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CEOs, here’s what you can do about your employees’ lack of productivity

It’s not enough to tell your workers to step up. You need to do the same.

CEOs, here’s what you can do about your employees’ lack of productivity
[Photo: XiXinXing/iStock]

I was at lunch with a group of CEOs in New York City and said the following things to them: Millennials don’t suck. Their managers do. As you can imagine, it went over about as well as a black tuxedo at a party where the dress code is all white.

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But here’s the thing. While workers have a responsibility to be good employees, the people in charge need to take responsibility. If you think about it, the current professional landscape is composed of five different generations: traditionalists (also known as the “silent generation”), baby boomers, gen-X, millennials, and the first wave of gen-Z. The combination makes for a complicated landscape, along with the ever-changing job market and the introduction of many new technological tools.

But some of the things that hold our workers back, and ultimately hinder the success of most businesses, have stayed the same. I’ll give you a clue–it has something to do with leadership. CEOs create the conditions for workers to thrive and prosper. Are you a leader and don’t know where to begin? Here are some ideas to get you started.

1. Tie HR to performance

We’ve been expecting far too little of HR. For too long, many people responsible for training, development, hiring, and employee retention have had a comfortable ride. Now, I’m not saying that the entire HR world is like that–there are those who make hiring, training, and retaining the best employees a priority (those are the HR personnel you should absolutely hang on to).

But by tying performance metrics like retention rates, revenue targets, and employees’ assessments into their compensation, you’ll ensure that your head of HR does prioritize those things. After all, you want to hire people who are excited about improving these metrics.

2. Speak up

I get it. You have to be head down and focused on growing your business. But we in the U.S. have too many yo-yos in Washington, D.C., and at the state and local level, and they’re changing the rules pretty quickly. Everything from tax reform to labor laws impacts your business.

I moved my company to Newark, New Jersey, a few years ago. The first thing I did was knock on the door at city hall. We became active and even donated our platform to the city to help train their workforce. It’s not enough to vote if you want to see results–you need to hold your representatives responsible. Many laws today have a direct impact on the ability of companies to do business. From taxes to insurance to tariffs, these topics impact decisions that companies have to make. And these decisions result in either job growth and wage spikes, or layoffs and cutbacks.

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3.  Choose better technology

If I asked you, How do you learn most effectively? I’m willing to bet that most of you will not answer with watching online videos at your desk. If I ask you what motivates you to do your best work, you probably won’t say completing tests, quizzes, and assessments meted out by learning and development. However, I see CEOs make this mistake again and again.

A recent Accenture study found that companies conduct less than 1% of all employee training on mobile. Meanwhile, 98% of your workforce uses a smartphone, and most millennials will touch a phone within 15 minutes of waking up. And yet CEOs are still approving the purchase of tools that employees can only use on a desktop.

We have a 21st-century workforce, and we’re still using learning and training tools from the Reagan administration. It might sound time consuming to look into new tools and products, but you’re missing out on all the innovative tools that are designed to solve the problems you keep running into again and again. Do you really want to make your employees miserable by forcing them to watch videos, only to see lousy results year after year? To accomplish results you’ve never seen, you’ve got to be prepared to do something you’ve never done.

As a CEO, it’s your responsibility to develop your employees. It’s not enough to tell them that they need to adapt to the future of work–you need to give them guidelines and create an environment where they can do that. CEOs can’t afford to stay on the sidelines. You must step in to ensure that the leadership you put in charge of hiring, training, and engaging your people are equipped and continuously challenged to deliver.

The time is now. You must mobilize and take action. Don’t just expect your employees to step up. Do the same and make it clear to them that you are willing to invest in their success. That’s going to motivate them to be more productive employees, which will translate to positive, tangible results for your company.


Sam Caucci is the CEO and founder of 1HUDDLE.

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