Episode 91: Employees That Are 12% More Productive with Shivani Gupta

Shivani Gupta

Welcome to the Ask Shivani podcast, I am so excited to be able to talk to you today about the fact that there are some organizations where they have employees that are producing 12% more productivity than some of the other team members, and some organizations that have consistently got certain employees producing 12% more than the other employees.

And so the question is, how can this be? What are the tricks? What are they doing? Are these organizations spending more money than the other organizations do? What do they have that is different from this particular organization? And the answer is the fact that these other employees are happier than their counterparts. And so what constitutes the fact that people are happier? What are some of the key things that people are looking for when it comes to feeling that they are in a happier workplace? Is it through the pandemic? I know that certain industries, the pay rates have gone up. So, is it the fact that these people are perhaps jumping for higher pay roles and higher-paid organizations? No, in fact, it isn't. That's number four, often on the people's list.

So, there's been some fantastic research done globally, the World Economic Forum talks about productivity. And one of the things that its finding is that the people that are happier will produce 12% more outcomes. And these people that are apparently happier aren't doing that because they are getting paid more. And they're not doing that, because they're working more hours. In fact, they are producing in the same number of hours more work. So, their productivity is so much higher for the same number of hours, in some cases, even a little bit less, because they're happier, they're energized, and they're really much more connected. So, what I want to talk a bit about today is that there are some short-term things that are really important. But there are also some long-term things that organizations can do to be able to connect. And some of the long-term ones, let's talk about them first. The long-term ones are things like the culture in the workplace. So, when the workplace is really great. And what constitutes a great culture is where people feel really well communicated to there is transparency. There's openness, there's vulnerability. There are some great systems and there may be benefits like health and other things. But the culture of the organization has been set really well often starting in leadership roles that get cascaded down into teams and into the rest of the organization. Because they feel that they will, they've got a great culture.

And sometimes you'll hear people when you say, hey, so you what's your job and they go, you know, X Y, Zed? And then you said, do you like it? Yes, I do. And why do you like it? Often, the answer is because they feel respected, they feel valued, and they feel that the culture of the organization is really great. The other thing that is also a long-term, and it can also be a short term is that one of the characteristics of happier employees is when people feel recognized. So, when they were asked simple things like, Hey, thank you for doing that. It might be just on something very small. But it may also be recognizing them, including them when you're presenting to more senior people. And you're including some of the junior people that have actually produced the legwork, and a lot of the work in that particular area. So, it's really important that you know that culture, and you can say that recognition is part of the culture. Or you can create recognition as a KPI in terms of how much do we recognize, and I know some organizations have systems set out where you can actually recognize other people, I know that I'm part of an organization, which is a not for profit, as well. And people will thank each other or recognize each other there. And it actually it's a member-based organization, and then it keeps the value of that organization much higher because you feel that you're recognized for things that you normally would do. But others see that as a really important benefit in terms of what they do.

So, then some of the longer term and there are other things, but they're the key things that I really wanted to focus on. And what I wanted to talk a bit about is the short term, and how can we build some simple things like feedback into our teams, and with individuals so we can again get this 12% higher productivity. Now, feedback has been long talked about. Some people talked about the sandwich where you start off with the positive and then you give the constructive and then you finish off with the with positive so two bits of bread that are positive in the meat or the veggie patty in the middle is the constructive feedback. And one of the things that occur is that that might work in your organization, but feedback is a lot more regular, feedback is a lot more informal. And there may be some formal parts as well. But it's this constant feeding back and letting people know what they're doing, and understanding what they're doing, and being able to say to them, hey, fantastic job, or I really liked this piece of your work. But this part actually might need a lot more work. So, we're constantly people are feeling constantly that they're getting this feedback. And one of the ratios that Stephen Covey and his organization talk about is that there's this four to-one ratio, and for lots of positive feedback, and one is constructive feedback, the for lots of positive feedback is often seen as money in the bank, as deposit in the bank. So, if you actually have you can't withdraw money, for example, if there's no money in the bank, right, unless using credit cards, and they get maxed out at some point too. But if you've got a debit card, then you can't withdraw it until you have it so often feedback, that's a really great analogy to say, how many deposits have I done into the bank, how many deposits of identity that bank account with this particular individual staff member and this employee so that when there is a withdrawal, when there is some constructive feedback, I've built up enough rapport and I've built up enough of a relationship where they know that I'm coming from a place of wanting to give them positive feedback. And now when I need to actually raise something that is constructive, and perhaps not so positive, they're going to take that knowing that I'm coming from a very good place.

