In today’s competitive business environment, one would think that employees are more productive than ever. With people putting in more hours at work, a business owner can easily assume that his team is maximizing its day and producing more output. However, the U.S. Department of Labor says otherwise.

In a recent report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it showed that the business sector’s labor productivity decreased by 0.7% in the first quarter of 2016 and 1.8% in the last quarter of 2015. It’s the kind of trend that no business owner wants to see. If your employees are not productive, it can cause a lot of problems in your company. So how do you counter the declining performance of your team?

Focus on the output

There are other sectors mentioned in this report that didn’t show a decline in productivity notably the manufacturing industry which showed a 1.3% increase despite the 0.7% decrease in hours worked. Meanwhile, the business industry’s productivity fell despite the 1.6% increase in work hours. Simply put, more hours doesn’t mean more productivity.

Be output-based. Do not rely on the hours your employee is putting in to gauge his or her productivity. Look at the quality of that person’s output. If it’s highly satisfactory and the delivery is on the dot then you shouldn’t make a big deal about the length of time he spent on it.

Output-based leadership means that all that matters to you is that your team delivers what you want, when you want it, and exactly how you want it. This approach also builds trust between employers and their employees as your people feel more confident and empowered working with minimal supervision.

Encourage flexibility and openness

Productivity in this day and age isn’t about the average number of hours you churned in a week. It’s about moving forward and responding to the needs of your market. It’s not limited to what you can do within eight hours but it extends beyond that.

In The Great Work study done the by O.C. Tanner Institute, it showed that “great work” isn’t about accomplishing a lot of tasks. It’s using multiple skills and doing significant actions such as asking the right questions, talking to other team members, and improving processes that add value to the business.

Allow your team to brainstorm, explore outside, and communicate their ideas openly. Do not limit them in a cubicle nor suppress their skills with a fixed set of tasks assigned to them. When the 302 senior executives from Fortune 100 companies were asked to define “great work,” their answers were not about tasks.

Their responses were about goals like client satisfaction, innovation, strategy execution, new product development, product excellence, revenue growth, and profits. The executives also said that “great work” for them is about teamwork, communication, collaboration, vision, passion—the intangibles. This kind of outlook is what differentiates 21st century productivity from the traditional grind.

Delegate effectively

The Labor Bureau said that employee productivity only increased by a meager 0.3% over the past five years. If what we mentioned earlier is what productivity is all about then it’s most likely that the majority of employees are just going through the motions of accomplishing tasks like ticking off a checklist. They are not questioning or engaging fully at work to the point of getting passionate, taking risks, or challenging the current system.

Delegate the tasks that prevent your talented employees from doing great things for your company. Offload them to a virtual assistant who is trained to accomplish them. According to the Global Outsourcing Survey 2016, while cost is still the primary reason why companies outsource, another compelling reason is innovation.

More than 35% of the 280 executives said that they’re already measuring how innovation plays a vital part in their outsourcing. Service providers are now using innovative technologies to improve processes. Aside from delegating tasks, there’s a big possibility that your current systems may be more streamlined with their help.

As you delegate, you and your team will have the time and resources to focus on developing strategies, creating new products, increasing customer loyalty, analyzing marketing efforts, and coming up with revenue growth plans!

Modern-day productivity adapts and responds. It’s not stagnant. It’s not clockwork efficiency that’s mechanical and lifeless. True productivity is focused on having more impact with what you do. It’s organic and growth-centric. Observe your team and assess if they’re doing the great work you have in mind. If not, maybe it’s time for you to redefine productivity in your organization. Show them how. Align with them and begin working on the great work you’ve always wanted to do.

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