Workplace productivity has been a concern since the first craftsman took an assistant under his wing to increase output and revenues. The history of human commerce and industry has always been about chasing ever-increasing productivity.

In the early days, workers were simply assigned tasks based on their skill set. However, as technology advanced, so did the ability to automate processes and streamline operations. We can now leverage software applications to help us manage our workflow and increase employee efficiency.

Today's manufacturing and industrial professionals and companies are also part of that history. In fact, it's an interesting time for productivity, particularly from a human resources perspective:

  • Workplace productivity is more important than ever
  • Employee well-being is a critical concern for many organisations
  • HR leaders have realised that these two things are closely linked

Discover more about these three facts and the key insights they teach about the correlation of employees wellbeing and the workforce productivity in this article.

fact 1: employee productivity is more important than ever

Here are some facts about the requirement for increased productivity experienced by almost all businesses globally. Particularly in manufacturing and other industries where remote work is less of an option.

more demanding customers

Customers are less likely to wait for what they want or need because of big box stores, major online sellers, and an instant gratification culture fed constantly by the internet.

tighter budgets

Customer demands for greater value, increased competition, fewer resources due to the COVID-19 pandemic and external factors have forced many businesses to tighten belts. A Gartner report in May this year indicated that CFOs were actively cutting costs, with some aiming to cut spending by 39% in Q4 of 2022 if inflation persists.

If you're working with less money, you're not alone. But if you're like most of your competitors, you can't let resource issues stop you from producing.

talent scarcity

Getting good people into your workplace on a consistent basis has always been a challenge. In the wake of the pandemic, hiring the talent you want is harder than ever as companies around the world compete for top talent as economies reopen and recover.

These are just a few in a long line of facts that all lead to the same conclusion: organisations are being challenged to do more with less. As a result, employee productivity has become more about maximising each worker's input with less.

fact 2: employee wellbeing is a high priority for most organisations

We are no longer living in the era of the original manufacturing lines of the industrial revolution. Workers and their advocates fought for better working conditions over a century ago and, in some cases, continue to do so today.

However, most employers recognise that employee well-being benefits everyone.

Here are just a few reasons why employee wellbeing is a high priority for most businesses today:

healthy workers are present workers

Employees who have good mental and physical health are more likely to show up for shifts on a regular basis. According to a research on health-related productivity loss (HRPL) amongst South Korean workers in 2020, employees suffering from musculoskeletal pain, such as neck or backaches, suffered from productivity losses of up to 15% amongst women and 13% amongst men. Other common causes of HRPL include the common cold, fatigue, and insufficient sleep.

happier workers tend to stick around longer

High employee morale and well-being leads to lower employee turnover rates. Since it costs more to hire a new employee than retain an existing one, that's obviously beneficial for the bottom line. Plus, your tried-and-true employees are typically more productive than someone who is still in training.

people talk when you care about employees (or not)

Your employer brand is your passport along any hiring journey, and without a strong employer reputation, you may be unable to hire high-quality talent. That can leave you straggling behind the competition.

employee wellness is a popular perk

Work-life balance and other positive life perks such as gym membership, wellness screenings, healthy lunch and snacks, corporate outdoor activities and company fitness benefits, are no longer exclusive to the C-suite. Even in manufacturing and similar industries, you may find more job applicants wondering how working for you can improve their life other than providing a consistent pay cheque.

In this year’s Randstad employer brand research, 69% of respondents in Singapore ranked work-life balance amongst the top employee value propositions (EVPs) they look for in an ideal employer. Meanwhile, this was the second most important EVP for Malaysian respondents (70%) and the most important EVP for Hongkongers (60%).

As you can see, addressing your employees' well-being indirectly addresses several issues associated with productivity in the workplace. That includes attendance, employee morale and your ability to hire and keep the right people. But the ties between your staff's wellbeing and productivity go much deeper.

common burnout symptoms
common burnout symptoms

fact 3: the link between employee wellbeing and workplace productivity

Let's dive deeper into this topic to understand exactly how employees’ well-being impacts workforce productivity. We gathered some statistics from research done by organisations in multiple countries dealing with worker well-being. You can read these facts below as well as their link with productivity and job performance.

1. physical health supports productivity

A AIA Vitality Healthiest Workplace survey conducted by policy think tank Rand Europe examined the health and well-being of more than 26,000 employees in the Asia Pacific region. The study found that the average productivity loss is 25.9%, resulting in more than 68 days of work time lost per respondent per year.

