By Meredith Camp
There are many reasons a person may not be able or willing to perform optimally on any given day: feeling under the weather, waiting on approval of a project before being able to move forward, or just not feeling particularly motivated to work that day. However, true, legitimate reasons why there is a lack of productivity and/or engagement in the workplace can be traced back to three main factors: environment, people, and work. Interestingly enough, money seldom plays a role in how productive people are. Here’s a look at how those three main components affect how and whether work gets done.
This refers to the physical space in which work gets done. While teleworking is much more prevalent than it once was, many people still commute to an office every day, and not all offices are set up for optimal productivity. Some organizations have an open office environment which, on the one hand can lead to more collaboration and an “open door” policy on the part of the leadership, but it can also breed too much noise and constant interruption for those needing to have the quiet in order to work. In this setup, people are far more likely to yell across the room to one another or have meetings in the midst of everything, and everyone ends up hearing each other’s phone conversations as well. For those offices that have a more structured setting, there can still be drawbacks. Budget cuts can limit the number of supplies and technology provided to workers, despite their necessity for the work being done. And let’s just hope your cubicle or office isn’t right by the communal kitchen or restroom; this layout gives everyone who passes by the excuse to pop in and chat, whether it’s a convenient time or not.
Personality conflicts can play a big factor in the engagement level of employees in the workplace. Negativity, cattiness, and gossip can derail people from their purpose and spread animosity where there once was none. Just as impactful are the bosses who micromanage or over demand. And then there are the slackers, the poor producers, the excuse makers, the self-pitiers, the suck ups and brown-nosers, meddlers, and the tattle tails. With that much office politics stirring up the pot, it’s a wonder anyone can concentrate on the real tasks at hand!
The actual work is a huge part of people’s productivity levels as well. Tasks may be unchallenging, menial, or too few to fill the work day. Work might not be engaging or align with the individual’s personal goals or interests. Organizations that lack mission or direction can often leave people confused, disengaged, or disconnected from the big picture. Sometimes, especially in the public sector, individuals have to take on more than their fair share of work to make up for unfilled positions or unproductive teammates, leading them to feel stressed and overloaded, which slows down the flow of work even more. In addition, when employees are tasked with responsibilities outside of their normal workload, it can lead to confusion and frustration.
Clearly, there are many factors that play a role in how quickly and effectively work gets done and how engaged workers are in what they do. But knowing the real culprits of the hindrances to productivity is the first giant step towards getting the organization back on track.
What obstacles to productivity and engagement do you face within your organization? How have you worked to overcome them personally?