Managing people can be tough, keeping them motivated can be even tougher. If you’re noticing a slump how can you increase productivity in your team?
Several factors can make it difficult to get out of bed in the mornings and be productive at work. A toxic work environment is at the top of the list. Work environments that are too stressful are also a factor. Worker productivity, in essence, is a 2 part formula that requires input from both the employer and the employee. Part one of the formula is the employer’s responsibility to create the right work environment.
Provide Appropriate Challenge to Employees
There are two general perspectives that researchers present about the effects of an organization’s environment on an employee’s productivity and quality of life. The first perspective is dubbed the person-environment fit and was posited by French, Caplan and Van Harrison in 1982. Essentially, this perspective states that “worker performance and quality of life are hindered by strain (too much challenge) or boredom (too little challenge).” A healthy work environment, according to these researchers, is one in which all employees are appropriately challenged.
Amy Gallo cites a quotation from Brett Donham’s book Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader, “A manager’s job is to provide ‘supportive autonomy’ that’s appropriate to the person’s level of capability.” This principle can be likened to the theory of scaffolding using in education. Scaffolding is a method of instruction in which the teacher becomes a facilitator of learning. The teacher’s role as the facilitator is to guide students to discover new knowledge on their own.
The amount of input the teacher provides decreases each step of the way so that the student can take ownership of his or her own learning. The same approach should be applied to the workplace. Workers need to be given room to grow without a manager breathing down their neck and applying undue pressure every step of the way.
Create a Positive and Inspiring Environment
The second perspective about the effects of an organization’s environment on an employee’s productivity and quality of life is dubbed the well-being perspective. Workers should feel like they are in an environment in which they can grow and feel encouraged and inspired.
You may be wondering how this can be done. Creating incentive programs and issuing awards at the end of the year are only a tiny drop in the bucket. The bigger picture is creating a structure that can work on a day-to-day basis. This structure can be created by:
- Ensuring each employee has a personal goal that is linked to larger company goals
- Creating realistic goals that provide some challenge
- Ensuring that each employee has a plan for achieving his or her goal
- Consistently checking on the employee’s progress so that problems can be identified early
Both perspectives highlight the crucial role an employer has in worker productivity. Without the right environment, a worker can’t truly thrive and achieve work-life balance. In fact, “economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10% less productive”.
HR departments have a monumental task to find ways to keep employees happy at work. Work satisfaction and happiness, according to the aforementioned research, requires a positive environment in which each employee is appropriately challenged and provided with opportunities for growth. Getting this part of the formula right is the beginning of an increase in worker productivity.
Putting it All Together
The responsibility for increase productivity in your team rests on the shoulders of both the employer and the employee. Employers have to create a positive environment in which all employees can thrive. Employees in turn have to do their part to better organize their days and meet deadlines. It’s a partnership that can work well if all parties are willing to put in the work.
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