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ISE Blog

How to improve productivity

 17 January 2019

Saj Jetha of The Smarty Train explores productivity – how can employers increase output, grow a business and unlock the full potential of their employees?

Studies suggest that for producing the same level of output, our friends in Germany and France will be going home on Thursday whilst we’re still slogging away on a Friday to complete the same work. 

Discussion often focuses on technology – with machine learning and AI presented as the definitive answer to improving productivity. Robots will handle the mundane tasks and AI can power progress in research, data collection and analytics.

 

But is this version of ‘the future of work’ going to work? Is technology really the answer to our productivity problem?  


Undoubtedly, technology will transform our workplaces – it already is. However, business leaders must look beyond the allure of new technologies and prioritise the needs – and more importantly, the potential – of their existing human workforce. Some argue that we’re a nation of accidental and, at times, not very good managers. 

Humans are social creatures. They might not always act logically or make what looks like the rational decision. As technology becomes more and more useful in the workplace, employers need to be working harder to understand what makes their human workforce tick and ensure that they don’t let them fall by the wayside.

Business leaders must unlock existing talent within the workforce by focussing on the creative and emotional. Robots may be able to do the mundane tasks quickly, but the real wins lie in a creative and innovative team, whose emotional intelligence allows strong relationships, team work and thinking outside the box. 

 

In a world where technology is creeping into every aspect of our lives, how can employers ensure the human workforce is treated as the VIP? 


Emotional intelligence and behavioural science are at the heart of productivity – one team member’s productivity is intrinsically linked to their relationship with other team members. 

Employers, therefore, need to plan for teams and projects that are more human and more humanising. This can be achieved by what I term ‘hacking’ work. How do you hack work? You learn the small and significant things that have a disproportionate impact on your processing of work – I’ve defined 47 of them. 

Simple hacks can be introduced to unlock talent and creativity and to motivate the workforce: from allowing employees time to ‘have a date with themselves’ for reflection and refocus, to immersive training that encourages effective practices. 

At The Smarty Train, we believe that only by embracing our social nature and appreciating a team’s varying capacities and strengths can we unlock talent and really hit the productivity nail on the head. 

It’s not about making employees work harder for longer each day, and it’s not just about employing the latest technology. Employers puzzling over how to boost productivity need to stop making it so complicated. It’s simply about the humans that make up the business.


Saj offers more advice on the human side of business in the winter issue of The Student Employer, out week commencing 21 January 2019.