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Enhancing Productivity in a Post-Recession Scenario

With the recession and changes and optimization and cost cutting, the question of productivity and maintaining productivity has become a confusing one – something less defined than it used to be at the time of conveyor belts and when there were no computers or virtual workplaces.

Often employers are struck with doubts as to whether their expectations of getting more done is getting in the way of getting more done. A stressed out workforce is hardly the ideal setting for conducting exercises to enhance productivity, and there is no doubt that better workers in American workplaces are chronically overworked.

The recent recession has finally destroyed even the semblance of employee loyalty – deeply emphasizing that it’s every man for himself, and that past services have little current or future impact on layoff decisions.

This is why in place of permanent employees, now we see armies of independent contractors – professionals, who come in, charge higher, do the job, and do not have expectations similar to permanent employees.

With the employer-employee relationship having degraded to one that is fully mercenary in nature, the only means that are left to enhance employee productivity are those that are related to at-the-moment scenarios.

New entrants are rarely interested in what you have in store for them five years down the line – even five months can be too long. They want to understand how, what they would be doing now – today, this week, this month – is going to affect their income and career plans.

With that kept in mind, the ultimate tools of enhancing employee productivity that remain in the hands of the HRD include employee engagement, competitive compensation, disciplined but enjoyable work environment and hopes of retention with a package of non-salary components that help to create comfort zones.

You can thank your stars if you find talented and good performers who are worried about job security – they are your first targets for careful retention strategies. Most employees in the new work environment, however, accept lack of job security as a part of the package, the way every business works with the knowledge that it might fail.

Everybody is focusing on the immediate as far as workplace relationships are concerned. What the employer can do in such a situation to enhance productivity is to accept the transience of things and increase workplace support in a manner that sooths the negative impacts of job demands on productivity. Where employees expect to focus on the immediate, employers also need to focus on the immediate.

When you focus on at-the-moment scenarios, in order to enhance productivity in your employees you need to find out the negative stress building factors in your working environment and address them. Some common and well known factors perceived negatively by employees include lack of communication, unfair play, lack of recognition (under appreciation), length of work hours, fears of taking work home, overtime without notice, shift work, nights away from home, etcetera.

Address these to the extent that they are important for immediate enhancement of productivity, and let the HR department carry out selective retention strategies with employees who have a greater chance of staying. There’s much to be done beyond that, but only with those who stay longer while proving tolerable levels of performance.