The role of Human Resources in boosting productivity during tough times

Ruth Skelton 27.02.2019

It can be difficult to increase productivity when business is tough, the feeling of pessimism can be a virus that rots the office. It’s important for HR teams to do as much as possible to keep morale high.

Many business areas are feeling constricted

Times are hard at the moment. The ever present threat and uncertainty of Brexit is causing concern in many areas, including employment. One of the primary worries is the restricted access to talented professionals if European individuals will no longer easily be able to move to the UK for work - we are unaware of exactly how migration will function after Brexit and EU nationals’ (and their families’) status in terms of visas is still not clear.

Britain needs a comprehensive mobility deal with the EU to support national prosperity.” - Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation

It’s not only employment that is feeling the effects, business confidence in general is falling - 55% of UK company board members predict a decline over the coming year. When the going gets tough, productivity in the workplace can take a hit. Below we outline some top ways to increase productivity when things aren’t running too smoothly - employee engagement is key to boosting morale in tough times.

Improving cultural fit of employees

When times are harder, mismatches in culture are most distinct. If you have employees who are not the best fit, tensions will be straining and the workplace environment could become hostile. The simple solution to this? More attentive recruitment and selection in the first place.

It is vital that you think long term for every interviewee; do not consider just the influence of an individual for a specific role, you have to be mindful of wider team dynamics. Putting more of a focus on screening in the recruitment and selection process to determine whether a candidate will be a cultural fit for your company could save you both time and money in the future, as well as reducing potential office fallouts!

Leaders must avoid micromanagement

Don’t get me wrong, managers are there for a reason; to keep an eye on their teams. But having a senior professional lurking, watching your every move, can be incredibly off-putting and often hinders productivity. Good leaders encourage individuals beneath them to take ownership of their time and resources, in short, making them accountable for their own productivity.

Manage less, get better results. Trust that you’ve hired the right person to do the day-to-day tasks, and let them be independent. This allows managers and senior level employees to be more strategic and focus on business improvement areas.

Encourage and promote self-care

Stress and fears negatively influence productivity. Not all of this is necessarily caused exclusively by work, but the effects are carried over from home life and felt in the office - 39% of UK adults admit to feeling ‘too stressed’ in their daily lives. Team members, at all levels of seniority, need to care for their mental (and physical) health - HR departments and line managers can help by listening, giving feedback and establishing clear parameters for success.

Once again, this harks back to the work/life balance debate - do not underestimate the importance of offering your employees a healthy balance.

Ruth Skelton's picture
Senior Manager | Accounting & Finance and Office Support Recruitment


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