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Talent Development Leader

Productivity Is at the Heart of Business Transformation

Monday, May 20, 2024

Change work processes—don’t just add technology—for improved efficiency.

Are employees as productive as they must be for their employers to thrive in today’s world? If not, what’s getting in their way? Are organizations setting their talent up for success?

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Mercer dissects 2024 global talent trends in Workforce 2.0: Unlocking Human Potential in a Machine-Augmented World. For its report, the professional services company surveyed 12,200 C-suite executives, HR leaders, employees, and investors.

“The rapid rise of human-machine teaming presents an urgent opportunity to re-examine the productivity equation,” notes the report. Mercer asserts that productivity is at the heart of business transformation—and it’s an area that is ripe for investment. Half of C-suite-level respondents believe that employee upskilling and reskilling would give the biggest boost to productivity in their organizations, followed by physical and mental well-being initiatives, and then process optimization and workflow management.

Artificial intelligence will have its own effects on the world of work, especially because (as the report notes) AI is more about augmenting work than replacing workers. “Generative AI is already augmenting jobs at the task level and demanding a shift in skillsets, ushering in a new debate around how best to measure, reward, and cultivate human contribution,” explains Mercer.

David Webb addresses the role of AI in his Tech Times article, “AI and the Future of Human Productivity.” He writes that more than 40 percent of workers spend a quarter or more of their workweek on repetitive tasks. “In the context of business and repetitive tasks, for example, most of an employee’s menial work can be automated with AI, freeing their time and vastly increasing productivity. … It should be a priority for every organization that wants to grow faster,” he concludes.

Technology cannot, however, strategize how to optimize workflows. Nearly three-fifths of employees said they are working longer hours than ever, which companies could improve with better work design, resulting in greater productivity. Employees told Mercer that the factors that get in the way of their productivity include too much busy work, too many interruptions, an ineffective organizational structure, and an unsustainable workload.

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To change for the better, according to HR respondents, companies should determine which roles are most suitable to agile working, make most sense for job sharing, and are suited for gig or freelance talent.

More than 40% of workers spend a quarter or more of their workweek on repetitive tasks.
Source: Tech Times, “AI and the Future of Human Productivity,” 2024
In her business.com article, “5 Ways to Improve Your Office Workflow,” Julie Thompson advises that companies dispense with AI and use clear communication when it comes to tasks and processes. Employees must know what the company expects from them. Frequent training is also key, according to Thompson, because it enables staff to feel more confident about their work, which leads to greater efficiency and productivity. A healthy work-life balance is likewise important because it stems the likelihood of employee burnout.

Read more from Talent Development Leader.

About the Author

Patty Gaul is a senior writer/editor for the Association for Talent Development (ATD).

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