Here are three ways to increase the productivity of your organisation.
By Joshua Yim
Founder & CEO
Productivity has been a nationwide buzzword in recent months, ever since recommendations to improve Singapore’s national productivity index were made by the Economic Strategies Committee.
It has been said that Singapore is not competitive enough in terms of its productivity grading. Thus, this has been identified as a key area of growth moving forward. Many suggestions have been put forth but what’s critical is how they are put into practice. Here is a three-pronged approach to tackling this issue.
Increase Employee Engagement
By and large, Singaporean employees are not as engaged in their jobs as they ought to be. The natural consequence of this is low productivity. As employers, we need to look into how to engage our staff so that they will be naturally motivated to be more productive. Start by opening up a dialogue with them – find out about their concerns, understand their career aspirations, set work goals and assignment targets with them while encouraging them to take risks. Doing so will improve your employees’ morale and make them feel that they are valued as individuals and not just a number in the employee headcount.
This dialogue does not necessarily have to be conducted only during your company’s appraisal period. In fact, it could even be done over a meal or coffee with each employee because when carried out on such a relaxed and personal basis, your employee will feel that your concern for his or her wellbeing is genuine. As the saying goes, people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. And naturally, their performance and productivity will be enhanced. After all, every one of us wants to be somebody in our supervisors’ eyes.
I personally know of a Chinese restaurant in which the employer is very innovative in the way he runs his business. You would hardly find a local Chinese boss who is willing to share the profits with his workers. And yet that is what he does. Whenever he starts a new outlet in a different location, 20% of the profits is given to the staff working there as an incentive to ensure the business does well. His employees are so engaged that whenever I visit his restaurant chain, my experience of the quality of service is exceptional. Indeed, such profit-sharing exercises not only motivate employees; they become great retention strategies too.
Harness the wonders of technology to simplify processes, be it through IT initiatives or automation. Eliminating unnecessary steps certainly helps speed up processes and increases productivity. Your company may also be able to get government funding for many projects if you decide to automate. But regardless, process automation does not always have to be a terribly expensive undertaking. These days, for example, you’ll find more and more upmarket restaurants and even establishments in the heartlands using PDAs to process customer orders which are electronically transmitted to the kitchen immediately. We will definitely be able to improve processes if we only direct our imaginations to challenging the status quo. As the saying goes, if you can imagine it, you can achieve it.
Another way to engage your employees is to inspire them to be creative. Finding innovative alternatives to the way things are done can often lead to cost savings as it cuts down on wastage.
There is a Japanese firm that was trying to cut down waste in terms of its infrastructure cost. The work team soon realised how silly it was to keep the lights on at the production floor that only housed machines as there were no people working on that floor. From then on, they switched off all the lights in the production area and this resulted in thousands of dollars saved on electrical bills.
With some innovative ideas and the willingness to revolutionise the way we think, we can increase productivity without a massive investment, while even cutting down on wastage.