Understand the impact of lost productivity

Productivity losses are widespread in SMEs, yet they can be readily converted into gains straight to the bottom line

Understand the impact of lost productivity

Here are a few tactics to adopt to achieve this. 

Firstly, let’s look at why it is that tasks are more than likely completed and on time by busy people? There two key reasons. Time management and the mantra ‘Done is better than perfect.’ Busy people are strict with their timetable to complete projects and workload and to achieve this they cannot get hung up on perfection as well as possibly be effective at delegating. 

Linked to this was a lament from a colleague consultant who recounted an experience with a client where frustration arose. A stakeholder report, which he was paid to compile and deliver, was never distributed due to the CEO’s procrastination on finalizing the closing comments. The report failed to reach its expectant audience of about 500 as, two months later lockdown drastically shifted priorities.

The cost incurred to the company in fees was £6,000, plus approximately two days of the marketing team’s time, amounting to an approximate total of £8,000. How would this have impacted the Net Profit Before Tax (NPBT)? For a company turning over £750,000 this is 0.8%. Should one more similar loss of productivity occur, which is likely, this number could be 1.6% which starts getting punchy. Then the expectations of the potential recipients being managed should be factored in to the time wasted.

This proffers the question, was the CEO simply too busy or a perfectionist? How many projects like this go to waste? In this instance human procrastination is more than likely at fault however, July last year saw the published report from Be the Business, The UK’s small business productivity experts. The G7 Productive Business Index. It finds that UK businesses are under-indexing on performance, investment and improvement in capabilities linked to productivity. The UK ranks fifth and sixth out of seven countries on performance and capabilities respectively. Interestingly though, small business leaders in the UK showed a high level of confidence and a positive outlook, ranking fourth on confidence overall, despite a lack of activity across key capability areas including management skills, HR and operational efficiency.  

This suggests that there is a general underinvestment in our people and systems. While high confidence levels are advantageous, the absence of follow-through, restricted action, or commitment might indicate a tendency towards arrogance. Not surprising was the finding in the report that the top three G& countries have culture that embraces professional mentoring.

The lessons here are,

  • Be conscious of time, adhere to deadlines, and complete what we begin. 
  • Forgo perfection in favour of thoroughness. 
  • Have a team ready to assist when necessary. 
  • Investing in people and the business is essential.
  • Support and guidance can be key.

It’s often easier said than done! Instead of feeling overwhelmed, identify areas where you can achieve some quick wins then gradually integrate changes into the work culture. Consider holding a brainstorming session which will gain wider buy in. By adopting these approaches, productivity will naturally improve. Consequently, the bottom line will strengthen, and your team’s work satisfaction will rise. Keep in mind, procrastination isn’t just the thief of time; it also steals productivity.

Kerrie Dorman
Kerrie Dorman

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