New equipment, new processes, greater operational efficiency – all proven methods to boost productivity. But another sure-fire way to improve an organisation’s performance is often overlooked, despite the fact it revolves round a company’s greatest asset, its people.
After all, it’s employees that are at the heart of any business; they meet orders, deal with customers and manufacture the very goods that are sold and traded. But are they performing to the best of their abilities, or are there hurdles in their way, barriers that are preventing them from fulfilling their true potential?
According to the UK Commission for Employment and Skill, while skills gaps are decreasing, there are still around 1.4 million employees across the UK who are not ‘fully proficient’ at their job. This overall decline, says the commission, actually masks more complex issues and it is the ‘softer skills’ that employers say their staff are lacking, such as time management, team working and leadership skills.
And these gaps are having a major effect on businesses, from leading to higher workloads for other employees to increased operating costs, problems meeting quality standards and difficulties introducing new working practices.
It’s an issue which we know is a concern for many Greater Manchester businesses, hence the Hub’s decision to launch a new Workforce Development Programme which is set to explore how people can help boost a company’s productivity.
Often, when business owners are so close to day-to-day operations, it’s hard to see the bigger picture, which is why helping them to understand and identify factors that may be getting in the way of peoples’ ability to perform is at the core of the new service.
Some of the questions we will explore include:
- Are teams working to their strengths?
- How resilient are they?
- Are a company’s managers also fulfilling their role as leaders?
- Do employees have the right skills for the job?
- How is their performance managed?
The ultimate aim is to help owners put in place a structure that creates high performing workplaces and sees people play the leading role in increasing productivity.
This could involve reviewing an organisation’s values, behaviours and business culture; assessing internal communications; looking at whether people really feel motivated and empowered; and considering whether employees get what they need from the training the business invests in?
How a business attracts and retains talent is also crucial – do the best people feel motivated and incentivised to stay and develop their career where they are, rather than with a competitor, something which today hinges on much more than just a good salary.
This is no one-shot solution, no simple cure-all to disappointing productivity. But by thinking more about what people need to succeed, organisations can take an important step towards a more productive workforce, and a more successful business.