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This sample research paper is secondary research that synthesizes the results of various research studies on improving employee productivity. The author found three modern management strategies that are effective at improving employee productivity.

Productivity in the 21st Century

21st-century businesses face heightened competition and dynamic challenges constantly. Rapid technological advances, coupled with changing customer expectations and continued globalization, require businesses to improve not only their business plan, products, and advertising plans but also their business efficiency and productivity. An employee’s productivity is not solely based on internal factors; external factors, many of which are within the control of the management, affect their productivity. Traditional management strategies, which worked in the 20th century are no longer effective for today’s workforce and are no longer applicable to the current fast-paced, technological business environment. To succeed in the market, businesses need to evolve with modern management strategies. This business research paper focuses on the most effective modern management strategies that will enable business managers to improve their workforce’s productivity. This research paper collected information from various studies and concluded that the three most effective management strategies to improve productivity are maintenance of optimal work environments, management of online distractions, and improvement of employee engagement.

Methodology

This research is based on secondary research based on published research studies and other scholarly sources gathered from online publications Google Scholar, Elsevier, and ResearchGate. To search for relevant studies and articles, the researcher used the following keywords: “increasing productivity in the workplace,” “productivity management,” “modern management strategies,” and “management practices.”

The search rendered hundreds of results, but these were further filtered by publication year. The researcher only considered articles published from 2015 onwards. However, the articles and studies selected for this research paper were published from 2017 onwards. Among the most current articles, those with the most relevant topics were chosen. These were based on the title and content of the article as explained in their respective abstracts.

Discussion

An organization’s performance is directly affected by its employees’ productivity, in the same way that a marketing plan does. As such, productivity, specifically strategies to increase employees’ productivity, has been a constant topic in management research. The last decade has seen rapid developments in terms of technology and approaches to management. Changes in the nature and attitudes of the new generation of workers, in the organizational culture and processes, and the evolution of the markets have all driven the need for high productivity upward. This managerial challenge has prompted a number of studies exploring various strategies for motivating and improving employees’ productivity.

Definition of Productivity

Productivity is defined as “the rate at which goods or services are produced by a standard population of workers” (“Managing Productivity,” n.d.). Productivity is a measure of how much total input (i.e., materials, power, and working hours) is required to produce a unit of total output (i.e., goods produced ready for sale). A manager’s goal is to make production as efficient as possible. This includes minimizing material waste as well as minimizing the time needed to produce output or increase workers’ productivity. Strategies to improve employee productivity constantly evolve to match the changes in the work environment and the needs of the current generation of workers (Dixit, & Gomes, 2021). As such, strategies employed in the last decades of the 20th century to the early 21st century likely no longer apply to strategies that are effective in today’s context.

Modern Management Strategies to Improve Productivity

The research revealed three modern management strategies that have been proven to improve productivity. Of note is the trend of employing various technologies to help employees do their jobs more efficiently. However, more often than not, these same technologies have proven to be the source of distraction. This paradoxical dilemma led the researcher to hypothesize that managers need to focus on their employees and how their employees handle their responsibilities to help them be more productive rather than simply providing tools that may or may not be beneficial.

1. Maintaining Optimal Work Environment

The work environment, just like any environment, affects people mentally, physically, and socially (O’Brien et al., 4). The report synthesizes the findings of studies on how the physical work environment affects employees’ productivity. Indoor environment quality, particularly temperature, humidity, light, space, noise, and levels of CO2 and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), impact cognitive ability, motivation, productivity, and wellbeing (O’Brien et al., 5-6). Indoor environments with high CO2 levels and are too hot or too cold, depending on the season, have an adverse impact on employees’ productivity in accomplishing tasks. Thus, maintaining an optimal indoor environment should be part of the basic strategy to improve employees’ productivity.

2. Managing Online Distractions

Employees nowadays have constant access to distractions online. To mitigate this, many organizations have implemented practices like leaving personal gadgets in a locker during business hours and blocking unnecessary websites like social media sites. While this strategy effectively eliminates distractions in the workplace and does encourage employees to work for longer periods without taking breaks, it, unfortunately, leads to higher stress levels (Mark, Iqbal, & Czerwinski, 2017). Mark, Iqbal, & Czerwinski (2017) found that this strategy leads to higher stress levels for employees with lower self-control. Their study discovered that distractions are not entirely disadvantageous, but they need to be regulated to become advantageous for the organization.

