Unhappy employees are not very productive employees. In North America alone, these employees, who are unhappy or disengaged cost the economies of the countries in that region more than $350 billion every year. This is a problem for companies all over the globe but what can be done? Are better compensation management solutions the answer? Human resources expert Naomi Titleman Colla says she has the answer and she shared it with the Globe and Mail.
Colla recounts a trip she took to Israel in 1997. When she was there, she spent some time on a kibbutz. She says that workers were assigned tasks each day based on their individual skill sets and on what they liked to do. She says that her interest in working with children inspired her to spend time working in the daycare of the kibbutz. One of her companions opted instead to work on the farm. The work suited her because she liked to be outside and enjoyed the physical labor. Because people were assigned duties related to what they were good at and what they liked doing, they ended each day feeling fulfilled and that they had contributed something to the community.
This is not the model that is used by most businesses today. While they focus on compensation management systems, they fail to do basic things to improve productivity. Over the past century, great strides have been made in the technology that is used in all industries. Despite this, productivity has not improved as dramatically. Moreover, workers feel more overworked and stressed out than they ever have before.
The issue, then, is not technology but how companies are structured. The way goals are assigned, performance is measured and managed and work given out, there is definite room for improvement.
Colla notes that the most successful businesses organize themselves into teams that are flexible. She wonders if productivity would go up if companies acted more like people on a kibbutz.
This model has its drawbacks when you translate it to North American businesses. People need to know what their day-to-day responsibilities are. The problem is that many companies place artificial delineation points between workers and departments, which limits cooperation and has a dampening effect on productivity, making even the best compensation management not as effective.
Colla reports that most companies set their goals for the year once a year. People rarely spend time thinking about those goals. She says that the pace of business today means that goal setting is not something that can be done once a year but needs to be addressed more often. Taking the time to set manageable goals that people can reach can help them pay more attention to them. This can also give people a better sense of satisfaction in the work they are doing.
The way performance is measured and managed can also have a great impact on how happy and productive workers are. People like to get feedback, both positive and negative on their work product. It is impossible to feel that you are getting anywhere if you are never told that your work has been what was expected or was not. This also helps people see where their work fits in with the overall goals of the company. This has the added benefit of helping to develop a sense of loyalty to the employer.
Many firms see their worker happiness and productivity as being issues they need to address and they are working on solutions to these problems. Some are revisiting the way they handle performance reviews and ratings. For many businesses, the review process was not done on a regular basis and when it was, those were reserved for the higher-ups. To make these reviews really mean something, all workers need to get the benefit of a performance review.
Colla thinks that the future workplace will have robots and people working side by side, each given tasks and responsibilities to match their strengths and interests. She says that people are motivated by more than compensation management systems but by a sincere desire to be an effective part in the achievement of the goals and objectives of the company. These are the keys to improved productivity at work.