The human side of productivity

Julie Straw, Vice President, Everything DiSC®


Our workplaces are undergoing change at an unprecedented rate. We’re living in a new era of automation, disruption, and innovation, and it can be difficult to keep up. However, in the midst of uncertainty and change, employers need to pay attention to their most valuable resource: their people.

It’s no secret that many of the most successful and profitable companies are also those with highly engaged workforces. Yet too many organisations still need to be convinced of the benefits of an engaged workforce. According to Gallup’s recent State of the Global Workplace report, only 15 per cent of employees worldwide feel engaged in their jobs. That leaves 85 per cent of people who aren’t meeting their potential and feel disconnected from their organisations. So how can we do better?

First, we need to stop thinking that the term “employee engagement” is just another HR buzzword. Investing in people is a big win-win for both the employer and the employee. Employees choose to stay with companies where they feel valued and set up for success. They enjoy their job, are motivated to do well, and are more likely to recommend their organisation to others. This all helps contribute to a healthier and more positive company culture.

Before organisations can start seeing these benefits however, employee engagement needs to become an agreed priority that everyone invests in. It’s going to take more than a one-time classroom training event to make a long-term impact. It requires a shift in culture.

Implementing programmes such as Everything DiSC® into your organisation can have a significant impact on work culture. Everything DiSC solutions specifically focus on workplace communication and relationships. With Everything DiSC, participants gain an understanding about themselves and their colleagues, and discover strategies that can help them work better together. What makes this programme so unique is that it easily relates to people at all levels of an organisation, from entry-level employees to C-suite executives. The language of DiSC helps level the playing field and allows everyone to effectively communicate with each other.

In these uncertain times, organisations need to do more to show employees that they matter, and recognise that a key to workforce sustainability is making sure that we keep a focus on the human side of productivity.


Find out how Everything DiSC solutions can help transform your workplace.


Video Transcript:

Hello, and welcome to Business Reporter's performance improvement campaign, hosted by The Telegraph online. I'm Alastair Greener, and today I'm talking to Julie Straw from Everything DiSC. Good morning.

Good morning.

When it comes to productivity, what's the biggest challenge?

I think the biggest challenge is that we don't pay enough attention to the people side of it. When people think about productivity, we generally think about systems and process, and we look for efficiencies there. And yes, that will lead to productivity, but the unspoken side of it is the people side of it. I think that if we pay attention to our people and our human capital, how we're investing in our human capital, how we're training, how we're supporting human capital, we're going to see incredible gains in productivity and efficiencies.

The thing is that it's easier to monitor processes. Individuals, it becomes more subjective. It becomes more difficult to analyse. So how do you overcome that issue?

When it comes to measuring people side of productivity, you have to really look at, are your people staying with the organisation? Look at your turnover. That's a number one indicator of productivity in terms of people. Are they contributing?

Look at some of the evaluations that you're getting on an exit interview. There are some things like Glassdoor, which will allow people to evaluate you as an organisation. And I think organisations have to pay a lot of attention to what employees and former employees are saying about your organisation. And start measuring and looking for improvements there.

You talked about people walking out the door, as it were. But putting that into perspective, what do these kind of weaknesses within an organisation, how do they actually manifest themselves in a day-to-day operation?

I think a lot of the weaknesses come in when problems come up, because people aren't communicating well. I say something, you interpret something else. We're not communicating. And it's simply because we communicate differently or we look at things differently. We have different perceptions, or we solve problems in a different way.

So I think we have to look at, and accept those differences, because we don't want everybody doing everything the same. But we also have to just accept those differences and allow people to do things and be themselves and contribute in a way that makes sense for them. But we really have to look at that collaboration so that we can be innovative.

OK. So where does Everything DiSC fit into all of this?

So Everything DiSC is really all about understanding yourself. It's an assessment, unlike a test. So there are no right or wrong answers. It's a self-assessment that really allows us to measure someone's personality and their behaviour. And once they understand themselves and their priorities, then they can understand, better understand, the people that they're working with.

For example, if I prioritise results, and I'm driven to get things done, and I'm working with someone who prioritises collaboration and teamwork, we're going to come at things from a very different angle. And we have to figure out how do we communicate, how do we work together, how do we really maximise this and get things done. And without being cognizant of that, we could be totally irritating each other and focusing on different things.

So this assessment, as you call it, what does it actually look like? How does it work?

It's a self-assessment. Most of our assessments are online, so an individual simply goes online and they answer a series of questions. We use an assessment methodology called "adaptive testing" so the assessment questions actually change depending on your responses. And what results is a very precise measure of your behavioural style, your communication style, how you handle conflict, your leadership style. So we have a suite of assessments that are measuring various things.

And an individual will get a report. Most often, it's used in some sort of facilitated learning environment. And the assessment data really personalises that learning for the individual.

Now, that's all very well, but then you have to actually action on what you found out from these assessments. So what happens next?

Yes. So typically what we do is we really try to give people real-life application in the learning process so that they're practicing in a safe environment. And then we have some follow up tools. There is an online resource called myeverythingdisc.com. People can go to that, learn more about themselves. They can invite other people to do comparison reports with them, so they're comparing their data to another person's data, with a very specific action plan about how can the two of us improve working together.

So once you've done that, obviously you're going to hopefully see some results, which are positive results. How can you measure those results?

That's really up to the organisation. They have to go back to what problem were we trying to solve? And if we articulated that problem clearly, and we established a benchmark measure of whatever it is, then we can come back and reassess that benchmark and hopefully see improvement.

We're living in very uncertain times. And there is a massive amount of change taking place at the moment. Given that backdrop, where do you see our productivity going in say, the next three to five years? What are the trends we should be looking out for?

The emphasis has to be on talent acquisition. The emphasis has to be on people. We can't get sidetracked into believing that it's all about process and productivity without that human element, without that human capital element. So I think in the next three to five years, we're going to see more gig workers. We have to look for ways to integrate those people into our organisation so they understand holistically, our vision, what we're trying to accomplish so that they can contribute to that success in a much more proactive way.

And there's certainly plenty of change at the moment, and it's going to carry on in the future. And it's really interesting seeing how the relationships in an organisation and how people work will make a big difference to that in the future.

It's been fascinating finding out more. Julie Straw, from Everything DiSC, thank you very much, indeed.

Thank you.

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