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Let’s Talk: Building a high-performance work culture

In this era of rapid technological advancements and evolving work methodologies, the traditional paradigms of managing time and boosting productivity are being redefined.

Organizations are confronted with the challenge of adapting to these changes while fostering a work environment that not only meets but exceeds the expectations of the modern workforce.

Our experts in this week’s edition of Let’s Talk aim to unravel the complexities surrounding employee productivity and time management, offering insightful strategies and innovative approaches to empower organizations in their quest for excellence.

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Lauren Karan, Founder and Managing Director at Karan & Co

Lauren Karan, Founder and Managing Director at Karan & Co

“Optimising employee productivity and time management is essential for success. We begin by setting clear goals together with our team. This collaborative approach not only ensures a shared vision but also empowers employees to prioritise their workload effectively.

“To further enhance productivity, we provide our team with the right tools and technology. Time-saving software and systems streamline tasks, allowing employees to focus on revenue-generating activities.

“Understanding our employees’ strengths and aligning their roles with tasks they enjoy is key. Strengths-based leadership not only boosts well-being but also leads to increased engagement. When faced with challenges in hiring talent, we consider restructuring roles and responsibilities. By providing support to prioritise income-generating tasks, we make the most of the limited hours in a day.

“We also promote flexible work arrangements and an outcomes-based management approach, contributing to employee well-being and higher engagement levels. Increased engagement ultimately translates to improved performance.

“In our organisation, building trust through leadership is paramount. By fostering connections and aligning leadership with employee needs, we create a positive work culture that thrives on trust and enhances overall productivity. Incorporating these strategies empowers our organisation to boost productivity, enhance time management, and create a fulfilling work environment for our employees.”

David Price, Group CEO ANZ at Employsure

David Price, Group CEO ANZ at Employsure

“The foundation of any successful business lies in the efficiency of its workforce, and leaders play a pivotal role in nurturing this aspect. When employees understand their roles, responsibilities, and the goals they need to achieve, they’re better equipped to manage their time effectively. Regular one-on-one meetings, team briefings, and performance evaluations can help maintain this transparency.

“Empowering employees by entrusting them with responsibilities and decision-making authority not only motivates them but also encourages them to take ownership of their time management skills. When employees feel trusted, they are more likely to own their tasks and deliver strong results, efficiently.

“When there’s a culture of coaching and development, employees are motivated to continue delivering excellence. Coaching can come in many forms; however, employers need to settle on a coaching method that allows the employee to flourish as opposed to what works best for them as a leader.

“Having an office-first culture is also an effective way to enhance productivity. Not only can this be a more time efficient way to collaborate, it also allows more on the go coaching and enables clearer team communication.”

Roxanne Calder, founder of EST10 and author of ‘Employable – 7 Attributes to Assuring Your Working Future’

Roxanne Calder, founder of EST10 and author of ‘Employable – 7 Attributes to Assuring Your Working Future

“Employee productivity is your employee output or the ratio of costs (salary, training, etc.) to work. Soaring costs and the double whammy of reduced skills equals dwindling productivity.

“Here’s what to do:

Training with quality follow-ups. Upskilling today is complex. Conducting ‘quality’ check-ins benefit customers and employees. No matter how time-poor, leaving ‘people to it’ results in rework, with time management implications and negative customer experience.

Performance reviews. Today’s environment is fast, so bin annual reviews and revert to quarterly. Design reviews to reengineer processes, capture improvements, refine goals, provide recognition and connect. Regular reviews create feedback environments, vital for learning and productivity.

Actionable meetings. Conduct meetings with purpose-driven outcomes. Efficient, accountable, time monitored, delegated and followed through actionable items.

“Gratitude begets gratitude. Show gratitude. The workplace has been tough and continues to be for everyone. Appreciation goes a long way for engagement, motivation, and trust, essential for sustainable productivity.”

