Is doing more with less a flawed strategy?

Through my travels many organizations talk about the challenges in today’s economic times and the importance of, “doing more with less”. But this is a strategy that is doomed to fail. I’ve been presenting on the topic of productivity improvement, capacity building and employee engagement for more than a decade. The notion of doing more with less is seldom a sound strategy. Successful firms have figures out how to do, “less with less”. Yes that’s correct, “less with less” trying to have employees do more with less normally always leads to, employee burnout, low productivity, low engagement and higher attrition rates. On the flip-side, “doing less with less” leads to improve morale, higher sense of purpose at work, improved employee engagement, increase capacity, increase profits and increased productivity.

So why is this the case? As with many productivity challenges at work it really comes down to aligning the strengths of your team with the goals of your organization. When we asked employees to do more with less we start to assign them task that are outside of both their strengths and what they are good at. In doing so employee’s productivity actually decreases and their job satisfaction with it. So what is the alternative? Successful organizations have discovered when times get tough

they should narrow their focus to the core business they are good at. Companies that focus their attention on their core strengths and align the strengths of their staff with this goal can actually thrive in tough economic times. I believe some organizations will look back at these tough economic times and see if as a benefit. It will force organizations to narrow their focus to things they are good at and in turn narrow the focus of their employees to things they are good at as well.

What are my recommendations?

  1. Divest yourself of work that doesn’t fall within the core strengths of your organization. I know this sounds counter-intuitive, when times are tough most companies look for any type of business. However focusing your attention on work that is not your core business will actually lead to decreased engagement, productivity and inevitably profitability.
  2. Focus your attention on the strengths of your organization. In conjunction with this strategy take the time to identify the individual strengths of your employees and align those strengths with the goals of your organization. This will lead to increased employee engagement within your organization. In many cases companies have less employees and focusing the attention of this reduced staff on both their strengths and the strengths of the organization can actually lead to incre

    The words More and Less on a toggle switch or lever to illustrat

    ased sales and profitability.

  3. Keep open constant communication with your employees. When times get tough everyone starts to worry and there is not a more important time to give open constant communication. Even if your company organization does not have as a well-defined strategy during these tougher times it is important to communicate even that fact. The younger the workforce the more important communication becomes. Younger workers grew up in a much more open environment of communication and require more communication than that of older workers.
  4. The aging demographics. One of the areas of impact of the aging demographics is saying goodbye to, “the Jack of all trades”. Many baby boomers have become a “jack of all trades” within their place of employment as a way of surviving in their careers. The work environment for the baby boomers was very competitive and many boomers were lifelong learners. However, the younger workforce is much more specialized. They have honed their skills to be very good at specific task and educational disciplines. To get the most productivity of today’s workforce organizations need to assign task-based on the unique skills each worker brings to the table. As baby boomers retire it is not suffice to give the role of the retiree to one person it will become necessary to divide it among several employees.

In closing it is safe to say a do more with less strategy will not work. The right strategy for not only today’s tougher economic time but to prosper in the future will be to adopt a philosophy of, “doing less with less”.

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