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In recent years, the issue of worker productivity has been a central focus for business leaders, economists, employees, and organizations, and others. In particular, they have been puzzled by what appears to be a disconnect—despite the exponential growth of technology, global productivity has been declining since the 1960s, and is currently at a historic low.

According to the 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, increased use of collaboration tools by individual employees does not automatically translate into increased productivity for teams and organizations. The report notes that while 71 percent of the survey respondents said they believe that these new tools improve their personal productivity, 47 percent said they are concerned about whether the tools are really driving productivity overall.

Despite the exponential growth of technology, global productivity has been declining since the 1960s, and is currently at a historic low

Consider a case from the Deloitte report, which we referenced in a recent blog: A large 3D design and engineering software company found that it was supporting 85 separate implementations of Slack, a cloud-based set of team collaboration tools and services, and each was used by a different team in its own unique way. Although these teams were happy, the report notes that there was no sharing of best practices and no ability to collaborate between teams.

Unfortunately, this example is not the exception.

It appears that the challenge for business leaders and organizations is not if employees use the tools, but how and why they use them. Here are a few steps business leaders can take to ensure the how and why align with organizational goals and, ultimately, drive productivity and innovation1:

  1. Take an inventory of all collaboration applications in use across the organization. Devise a strategy for encouraging collaboration and communication that minimizes app sprawl and maximizes employee engagement. Decide which system or systems are best for your organization and communicate your reasons to employees.
  2. Implement a comprehensive training and support program that helps employees overcome the initial learning curve and guides them toward mastery with more advanced features. Provide a program of ongoing support and training that is designed with collaboration in mind—teach everything from big-picture best practices to job-specific tips and tricks.
  3. Consider ways to weave collaboration tools into day-to-day work processes. Ask employees for suggestions based on their own experience and share them with the rest of the company.

Solving the “productivity puzzle” will likely require much effort and even more time. Today’s business leaders may not have the luxury of time, but they can bring about changes by identifying and following a clear course of action. By providing employees with the right tools, guidance and support, business leaders can ensure the pieces of the puzzle start falling into place.

Image: Designed by mrsiraphol / Freepik

1. Sources: 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends | “What Managers Need to Know About Social Tools,” Harvard Business Review, November-December 2017 issue | “Solving the Productivity Puzzle,” February 2018, McKinsey Global Institute

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