In the current tight labour market, organisations are urged to increase productivity.

While automation and technology can facilitate productivity, successful implementation of productivity procedures ultimately lies in the attitude of the employees. The best systems can be set in place but productivity can only happen when these systems are complemented with the buy-in from the employees.

To ensure this, employers should create a working environment which allows the spirit of productivity to be propagated.

Staff may not openly articulate it, but they often ask themselves, "What's in it for me if I do this extra bit.” If the employer demands that the staff increase their productivity, the staff will consciously or subconsciously ask "Why should I? What's in it for me?", "Why should I work harder and more efficiently?" Some would even become resentful when task to increase in their productivity. They will ask “If the organization demands more from me, what do I get in return?”

Motivation comes from the root word motive, which means ‘a reason to’. To get anyone to do anything, there must be a good reason for doing it. If you can find a strong enough reason, you will be able to get a staff to be more productive.

Bad attitude brings forth poor remuneration
Staff will bring a negative attitude to work if they are not motivated. Of the many thousands, most feel that they are overworked and underpaid. Some even go to the extent of saying “You pay me peanuts, so I work like monkeys.”  This statement, using the statement-analysis to distill, really means that they are not giving their best. They are holding back from giving their best simply because they are not quite satisfied with their remuneration.

In order to transform the mindset of these staff, managers must show the reasons for them to change this mindset. They will end up in a vicious cycle where bad attitude brings forth poor remuneration and bonuses, and poor remuneration in turn brings about bad attitude towards work.   

Link personal effectiveness to their career advancement
Instead always asks an employee to be the best that he or she can be at the workplace. When they took on the job, no one forced them to accept it. They readily accepted it knowing what is expected of them and what salary they would be receiving.

Why should they bring any negative attitude to the workplace with regards to their remuneration? They should not only work according to what they are paid, but they should work many rungs above their salary scale. If they are able to shine like a star and work well above their salary scale, then the employers will take notice of this good hire that is well worth his or her salary. This person is underpaid for the amount of responsibility and work done and he or she is a good candidate should a suitable opening come about.

Rewards automatically come to those who shine

  1. When you work like a star-worker in your organization, you automatically become the obvious choice for the next promotion when the opportunity arrives. Do not wait until there is an opening and say that you want to try out for that position. Often, the organisation requires that position to be filled immediately. They cannot wait for you to acquire the skill sets required of that position. One should already be productive and efficient and prepare themselves for any available opening.

  2. If you work above your salary scale, your employer will have to close the gap and pay you accordingly, if your employer does not, another employer will. Employers are constantly looking out for bright candidates who can be deployed in their organisation. They are more than happy to hire an employee who can perform to his or her salary scale or above it.

By instilling the right work attitude to the employees, productivity automatically happens. When employees are driven to acquire a better life for themselves and their families and they know this is possible if they progress their careers, they automatically become more efficient, more results oriented, more goal focus and in many cases, upgrade themselves to increase their value.

Transforming the mindset of the employees is the best strategy for long term sustainable productivity.

Article contributed by Christian Chua, a Human Behaviour expert who specializes in the areas of Body Language, Communication, Motivation and Dealing with Difficult People.

Do attend STJobs’ workshop “Motivation to increase staff effectiveness and productivity” on 31st August 2015 to gain more insights into the key factors that maximise employee performance. Sign up today at to enjoy early bird prices!