Decoding the enigma called Employee Productivity

What does it take to make a company successful. A brand, a household name. A website, a homepage. An app, a chosen mode of payment. Well, many things. Capital, the core business idea, economic policies, competition.

But what is it that’s the ultimate make-or-break. The one factor that can, against all odds, set a business on an unprecedented growth trajectory. It’s the company’s employee pool. Its talent base.

So, if the formula is that simple, why is it that every car company doesn’t become a BMW and every e-com company doesn’t become an Amazon. It is because employers often don’t understand what employees seek at their workplace. Their notion about employee expectations is often far from reality. This gap leads to dissatisfaction on both sides, in turn leading to attrition of promising workforce.

Thus I feel it would be worthwhile to look at some of these common myths and contrast them with what the employees of today really want.

Myth: Employees do best when they’re handheld every step of the way

Truth: Employees perform best when the focus is on what the outcome is, not how they’re achieving it. By giving them the freedom to identify the steps they will take to achieve the outcome, they feel a sense of ownership and become more personally invested. When this freedom also applies to focusing on the fact that work is getting done and not where they may be physically located when doing so (i.e., remote working and flexible hours), employees tend to be more productive in order to also spend time doing other things that they enjoy.

What Employers can do: (1) Establish a balance between independent working and intermittent check-ins (2) Be receptive to various different ways of arriving at the same outcome (3) Flexibility of timings (remote work + flexible hours) is one way to give employees independence in their working process.

Myth: Employees “go with the flow” — they’re reckless and don’t have a career plan

Truth: Employees are ambitious. They know what they want, and they’re willing to do what it takes to get there. They think two steps ahead and try to map their career choices to what’s going to help them achieve their ambitions.

What Employers can do: Clearly highlight the value that their company and the role in question will offer the employee and how it aligns with his/her career goals. This can be done on the company website, hiring posts, and built into HR processes for current employees (during appraisals, etc)

Myth: Employees think they know it all — they’re not open to continuous learning

Truth: Employees actively pursue learning opportunities. They know the importance of learning, un-learning, and re-learning. They want to make full use of the learning resources they have access to, and are constantly seeking more.

What Employers can do: (1) Emphasise where and how their company integrates continuous learning to make it more attractive for potential employees to want to work with them (2) Showcase what skills the employee will learn with them when posting and sharing job ads (3) Give constant feedback to employees on areas of improvement and highlight when progress has been made

Myth: Employees seek work only at famous, established, brand names

Truth: Employees prefer jobs where they feel like a part of something bigger than them — where there’s a strong sense of purpose. When given an option, they want to work in social enterprises and companies leveraging tools (e.g., technology + business) to solve problems for social good. Their priority is professional growth and they firmly believe that the “startup experience” gives them that by allowing them to “learn by doing”.

Myth: Employees think that Data Science and AI skills are all that are required for a great career

Truth: Employees want to be creative problem solvers, emotionally intelligent, adaptable, and critical thinkers. They know this is what the workplace demands and are frustrated that conventional education doesn’t teach them this. They’re actively seeking to bridge this gap.

What Employers can do: (1) Highlight the opportunities they provide their employees to learn and hone their “human skills” (e.g., working in groups, learning by observation) (2) Value these skills amongst incoming employees by integrating ways to evaluate and assess them as part of their hiring process

Myth: Employees are fearful that automation will cause them all to be unemployed

Truth: Automation is not a threat, it’s an opportunity. Employees are hopeful. They know that work requirements and expectations will change and they’re ready to embrace this change. There’s a shift in the skills that are seen as “important”. Those that need the “human touch” are slowly standing out.

What Employers can do: (1) Highlight the evolution of job opportunities in their organisation to emphasise how they are offering a space for the workforce to learn, hone, and work at the level of the irreplaceable human skills

While it isn’t easy to make these changes, it is worth the work as the benefits an employee-friendly organisation stands to enjoy are boundless. From authentic, heart-warming Glass Door reviews attracting promising candidates, to lower attrition rates resulting in lesser hiring costs, it is all part of one mega deal. It is also common knowledge that a company grows on the back of its trusted, long standing personnel. When it comes to really taking the business up a notch, be it setting up new divisions or expanding in new markets, the leadership trusts its home-grown employee pool. Thus, longevity of employee stints makes a company capable of taking up challenges and upping their game. In light of these facts, one truly hopes organisations take the pulse of their invaluable staff more regularly and make timely amends to become an attractive and fun place to work at.

Writer, Language lover, Marketing professional