So, organizations that have very good feedback, regular, informal and formal, but they do it regularly. They have managers and leaders who were their employees, set up that space of feedback regularly. And sometimes it's in the corridor and the beginning of meetings, beginning of presentations, they're constantly doing that, then one of the things that are does, it actually leads to employees feeling more connected with the people giving them the feedback, it makes them more connected to the organization, it makes them feel happier because if we use that four to one ratio, they're getting a lot of feedback, saying how you doing something great, you're doing something right. And they actually feel really good, it makes them feel really connected to who they are connected to the organization connected to the leader. So that is one way in terms of driving happier employees.

The second thing that I wanted to talk about is communicating in terms of having very open conversations. And what I mean by that is that you know, sometimes leadership, you know, there's some decisions that you're making where we don't know the answers. So many times, particularly when I'm mentoring people, one of the things that really upsets them, or unearth them, or feels a little bit disconnected with organizations are saying, look, I know there are some organizational changes happening at my board level, or they're happening in my management or my leadership change, people wouldn't be more transparent about it. So rather than this perfection, know that that occurs, sometimes with managers and leaders and even higher up as boards. It's important that whatever information you have, you're really transparent about it.

I remember a couple of years ago when the issue started to happen with VW Volkswagen cars. And one of the things that occurred is that because that truth and that transparency sometimes didn't come out, I know that some of the social media comments spoke a lot about the fact that it wasn't the fact that there was a mistake made, it was the fact that we often then try to cover up that mistake. And that actually drives people to lower productivity and distrust and not feel so connected. So, what is clear communication look like? Well, it looks like simple things like a manager or leader might get to a meeting. And let's say that somebody is presenting some really information, really important information. Let's say you've worked on this project for three to four months. And the team is very excited about doing that. And let's say that the night before, you had a sick child as a leader, and you were up for half the night. So, a clear communication on that next day would look something like where the leader would say, hey, I'm so excited about hearing the outcomes from this presentation. But I just needed to let you know that my son and my daughter XY said were a bit unwell, I was up for about half the night. So, if I look a little bit out of it, it's not because I'm not interested in what you are presenting, it's not because I'm not interested in all the hard work and recognizing that, please just know that context in terms of what's happened. And let's get started. So that might be a very simple way of clear communication by a leader. And when people hear that as an employee, rather than assume that this person is not interested in all this three, four months of hard work, because as humans, we all run stories in our mind. So, the fact that we could be present with the fact that and actually almost have empathy for the leader in that case, when we are presenting our findings, and be able to talk about that is a sign of really, you know, clear communication.

The other thing that could make communication could be that, for example, your leader may report into another level of leadership or management or even the board and there is some decision making that's happening and as an employee, you're wondering if your leader is going to be able to tell you things and rather than saying, Look, we know nothing to be able to bring up saying, Look, guys, I know everybody's worried about that. I know you may have some questions; I may not have answers to those questions. But one of the things I wanted to let you know is that I'm always up if you're worried about it to have a transparent conversation. The other thing I just wanted to let you know is that as soon as I have updates, we have our weekly meetings or daily meetings, whatever the structure in your businesses, and I will bring forward and forth that conversation and those items, as I'm allowed to share them with the people as soon as I can. So, I don't want you to worry, I just want you to know that we are here. And I'm here to be a sounding board, etc. And I noticed that it was through COVID, I had a couple of other businesses as well in the wellness space. And you know, one of the things that I didn't know as a business owner was, I didn't know how long COVID was going to go off, none of us did. I also didn't know how long we would be off and what how long the job keepers, which was some government support that was given to some of the Australian businesses and you had to qualify for certain employees and how long they've worked for you was going to happen. So, there was so many unanswered questions. But one of the things that I did was I actually had twice a week, a video conference with my team, who were all you know, at home, and we would actually do a, this is what I know, and some of those and a number of them particularly early on through COVID, it would be look, I don't have any other information. Or by the way, I've heard this, and I'm looking into it. And I will update it on our WhatsApp chat. And then in a couple of days, it was every Tuesday and Thursday. And then on the first day, what I'll do is I'll come back, and I'll be able to make that happen. So one of the things that I did was just have that complete transparency every, you know, twice a week. And then I would say, here's the update of what I know. And then I have a bit of a q&a, some of the questions I could answer others I couldn't have not said I'd go and find out the answers. And I'd make some calls to the government and whoever else and talk to other business owners, and then bring that back a couple of days later. So it wasn't about the fact that I had more information, or I had solutions to all the problems that were there. But it was about creating that transparency, and ensuring that people could actually reach things and be able to talk about that.

