How To Keep Your Staff Productive During Times Of Uncertainty

Read time: 7 minutes

Fluctuations in market conditions can often times force businesses to completely change the way they operate. Understandably, any such disturbances in daily operations can cause a company’s most important resource- it’s people- to raise questions and concerns regarding the business’ future and that of their own.

However, if these concerns are not addressed in a timely and transparent manner, panic and doubt can quickly spread throughout the organization. In such a situation where businesses are already burdened with monetary and operational hardship, a workforce that is panicked, confused, and subsequently, unproductive, can only make matters worse.

Agency owners will agree and understand that an unproductive team makes for an expensive one too. If your team members are spending the majority of their time worrying about possible business outcomes or how external uncertainties will affect their professional future, then your agency is losing crucial and irrecoverable billable hours.

When fighting the battle against market uncertainty, the knee-jerk reaction of most agency management teams is to first look for ways to cut cost and simultaneously pump the gas on churning out more work. This puts greater pressure on your teams who are already struggling to stay motivated or efficient.

Read more: COVID-19 Does Not Have Equal Layoffs

We’ve identified 3 simple measures that you can employ to maintain a productive and motivated workforce, especially during times of uncertainty:

Be transparent with your staff

Fear does not drive productivity and it is the lack of transparency into an agency’s financial health that causes people to worry about job security and their future with the agency. The way to dispel unwarranted concerns during a crisis is by being honest with your employees about where the company currently stands.

A bird’s eye view of your agency’s financial health and utilization, like the one below, can be a great place to start.

Real time progress report dashboard

Talking to your staff about your agency’s job health, roadblocks, and your plan to address them, will give employees the confidence that you will lead them through the crisis and empathize with the business’s overall challenges. Moreover, sharing with them how they can contribute, will likely instill in in your team a sense of ownership and motivation to work harder.

Push for staff well-being, not burnout

Business uncertainty is likely a major source of stress for everyone at your agency. Your staff may be juggling their work with the fear of losing it and simultaneously caring for their families. It is crucial then for management to encourage employees to take care of their personal well-being.
Aside from engaging employees in company-wide wellness initiatives, it will be valuable for you to keep a close eye on employee burnout. Like we mentioned earlier, when businesses face hardship, the tendency is to immediately increase workload across the board, in the hopes of quickly increasing revenue. This might work in the interim but is certainly not a lasting strategy- your staff will eventually hit a wall.

To avoid this domino effect, assess exactly where you need to redirect staff effort. A work planning view like this one should help you identify whitespace so you can shift jobs and assignments in a systematic and informed manner.

Identify key KPI’s and share expectations

It is key that your staff is not wasting their time on unimportant tasks but instead, focusing their efforts on areas that generate value for the agency. To assess if this is in fact happening at your agency, you will need a report that highlights the billable contribution of individual employees. See Function Point’s ‘Target vs. Actual Billable %’ report below:

Target vs Actual Billable

Reports like this will help you prioritize current tasks by their revenue potential and communicate the same to your work staff, so they know exactly what is expected of them. Clarity with respect to work expectations will make it easier for employees to follow your lead in the broader strategy that you employ to navigate uncertainties.

Navigating uncertainty is difficult for any business and is a question of equipping yourself with the right tools and intelligence to guide you through the storm. The right reports should help you address and balance resource utilization, operational capacity, and profitability, all at once.

To learn more, download our reporting best practices whitepaper, that walks you through the staff productivity KPIs’ that you should be looking at, especially during times of uncertainty.