5 Reasons Why Productivity is More Important Than Ever

5 Reasons Why Productivity is More Important Than Ever

“Productivity” feels like an obsession in business today.

But far from being a mere buzzword, productivity is the solution to much of the economic stagnation and employee burnout in the United States. As such, human resources departments are scrambling to find the kind of solutions that can make their company competitive, lower costs, accomplish more, reduce layoffs, and address skilled worker shortages at the same time.

Here are five reasons why the “productivity obsession” is not going away any time soon.

1. Wage Stagnation is Forcing Exhausted Employees to Accomplish More with Less

Before the 1980s, the average wage increase was nearly 10% per year. Today, the average wage increase is less than 3% per year. During the 1970s and 1980s, the inflation rate (cost of living) surged year-over-year from 4.9% (1976) to 13.3% (1979), compared to 1960’s inflation rate of 1.4%. Since 1980, the inflation rate has continued to increase year-over-year between 2% to 6%. What’s the point of these statistics?

First, surges in wage earnings (in excess of 5% annual increases) with a healthy inflation rate of less than 2% consistently year-over-year indicates a growing economy with wage earners feeling positive about their future. What we actually see is the opposite, as surges in inflation are matched by meager wage increases wherein economists see no real recovery since the administration of Lyndon Johnson. 

Second, low wages against high inflation forces more Americans to work multiple jobs. While the US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that only 5% of the workforce juggles multiple jobs, economists Forbes and Census.gov (among others) have exposed the BLS data as being sorely inaccurate in its research efforts going into the 21st Century. In some independent studies, the results suggest that the number of Americans working more than two jobs currently accounts for over 6% of the US workforce. Wage earners in the US are frequently exhausted and overworked simply to make ends meet.

Why is BLS data declining as a reliable source of wage and employment data? Experts are continually attacking the BLS for outdated survey methods, such as using contact lists that are old and only include landline phone numbers. An increasing number of middle to lower class American workers are forced to move more often which impacts the reliability of these lists. Additionally, BLS survey contact lists favor people with landlines, versus those that only use mobile phones. That means that the dominating sample of people surveyed are middle to upper class that haven’t moved in the last 4-5 years and also pay for a landline in addition to cell phone lines.

Third, The Pew Research and The Atlantic have also noted that the last 20 years has seen a dramatic increase in dual income homes and single parent families. Further adding to the exhaustion at maintaining a livable wage in the US, each wage earner is under unique domestic pressure to provide in ways that were foreign to the average family prior to 1980. 

In summation, while the numbers above look bleak (and most certainly are), there is a silver lining. Technology over the last 15 years has made it possible for these overworked Americans to accomplish so much more with less by incorporating more innovative productivity techniques and software/mobile apps. As the American employment crisis adjusts in the coming decades, wage earners will continue to find creative ways to “work smarter, not harder.”

2. American Employers are Working with Smaller and More Remote Teams

Wage earners are not the only ones under fire by a shifting economy. Employers are increasingly finding themselves needing to rethink how they hire and meet project deadlines.

First, because many within the American workforce are learning how to accomplish more with less effort, employers are choosing to work with smaller teams. While this places greater pressure on project managers, the smaller team often allows for easier collaboration and adaptability. 

Second, employers and employees alike are opening up to the wonderful world of working from home. Remote employees cost far less than an on-site workforce. Additionally, the remote setup is ushering in a wider embrace for communication and productivity technology.

In summation, employees are more successful when they can demonstrate a working knowledge of the top productivity software. Even the unemployed are using their “full-time job” of job hunting as an excuse to master some of the latest productivity techniques, software, and mobile apps. This multiplies job searching efforts, as well as allowing them to complete many core tasks away from their computer or home office.

3. The Gig Economy Appears to be the New Category where Employment is “Booming”

The Gig Economy is the workforce consisting of freelancers and independent contractors. Some are described as entrepreneurs and small business owners, but most are simply self-taught experts working where they want and when they want. It is quickly becoming the “way to go” for many people that are arming themselves with employable skills and wanting a dramatic change from the grueling schedule described above.

First, US economists anticipate freelance employment to grow to almost ⅓ of the workforce by 2020. Currently, full-time payroll employers are already admitting to working a “side gig” with the hopes that it can become their full-time job so that they can leave their oppressive corporate life. Some of these employees are taking it upon themselves to learn new, relevant skills (via freelancing), while others are putting their seasoned skills to use in the world of freelancing.

Second, in an effort to keep work teams small while also increasing quality results on specialized projects, employers are often more inclined to hire freelancers over payroll employees. It is increasingly common to hear of company payroll employees collaboratively switching back and forth between payroll and independent contractor. In these (not so rare) cases, employer and employee find that some projects put more money in each others’ pockets by seasonally switching from payroll to contractor or vice versa. Additionally, such a relationship with employers allows the fluid freelancer to work for other clients at the same time and significantly increase their income.

Third, freelancers must manage their own work infrastructure. When speaking of infrastructure, we mean that most freelancers are expected to maintain their own online presence, communication tools, bookkeeping, and more. This requires Gig Economy wage earners to learn and master more productivity (or industry-specific) software and act as an expert in their field while simultaneously administrating their freelance business.

In summation, the Gig Economy was birthed into a unique age of productivity. As such, the art of freelancing is itself an ingenious hack to the wage earner crisis described above. Additionally, those wishing to join the Gig Economy are finding that productivity techniques and software empower their transition to an all-around more positive work situation.

4. A Fast Digitization of Jobs Leaves a Worker Shortage Crisis of Technical Experts

Fast-paced technological development means fewer people with relevant expertise. In nearly every industry, new technology and scientific discoveries are empowering organizations to do more. Except, expert personnel are getting harder to come by.

In contrast, businesses that insist on using outmoded tools and processes are falling by the wayside. Further, employees that refuse to learn new tools and processes are being laid off with little chance of getting hired again unless they upgrade their skills to a technologically-dominated age.

The good news, however, is that new technology is acquirable for the average employee and once mastered, tends to make life simpler for employees and customers alike. Some employers are trying to get ahead of the skilled worker crisis by training their employees in new skills. The productivity mentality finds its core in powerful technology merging itself with artificial intelligence.

5. A Healthy Work-Life Balance is Directly Connected to One’s Use of Productivity Techniques and Software

Too much work plus too little time plus too little training equals employee burnout. And as the Harvard Business Review notes, employee burnout amounts to “cost an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion a year in healthcare spending in the U.S.” Smart employers seeking to retain their top performers and lower medical benefits costs are taking a different approach: using productivity techniques and software to empower a healthy, balanced quality of life for their workers.

Thankfully, employees don’t have to wait for their employer to make the necessary changes. Thousands of employees are already taking the initiative to streamline both their work and personal life to reduce stress and make time for family, rest, and hobbies.

Productivity is More Important that Ever

Those that have already found just how much productivity techniques and software enrich their lives are not nearly as frustrated as those that suffer from burnout and ongoing layoffs. Like any new skill, taking a more productive approach to one’s life can be tricky at first. But pushing through the learning curve produces amazing benefits that can improve our overall health and make us more employable at the same time.

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  • August 31, 2021