David Oakley, Head of APAC at Miro

David Oakley, Head of APAC at Miro

“There are two key areas that leaders should consider here:

Firstly, we’re drowning in meetings – it’s a huge source of dissatisfaction and burnout – so organisations should look at how their collaboration technology can reduce unnecessary ones. Asynchronous work capabilities (or “async”), which is when team members work on the same project or problem but at different times, is critical. Async can help people cut down on unnecessary meetings, connect across time zones, achieve flexibility, and it even contributes to job satisfaction. According to a Miro study 73% of knowledge workers agree that if their team used async more effectively it would improve their work culture.

“Secondly, it should come as no surprise that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is going to play a huge part in improving employee productivity and time management. In particular, at Miro we see this in relation to generative AI and reducing the time taken to bring breakthrough innovations to market. I’m excited to see how our customers are using generative AI within Miro to quickly explore new topics and expand their thinking, make better decisions right away, and visualise insights instantly – for example, automatically generating presentations, action lists, mind maps, diagrams and more. AI is increasingly becoming a vital ‘thought-partner’ to knowledge workers.”

Tracy Ford, Founder & HR Consultant at Concept HR Services

Tracy Ford, Founder & HR Consultant at Concept HR Services

“In my experience, effective employee onboarding plays a pivotal role in improving productivity and time management within an organisation. Such programs expedite the integration of new employees into their roles, reducing the time it takes for them to start making meaningful contributions.

“They provide clarity in expectations, ensuring that employees understand their roles and responsibilities from the outset, which fosters increased productivity and better time management.

“Training and development provided during onboarding can equip employees with the tools and knowledge needed to work efficiently and improves their ability to manage time effectively. Moreover, understanding of processes and workflows enhances operational efficiency.

“Effective employee onboarding creates a greater sense of belonging and inclusion which can lead to increased motivation and focus. Reduced anxiety and stress stemming from a smooth onboarding process allow employees to concentrate on their work.

“Engaged employees are more productive and effective onboarding programs facilitate this engagement. They align new employees with the organisation’s goals, helping them prioritise their tasks and time in a way that supports these objectives.

“Effective onboarding increases employee retention and reducing employee turnover helps maintain a productive, experienced workforce.”

Beni Sia, GM & SVP APJ at Veeam

Beni Sia, GM & SVP APJ at Veeam

“Plan ahead with a clear vision and common objectives. Clear intentions keep teams focused, resulting in better performance. Without a common goal, teams risk spending time and resources inefficiently.

“Once the vision and objectives are in place and communicated well, trust and empower teams with the key results they need to achieve. Providing them with the ownership of their activities sparks better ways to tackle hard problems rather than being prescriptive.

“Employee productivity can be further enhanced by the use of IT systems. For example, the implementation of backup solutions that offer speed in data recovery minimises business downtime and lost productivity when there is an unexpected outage or cyber incident. However, it’s crucial that businesses have the right IT systems in place, i.e. those that best support company operations.

“Lastly, review with the aim to improve. Lessons learned will improve overall processes, realign teams back to the vision, and enable greater efficiencies. This will ensure that organisations can constantly update their approach and futureproof their company’s long-term growth strategy. Pricewaterhouse Coopers recently reported that just over one-third (39%) of employees across Asia Pacific believe their company is unlikely to survive more than 10 years if they remain on their current path, so being able to adapt is key.”

Cherie Mylordis, Business Transformation, Innovation, Future of Work Coach & Speaker, nextgenify

Cherie Mylordis, Business Transformation, Innovation, Future of Work Coach & Speaker, nextgenify

“Working in 3D is a great way to boost employee productivity and time management in any organisation, as it helps your people focus on what matters most for both your customers and the business.

“In this context, the 3D way of working looks like:

Daring to get clear on your bold vision and purpose so that people feel inspired to do work that really makes a difference. From this, share specific objectives and desired outcomes, so that people understand the brief and can see what ‘success’ looks like.

Ditching low-value, unproductive activities such as unnecessary meetings and inefficient emails. This might translate to a meeting-free day in the calendar each week, or guidance on more effective email protocols. And don’t stop there. Invite your people to contribute by ‘pitching what they would love to ditch’.

