How L&D influences a culture of productivity in the workplace

Written by Blake Henegan on 16 January 2018 in Opinion
Opinion

Blake Henegan outlines steps to improve productivity through culture.

Productivity outputs declining

Research by the Office for National Statistics reveals that output per hour of British workers has declined again in the second quarter of 2017, leaving it 0.3% lower than the previous year. Furthermore, last year UK workers produced 15.1% less per hour than works in other G7 countries.

Since the 2008/2009 recession productivity has stagnated – the level of labour productivity in Q2 2017 was 0.5% below what it was back in Q4 2007 (pre-recession peak level).

Why does it matter?

Productivity is directly linked to living standards. Productivity growth, or lack of, impacts the ability for a country to improve its standard of living. It also determines long-term growth rates. So, stronger productivity figures should lead to stronger GDP growth, resulting in increased tax revenues and lowering budget deficits – or for low productivity figures the opposite.

Momentum builds motivation – in short, regardless of where you or your organisation is at with the levels of productivity, without action nothing will improve.

What can businesses do about it?

After reading some useful information from business schools such as Harvard, Ashridge, London Business School, INSEAD and others there was one common answer – improve workplace culture.

Stanford University’s research on ‘Effects of Positive Practices on Organisational Effectiveness’ boiled this down to six essential characteristics when it came to improving the culture in your workplace. Positive practices include:

  • Caring for, being interested in, and maintaining responsibility for colleagues as friends
  • Providing support for one another, including offering kindness and compassion when others are struggling
  • Avoiding blame and forgiving mistakes
  • Inspiring one another at work
  • Emphasising the meaningfulness of the work
  • Treating one another with respect, gratitude, trust, and integrity

Of course, culture isn’t built overnight and requires constant reinforcing of values and seeing these carried out in action from employees and the senior team.

What can you do as an L&D professional to help influence a culture of productivity?

Boosting performance and productivity

First, boosting performance will have a positive impact on productivity. ‘Towards Maturity’s Unlocking Potential report’ shared five high-level tactics used by the L&D teams achieving their goals when it comes to boosting performance:

  • Integrate learning and work
  • Ensure stakeholders recognise L&D alignment with wider organisational goals
  • Build performance support at the point of need
  • Ensure digitally-enabled programme design supports learning transfer
  • Check progress and performance against business metrics

Looking at these tactics it would be beneficial to reverse the order when planning any learning solution – start with the end in mind and how you’ll evaluate the performance changes first.

Getting going

It’s overwhelming for L&D professionals right now, with so much to improve, change and learn. Remember two phrases – 'A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step' and 'Rome wasn’t built in a day'. Choose one thing to focus on and take some positive action.


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Momentum builds motivation – in short, regardless of where you or your organisation is at with the levels of productivity, without action nothing will improve.

The ripple effect

Be mindful of the ripple effect. Bad news will travel further than good news. When launching a new initiative or pilot, make sure it’s with a group who appreciate your intentions and will allow for mistakes without it going further. If it goes well then use this same group to spread good news throughout your organisation.

Keep momentum going

Ensure you promote successes within your organisation, use feedback and testimonials from managers and employees to build and improve engagement and excitement. Highlight the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) for people and they will respond.

Dare to stand out by grasping the responsibility of helping to improve employee productivity within your organisation. With a new year in full swing and thoughts for planning for 2018, why not start today?

 

About the author

Blake Henegan is founder and director of Optimus Learning Services.

 

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