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Performance Management Challenges: Inefficient Employees

Inefficient employee putting feet on office desk.

The aver­age employ­ee is pro­duc­tive for less than 3 hours a day. How can com­pa­nies coun­ter­act this?

When we look at the research around how pro­duc­tive employ­ees actu­al­ly are, the fig­ures are pret­ty sur­pris­ing. Accord­ing to one source, the aver­age employ­ee is pro­duc­tive for only three hours a day. In Britain, we are work­ing longer and longer hours, but see­ing no vis­i­ble gain in pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. In fact, it has been shown that a third of British employ­ees are dis­tract­ed for up to three hours a day, with 10% of employ­ees admit­ting to being pro­duc­tive for only thir­ty min­utes each day.

We dis­tract our­selves in a num­ber of ways, includ­ing social media, mak­ing hot drinks, read­ing news sites, chat­ting to col­leagues and even look­ing for new jobs! This should be a seri­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment con­cern for any HR depart­ment that is seek­ing to improve over­all com­pa­ny per­for­mance. But in what ways can we adapt our giv­en process­es, inspire employ­ees and raise pro­duc­tiv­i­ty lev­els in line with our own expectations?

Allow for flex­i­ble working

Busi­ness­es are becom­ing increas­ing­ly aware of the ben­e­fits of flex­i­ble work­ing. It’s been shown to improve pro­duc­tiv­i­ty lev­els and boost morale. This is because it sim­ply isn’t real­is­tic to set rigid rules and expect all employ­ees to work in the same way. When we make room for flex­i­bil­i­ty, in the form of telecom­mut­ing, flexi-time or job shar­ing, we give employ­ees the free­dom to work when they feel inspired, moti­vat­ed and productive.

Encour­age employ­ees to take lunch breaks away from their desk

One issue that seri­ous­ly impairs pro­duc­tiv­i­ty lev­els is that of eat­ing lunch at desks. One-third of employ­ees eat lunch at their desks, dur­ing which time they reply to emails or answer work calls. At first sight, this might appear to be the behav­iour of a ded­i­cat­ed and engaged employ­ee, but we have legal­ly man­dat­ed break require­ments for good rea­son. The human brain needs to recharge. Food fuels your brain and tak­ing short, fre­quent breaks give employ­ees more sta­mi­na. Fur­ther, employ­ees who spend their lunch breaks away from their desks are 10% more pro­duc­tive and 12% less like­ly to make errors.

So if you have a work cul­ture that awards employ­ees who slave away dur­ing their lunch breaks, you should rethink your approach.

Encour­age employ­ees to take their annu­al leave

A third of Britons don’t take their full annu­al leave allowance. Employ­ees refrain from going on hol­i­day because they feel intim­i­dat­ed by their work­load, what they might have to deal with when they get back and the impres­sion it will make on their man­ag­er. As with a good lunch break, though, a vaca­tion has the pow­er to revi­talise and inspire great per­for­mance. As one source points out, when we deprive our­selves of hol­i­days, we make more mis­takes and we devel­op a resent­ment for our co-work­ers. Employ­ees who take hol­i­days gain a bet­ter per­spec­tive and are more moti­vat­ed to achieve their goals, and such ben­e­fits can even be seen from a break as short as 24 hours.

You don’t want your employ­ees to burn out. HR should be track­ing how much annu­al leave has been spent and ensur­ing those who are due a break actu­al­ly take time off, for the ben­e­fit of employ­ee health, well­be­ing and performance.

Revi­talise your goal set­ting process

If your employ­ees aren’t pro­duc­tive, it may be a result of dimin­ished enthu­si­asm and pas­sion for their work. Con­sid­er how much input an employ­ee actu­al­ly has with regards to their objec­tives. Do they even under­stand them? Do the objec­tives excite them, are they chal­leng­ing enough, or are they unre­al­is­tic? Take all of these ques­tions into con­sid­er­a­tion, and decide whether or not your goal set­ting process requires a dras­tic overhaul.

To get employ­ees involved, man­agers should col­lab­o­rate with them on set­ting SMART objec­tives, while giv­ing employ­ees a large say in what their short-and-long-term goals actu­al­ly are. This will give them own­er­ship over their goals, there­fore mak­ing them more inclined to achieve them, and ulti­mate­ly boost­ing employ­ee productivity.

Use per­for­mance review soft­ware to track goal progress

Set­ting goals is one thing, but track­ing them is some­thing alto­geth­er dif­fer­ent. In order to deter­mine whether or not your employ­ees are tru­ly being pro­duc­tive, line man­agers, HR and the employ­ees them­selves need to be able to track ongo­ing progress. This is pos­si­ble with the advance­ment of mod­ern tech­nol­o­gy. Specif­i­cal­ly, Clear Review’s per­for­mance review soft­ware uses cloud-based tech­nol­o­gy that allows every­one involved to track and update objec­tives through­out a giv­en busi­ness year. If an employ­ee is fail­ing to progress at a sat­is­fac­to­ry rate, man­agers can step in and offer help as required.

Get employ­ee feed­back on what might be imped­ing their productivity

These days, all busi­ness­es should be con­sid­er­ing a tran­si­tion from old-fash­ioned annu­al appraisals to con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment. This form of per­for­mance man­age­ment makes use of reg­u­lar month­ly check-ins, which improve com­mu­ni­ca­tion and trust lev­els between employ­ee and man­ag­er. Dur­ing this time, man­agers should solic­it feed­back from under­per­form­ing employ­ees to deter­mine whether there is an exist­ing work­place process or prob­lem that is imped­ing pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. If this is the case, steps can be put in place to resolve the prob­lem. Always make it clear that man­age­ment is eager and will­ing to take feed­back on board, and their prob­lems will be lis­tened to.

To find out how Clear Review per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware can help cat­a­pult com­pa­ny-wide pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and per­for­mance, book a free 15-minute per­for­mance man­age­ment con­sul­ta­tion. Our expert team is eager to help.