Dialling-up proven, better ways of working, so that people can spend more time doing meaningful work that they enjoy. For example, encourage people to block tasks together so they can get into flow, use collaboration tools to help teams work effectively from anywhere, and create an agile working rhythm to deliver the highest-value outcomes as early as possible, then seek feedback and adjust the plan.”

Paul Edginton, CEO at Structured Innovation Pty Ltd

Paul Edginton, CEO at Structured Innovation Pty Ltd

“So, what does productivity look like in your organisation? It’s a multifaceted concept that goes beyond numbers and metrics. Productivity means that your employees:

Understand their tasks: Ensure that your team comprehends their responsibilities and objectives, aligning them with the organisation’s goals.

Stay motivated: Nurture a work environment that encourages and supports employee motivation. Recognize achievements and provide opportunities for growth.

Have the right tools: Equip your workforce with the necessary tools and resources to perform their tasks efficiently.

Understand the “why”: Employees are most productive when they believe in the purpose. Communicate the mission and how each role contributes to it.

Know how productivity is measured: Clearly define performance metrics and communicate them: transparency helps employees focus on what matters most.

Receive proper supervision: Effective leadership plays a crucial role. Ensure that your leaders are equipped with the skills to support and guide their teams.

Are trained and upskilled: Investing in continuous training and development keeps employees current with industry trends and technologies, resulting in enhanced skills and performance.

“If you’re a CEO, Chair, or senior executive looking to enhance productivity, start by evaluating your leadership processes and skills. Leading by example and fostering a culture of productivity can lead to remarkable improvements throughout your organisation.”

Brad Drysdale, Field CTO at SnapLogic

Brad Drysdale, Field CTO at SnapLogic

“To enhance employee productivity and time management in our organisation, generative AI shows significant potential. SnapLogic’s recent findings indicate that generative AI can save office workers up to a day’s worth of work per week. However, realising these efficiencies requires a strategic approach.

“First and foremost, policies must be established to address the ethical, legal and security implications of generative AI use within the organisation. Our survey revealed that 40 per cent of respondents admitted to using gen AI for work without disclosing it to their employer or colleagues, potentially posing ethical and security risks.

“At the moment, workplace adoption of generative AI is a bit of a ‘Wild West’ scenario, but it doesn’t need to be this way. Staff training, clear guidance and sensible guardrails allow employees to experiment in a safe environment. In our experience, this is when employees can really discover what’s possible with gen-AI.”

Mollie Eckersley, Operations Manager at BrightHR Australia

Mollie Eckersley, Operations Manager at BrightHR Australia

“In the current business landscape, companies are starting to discover how morale-boosting, positive workplace experiences transform employee productivity for the better. These qualitative aspects need to operate alongside those traditional and still necessary productivity tools that optimise the tasks that take time away from your daily workload.

“Different industries and roles require varying measures of productivity, so it’s important that you don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to boosting it. But some approaches that apply to every business are firstly, to recognise employees’ great work and secondly to give them ownership and accountability over their work and hours.

“Employee recognition platforms like Praise are an often-underappreciated tool when it comes to boosting productivity. But studies have shown how celebrating your top performers and offering consistent encouragement leads to higher motivation, with productivity following suit.

“Then there are the tools that help employees manage their time by making sure those daily tasks, like clocking in and out aren’t a time-consuming chore. Time-tracking apps like BrightHR’s Blip can help with that.

“Your aim should be to keep processes simple and intuitive, which helps your staff put their best foot forward. And then incentivise them through recognition, so they’re driven to keep doing it.”

Andrii Bezruchko, CEO and Founder at Newxel

Andrii Bezruchko, CEO and Founder at Newxel

“Boosting employee productivity and time management revolves around precision and purpose.

