Are you looking in the right place for productivity improvements?

Most organisations these days are searching for greater efficiencies and effectiveness.

For example, in the local government sector there is focus on service reviews. This is a process for assessing whether the council should be in a business and, if so, whether the service standards should be changed; whether there are efficiencies that can be implemented relating to the service delivery or the back-office functions. Sometimes the outcome of a review is an increase in resources to address emerging risks. As with any change, an initial investment is often required to realise the long-term benefits.

An area often overlooked when organisations search for productivity improvements is organisational morale.

Low morale across an organisation, or in a department or a team can negatively impact productivity.

The UK government has estimated that the equivalent of $40 billion dollars is wasted each year in lost productivity because of their huge deficit in employee engagement. In response, they established a national employee engagement task force, and launched the ‘Engage for Success’ movement (see”

Centre stage: Giving employees a voice can boost engagement and productivity by Dr Louise Parkes, Dr Peter Langford, Paul Gollan & Cathy Xu, published in HR Monthly, August, 2013)

There can be many reasons for low morale, including:

  • lack of clarity around purpose, such as the organisational and team direction, values, ethics, and role clarity
  • lack of an employee voice – this can relate to participation and consultation frameworks, cross-unit cooperation, learning and development opportunities, and perceptions regarding equity
  • An ineffective rewards and recognition framework for your organisation and employee profile
  • Weak leadership at all levels in the organisation including supervisors’ people skills and team work
  • sub-standard resources, processes, technology, and facilities for the employees, including whether they feel safe
  • Inadequate attention to employees’ work life balance and flexibility requirements, thus leading to stress and staff turnover
  • A perception the organisation is not innovating and up to date with contemporary standards

Low satisfaction with these elements can mean that employees’ passion & engagement, organisational commitment, job satisfaction, and intention to stay is low.

Conducting an employee engagement survey using a credible, independent research company can reap significant rewards for an organisation that is prepared to ‘hear the truth’ and then implement an action plan to address the key issues. A survey with benchmarking functionality for your industry sector also helps to prioritise your action planning. An employee engagement survey is also commonly known as an employee climate survey, employee opinion survey, and a staff satisfaction survey.

The survey process itself, if conducted properly, can also be an opportunity to improve employee engagement. The action planning process, if conducted in a consultative manner, is a further good will activity assisting the journey towards joint responsibility for improving the workplace and the productivity of the organisation. A follow-up employee engagement in between the full survey cycle can also ensure the organisation continues to foster a participative workplace with everyone on board for the productivity improvement journey.

Judy Charlton
Business Leadership Associate
July 2018