Productivity is more than just the measure of how effectively resources are used to produce outputs. It is all about using less to create more – to work smarter, not harder. Productivity is a mindset that continuously aspires to better ways of accomplishing tasks and conducting business.
Productivity refers to how well people, companies and entire economies convert inputs into outputs. In business, productivity is the key to profitability and its ability to thrive.
For employees, productivity has evolved from the 1700’s where achieving all the points on a simple to do list was a great feat, to today where technology has made it possible for us to do much more in less time. Technology and more efficient work practices have made it possible for people to focus on the right thing at the right time. But it is not about getting more tasks done, but rather getting more important tasks done daily.
Productivity is therefore more than just the measure of how effectively resources are used to produce outputs. It is all about using less to create more – to work smarter, not harder. To use the tools that we have to our disposal to take over mundane tasks that allow us to do more complex and important assignments.
Productivity is a mindset that continuously aspires to better ways of accomplishing tasks and conducting business. At the heart of productivity is the individual. Organisations can only become more productive through continuous upgrading of systems, knowledge, skills, discipline, effort, and collaboration.
Why is Productivity important
The impact that Covid-19 had on the South African economy and business sector is not far from catastrophic. To enable swift economic recovery, or at least improvement, organisational and individual productivity is more important than ever.
Efficient work practices can be the distinctive competitive advantage of a business. If productivity is high, the company can generate higher profits as it is able to output higher volumes at lower prices. It also leads to improved customer relationships and higher customer satisfaction. Company growth is consequently exponential.
For individuals in the workplace being productive creates a sense of achievement and often leads to greater financial reward and personal growth. As their needs are met, employees become more loyal to employers and dedicated to their work.
Factors that hinder productivity
- Skill mismatch is a growing problem. Finding candidates with the correct qualifications and experience can be challenging.
- Internal policies or ‘red tape’ that does not allow decentralised decision making slows down innovation and leads to missed opportunities.
- Continuous priority changes lead to uncertainty in what is expected of the workforce and often leave prior, completed work, redundant.
- Outdated technology such as computers, printers and redundant software lead to disruptions and wastes time.
- Poor leadership can lead to high employee turnover, unmotivated staff and a disconnect with the company culture which leads to disruptions in the business and low-quality output.
- Not understanding the company vision leads to employees feeling disconnected from the ‘big picture’. Not understanding how they contribute to the company’s goals could lead to lower motivation and reduced productivity.
- Lack of clear measurements and key performance indicators creates uncertainty as to company expectations and can lead to underperformance.
- Absence of training leads to unnecessary mistakes and consequently work must be corrected. This takes up time and leads to lower productivity.
- Unsupportive work environment. This refers to both the physical environment not being up to standard as well as poor leadership skills of superiors.
- Poor time management and planning skills of the individual results in work not being completed on time.
- Poor character qualities like procrastination, inflexibility, or pessimism.
- Personal problems that create high levels of stress that negatively affects concentration, motivation, and overall work performance.
The Benefits of Increased Productivity
For South Africa:
- Greater economic growth through improved economic efficiency.
- Increased foreign investment.
- Increased exports.
- Creation of employment.
- Poverty alleviation.
- Reduction of inequality.
- Improved competitive capacity.
- Creation of employment and opportunities.
- Investment in advanced technology.
- Better pay and working environments for employees.
- Increased contributions to society with a higher tax quantum.
- Enhanced support for social causes.
- Job security.
- Better opportunities.
- Better wages.
- Improved work conditions.
- Greater social mobility.
- Efficient use of resources.
- Better quality of life.
For Individuals – we believe productivity should be a way of life – for everyone, not just specialists. No matter who you are or what you do, you play an important role in making our country more competitive.
Productivity tips for the employer:
The most productive companies are those who have happy and healthy employees. As an employer it is therefore beneficial to establish a culture that strive to support and steer employees to accomplish their goals. Listed below are some guidelines to achieve this.
- Provide the right working environment and up to date technology so the employee can produce work at an optimal level. This will enable them to add value to the company, their colleagues, and customers.
- Provide on the job and external training to ensure the correct processes are followed from the start and to upskill your employees. This will eliminate future problems and allow you to increase the employee’s responsibilities in a shorter time frame.
- Communicate company goals and expectations on an ongoing basis to keep employees engaged and as a reminder of the bigger picture.
- Keep things simple by eliminating unnecessary admin or routine tasks. Doing something just because it is a formality will waste time and hinder employees from achieving the company’s goals.
- Match tasks to employees’ skills. By understanding your employee’s strong points, you will be able to allocate tasks that they can complete efficiently and successfully.
Productivity tips for the individual:
- Make a conscious decision – every day – to have a positive attitude towards everything that comes your way. A positive mindset moves mountains, and a motivated person can be up to 60% more productive.
- Plan your day. Make a list of priorities and tick them off as you complete them. This ensures that you stay focused on the tasks at hand, and helps you reach your goals.
- Be prepared. Go through your list and make sure you have all the tools you need to complete your goals the first time.
- Prioritise. This allows you to concentrate on the important goals first and avoids wasting time on less important tasks.
- Multiply your productivity by delegating and sharing your goals and mission with your team or family.
- Do productivity checks. Ask yourself: “Is this the best use of my time today?” If it is not, stop doing the task and delegate it to someone else, or schedule it for another day.
- Be innovative. Get creative and think of better ways of doing things at home, work or play – to streamline your life.
- Set yourself a goal to get things done and stick to it. You’ll enjoy an immense sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when you achieve it.
- Take accountability for your actions. That way you’ll make sure you are more productive by doing things 100% right, the first time.
- Lead by example. If you save on wastage and use your resources more effectively, including your time, people notice the results and will follow suit.
Productivity SA is established in terms of section 31 (1) of the Employment services Act, No. 4 of 2014 as a juristic person with a mandate to promote employment growth and productivity thereby contributing to South Africa's socio-economic development and competitiveness. Productivity SA is managed in accordance with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).