“We prioritize clear, concise goals and break them down into manageable tasks, ensuring everyone understands their role and responsibilities. Regular check-ins are crucial to track progress, focusing on outcomes rather than processes. We believe in swift, targeted actions over prolonged discussions, ensuring every meeting concludes with actionable plans. It’s about channeling efforts where they matter most, fostering a culture of focused, purposeful work. With this approach, we not only enhance productivity but also cultivate a work environment where every team member thrives.

Decompose the strategic goal into subgoals.

Spread the subgoals across short-term periods.

Identify the right tasks and focus on them.

Clearly define tasks and delegate them to the right people.

Establish regular checkpoints.

Monitor progress, not processes.

Avoid lengthy meetings, sessions, and brainstorms.

End every meeting with a precise plan and actionable tasks.

End every day with a sense of accomplishment.”

Bryan Leong, Head of Marketing and Communications, Australia at Planday

Bryan Leong, Head of Marketing and Communications, Australia at Planday

“Using technology is a powerful way to boost employee engagement while also supporting efficiency throughout the organisation. Communication concerning rostering changes is one of the biggest time wasters for businesses — that’s one of the reasons Planday from Xero has developed one centralised hub for rostering and employee communication. It means staff are always connected and can communicate amongst themselves. At the same time, business owners can efficiently share information and keep staff up to speed on important business updates. By eliminating repetitive requests and avoiding miscommunication, it improves employee productivity, resulting in an overall boost to engagement.

“The other key challenge is all the error-prone, time-consuming processes around time tracking, rostering, payroll, and compliance. Using software to digitise these tedious and complex tasks allows more time for business owners to focus on what really matters — running their business. Xero’s Changing world of work report revealed that payroll compliance continues to be a major challenge for employing businesses, with more than half of Australian small business owners surveyed finding the ever-changing regulatory environment stressful and confusing. However, it also found that switching to digital software can help alleviate this stress, with 38% of businesses saying software helped reduce their stress levels when managing employee processes.”

Patrick Darcy, CEO at Capability.Co

Patrick Darcy, CEO at Capability.Co

“At Capability.Co, we believe that one of the most important things any company can do to help their teams to become more productive, is to ensure that the goals of individuals are properly aligned with those of the organisation.

“A sense of shared purpose that is fostered throughout the company culture – and which also translates into a set of goals that everyone is able to incorporate into their roles – represents the sweet spot that every business serious about investing in sustained productivity should be aspiring to.

“To achieve this takes more than good intentions. It requires proper investment in people and their capabilities, underpinned by a culture of continuous learning necessary to equip staff with the right tools and knowledge to adopt, and adapt to, the newest technologies and systems.

“This investment in people also requires the utilisation of data analytics tools able to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies in workflows.

“Finally, all these opportunities, and many others, can be realised by embedding effective communication and collaboration among teams, reducing time wasted on misunderstandings and leading to a more efficient work environment.”

Adam Theobald, Founder and CEO at Ordermentum

Adam Theobald, Founder and CEO at Ordermentum

“In hospitality venues, from cafes to large clubs, a lot of employee time can be spent on managing orders and payments, but this not where those businesses truly add value.

“Instead, every moment should be devoted to enhancing the customer experience. Key to improving productivity and time management is shifting resources away from transactional activities by choosing digital tools that order the correct supplies in the right quantities. Those tools enable more time and resources to be focused customer service and retention, and effective marketing to new customers.

“Additionally, digitising and centralising ordering and payments provides valuable insights, for example on menus and suppliers, and paves the way for making even smarter decisions with the data AI can offer.”

Aaron Bassin, CEO & Co-Founder at Bridgit

Aaron Bassin, CEO & Co-Founder at Bridgit

“We’ve tested a few different things at Bridgit when trying to boost employee productivity and time management, however there are three things we’ve found work best for our team:

Introducing ‘no-meeting’ Thursdays. Meetings are great for collaboration and problem solving however, if there are too many in quick succession they can become an ‘energy-drain’. By introducing a ‘no-meeting’ policy on Thursdays, our team is free to focus on executing ideas, rather than just talking about them.

