3 Science-Backed Ways To Improve Productivity In Workplaces

Written by Abdulbaqi Adebayo, Contributor, January 2023

Workplace productivity plays an integral role in determining the overall success rate of a company, hence the reason why companies have recently begun to devise new innovative strategies to improve employee performance. According to Gallup’s (2022) state of the global workplace report, only 21% of workers are engaged at work and only 33% of overall employees are thriving when it comes to their well-being. More than ever before, companies are saddled with the responsibility of finding innovative ways to increase productivity (Guillaume et al., 2017). 

Over the past few years, a significant amount of research projects have been carried out by different organizations around the world to discover diverse strategies to increase productivity in workplaces. They conclude that three elements are of crucial importance: gender-inclusive HR practices, investment in employee health & wellbeing, and the encouragement of equal representation within companies.

Gender-Inclusive HR Practices

As mentioned, one of the scientifically proven facts that has been established over years of extensive research is that it’s important to implement gender-inclusive Human Resources practices to help improve workplace productivity.

Gender-inclusive HR practices promote equity and cooperation in organizations while holding a strong focus on preventing discrimination. They ensure safe and healthy workplaces that are free of abuse and violence. The importance of how gender-inclusive HR practices increase productivity at work has been highlighted in a press release from the International Labour Organization (Manzur et al., 2022), in which a construction company in Colombia devised a new gender-equal strategy to improve its recruitment process.

As explained by the International Labour Organization (Manzur et al., 2022), the new recruitment process required the transfer of information from the CVs received in the initial stage of hiring to a neutral gender template that would allow the recruitment panel to shortlist applicants based on anonymity. The data from this new recruitment strategy showed that 7% more women than men were shortlisted for the top 3 candidate choices and 16% more women than men were recruited as a result. In contrast, when the neutral gender templates for CVs weren’t used during the recruitment process, 28% more men were selected than women. After the studied company implemented this new strategy, the gender percentage of female workers improved from 43% to 47%. This change not only encouraged positive leadership behaviors but also worker motivation and most importantly, it managed to significantly enhance productivity.

Gender-inclusive HR practices that are supported by top management in companies are essential for creating inclusive work environments that help all employees thrive. In that sense, augmenting productivity requires a long-term commitment to anti-discrimination practices based on gender.

Investments in Health Protection Packages

Recent research has shown that investments made in health protection packages for employees lead to an increase in workplace productivity, and most importantly, it has shown that the overall efficiency of companies improves when employee health & wellbeing is valued.

Physical Health

To explain such a statement, it’s important to note that the cost a company incurs when a sick employee attends work exceeds the cost a company incurs when an employee is on paid sick leave. When an employee attends work while sick due to the fear of losing their income or job, they risk prolonging their recovery and/or spreading illnesses. This therefore leads to a decrease in productivity in a snowball effect. Paid sick leave affords employees a quick recovery and avoids the spread of diseases to other co-workers and staff, consequently conserving productivity (Remes, 2022). In addition, when companies have good health care packages and take care of their employees, they tend to go the extra mile when work needs to get done, and it gives workers self-security to be able to carry out their duties to the best of their abilities (Buckley & Chauvenet, 2022).

Mental Health

When considering mental health issues at work, it’s important to note the positive effect the coronavirus pandemic has had on the incorporation of new healthcare benefits within companies (Claxton et al., 2022). Many employers added new coverage options for their employees as the feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and/or depression became more pronounced during this worldwide healthcare crisis.

Childcare & Caregiving

Childcare and caregiving are other coverage options that have been fully incorporated into healthcare packages by employers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic (Gitlin et al., 2022). These incorporations prevent caregivers from losing productive working hours due to illnesses suffered by individuals they are responsible for.

In sum, companies that don’t cover healthcare should find new innovative ways to include healthcare packages as a benefit for their employees, as proper investments would ultimately lead to an increase in workplace productivity.

Equal Representation

Equal Representation is another important element that has the benefit of improving productivity in workplaces, as has been proven many times. Some of the factors that help improve productivity are social dialogue, equal treatment, and an equal representation of gender. 

Social Dialogue

Equal representation promotes effective social dialogue among managers and workers on different issues within companies. Social dialogue is essential as it helps achieve productivity growth and creates work-friendly environments that are safeguarded from severe conflict (Manzur et al., 2022). Having different committees in workplaces may not be sufficient in voicing out the various concerns that employees may have, but good quality and effective committees are still essential. Over time, improvements made in equal representation and social dialogue can help increase the productivity of a workforce.

Equal Treatment

Work environments that have a strong foundation on equal treatment of all employees are indispensable as it helps promote participation in resolving issues and in consequence, increases productivity. Building an environment where everyone can speak up and have an opinion irrespective of their race, background, beliefs, and practices is important in creating an inclusive culture where employees are equally represented (Manzur et al., 2022).

