Time spent on needless paperwork, or tasks that are not central to the purpose of your business can be a huge productivity drain. Much of this work appears to be necessary, but still not essential to enabling the operation of the business. Think about compliance and inspection surveys, activity and status reports and having to escalate even small decisions to superiors prior to acting. Some of these activities are dictated by Government decree; others are required by management and still others by our own work habits.
Let’s say you look across your business and discover that literally hundreds of employees are performing the same tedious, manual reporting process every month. Although it may only seem like a couple of hours each month per employee, over a year, this activity consumes thousands of hours of time. You pay for this time and it is being spent on activities that are not core to your operations. Two hours per month for one employee seems a small cost. The accumulation of thousands of hours per year quickly adds up to a lot of money.
You may be tempted to say, “Well, we pay these employees anyway so what difference will it make if we can free up the time?” This is an oddly utilitarian attitude toward productivity that assumes there is no need for increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the team. The idea that you pay people so it does not matter how their time is spent is not logical. The point of paying the individuals is to gain as much productivity in exchange for the time that you pay for. If you bog them down in paperwork and other non-core activities, you will both pay them and lose the time they could have been working on core operations. Recognizing the causes for existing productivity drains is essential to knowing where to focus efforts to eliminate the waste.
You may also believe that all of the core operational processes are covered by existing employee activity so the supposed gain by freeing up wasted time is in itself a waste of time. This defies logic as well. Freeing people from tasks that distract them from their core activities only increases their attention to your essential purpose. This means potentially thousands of hours of many minds applied to making your core operations better. It also improves morale and creativity as people no longer face the dread of the routine paperwork and other needless tasks that often stretch into their own personal and family time as they struggle to keep up.
Many of these tedious tasks can be automated, converted into apps (in modern parlance) and sometimes even eliminated as information can be derived via other computerized means. How do you count the benefits of this? Maybe you won’t save any money by focusing more effort on core operations, but you will almost certainly see a long term productivity increase and you will gain a highly motivated and happy team in the process. Don’t neglect the small tasks that drain away productive time by simply assuming that it is a small and insignificant cost. They add up very quickly and the impact of eliminating wasted time will be a huge boost to your productivity.
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