Operating a flat structure. Bridgit is a flat structure business whereby every employee, irrespective of their title, is encouraged to use their voice in order to make an impact. The autonomy the flat structure promotes results in higher productivity as staff are not waiting on approvals before executing on ideas.

Using a select number of apps. We’ve carefully introduced a select number of apps that aim to reduce the amount of time staff spend on administrative tasks and instead help them to collaborate and manage their time more efficiently. By automating some tasks, the team is able to concentrate on the activities that help turn the dial for our business. Some of our favourite apps include; Asana, Slack and Jiro.”

Bevan Guest, CEO at Novated Lease Australia

Bevan Guest, CEO at Novated Lease Australia

“At Novated Lease Australia, are heavily focused on boosting productivity and achieving a healthy work-life balance. One of the ways we do this is through limiting the number of meetings conducted across the business. By reducing unnecessary interruptions, employees have more uninterrupted time to focus on their tasks, resulting in increased productivity.

“We also understand that our team has unique preferences when it comes to their daily routines. We empower them to do their most important work at the time of day that best suits their productivity levels.

“Some prefer to start early and finish early, while others thrive in a late-start, late-finish schedule. Additionally, we have welcomed part-time working parents, allowing them to align their work hours with school pick-ups and drop-offs.

“We also offer flexible working options, including full remote and hybrid work arrangements for 80% of our team. This approach acknowledges that a one-size-fits-all model doesn’t apply in today’s diverse workforce.

“At our core, we prioritise outcomes and results over the traditional focus of ‘how long did you spend in front of your computer?’ This empowers our employees to focus on what truly matters and put down the things that don’t.”

Chanelle Le Roux, Owner/Digital Strategist at Ninki Content Marketing

Chanelle Le Roux, Owner/Digital Strategist at Ninki Content Marketing

“Many teams find themselves stressed and unproductive because they don’t have a plan. A structured agenda saves your staff from jumping from one task to another and builds confidence in you as a leader.

“Be clear with your team so they understand what to do and when. At NINKI, we start the week with a huddle where we share how we feel and what we need help with. We also use team management tools like Asana to help us keep up with our projects. Time-blocking and colour-coding tasks give my team a visual representation of what their week looks like.

“Knowing your team and how you can boost their potential also helps with productivity. Learn the days and times your employees are most productive, and encourage them to do the high-value, difficult tasks then.

“Keeping the lines of communication open is essential for effective time management. Your team won’t always know what task to prioritise, and you may need to guide them. I often invest in external trainers to teach my team skills they need support with, such as time management. Age-old techniques such as labelling tasks – e.g., ‘urgent’, ‘important’ and ‘low priority’ – will help your staff tackle the most important projects first.”

David Crisante, Communications Trainer, Talks & Show Director, Sydney Comedy School

David Crisante, Communications Trainer, Talks & Show Director, Sydney Comedy School

“Few elements improve workplace productivity more than camaraderie – a shared sense of purpose and mutual respect. Humour is a great way to achieve this.

“Regardless of our upbringing, education or professional experience, humour is a universal language. Don’t believe me? Think about the slapstick comedy of Mr Bean or his predecessor, Charlie Chaplin. Their work transcends culture.

“The cognitive respite provided by laughter helps us to be more at ease, even in the most challenging situations. It can be used to disarm sceptical clients, win over vital stakeholders and reduce stress. Humour can elevate workplace culture to new heights, helping staff feel more connected to their colleagues.

“Want to reap the benefits of workplace humour, but don’t know how to introduce it? The good news is humour is already living and breathing in your workplace. Just as best friends have ‘in-jokes’ that speak to their bond and history, employees can also develop this kind of inside humour, based on shared experiences within their workplace or industry.

“Finding shared perspectives and establishing common ground will foster connection, improve your team’s culture and bolster productivity. As an employer, you can empower your team by joining in and ensuring the humour is good-natured, constructive and inclusive.”

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