A new APQC study found that the average knowledge worker spends only 30 hours out of a 40-hour week on productive work, resulting in lower job satisfaction and greater likelihood of leaving their company. APQC’s research found that training, mentoring, and employee empowerment can help organizations navigate these productivity challenges.
APQC, which surveyed 982 full-time knowledge workers, found the biggest productivity drains relate to collaboration and information flow. Each week, knowledge workers estimate they spend:
- 3.6 hours managing internal workplace communication,
- 2.8 hours looking for or requesting needed information, and
- 2.2 hours participating in unnecessary or unproductive meetings.
Other drains include creating/using workarounds for broken systems and processes; recreating information that already exists; and seeking out the right people to answer questions or provide expertise.
Lauren Trees, APQC’s principal research lead for Knowledge Management, said: “Companies that are doing nothing to address these productivity challenges are at great risk of a talent exodus, as nearly 60 percent of their employees express lower job satisfaction and 44 percent are more likely to jump ship. Fortunately, our research indicates a path forward.”
APQC’s research found that process and knowledge management programs—along with related activities such as simplifying/streamlining processes and documenting critical knowledge—significantly improve employee outlook on these issues.
Technology solutions, such as enterprise search capabilities, are critical for improving productivity and reducing organizational risk by ensuring knowledge is documented and easily accessible. However, APQC found the most tangible productivity gains come from hands-on approaches to educate people about potential tactical improvements and encouraging them to act, such as:
- Training and mentoring help streamline information exchanges, so employees waste less time supplying duplicate information and answers.
- Mentoring helps strengthen employees’ networks, thus reducing time spent recreating already existing information or seeking out experts.
- Empowering employees to suggest improvements helps limit busy work as front-line workers often know what processes can be streamlined.
All three of these interventions equate to less time spent in unproductive meetings, as employees will know better how to limit meetings or suggest alternative approaches.
Holly Lyke-Ho-Gland, APQC’s principal research lead for Process and Performance Management and the study’s co-author, added: “Many of the best productivity improvements come from employees themselves, if given the opportunity. Such initiatives should not happen to people, but with people as they identify pain points and co-develop solutions.”
APQC is the world’s foremost authority in benchmarking, best practices, process and performance improvement, and knowledge management. Learn more at www.apqc.org.
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