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What is the rate of labor productivity around the globe? The Conference Board 2015 Global Productivity Brief has a few thoughts (and numbers) on this question:
These numbers suggest a gloomy outlook for the efficient use of labor and capital across the globe. This outlook threatens future technology and innovation, which rely on the efficiency of the markets for competition and profitability.
Numbers suggest that labor productivity growth, measured as output per person, has not only stagnated but in fact is trending downward, with future growth prospects bleak.
In the U.S. alone, according to The Corporate Board’s report:
Although productivity is down:
The loss in total factor productivity (or TFP, a measurement of total labor and capital inputs impacted by changes in technology) is often attributed to the advent of information technology (IT) in the workplace. According to a working paper published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the reduction in TFP is universal across many job sectors and is no more dramatic in IT than in non-IT fields.
How do we improve these numbers to reverse the national and global trend in labor productivity growth? The answer lies in a paradigm shift away from traditional thinking on productivity such as working longer hours, and increasing investment and GDP output per worker, all of which are macro measurements. Drilling down to the micro, organizational level is where the trend in productivity loss may be addressed more effectively.
An article printed in the Harvard Business Review from research conducted by the Ross School of Business Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship found that thriving (as opposed to productive) employees are those who are bought in to the mission of the company and are less likely to experience burnout.
How significant is reducing burnout and obtaining buy-in to the direction of the organization in order to improve productivity rates?
Providing a learning environment instills a sense of opportunity to grow or polish skills. This is especially true in as dynamic a field as information systems and technology. Feeling alive, engaged and excited to come to work by instilling vitality in the workplace is another way in which productivity increases for your organization.
Use this information to start an organizational conversation within your respective IT teams. Show that productivity is more than a simple measure of labor and capital inputs. People and dollars are important, but thriving, engaged employees who are team members are more likely to be innovative, and to advance the technology goals of the organization.