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June 12, 2018

Are These 4 Factors Hurting Your IT Department's Productivity?


How These 4 Factors Hurt IT Productivity and Performance

If productivity seems elusive in your IT department, you aren’t alone. All across the country, businesses are looking for ways to increase output and performance among IT employees. And while every situation is unique, it often begins with correcting a few common issues.



4 Factors Hurting Your Department’s Productivity

Every organization has a different definition of what productivity is. Some view it as getting more work done in a small window of time. Others view it as being as innovative and creative as possible over a long period of time. In IT, productivity is generally determined by maximizing technological investments and the corresponding efficiency gains, or return on investment (ROI).

It’s one thing to develop productive systems and use efficient technologies, but at the end of the day, it comes down to people. If your people aren’t productive, your department can’t be productive. And if your department isn’t productive, your organization isn’t successful.

With people at the crux of the issue, you have to determine how you can maximize productivity on an employee by employee basis. This means identifying the common factors that hurt productivity and developing progressive solutions that allow you to overcome them.

In order to get you moving in the right direction, we’ve identified some of the top factors that tend to affect performance. Take a look:

1. Lack of Sleep

A recent study on sleep as it relates to work and productivity found that no industry is sleepier during the workday than technology. In fact, 70 percent of technology workers report taking catnaps during the workday, edging out the construction industry (68 percent) for first place. The research goes on to show that the most popular nap destinations are meeting rooms, personal vehicles, and even office desks.

The fact that 70 percent of technology workers are tired enough to take a nap during work hours shows just how serious the problem is. Not only is it holding back productivity, but it also puts a damper on the quality of work employees perform.

Possible Solutions: While you can’t force your employees to get more sleep, there are some practical things you can do to encourage them to get more rest. One suggestion is to restrict office work to office hours. By prohibiting employees from working when they leave the office, you give them the freedom to zone out and rest.

Another idea is to make a game out of sleep. With all of the different sleep tracking devices and apps on the market, you could actually make a competition out of sleep and reward the employees who outperform the average.

2. Poor Training

Most companies understand the significance of hiring the right people. Businesses spend billions of dollars per year searching for and hiring talent for their open positions. But hiring is only part of the equation. In order to maximize the potential of each employee, there needs to be formal and effective training in place.

A lack of training limits what an employee can do – regardless of how much natural talent they possess. It fails to prepare them for the responsibilities they face on a daily basis and ultimately does them a disservice.

Possible Solution: The problem most IT departments face is a lack of training experience. The managers in charge are skilled at IT, but they don’t know how to train people on these skills. This is where outside assistance can come in handy.

“Get help designing your materials,” HR professional Arte Nathan suggests. “Consider contracting with teachers from your local public schools and community colleges. They are trained in instructional design and can work with your company’s subject matter experts to create useful and professional instructional materials.”

You need professional training methods that are proven to work. This is the only way to ensure the information you’re conveying actually sticks.

3. Lack of Recognition

For more than a century, the common belief has been that people perform better when they make more money. In other words, if you provide an employee with raises and bonus opportunities, they’re going to become more productive. But this isn’t necessarily true.

In studies that ask people to identify what motivates them most at work, recognition is the winner. Roughly 83 percent of employees say being recognized for their achievements is most important to workplace fulfillment. Thus, it can be inferred that a lack of recognition negatively impacts productivity.

Possible Solutions: If you don’t currently spend much time recognizing your employees for their work, you need to start. There are entire books and seminars dedicated to this topic, but don’t get overwhelmed. Start simple and use things that you know your employees will enjoy. Simple employee of the month awards usually work.

4. Lack of Communication

It’s easy to blame a lack of productivity on the employee who is responsible for carrying out a specific task, but don’t be so quick to jump to conclusions. In many cases, stifled productivity is the direct result of a lack of communication from management.

When communication isn’t clear, consistent, and timely, employees lose the confidence and autonomy to perform their work as it should be done. This can result in poor performance, or even a total lack of output.

Possible Solutions: Improving communication takes time and energy. If you don’t deal with it as soon as possible, it will spiral out of control. Lead by example and start from the top.

“To counteract the impact of poor managerial communication, your performance management system should enforce regular employee check-ins and feedback,” performance management consultant Stuart Hearn advises. “Employees and managers can then discuss short-term and long-term goals, career development plans and any relevant issues that might be impeding performance.”

Start Prioritizing Productivity

Productivity isn’t something that naturally falls into place – especially in a field as dynamic as IT. If you want your department to maximize output, efficiency, and creativity, you need to prioritize productivity from the start.

Exactly how you do this will depend on the specific set of circumstances you face, but the advice outlined in this article should give you a foundation to foster positive change.



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