Soft Factors - Factors Affecting Productivity Improvement
People are the most important factor in any organisation, not only by the way in which they apply themselves to their job, but also by how effectively they execute that job. To apply itself, any workforce needs to be motivated through management and the form chosen must be such that the level of motivation can be maintained or re-vitalised as time passes. Some of the points which should be considered as a way of achieving the required level of motivation include:
- The setting of a range of values which will have a concrete effect on attitudes
- The establishment of incentive and reward schemes (not necessarily financially based) as a means of indicating to the person that his or her efforts are recognised
- Worker participation schemes to make the employees feel that they are part of the overall management system and that they have an opinion which will be taken into account by the decision- making process.
Improvement of the quality of the job and the working environment will also have an effect on the way in which employees carry out their jobs. How effective people are in carrying out their jobs will be related not only to their motivation, but also to the amount of training they have received, their education and background and the way in which their working environment has been laid out (eg if ergonomics or other job design techniques). Design techniques, such as method study and work measurement assist productivity improvement through the way in which work is done by removing unnecessary or inefficient tasks, combining or improving job operations and optimising the facilities at the disposal of the employee. A number of other sociological or psychological factors - such as career development and upwards movement through the firm should also be considered. To be a functioning soft factor, the organisation or system that manages and runs the company must be flexible and able to react to the marketplace.
This requires the company to be able to operate not only up and down the established vertical lines of communication set up by hierarchical management styles, but also along horizontal axes, often not as fully defined by the company. Poor horizontal communication can usually be traced to organisation on a functional basis (eg design groups, fruit and vegetables section, menswear), common in many companies, and tends to lead to insularity and hence poor interaction. Not all of the possible improvements in a firm's productivity will be achieved at the workforce level. Management's role is to lead, and the style or form of management chosen will obviously have an impact on productivity improvement within the organisation. An example of this can be seen from the arrival of multinational firms in the United Kingdom, who have demonstrated that traditional British management techniques were in many cases poor or outdated, whilst presenting management with a range of alternative techniques (eg consider the approaches used by American-owned organisations such as IBM, Conoco or Motorola and Japanese firms such as Nissan or Mitsubishi) which may be incorporated.