Equal Gender Representation

Including women who have the experience and skill-set to drive positive changes in the decision-making of a company is essential to improving workplace productivity. Research shows that companies that have a more gender-diverse board have a 28% more likelihood of outperforming their peers financially (Dixon-Fyle et al., 2020). Research also shows that boardroom gender diversity is essential because it brings a broader viewpoint and a wider range of experiences to companies. It would therefore result in better decision-making (Patrick & Kumar, 2012).

Unfortunately, when it comes to equal representation of gender in workplaces, the global gender gap report published by the World Economic Forum (2022) suggests that it would take another 130 years to reach gender-based equity at the current rate of progress. As of 2022, women accounted for 39% of the workforce globally, but also accounted for 54% of job losses that same year. 

Conclusions

To conclude, in an ever-changing world where the needs of employees evolve and productivity in workplaces is affected, employers should make a conscious effort in investing more time and resources towards finding new innovative strategies to improve workplace productivity. They should indeed take into account the numerous scientific findings on the topic already available to them.


About The Author
About The Author

Abdulbaqi Adebayo holds a Degree in Counselling Psychology from Lagos State University and is the Founder of FCL, a human-centric platform focused on developing young African talents by supporting them through quality education, adequate funding, and proper guidance to achieve greatness. In his spare time, he loves to read, listen to the radio, and travel.


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The Humans of HR is a Social Enterprise that is on a mission to humanize the world of work. We aspire to be recognized as a high quality educational media outlet in HR, Employment & Business for a diverse body of learners from all over the world. Our Magazine currently reaches readers in over 120 countries.

We believe everyone is entitled to have access to professional content that is backed up by the work of the scientific community no matter where they come from. That is the reason why we started writing, and also why we will continue to do so. In order to keep growing and keep our content open to our global audience, we would like for you to consider supporting our work.

You can help us by becoming a Guest Contributor, shopping on our Goodie Store, signing up to our Career Development Services or making a Financial Donation right here.

Your contribution is highly appreciated.

The Humans of HR is a Social Enterprise that is on a mission to humanize the world of work. We aspire to be recognized as a high quality educational media outlet in HR, Employment & Business for a diverse body of learners from all over the world. Our Magazine currently reaches readers in over 120 countries.

We believe everyone is entitled to have access to professional content that is backed up by the work of the scientific community no matter where they come from. That is the reason why we started writing, and also why we will continue to do so. In order to keep growing and keep our content open to our global audience, we would like for you to consider supporting our work.

You can help us by becoming a Guest Contributor, shopping on our Goodie Store, signing up to our Career Development Services or making a Financial Donation right here.

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References

Buckley, R. C., & Chauvenet, A. L. (2022). Economic value of nature via healthcare savings and productivity increases. Biological Conservation, 272, 109665. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2022.109665

Claxton, G., Rae, M., Wager, E., & Young, G. (2022, October 27). 2022 employer health benefits survey. Kaiser Family Foundation. https://www.kff.org/health-costs/report/2022-employer-health-benefits-survey/

Dixon-Fyle, S., Dolan, K., Hunt, D. V., & Prince, S. (2020). How diversity, equity, and inclusion (De&i) matter | McKinsey. Retrieved January 11, 2023, from https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/diversity-wins-how-inclusion-matters

Gallup. (2022). State of the global workplace 2022 report. Gallup.Com. Retrieved January 11, 2023, from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/349484/state-of-the-global-workplace-2022-report.aspx

Gitlin, S., Gummadi, A., Krivkovich, A., & Modi, K. (2022). The conundrum of childcare for working parents | McKinsey. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/sustainable-inclusive-growth/future-of-america/the-childcare-conundrum-how-can-companies-ease-working-parents-return-to-the-office

Guillaume, Y. R. F., Dawson, J. F., Otaye-Ebede, L., Woods, S. A., & West, M. A. (2017). Harnessing demographic differences in organizations: What moderates the effects of workplace diversity?: What Moderates the Effects of Workplace Diversity? Journal of Organizational Behavior38(2), 276–303. https://doi.org/10.1002/job.2040

Manzur, S., Pothula , A., de la Chaux, M., & Catalina, M. S. (2022). Ensuring a productive ecosystem for all. Promoting gender-inclusive working conditions on the factory floor for decent work and productivity growth. International Labour Organization. https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_emp/—emp_ent/documents/publication/wcms_843483.pdf 

Patrick, H. A., & Kumar, V. R. (2012). Managing workplace diversity: Issues and challenges. SAGE Open2(2), 215824401244461. https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244012444615

Remes, J. M. W. (2022, March 9). How investing in health has a significant economic payoff for developing economies. Brookings. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2020/07/21/how-investing-in-health-has-a-significant-economic-payoff-for-developing-economies/amp/

World Economic Forum. (2022). Global gender gap report 2022. World Economic Forum. Retrieved January 11, 2023, from https://www.weforum.org/reports/global-gender-gap-report-2022/