Engagement rather than productivity is the key metric of organisational success, argues Dan Wakelin.
Productivity is notoriously difficult to define. At a macro level, economists often rely on GDP as a benchmark of the productivity of a nation. In 2016 the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum questioned whether GDP can remain relevant in a world of fundamental technological change. Like many statistics, GDP deals primarily in averages and aggregates, hiding the nuances of inequality. GDP also ignores a nation’s welfare, and the wider impacts of geopolitical events on society.
Productivity in itself is not a bad thing. But measuring only the productivity of workplaces runs the risk of ignoring the wellbeing of the people in it. Consider instead measuring engagement; there is ample evidence to suggest that organisations with high levels of engagement are more productive. Not surprising when you consider the benefits to people of their employer being more concerned with their engagement than the bottom line.
“It’s time to consider measuring engagement instead of productivity”
Engagement builds on the concepts of motivation and commitment, but also emphasises wellbeing and performance. It is the alignment between the work people are doing and their values. Key to engagement is choice.
There are several conditions that facilitate choice in the workplace: autonomy, trust and control. We want freedom to choose how, where and when to do our best work, and feel trusted to do so. Control over our environment means having a say in how it is run or set up; a driving force more powerful than either the carrot or stick.
The measure of productivity is a blunt tool that detracts from creating workplaces and experiences that are truly designed around people. It’s time to consider measuring engagement instead of productivity.
Dan Wakelin is an associate at Henigan Consulting Group