The productivity puzzle

How a cultural shift can benefit employers and workforce

Productivity levels are a headache for economies as well as companies.

According to the European Central Bank, productivity growth in Europe is below 0.5%, lagging behind the US and other advanced economies and emerging markets.

If output per worker – as well as labour participation and structural unemployment – remain the same, the decline in output per head by 2050 will be 14% in Germany, 16% in Italy and a whopping 22% in Spain.

Distractions are everywhere. A 2016 study by the Pew Research Center in the US found that more than one in five people believe their work suffers due to social media. Some 34% of those who use social media at work do so for a ‘mental break’ from their job.

With productivity on the slide, it is easy to see why companies are increasingly looking at productivity software such as time tracking tools to ensure that work hours are as productive as possible for the business, as well as being as fulfilling as possible for each worker.

Productivity software

As a starting point, TallyPro’s state-of-the-art time tracking software helps to plug ‘time leaks’ by recording and costing time, billings and expenses against projects and clients.

Software that helps companies, organisations and individuals to identify where and how such ‘leaks’ are happening is an essential first step towards improving productivity.

Cultural shift

However, time tracking is only useful if individuals and employers are able to react to the information that is available.

“Don’t invest in technology without investing in training,” says Peggy Duncan, an international personal productivity expert, consultant and coach. “It doesn’t do much good to have the technology if you’re not taking full advantage of what it can do.”

Duncan says that introducing time management into an organisation “is a process” that also requires a “logical” paper and computer file organisation system, allowing for everyone to find what they are looking for in an instant.

Time-logging can bring about a cultural shift within an organisation to improve productivity, but it is important not to forget the personal touches that can bring about positive changes for employees and their experience at work.

Key result areas

Implementing an effective time-tracking system within a proactive, productive culture, can also lead to a more fulfilling work day for individuals and therefore the potential for greater employee loyalty.

“Many people work hard and yet feel guilty at the end of the day that they didn’t accomplish anything important because they got side-tracked or didn’t focus on important things,” time-management expert Peter Turla says.

“I suggest that if a company wants people to focus on what is truly important, it should ask everyone to write down a sentence or two, describing the ‘key result area’ (KRA) of his or her job. Basically, this is a description of the main results they’re paid to produce.

“Encourage everyone to look at their KRA description every time they’re about to start a task and ask themselves: ‘Is what I am about to do going to make a significant contribution to the KRA of my job?’”

Beneficial for employees

Research has shown that people are more productive when they are sitting next to someone productive. So, perhaps spreading out productive employees across the work floor will boost levels.

With time tracking software underpinning the journey towards increased productivity, workers can also take proactive steps to start every day the right way.

“When you pay attention to where your time is going, you discover how much time you lose to procrastination, distractions, interruptions, going off on tangents, and so on. These can add up to hours of lost time each day,” says Helene Segura, author of The Inefficiency Assassin: Time Management Tactics for Working Smarter, Not Longer.

“Before you leave your office for the day, know what your top three priority tasks are for the next day. If you walk in not knowing what these are, your day will be completely reactionary and not nearly as efficient.”

Whether time tracking software is already part of a company’s culture, or whether an organisation or individual is just embarking on finding out what the benefits of time-logging can be, it is important to remember that better productivity is beneficial for employees as well as employers.