Business owners seeking to increase productivity while keeping costs low are being urged to closely examine their current workforce as they may be sitting on a hidden goldmine of talent waiting to be unleashed.
Owen Wilson, CFO of Chandler Macleod Group (CMG), is encouraging employers to undertake a ‘skills audit’ of their workforce, which would enable them to identify employees who may possess broader skill sets which are stagnating and not being put to good use.
By tapping into this so-called ‘hidden talent pool’, businesses stand to reap a financial and productivity increase.
“It’s an uncertain economic environment where many businesses, large and small, are trying to cut costs. All the while they’re trying to keep one eye on the horizon anticipating when an economic upswing may occur.
“The alternative to cutting costs is doing more with your existing workforce and generating increased productivity and financial output from your current pool of resources and talent."
Performance advisor and coach Dr Tony van Rensburg previously told HC it’s time to be working to improve productivity by focusing on the factors that can be influenced, rather than those that cannot in the short-term, such as the IR system and goverment initiatives like the NBN.
“All too often, the approach to low productivity is use of blunt instruments such as ‘across-the-board’ cost reductions, ‘efficiency dividends’ and downsizing the workforce; rather than on strategies to build more productive workplaces with greater skills and more innovation. Cost and debt reduction are important for productivity, and sometimes survival, but should not always be the first levers we pull,” he said.
Wilson added the question employers should be asking is whether the talent is already right in front of them. “Employers should be examining what additional capabilities and expertise their workforce possesses, and how they can better structure their organisation to unleash these hidden talents,” he said.
Wilson also noted that with a Federal election on the horizon, business owners are preparing for a post-election landscape which may result in a boost to business confidence (regardless of which party wins) as a greater degree of certainty returns to the market.
“Once the electoral cycle is complete, businesses stand to benefit from a perceived increase in political and legislative stability, which may increase business confidence.
“By identifying the opportunities for increased productivity in your current workforce, business owners will be ideally positioned to capitalise on any improved business conditions,” he said.
Measures of productivity that focus on end-to-end workflows and the levels of workforce engagement are often the most useful productivity indicators – and can generate the most useful levers to pull.
Yet CMG’s 2012 research, 5 Faces of Productivity, indicates organisations have gone for the ‘easy fixes’. While they are focusing on people management and process innovation, it’s at the expense of increased flexibility, employee mobilisation (across sites, teams, projects and countries), workforce planning, product innovation and skills utilisation. While the current focus may produce some short-term wins, it is unlikely to impact longer-term productivity enhancement to its full potential.