By: Russ Wong
Picture this. You are sitting in your quarterly executive planning meeting and your CEO says a key goal for the next year is to increase productivity within your organization. He/she turns to you and assigns you the ambiguous role of leading the charge.
Your CEO likely has merit in their productivity concerns. Currently, the workforce is experiencing a productivity deficit, where nearly half (49%) of Canadians are feeling they are not as productive as they could be.
So where do you start? Is your organization measuring productivity currently? Do you know where you’re at now, and where you want to get to? Where can you get the information you need to start tracking your progress?
First Stop: Finance
It may surprise you to hear that your first stop should be at your finance department. New research conducted by the Canadian Financial Executives Research Foundation (CFERF) and ADP Canada shows that only one in ten senior financial executives polled feel like the productivity key performance indicators (KPIs) they currently have in place are strongly supporting their organizational needs.
The research showed that in many organizations, the most common metrics used to gauge productivity are often HR metrics like vacation tracking, payroll management, and attendance—each valuable insights on their own, but not truly reflective of workforce productivity.
For many of these organizations, one of the most glaring missed opportunity when it comes to evaluating productivity is a lack of alignment between HR and Finance departments about what key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure, and how to glean actionable insights from this data to improve productivity and performance. Finance departments tend to have more experience extracting value from data by developing and analyzing metrics, and are increasingly becoming more involved in the HR functions of an organization largely through payroll, culture, staffing and strategic planning. Coupling that level of data-savvy capability with HR’s ability to understand the people side of the business can ultimately lead to better identification, measurement and insights gleaned from productivity metrics.
Using Productivity Data to Strengthen Your Workforce
Effectively measuring productivity provides numerous benefits for your organization. Respondents indicated that the number one area that they would be interested in applying learnings from productivity data is to appropriately upgrade employee training and skills. When correctly leveraged, you can identify the key areas where your team could use extra training, and even identify if perhaps certain aspects of your existing training models need to be updated.
Other key areas that could benefit from productivity data insights are employee engagement, improving workflow design, and expanding or recalibrating your workforce. For example, you can determine which parts of your organization might be over or under-staffed, and which employees have the capacity to take on more work. This can allow the ability to make informed hiring and staffing decisions to ensure that you are assigning reasonable volumes of work to your employees, which should in turn result in higher productivity and less turnaround over time.
Overall, you have to start somewhere. If increasing productivity is a priority item for your organization, the first step is to identify what productivity metrics matter to you, and then to determine how best to measure against those items. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to productivity, but by combining HR and Finance to identify and quantify the metrics that truly matter will put your organization ahead of your competitors.
Russ Wong is the Chief Financial Officer of ADP Canada.