This idea that we’ve created an under-utilized workforce continues to grab my attention. Here’s one bit of data that supports the idea:
A poll by The Work Foundation found that 40% of workers had more skills than their job required …Huddersfield Examiner 
Here’s more. A recent study by Gallup that’s discussed in a post by Eric Brody on his blog, Healthy Conversations:
In a recent article on MarketingProfs, Gallup research of 300,000 businesses indicated that 75-80% of employees are achieving much less and feeling far less enthusiastic about their work than they could be. If all your employees were “fully engaged,” …. your profits would jump 40%. Eric Brody, Healthy Conversations 
Small business needs 40% more productivity and profits. Why? There is the obvious, micro-economic, reason. Every business needs 40% more productivity and profits.
But, there’s the macro-economic reason too. It’s as obvious, too. Our economy depends on small business to create to the new jobs. These new jobs are required before we drive out of this recession. Right now, small business may not be performing that role so well.
We all know this. But, just to remind us all and add a little urgency, here’s a few signs:
- A slow, possibly uneven or patchy, economic recovery. Forbes
- Another jobless recovery ? Wall Street Journal
- Small Business Remains the Top Source of Layoffs , Christian Science Monitor
Here are 6 steps to boost productivity and profits by up to 40%. Take any one of them. Or, just take one. But get started today. Your business needs the boost. Our economy needs the boost. Your neighbors need the jobs.
Imagine your company with a 40% boost in profits and productivity.
What are the metrics you’d use to:
- measure your progress.
- alert you when you’ve reached your target
What goal remains elusive now?
Would a 40% increase in productivity or profit bring you closer to reaching it?
You can listen to my conversation with Erika Andersen  here.
Two of the best books on uncovering and unleashing the strengths of your greatest asset, those in your organization, are by Marcus Buckingham:
Read them. Learn from them. Learn how matching your employees’ strengths with their job description and recognizing them and putting them in a position to grow is the key to your growth.
Ask those in your company. Ask them:
- What they could do better,
- How could they do it better,
- Why could they do it better.
- When do they feel the strongest, clearest, happiest?
- What are they doing?
- When are they doing it?
- What more do they need to have this experience more frequently?
Ask your customers, too. Time is precious, yours and theirs. Use the most efficient customer-survey. It is the 1-question Ultimate Question Survey  that generates their Net Promoter Score  and collectively, yours as a company.
4). Get Your Freak On.
Dave Rendall at his Freak Factor  blog suggests the flip side of one’s weakness is one’s strength. It’s the setting that matters. For instance, if you have a loud opinionated employee who can never stop talking…find a place where loud opinions constantly shared are desired, helpful. Everyone will thank you. Likewise, if you have one employee who is obsessive about details, find a place where details need obsessing.
You can listen to my conversation with Dave Rendall  here.
5). Recognize. Immediately. Meaningfully.
Recognize excellence, strength, success…Do it immediately. Make that recognition meaningful. Meaningful means meaningful to the recipient. Steps 2 and 3 will help you find those ways.
Recognize also means to celebrate. Celebrate your successes regularly, immediately.
6). Make the Party about Their Life.
Make sure you give your stakeholders one unique reason to celebrate their life, to look good for their stakeholders. ( Tip of the hat to Kathy Sierra. )
7) Measure the results.
Measure as you grow. Change the metrics as you grow. As you engage everyone in this conversation, your metrics, quantitatively and qualitatively, will change. These changes will serve as both a reason to celebrate and a future baseline to exceed.
Note: Each step here is a financially risk-free investment. Financial investments are earned as a reward only after the accomplishments are recognized. What are we waiting on? We, our companies and your communities, need us boost productivity and profits by 40% in order to create the jobs to drive us out of this recession.
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About the author: Zane Safrit’s passion is small business and the operations excellence required to deliver a product that creates word-of-mouth, customer referrals and instills pride in those whose passion created it. He previously served as CEO of a small business. Zane’s blog can be found at Zane Safrit .