Workforce behaviour | Why you need to boost employee efficiency and not just productivity

Why you need to boost employee efficiency and not just productivity

In modern organisations, employee efficiency matters just as much as productivity (if not more) and although the terms are often used interchangeably, they capture different phenomena.

Productivity measures how much work an employee gets done overall. Efficiency refers to an employee’s ability to get more done in less time, with fewer resources.

Executives who focus on one at the expense of the other could be missing out on a crucial part of the employee experience and hampering their ability to innovate.

Why employee efficiency?

Although employees spend hours attending meetings and answering emails, many feel like they’re not accomplishing anything. Even if they are productive, they’re not necessarily efficient.

Completing tasks might require unnecessary steps, pose avoidable roadblocks, or force workers to seek help or approval from outside teams such as engineering or human resources (HR). About half of employees report spending two hours or more on repetitive tasks, according to the Formstack 2022 State of Digital Maturity report.

The majority of executives (80%) are open to changing key workplace processes such as meeting structure and cadence to avoid wasting time on pointless activities, McKinsey found. The problem, executives say, is that their current processes often create silos and foster poor communication. As a result, it takes much longer to get work done than it should.

Inefficiency has consequences beyond missed deadlines and delayed product launches. Workplace inefficiency can lead to attrition and reduced morale. This is especially crucial right now when companies are struggling to retain employees.

A striking 40% of workers say they’re likely to leave their job within the next three to six months, even if they don’t have another job lined up, according to another McKinsey study. When employees feel like their efforts are futile, they get frustrated. The downstream effects include unhappy customers and less innovative products.

An inefficient employee is a disengaged employee. That’s hugely important: Gallup’s 2022 State of the Global Workplace Report found that only 21% of employees feel engaged at work. Employee engagement is particularly important at a time when so many companies are short-staffed.

Efficiency drives engagement

Engaged employees who can get work done quickly and enthusiastically tend to be willing to go the extra mile at work, seek out new opportunities to learn, and take on more responsibilities. They also experience less stress, less anger, and fewer health issues.

Let’s look at an example of how efficiency can drive engagement. Traditionally, marketing teams have needed help from development teams to create new web landing pages. While marketing handles the content, development makes sure everything works on the back end.

Rather than quickly spinning up a new page to reach new audiences, marketing must go through a lengthy process to secure the resources needed. This inefficiency creates opportunities for miscommunication and diverts valuable development resources from high-stakes projects.

New technologies have emerged that can mitigate this problem. Specifically, many teams are now using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to turn this cumbersome process into a quick, repeatable workflow. Smart technologies can automate the process or serve up quick pointers on how to create a landing page.

Real-life example

Automation is playing a key role in driving efficiency and engagement for many organisations.

Swedish aerospace and defense company Saab used ServiceNow Enterprise Onboarding and Transitions to digitise its paper-based onboarding process, saving 12,000 hours per year and boosting employee satisfaction by 25%. Automated workflows connect the departments and functions involved in onboarding, so new hires start with all the tools, services, and information they need to stay engaged from day one.

Boosting employee engagement is good for business and people. By enabling more efficient work, companies can foster innovation while helping people do the work they enjoy.

Find out more about how ServiceNow helps improve employee efficiency.

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