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I am quietly musing to myself – laughing on the inside really. I sat down to start this blog on 3 June… more than a month ago – and it’s all about productivity. There is no doubt that I needed to attend the lunch to launch the Ernst & Young Productivity Pulse Survey.

Of course I listened with big ears, the challenge, of course, is what did I take out of the presentation – and how will it make a difference to my business [I write as I check my phone for messages and respond to a colleague on a query] – focus could be a big key to productivity.

The survey discovered that:

  • A third of Australian workers waste almost a quarter of their time at work.
  • Employees reportedly spend most of their ‘wasted’ time reading and responding to emails, dealing with technology issues and waiting for approval from management.
  • Wasted time costs businesses a collective $41 billion in lost wages and productivity costs each year.
  • The survey suggested that only 58% of work conducted adds real value to the business.
  • 54% of workers say people management issues has the biggest impact on lost productive time.

The best way to improve people ‘productivity’ is simply to ask them to work harder… apparently. However, I would argue that people need to know what they are working on… If employees know what is expected of them and they are noticed there can be a massive shift in productivity.

‘I know what I’m there to do, somebody noticed and I go home feeling like a winner.’

The eight tips on productivity from Sean Pyper GM from Commonwealth Bank of Australia during the lunch were:

  1. Specify the value in the eyes of the customer – focus on what is important to customers rather than what you ‘think’ is important to customers.
  2. Create flow in processes – no double handling or back-tracking.
  3. Eliminate waste…
  4. Reduce variations – that is consistency saves wasted energy.
  5. Do it correctly the first time – look for the cause rather than the symptoms.
  6. Make performance visible – (eg. scoreboards in public places).
  7. Actively manage all processes – reviewing and improving.
  8. Coach people for excellence in performance.

As I read through this list I think to myself all of the above will take a commitment from leaders and employees. And to achieve such flow in the process takes leadership, commitment and ongoing execution.

So the question I pose is ‘Do people in your organisation know what they are there to do, what success looks like and are individual & team contributions recognised and celebrated?’ Perhaps that is the first place to start on reducing the 25% lost time being wasted in one in every three Australian businesses.

As quoted from the E&Y report:

Twenty-three percent of the Australian workforce who are highly productive have much in common. These are people whose skills are well aligned to their jobs, work in a supportive culture and are valued for their contribution. Money is not their main motivating factor. They rate satisfaction with the work they do and work/life balance as more important than salary or bonuses.

I couldn’t agree with them more.

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