Poor diet was a key contributor to Asian workers’ poor health, and consequently, productivity loss, with nearly 85% of employees in Hong Kong SAR and Malaysia eating fewer than five servings of fruit and vegetables each day.

direct correlation to productivity:

People who feel physically well can generally work faster, more effectively and longer. Consider this: If you're fighting a migraine, dealing with tummy troubles or groaning about pain in your leg, how effective are you going to be at the task? For most people, any health issue or symptom reduces their attention, motivation and ability to perform work.

employer takeaways:

Consider how you can support employees in taking care of themselves. That might include options such as offering wellness-related benefits or programmes, encouraging movement breaks or providing opportunities for healthy snacks or food in the workplace.

2. happier employees are more productive workers

According to a 2022 Workmonitor survey conducted by Randstad, 41% of Singaporeans would rather be unemployed than feel unhappy in their jobs. One in two Malaysians (50%) would quit their jobs if it kept them from enjoying their lives, while 45% of respondents in Hong Kong SAR would rather be jobless than be stuck in jobs they dislike.

direct correlation to productivity:

People who are happier tend to be better able to focus on what they're doing. They may also be more motivated, especially if they're happy with their job. As a result, they are driven to work hard so they can stay and potentially reap better benefits like promotions, raises, or bonuses.

employer takeaways:

You can't magically make unhappy people happy, but you can create policies that help workers manage their own level of happiness, which in turn will create an environment of employee satisfaction. For example, flexible scheduling allows employees to have more personal time to do anything they want.

Other examples are educational benefits for upskilling and social opportunities that create more cohesive teams and enjoyable working environments.

3. untreated mental health issues reduce productivity

According to the study on HRPL amongst South Korean workers, mental illness was a key cause of productivity loss at the workplace. Insomnia, anxiety and depression were associated with productivity loss by 20.1%, 20.4% and 21.5%, respectively.

direct correlation to productivity:

Mental health issues, diagnosed or not, can have a huge impact on workers cognitive functions including memory, critical thinking and focus. When those functions aren't working properly, it can be difficult for a worker to focus on the task at hand. Mental health conditions can also manifest themselves into physical symptoms such as fatigue that can drive down a worker's productivity. Add in the fact that when you're depressed or anxious it's difficult to concentrate or care about everyday things like work, and you can see how mental health is a huge factor in productivity.

employer takeaways:

Think about ways you can help employees care for their mental wellbeing. Employee assistance programmes are just one option. Many of the same programmes and options you might offer to help people be happier at work and improve their activity levels are the ones that might also help them maintain positive mental health.

4. stressed workers aren't productive workers

According to a study by Milieu Insight, 50% of employees in Southeast Asia said they feel burnt out from work at least a few times a month. Meanwhile, work-life balance is the most unmet employee expectation amongst professionals, according to Randstad’s Employer Brand Research.

work-life balance most unmet for employees
work-life balance most unmet for employees

direct correlation to productivity:

The cost of stress in various industries continues to rise. Stress, no matter the cause, can have a negative impact on both physical and mental health. Chronic stress is especially problematic, as your workers may not be thinking or feeling their best when they are under constant stress from their jobs. 

Plus, if work-related stress crosses the line into burnout, workers may simply give up and will just show up to punch a clock without having a bother about how much they actually get done.

employer takeaways:

Be aware of workplace stress and how it may be influenced by your processes and company culture. 

Certainly, you want to hold workers up to high standards and work with people to help them achieve personal excellence. Take the time to make sure that goals are equal parts realistic and challenging, make sure you have the right people in various positions as well as communicate clearly and transparently to reduce unnecessary stress in the workplace.

is employee productivity a problem for your business?

While every employer should consider their employees' well-being, not all organisations face productivity issues today. You can't tackle a problem if you don't know it exists, so it's important to assess whether your workforce is productive enough. For instance, you can ask yourself these questions:

  • Are the customers or clients satisfied with our products and services?
  • Is your business making money, and are labour costs aligning with expectations?
  • Are you able to meet goals and requirements with your current labour force?
  • Is each team or each person living up to the requirements you set for them?

These are excellent productivity metrics, but they're not the only questions you should be asking. We’ve created a checklist of nine signs that your company is experiencing staff productivity challenges so you can address them before they become major concerns.

we can connect you with the talent you need to be productive

Hiring top talent is one of the top priorities for smart companies looking to assure  long-term success. Next to experience and skills, understanding the personal goals and self-fulfilment levels of a potential candidate is necessary for employers to hire people who are not only self-directed workers, but help the company drive its productivity goals efficiently.

Our specialised recruitment consultants are trained to help you connect with driven, high-value candidates. They speak to many working professionals and experts in your field of work, so they know how to evaluate whether certain candidates are a good fit for the role and for your teams, beyond looking at technical requirements.

Work with us to optimise your recruitment strategy and let us connect you with the right talent you’re looking for who will fit into your organisation and drive higher productivity.

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