The Coming Productivity Crisis

istock_000000182302small.jpgIf you listen carefully to the latest economic news, and to business owners around the world, you can see it coming.

The US is pulling out of the “Great Recession” in fits and starts, slowly pulling the rest of the world back into the black where we all share a greater sense of optimism for the future.

At the same time, job growth has been sluggish, or non-existent, as companies demonstrate a surprising reluctance to hire employees to fill the gap in production that is bound to increase once solid and steady economic growth returns.

I know I’m not alone in looking for ways to handle the hoped-for-increase in business without increasing overheads.  I am loathe to hire more people to work for me, and unlikely to hire full-time employees for a long, long time.

Instead, companies of all sizes are simply going to turn to employees who complain about having too much to do, and demand that they find a way to get more done.

A handful will do better, and actually give their employees ways to improve their personal productivity.  Instead of investing in new human resources, they’ll look to expand the capacity of their current employees.

Will this work?

I know that it’s possible… I have worked in companies in which the productivity is so obviously low that it’s not too hard to imagine the difference that better employees would make.

I have also worked in other companies in which employees never, ever catch up with email.  Their Inboxes are overflowing with messages begging for overdue action – a sure sign that time is not being managed well.

But you tell me… is there a widespread crisis on the horizon as expectations outstrip hiring?

Have you seen any signs of this?