Catching the horizon: Increase productivity, increase profits

by Cameron Edmond13 Jun 2013

Productivity in Australian workplaces continues to fall short, with Ernst & Young’s (E&Y’s) most recent Australian Productivity Pulse revealing over $300bn in unrealised potential for Australian companies.

The report found 85% of employees could be more productive at work, and 21% stated ‘one or two’ changes in the workplace would cause them to increase productivity.

Although the term productivity can be defined in various ways, a widely recognised definition holds  productivity as output/input – expressed either in terms of capital (services delivered by the capital stock) or labour (where input refers to hours worked).

In E&Y’s report, workers stated the top five reasons for a decline in productivity were poor management, lack of motivation or incentives/rewards, poor treatment and poor communication. People management was recognised as having one of the highest levels of impact on productivity.

E&Y’s research found that managers can increase productivity through further engagement with staff and creating workplaces that “inspire and motivate their teams”. Understanding the potential for productivity in your area of responsibility is important, and linking the performance metrics of individuals with that of the broader organisation is crucial, as it allows employees to see the outcomes of their performance.

E&Y also suggested that the deployment of automated systems is something managers should consider, as the tasks they will take over are often unfulfilling. “Instead of having an administrator perform the task multiple times every day or week, a process simply needs to be created once and set to repeat – freeing employees to engage in more rewarding and value-adding work,” the report stated.

E&Y found increasing productivity to be an organisation-wide effort. By measuring productivity, organisations can identify what works to increase it, as well as making more employees aware as to how their actions impact the business.

Key HR take-aways

In your mission to increase productivity, a few key points from E&Y’s research will make the road a lot smoother:

  • The least productive workers are often in junior roles, and they often aren’t aware of the benefits that increased productivity can bring them.
  • Measuring productivity results in an exponential increase.
  • Employees will likely become more productive if they are aware of how they impact the organisation.
  • Most importantly, productivity is up to everyone: from the boards to the C-Suite and the managers to the employees.


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