course you’ll find it hard to find your motivation once again and the eventual raises or bonuses won’t help that much now. We all need to understand that today, when it comes to people, manipulation and control are not an option.   

Employee engagement must be nurtured

You can’t just give them a small raise, clap your hands three times and expect engaged people. This is a matter where all aspects need to be taken into consideration and none has to be forgotten. While you slowly build your employees trust and foster their engagement, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

Share your vision. Your vision is what should inspire and motivate people right after they hear it. Focus on the things that your organisation ultimately produces. You should emphasize where the company is going in the near and more distant future and point out what’s needed to get there.
Simply giving orders for your employees to follow it’s detrimental for everyone, but making them understand what you have in mind for the company in the future and where they stand on that road will help them identify with your values and work harder towards achieving the common goal.

Offer recognition. The need to be recognised is essential to each and every one of us. Especially for the employees who give their best at the workplace. A survey made by HBR has shown that employees, when asked to rate the most impactful engagement drivers, they will, most often (72%), say that Recognition given for high performers is the most important factor. This can be done formally – a reward system based on performance, an “Employee of the month” program,etc. or you can just thank them personally for how much they’ve helped.

Be clear. A study made by AtTask in 2014 has shown that 64% of employees are often feeling confused about who’s doing what inside the company. Engagement starts with having something to look forward to. If you don’t set clear tasks and goals for your employees, they will surely  have a difficult time engaging in their daily tasks. Your employees don’t need to waste time and energy on trying to understand what it’s needed of them.

Of course, using these tips won’t engage your employees overnight. But, if you integrate them into your daily routine, you’ll definitely see improvements and, in time, you might find out true what Meghan M. Biro said: “Employees engage with employers and brands when they’re treated as humans worthy of respect.”

We have an impressive assessment library with hundreds of dimensions that can be leveraged in creating a custom skills-based assessment that supports your organisation’s specific competencies and unique vision. Please contact us if you need to measure the engagement level in your company.

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 Sources:

www.torbenrick.eu/blog/leadership/10-reasons-why-employee-engagement-is-important
www.hbr.org/resources/pdfs/comm/achievers/hbr_achievers_report_sep13.pdf
www.gallup.com/poll/165269/worldwide-employees-engaged-work.aspx;