World business conditions notwithstanding, many companies nowadays are filled with apprehension and anxiety as to their future. Businesses are cutting back their employees’ work hours. Productivity is not only at a standstill in some places, it actually had gone down in some, too. Some businesses had their employees take one paid day off every pay schedule. Others have their office days only from Monday to Thursday while still others shortened their work days.
Impact on productivity
There were two interesting reactions to these cost-cutting methods done by businesses. The first outcome was totally unexpected. While there was some lost productivity because of fewer working hours and also because of the negative working environment that it created, many businesses discovered that productivity during working hours was actually higher than before the cuts were implemented. There were two reasons forwarded as to why business productivity may be higher as a consequence of decreased hours in the work place.
The first was the employees’ perception that they have lesser time available to them to complete the same amount of work as they did before. It moved them to put extra efforts to get everything done, and worked harder than they had in the past. Second, the motivation of fear was strong. People were worried that the cutbacks were just the beginning and that more layoffs were soon to follow. In an effort to keep their jobs, the people worked harder than before to at least put on a picture that they are worth keeping as employees.
On the other hand, both of these motivating factors are unfortunately short-term situations. After the workers adapted to the shorter work hours, their stress levels decreased in regards to their perceived amount of time to get the job done. Soon, they reverted back to their old coffee breaks and Internet surfing instead of working. Regarding the motivation of fear, it did not take long for the working environment to become highly negative. Negativity in the office tends to decrease productivity.
Some businesses have seen more employees spending more time at the proverbial water cooler. They are griping about the fact that they do not have enough money because of the present cutbacks. Because of the negative atmosphere around, nobody wants to contribute anymore to the overall good of the business (which decreases productivity). After the fear stopped motivating these employees, the result is lower productivity in the office.
Companies that may discover themselves to be in this situation need to do some damage control on the employees’ morale. The goal would be to maintain a positive working environment. Keep open all lines of communication with everybody. Airing things out soothe nerves and can bring back people to their ideal selves.
Make it apparent to everyone that you are all working together to get through the present difficult times. This is better than fighting each other all the time for petty things. In such a relaxed atmosphere, people tend to calm down and become their productive selves once again.
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