Management Articles


The Blocks to Employees' Productivity

By: Dr. Donald E. Wetmore

Dr. Donald E. Wetmore is a full-time Professional Speaker having made over 2,000 presentations during the last twenty years to audiences from around the world. He is the author of "Beat the Clock" and dozens of published articles. Learn more at:

Many factors, separately and in combination with others, will build walls to block employees’ productivity. Most people intuitively and instinctively want to be productive. It makes sense. They will get more from life and so will their employer. My experience, after eighteen years of speaking about Personal Productivity, has shown me five major blocks to employees’ productivity.
  1. Improper selection. When labor markets are tight companies may be tempted to hire anyone with a warm body and a pulse to fill a slot rather than pay an adequate amount of money to recruit the right individual. No matter how tight a labor market is, there are always qualified people available if the compensation is fair. If you are baking a cake and you use the wrong ingredients, no matter what the reason, you will not produce the cake you desire.

  2. Inadequate training. One out of three employees changes jobs annually. Companies that recruit poorly tend to train poorly as well. Training is not a one shot enterprise, but an on-going investment to reinforce and advance skills and attitudes. Employers often get caught up in a vicious cycle. They recruit poorly, then fail to allocate sufficient training resources. ("Why spend the money when they won’t be around for very long?") Employees’ performance suffers, their satisfaction level is low, and they leave giving the employer the opportunity to start the cycle again. Employers ought to treat employees as an investment rather than an expense.

  3. Overworked. Reasonable people will accomplish a reasonable amount in a reasonable time period. But, you cannot put ten quarts of water into a five-quart container. There is nothing wrong with shifting work from former employees to those who remain. Our capacity to produce will sometimes be enhanced as we take on more responsibilities. But there is a limit. Being truly overworked helps people to a lot of things poorly. It may be more productive to ask them to accomplish fewer things productively.

  4. Poor alignment with personal and company goals. The employer has a life and a destination. And, employees have a life and a destination. If employees cannot align their job with the employer and with where they are going in their life, they will eventually seek a greener pasture. Do your employees see their position as a vehicle to get them to where they want to go in life financially, professionally, and socially or is their job an expedient trade of their time for a paycheck?

  5. Burn out. Most people leave their jobs voluntarily and the major reason is "burn out." "Fed up! Can’t take it anymore!" Unfortunately, burn out is not an overnight event but a gradual process, sometimes lasting months and years, during which time, productivity and commitment diminish. Burn out is caused in different ways but has a lot to do with items 1-4 above. Many employers fail to look for signs of burn out and if they are not cognizant of the problem there will be no opportunity to prevent, respond, or rectify.

© Copyright 1999 Dr. Donald E. Wetmore

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