Less is more: How to optimize your workforce

What can employers do to help themselves, their employees and the U.S. economy?

The September U.S. jobs report from the Labor Department has some analysts concerned for the direction of the economy, reported The New York Times. The data found that U.S. employers added 142,000 jobs in September, marking the second straight month of disappointing figures: August saw only 136,000 jobs added. The news fueled pessimism from a number of economists.

"There's nothing good in this morning's report," Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust in Chicago, told The New York Times. "We had very low levels of job creation, wage growth isn't budging and the unemployment rate would have risen if the labor force participation rate hadn't fallen."

With that said, different industries will yield different hiring trends. Certain regions have experienced more robust growth than others in the years following the recession. All in all, the U.S. economy has steadily improved, though overall hiring and wage numbers have fluctuated. For companies to succeed, however, they should consider how to make the most of their workforce. The workday has evolved and employers would be better served to stay on the cutting edge. By undertaking a few different strategies, they will nurture more productive employees and also make room for new hires.

Happy employees make for productive employees.

Shorter days, higher productivity
Logically, one might think that long days - basically, anything from 8 hours on - would create higher productivity. The longer you're at work, the more you will get done, right? Not so fast - there is some evidence that shorter days allow people to focus harder on the task at hand and feel more positive about their jobs since they don't take up their every waking hour.

Slate offered the example of Jon Katzenbach, director at McKinsey in the 1970s, who discovered he was more productive working only five days a week as opposed to the typical seven that everyone else would work. Another McKinsey employee, Scott Maxwell, heard that story and created a graph that showed the highest productivity lay just under a 40-hour work week. He insisted that his employees go home early and come in fresh for the short day of work.

It seems counterintuitive, but by allowing employees more time for themselves and demanding they work shorter hours, employers can create better conditions for productivity.

"Shorter days allow people to focus harder on the task at hand."

Happy people are productive people
In a similar vein, companies who allow workers to take longer vacations also enjoy better results from those employees when they come back. According to Bloomberg, one company found it actually saved money by providing workers with more vacation as incentive as opposed to higher salary.

"When you give somebody a wage increase, the expectation is that's there forever, and the next year you have to build on that," former Labor Department chief economist Harry Holzer told Bloomberg. "[W]hereas with paid vacation, it's not as obvious that it goes into the base."

Plus, when more employees are taking longer vacations, there may be room for management to take on a few more individuals onto the staff without aversely affecting their bottom line and allowing it even more room for improvement.

Work doesn't always happen in the office
Flexibility is one of the most important things to young professionals - working remotely, custom hours and Bring Your Own Device are on par with salary. If employees tell their bosses they can be more productive working from their homes, why not let them? Chances are, they will be happier and more productive. Now that technology allows remote meetings, video conferences and essentially any other business function to happen from anywhere, employers don't need to hold fast the office.

Another bonus of this increased mobility is how it can allow employers to reinvest those resources in other equipment or employees. If a percentage of the workforce prefers to work remotely full-time, then that opens up a few more desks in the office for new employees who would like to come in every day.

Anytime a U.S. jobs report comes out, economists declare it either a sign of trouble or an indicator that everything is fine. Often, it's far more complex than that. Employers can influence the nation's economy by taking on more flexible, worker-friendly policies that allow the company greater productivity and the ability to hire more employees.

This content is brought to you by the Marketing Team at Beacon Hill Staffing Group.

Related Resources