Do you know that although implementing team building activities for younger employees effectively curbs turnover, it also impedes their work productivity? Know the ins and outs of the various factors that influence worker productivity, as well as the workplace dynamics that naturally bring out better job performance. Here are the findings of ten different research studies that looked into employee productivity.
What is the value of company culture? Some of them you will even find surprising.
Should You Reward or Penalize?
You are much more likely to drive worker productivity if you offer bonuses instead of threatening your employees with penalty for not meeting their performance goals, according to a paper that was authored by Karen Sedatole (Michigan State University), Margaret Christ (University of Georgia), and Kristy Towry (Emory University) and published in a 2012 issue of the journal, The Accounting Review.
The researchers were able to show that employers are better off driving workplace productivity by motivating their staff with bonuses instead of instituting penalty schemes like demotion, disciplinary action, and reduction in pay. It is also important to note that employees motivated through the reward system made more effort at work because they were influenced by what the researchers labeled as a trust factor–a motivating force that stemmed from an employee developing greater trust in his superior. On the other hand, the ones subjected to penalty schemes worked less hard because they tend to distrust their superiors.
Productivity-Killing Fun-at-Work Programs
In the hospitality industry, when employees are having fun at work, they are less likely to resign. However, the bottom line is seriously affected because employee productivity–mostly for younger workers–suffers when programs that promote doing fun activities in the workplace are implemented. This is according to a paper that was published in the November 2013 issue of the journal, Cornell Hospitality Quarterly.
The study distinguishes between “fun activities” and “manager support for fun.” Fun activities include holiday parties, social event gatherings, and teambuilding activities, while manager support for fun can mean having a manager who promotes the idea of employees having fun while doing their job. As for the key findings of the study, it was shown that manager support for fun reduced the turnover rate among younger workers and lowered the sales performance of both older and younger employees. Fun activities, on the other hand, resulted in better sales performance among older workers.
Creative Activities outside the Workplace
Employees who busy themselves with creative pursuits outside of work are more likely to deliver a better job performance compared to those who don’t. This is according to a study undertaken by San Francisco State University researchers, whose findings were published in a 2014 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology.
Creative pursuits–which can refer to anything that offers deep experience, an outlet for self-expression, and an opportunity for self-discovery–can include painting and playing video games. According to the study, such creative activities are restorative, enabling people to tackle the grueling demands of their jobs much more easily. Creative activities can also impart new skills that can be used in the workplace.
Just remember that when you egg on your employees to pick up creative hobbies, do so at the right tone that does not make them feel as if their employer is attempting to control what they do outside of work. A smart move would have been to adopt something along the line of Zappos’ initiative, where employees are encouraged to decorate their office walls with their personal artworks.
DIY Workspace Design
To increase work productivity by up to 32 percent, simply grant your employees leeway when it comes to personalizing their workspace, according to the findings of a University of Exeter study, which involved a survey of over 2,000 office workers. Those framed photographs and tiny potted plants on your workers’ desks, as well as the brightly colored pillows they stack on their desk chairs, are all pretty much harmless. They also play a vital role in keeping your employees happy. And when they are happy, they work much harder and more efficiently. They then bring in more to your company’s bottom line.
Supporting Charitable Efforts
According to the findings of a study published in the September 2013 issue of the journal PLoS ONE, productivity and team sales performance are enhanced when employees are given bonuses intended to be spent on charity or their colleagues. In short, cultivating an altruistic environment can drive job satisfaction and worker productivity.
By implementing health promotion programs in the workplace, you can increase the productivity levels of your employees, according to a paper in the October 2013 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Workplace programs promoting employee health can markedly lower lost working hours, which can translate to a 0.5 percent gain in productive hours for an average employee.
An example of a health promotion program is providing employees with a phone support system manned by health and wellness coaches. Another smart approach to boosting employee health in order to drive productivity is to use treadmills, as demonstrated by the following study that looked into the far-reaching benefits of treadmill-outfitted workstations.
University of Minnesota researchers undertook a one-year study on employees who used specially designed workstations that had treadmills instead of traditional office chairs. The promising results were detailed in a paper published in a 2014 issue of the journal PLoS ONE. Aside from significantly boosting employee health, treadmill-outfitted workstations can drive better work performance.
Happy employees can be around 12 percent more productive, according to the findings of a study by a team of University of Warwick economists. Published in theJournal of Labor Economics, this landmark study, which employed four different experiments and had over 700 participants, offered the first ever proof that linked employee happiness to work productivity.
It is also true that a high salary can make a worker happy. However, if an employee’s high earnings are grossly inferior to those of his peers, then that would negatively affect his work satisfaction and therefore hold him back in terms of performing well and becoming productive. This is according to the findings of a study that appeared in a 2010 issue of the Journal of Population Economics. But then again, employee happiness remains a complex and multi-faceted driver of work productivity. Take for instance the results of a study that was published in a 2009 issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Researchers Sanford DeVoe (University of Toronto) and Jeffrey Pfeffer (Stanford University) were able to demonstrate that workers paid by the hour showed a much stronger bond between their income and their happiness.
With an increase of 37 percent in employee satisfaction, Google’s case is a real-world evidence of how happy workers can drive productivity. At Google, one of the many perks enjoyed by ultra-pampered employees involves a fine selection of free food at work, the food being beyond your conventional cafeteria-style imaginings. The ingredients are locally, organically produced. The meats are free of hormones and nitrates. The meals are served in numerous cafés headed by executive chefs. In an interview with The Washington Post, a Google employee described the food’s quality as “almost unbelievably good.” The catch: because Google employees don’t have to leave the workplace for meals, they end up working longer hours and are consistently productive.
Providing free meals to your employees is just one of the many productivity-boosting strategies to consider. USAA and SC Johnson have concierge services that help their employees fulfill errands that involve anything from grocery deliveries to oil changes. Other valued employee perks include flexible work schedules, free classes, on-site day care, and pet-friendly workplaces.