More productivity is a good thing, right?

Young people
Young people

“Is your productivity increasing because people are happy, focused and energetic or merely because they are squeezing out a few inefficient, extra drops of effort by staying longer?”

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that “higher productivity” may in fact be a mixed blessing at best. What really matters is how the productivity was generated.

Although the latest official figures show that output per worker recently went up, this was only because people were working more hours not because output/hour was up – the latter actually fell. This means that people were spending longer in the workplace but this did not actually benefit anyone if they were merely “putting in the hours” (what an awful phrase!) and getting themselves and their colleagues stressed in the process. 

This distinction is important at the organisation level: is your productivity increasing because people are happy, focused and energetic or merely because they are squeezing out a few inefficient, extra drops of effort by staying longer?

Countless studies show that a long-hours culture in the workplace will never lead to sustainable improvements in productivity – stressed-out employees will eventually “burn out” and leave. Solid long-term productivity gains will only come from sound processes and a culture designed to support happy, skilled and motivated teams. People will deliver more not necessarily by working more hours but because they’ll work smarter – because your organisation will have the tools and structures in place to energise them.

For example at the BMW Head Office in Germany they shut down the office at a fixed time every evening, so you are forced to leave and have a non-work life in the evenings! BMW understands that to make people more productive you have to nurture them. Human beings are not machines to be worked as intensely as possible. 

Taking the wellbeing-led path to higher productivity will also help you retain and recruit the best talent. 

A recent survey by OnePoll on behalf of NGA HR found that the top three benefits expected by employees are: pension provision, flexible working and generous holidays. And in an increasingly tight labour market, the attention you give to facilitating a positive work-life balance will help your organisation achieve its goals. A corporate wellbeing strategy is no longer an optional extra.

Organisations aim should be to provide managers with the tools and resources that will get organisations onto the wellbeing-led path to higher productivity.

Join us at the Health @ Work Summit 2015 on 11th July in London to discuss how to achieve higher productivity in your organisation.

About Stress Management Society

The Society was formed in 2003 by a number of healthcare professionals, management consultants and therapists - all experts in mental health, well-being and quality of life issues.

Their goal was to create a brand new type of accessible organization that offered impartial help and advice to everyone on stress management.

The professional counsellors involved in the organization are qualified to the highest degree. They are members of professional bodies from the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, General Hypnotherapy Register, Association of Neuro Linguistic Programming, and Association Thought Field Therapy.

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1 Comment

  1. Daniel J

    Hate to be a complete bore but ‘more productivity’? You can have higher productivity, lower productivity, but not ‘more’.

    It’s a bit like saying ‘more temperature’…

    Good article on the whole!


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