In this challenging economic context, driving productivity for SMEs is key to a good bottom line. Not just operational productivity though, but also employee productivity – this can be an easily overlooked area.
SMEs are eager to embrace the waves of digital transformation to run a leaner, meaner business. But not investing enough into the softer side of running a business – employee and talent management – could lower output and turn out being unproductive. Happy employees are, after all, productive employees, and this must go hand-in-hand with business efficiencies for SMEs’ sustained growth.
Here are some of the human-centric ways to drive productivity:
Healthy, Wealthy and Wise
Employee Health Benefits:
Employee health benefits are an attractive feature of weight when hiring new employees and allow small and medium-sized enterprises to remain competitive. However, while traditional health insurance benefits have focused on outpatient and hospitalization costs, employers also have been cognizant of the prevalence of behavioral and mental health issues in our population. Benefits do not just have to be limited to treatment-focused. A comprehensive benefits package that targets holistic employee well-being and uses a preventive approach goes a long way in keeping your employees healthier and therefore more productive. Consider including screening, wellness and counseling benefits for weight-loss, stress management, etc. Why not provide wellness benefits such as Flexi plans that allow your employees to use fixed amounts towards gym memberships? Offer health benefits such as annual screening to encourage employees to regularly undergo examinations for early detection and treatment of the rapidly rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases in our population. Improved quality of life means lesser sick days and productivity days lost for your business.
Internal Health Champions:
With technology being the buzzword, noted that opting for health & wellness benefits by large insurers in the market that leverage digital tools such as analytics, digital assistants to track employee health can be an expensive investment for a small and medium enterprise. But as a small and medium enterprise, size can be your powerful tool to quickly integrate and drive a healthy culture from within. Appoint a champion (chief happiness officer anyone?) to run and advocate for a series of annual team wellness initiatives such as reward-linked fitness tracker activity sharing, facilitated post-work runs or even lunchtime mindfulness sessions. Diet is a key component of wellness; encourage communal eating where once a week employees come together to eat clean and lean together. Add rewards to drive behavior change – make it a weekly culinary contest where the best healthy bring-your-own-lunch is an employee of the week, and so on.
Start small, but start somewhere. It is critical that we move away from a reactive to a more proactive wellness approach to drive productivity.
Maximizing Value in your Workday
Leadership-driven top to the bottom endorsement of flex working, co-working and co-creation zones, and efficient time management approaches can also go a long way in driving daily productivity.
It is no fun when your whole day is spent in meetings and at the end of the day, you’ve gotten nowhere in replying to that email backlog. Let’s face it, long monthly team sessions with endless talk about updates and ways forwards are boring. Establish effective team ways of working such as daily standups with rundowns and action items, allowing each employee to speak up, be heard and be acknowledged for their contributions and plans forward. Taking ownership instills responsibility, and for some employees, this can lead to self-growth and greater productivity. SingSaver.com.sg which is a part of Compare Asia Group (CAG), Asia’s leading financial management platform has daily standup practice in the organization an effective way for employees to start their day.
Giving employees the ability to work from home or from a different environment can also lead to productivity gains. Setting a Flexi-working schedule one day of the week gives your employees the freedom to plan their workday around family obligations and personal working styles. It could be so that days of research and writing are best done at home while days involving brainstorming sessions and product reviews that involve collaboration are best organized during other days of the week. Not only does Flexi-working reduce your physical space operating costs, but it also brings your employees peace of mind and a comfort to work at a pace best suited to their needs to deliver the best possible value for your company’s needs. According to the recruitment firm Robert Half, 60% of HR directors note increased work productivity with Flexi working hours. An engineering company, Feinmetal Singapore, has taken up the initiative to allow staff to begin working between 7.30 am to 10 am, and work from home up to two days a month. The Ministry of Manpower also realizes the importance of flexible work arrangement and is now providing grants to companies that make provision for it.
Recreational Zones and Employee-Centric Design
Having a tough day? Take a breather and challenge your mate to that game of foosball. Or undertake a quick mindful 5-min breathing exercise on the bean bag beside the window while you soak up some Vitamin D. The former gets you up and active, the later helps you with a quick reset, both boosting your productivity. The likes of Google and Apple have quickly become trendsetters for workspace design to enhance employee experience. Let’s be real though, long hours sitting at your desk have given you sore back and neck aches. Not only do ergonomic desks and seating look quirky, but they also protect your poor, stiff back. According to Forbes, even simple design incorporations such as big windows and office plants can help improve productivity – research shows an 11% increase in productivity attributed to increased fresh air to your workstation. Similar to the Arrival & Departure terminals, Changi Airport Group has created an office environment where potted plants and vertical gardens work together to provide a soothing break for employees.
An Integrated Coaching Culture
As a small-medium enterprise, given its size, employees have greater opportunities to be more closely involved in projects and learn from peers and senior management. Leveraging this to integrate a culture of timely and constructive coaching can play an integral role here in shaping employees to become future leaders. Providing routine, real-time feedback and having regular, open conversations about how to integrate an employee’s goals into provided responsibilities to enable them to grow into these can be an effective way to empower employees to be more productive. Using coaching to set goals that are measurable and time-bound is also critical in driving productivity as they serve as a means for both employees and coaches to track performance and strive for continual improvement.
The infographic below provides a summary of the many ways to enhance productivity at the workspace:
It is critical we do not just focus solely on re-working operational setups to drive productivity and recognize the impact that human factors can have towards this. As awareness of wellness and mental health grows, accommodating for these in the workplace will become a norm; companies have the opportunity to adopt and even innovate here to set industry examples and emerge as leaders in this arena.