The study acknowledged that individuals have different rhythms of attention focus, meaning there are times when they are most productive and times when they need mental breaks. Websites like social media networking sites allow employees to take quick mental breaks when they recognize that they are no longer as productive, serving as “mental refreshers” (Mark, Iqbal, & Czerwinski, 2017). The researchers, thus, recommended that organizations set time limits for accessing unnecessary websites as well as to block certain sites only during periods of high workloads, which could be detected through various software. They also recommend providing training to develop stronger self-control and better time management practices among employees and recommending when they should take breaks to avoid burnout after working for long stretches of time (Mark, Iqbal, & Czerwinski, 2017). Managers have a higher chance of improving productivity by seeing employees’ tendency to be distracted as a necessary natural instinct and not as an adversary that must be eliminated.

3. Improving Employee Engagement

It has long been agreed upon that motivation, attitude, and behavior are major contributors to an employee’s productivity and performance. This was further confirmed by the study by Hanaysha & Majid (2018) which found that employee motivation has a significant positive effect on employee productivity. Motivational reward, such as monetary incentives and acknowledgment of accomplishments, enhances not just productivity but also employees’ commitment to the organization.

Another factor that improves employee engagement is the alignment of the organization’s and employees’ interests and values. Aligned interests and values have been found to improve employee satisfaction and retention (Shahid, 2019). Thus, organizations must cultivate a positive working culture and communicate the organizations’ values with their employees. This will allow employees to perceive their work as meaningful, be inspired by their leaders, and potentially allow them to see themselves as valuable contributors to the organization’s goals (Shahid, 2019). These will directly affect the employee’s motivation, attitude, and behavior and, thus, their productivity.

These three management strategies provide modern perspectives on managing employee productivity. They differ from traditional management strategies that involve controlling the employee’s every move and instead embrace the perspective that employees are independent contributors to the organization whose human nature need not be controlled but harnessed.

Recommendations

The researcher acknowledges that this secondary research is not exhaustive. However, its findings are still relevant as they are based on trends found from the results of numerous studies. The management strategies discussed in the earlier section of the paper all exhibit a similar perspective in managing employees. While employees are indeed parts of an organization, they are still individual humans who can not only be coerced to work for 8 hours a day without breaks but are also diverse in their needs and behaviors. Such a view of employees would be beneficial for organizations as this will inevitably lead to practices that allow people to work in optimal conditions. Thus, implementation of these management strategies is not enough. Managers should treat their goal of improving employee productivity like a campaign plan that involves all aspects of a business. These management strategies should be employed with the aforementioned view so that managers can implement the appropriate strategies based on their organization’s and employees’ requirements.

Conclusions

The 21st century has changed the market and the work environment. Workers have also changed, as younger generations grew up and exist in new, dynamic contexts, they also require different management strategies from workers of the past. Strategies of the olden days that expect employees to hunch over their desks for 8 hours a day are no longer feasible as the nature of work itself has changed. With that said, various studies have studied various modern management strategies geared toward increasing employee productivity. What this research found is that the most effective management strategies for improving employee productivity are not those that are either restrictive or punitive by nature. The three modern management strategies recommended by the researcher for improving productivity are maintenance of optimal work environments, management of online distractions, and improvement of employee engagement. These management strategies address the issue of productivity without adding pressure on employees to work harder, spend more time at work, or sacrifice their mental health. Instead, these strategies cultivate a culture and environment that is conducive to employee productivity, satisfaction, and allows them to take care of their mental health.

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References

Chignell, B. (2019, November 14). Eight reasons why your employees are unproductive. CIPHR. https://www.ciphr.com/features/unproductive-employees/

Dixit, R. & Gomes, S. (2021). Newer paradigms in human resource management and productivity. Jharkhand Journal of Development and Management Studies. 19(2), pp. 8723-8736. https://www.xiss.ac.in/JJDMS/Vol19/Issue2/pdf/2.pdf

Managing Productivity. (n.d.). Lumen Learning. Retrieved September 25, 2021, from https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-management/chapter/managing-productivity/

Mark, G., Iqbal, S., & Czerwinski, M. (2017, September 11). How blocking distractions affects workplace focus and productivity. UbiComp ’17: Proceedings of the 2017 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing and Proceedings of the 2017 ACM International Symposium on Wearable Computers. Pp. 928-934. https://doi.org/10.1145/3123024.3124558  

O’Brien, J., Gupta, R., Howard, A., & Cudmore, T. (2018, November). Improving productivity in the workplace: Lessons learnt and insights from the Whole Life Performance Plus project. Oxford Brookes University and LCMB Building Performance Ltd. https://www.lcmb.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Improving-productivity-in-the-workplace-Final-1.pdf

 

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