What is productivity?
How do we define It.?
There is more than one definition for this term. An HR executive will define it as number of man hours spent on the work station. For him productivity increases with the number of man hours. For a technical head or floor manager, the productivity is the output an employee gives in his man hours. Similarly it has different meanings for the costing, supply chain and other departments exist.
Most convenient and definitive way to describe productivity is to judge the relativity of the output to bottom lines per man hour. The value of the ‘per man hour’ output depends on the physical & psychological conditions. The value of the productivity during first and second hours will be considerably higher than the value for the Thirteenth & fourteenth hour when a man is working continuously for fourteen hours.
Let us take a simple example, in an office an employee in normal case replies to 50 mails. He has to put in extra hours to send 75 mails. Theoretically his productivity has increased by 50%. But actually the quality of the content has decreased resulting in the reduction in the positive outcome out of the mails. The value of each mail has come down substantially.
Another example, A man working on a machine produces normally 50 pieces of the material. He puts in more man hours and produces 75 pieces. Here also the productivity has gone up by 50 %. But if the rate of rejection suddenly goes up, the value of his productivity per man hour has come down. The choice for the employer is between increasing the productivity and increasing the value of the productivity.
Now you would agree that productivity per man hour is not the value for money for the employer, it is the value of productivity during the man hours.
Now how to add value to the productivity?
If you are an employer, how would you get the value out of the 100% productivity?
As an employer, it is all the more important for your hard earned investment to bring value and grow. Unfortunately the thinking of the entrepreneurs in the United States and the west is more inclined towards managing and increasing the bottomlines through unimaginable cost cutting and lay-offs. There seems to be a total cap on top line expansion. Getting more out of less seems to be the mantra. Every executive at every level seems to be using this for self survival thus increasing the man hours the existing staff has to put in.
The question is, is there any motivation for the staff to put in extra hours?
The answer is a very clear No. Only the fear of losing the job is making them to put in more hours. Now what would be the value of the man hours put in by the weary, tired, and unwilling staff? The value of the productivity is always more when the man hours come out of willing compliance & there is an alternate cycle of work and rest. For this you need to understand the body physiology. Our body has cycles of activity alternating between peak and decline. These cycles are known as Ultradian & Infradian cycles in the Human body. Understanding these cycles helps in planning man hours for maximum optimization.
Ultradiane cycle: It begins with a low performance than slowly the performance increases and finally reaches the peak and then starts to decline. This cycle lasts 100 to 120 minutes and there are many such cycles in a day. During the early hours of work, the growth side curve is steep and the decline side curve is more or less flattened. Indicating the growth in performance is phenomenal. The decline is marginal. The curve reverses in the later part of the day with the decline being more pronounced. If an employee is asked to put in extra hours then the extra hours will not yield the same value for the productivity.
Infradian Cycle: This cycle is akin to the menstrual cycle in ladies. The process is same as Ultradiane but the cycle lasts for one working week (5 days or 6 days) in employees due the work habit over the years. The productivity value is almost at the lowest by Friday. If an employee is asked to work on weekends, the value of the productivity is at the lowest and no one gets benefitted. Plus due to lack of proper rest the reverse cycle spills over to the next week.
Money is a great motivator for putting in more hours, but it cannot alter the body threshold. During the recession, people put in more hours for the fear of losing their jobs. Fear is not a motivator, and it does not add value to productivity.
Surface level compliance is often overtaken by deep level defiance resulting often in man hours producing low quality output.
An employer should workout a schedule that gives an employee alternate periods of rest and work, In India& some Asian countries, it a practice to encourage cultural, sports, and social activities. Some organization are now providing access to social media sites to their employees, so that the employees are engaged in activities that relax the mind and give sense of fulfillment. These measures ensure that the cycle is always is on the positive side and value per man hour is at the highest.
How can an Employee play a role in increasing the value of the man hours?
I know the employee does not have much of a choice in deciding his work hours. He cannot lose his job. But there are ways he can contribute to add value to his man hours. And once the man hours produce the desired value for the employer, he also becomes amenable to the employee requirements.
An employee has to add value to his productivity on two fronts, the professional front and the personal front. Non performance on one front can negatively impact the performance on the other front. Planning personal productivity and adding value to it is, in his/her hand. He/she should do it intelligently. An employee should frankly discuss the situation, and need at his work place, freely and frankly with the family members. Once the family members understand the situations and compulsions, they will go out of the way to accommodate, contribute and ensure that the value of the professional productivity is not affected on account of personal factors.
The employees on their part should be realistic and honest about their available resources, Time, Money, & Energy to their family. This will help to scale down expectations from the family members, and consequently less of disappointments and failures will be there.
These apply to both personal and professional aspects.
It is always better to say no, then say yes and default.
A commitment should always be fulfilled even if it requires a little stretching of resources.
A person should take into account his capacity to deliver, rather than others aspiration while making commitments.
What I have covered constitutes only a part of what could be done to add value to productivity. There is a whole lot more that can be done. I leave it to my intelligent readers to contribute on this subject.