The Good and Bad of Productivity Increases

Increasing productivity is an admirable goal with a serious downside.

In the best sense, increasing productivity means working smarter that includes:

    • Training employees in more effective, efficient ways of working,

    • Enriching resources, such IT equipment or applications, that increase employees’ capabilities,

    • Eliminating wasteful activities, such as excessive paperwork or prolonged meetings.

Too often, pushes for increasing productivity have a not-so-smart foundation. Resources are diminished or work demands are increased without introducing any smarter ways of working. The anticipated productivity gain rests on hopes the employees will exert themselves more vigorously. The resource boost for increasing productivity comes from the individual employee rather than from the employer.

Diminishing resources is a risky strategy. It may be possible to inspire a workgroup to exert additional effort but is it more likely that people will resent such demands. Most people believe they are already working hard enough. As is clear from the graph below, the more people believe that their work demands exceed their resources, the more exhausted they feel. Exhausted employees are an unlikely source of extra effort.

Exhaustion by Demands

The challenge for leaders is to finding smarter ways of addressing resource constraints. Lacking smart solutions, leaders face serious, but not necessarily insurmountable, challenges in encouraging employees to buy into the new world order.

This entry was posted in Areas of Worklife, Burnout, Change Management, Employee Engagement, Workgroups and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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Canada’s answer to improving worklife!

Michael Leiter

Dr. Michael Leiter, co-author of Banishing Burnout and The Truth about Burnout, is set to release his newest book on Work Engagement. Dr. Leiter founded the Canadian Centre for Organizational Research & Development and has researched organizational behaviour for more than two decades. He knows how to improve an organization’s bottom line (productivity and profitability by improving its top line - people. In fact, he and his co-author coined the term "work engagement" as the antithesis to burnout!

Over the years, Dr. Leiter has worked closely with a host of researchers, including Dr. Christine Maslach, creator of the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), and most recently, with Dr. Arnold Bakker on work engagement. Now, through work with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) - the largest integrated health care system in the U.S. - Dr. Leiter has the CREW Solution.

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...when you wake up feeling ill?

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