So, the other thing, you know, that's when it's really important when we look at creating 12% more productivity, because when you look at your business, as an audience of who’s listening to this podcast, you know, you could be a solopreneur. So you could be somebody that works for themselves. And you have no staff, or you have, you know, part time VA, you could also be somebody that's got a small business. And you might have a number of employees and contractors, you may be a medium company, or you may be allowed size company depending on what you do. But either way, you may be an employee in one of those organizations that I've just spoken about. So imagine like a team that was 12% more productive for the same amount of hours, it wasn't costing you any more for your labor, you weren't spending any more time on overtime, people weren't working weekends to be able to get to that. All they were doing was basically focusing on getting more done into and having more energy and connectivity to be able to do that.

Some of the other big benefits in terms of having happier employees, here's one of them is retention. And I'm going to do a whole podcast on retention down the track. But when you look at the cost of non-retention, what people are talking about is somewhere between 80 and 150%. So that means that let's say if it was 100%, let's say somebody who's an employee in your team is on $50,000 a year, that would mean that if you lose that person to be able to go through the hiring process to be able to find that right person, but also then be able to train them up, that somebody else was performing at the level that this person was seeing that they were a medium to high performer is going to cost you about 50 grand, in addition to the salary that you're going to start paying already. So, cost of non-retention is higher. So having happier employees gives you that extra retention in terms of what you want to create. The other thing that it does is it actually gets you having more leadership material. So, people that are happier, more engaged. And they're also very interested, I'm not all of them, but number of them are also very interested in getting to the higher levels within your organization. So rather than constantly looking outside of your team, you will also have potentially some people in your team who are happier and more engaged and also want to be trained or be considered and step into more leadership roles. So, your succession planning in a business becomes much easier.

The third thing is that they actually are also more creative. So happier people are more creative. What does that mean? That means that they look at creativity in terms of not only the work they do, they come up with creative solutions, which might be more time or dollar efficient. They might be more better team players and they will be more creative, which means that they're operating at a level where they want to find solutions, rather than continue just with getting problems in terms of what creates. The fourth part is that they feel connected. I've used that word a few times on this podcast, they feel more connected, they feel connected to their work, they feel connected to the team, they feel connected to leaders, and they feel connected to the organization. And you can't buy that, right? So having happier employees that feel more connected, has a lot of ripple effects on your business.

And the last one is where this whole podcast has premises about 12% more productive, so their productivity is higher. And we're really measuring their productivity. But imagine all the team meetings that they go to, and the ripple effect of their productivity, the ripple effect of their connectedness, the ripple effect of their creativity, the ripple effect of the fact that their leadership material and want to connect and actually operate at a higher level, and the fact that you're retaining them, there's a lot of other ripple effect. So, I always think that 12% is the minimum, but it may actually be a lot more in terms of being able to look at how we keep them.

So, my question to you, and my challenge to you in this podcast, and I would love to get some viewpoints is what are you doing in terms of creating happier employees? What are the strategies that you have in place? How are you measuring it? Have you looked at any of the five things that I've just spoken about? Are you good at certain things and not good at others? Or do you really need to harness and focus on certain areas that you're not doing well, or strengthen the ones that you are? And what is your retention rate? How many people have you lost? And have you looked at the true cost of that non retention? And how could you change things? So this podcast is really there for you to get hopefully been inspired, in terms of creating better culture, better feedback, do we think shorter term and long term, but also to be able to challenge you that if there are areas that you're not doing so well, that maybe there's some further strategies to be able to do that.

One of my expertise is to help create happy employees. If I can be of service please shout out or have also looked at my website https://www.askshivani.com/ and there are a number of articles and resources there that you can also be able to download. Thank you for listening, and I really look forward to any of your feedback and creating more productive 12% more happier employees.