How do you get 5 employees to do the work of 10?

Neil Ryland
How do you get 5 employees to do the work of 10?

How do you double employee productivity?

The simple concept would be to make them work double the hours, but in an age where work-life balance is becoming a huge factor in attracting top talent, this approach won’t work.

Having worked in the start-up scene for a decade, I’ve advised numerous seed-level businesses and those with A-round funding. I believe that one of the biggest challenges they faced is getting the right head count to deliver on their objectives. People are the key to success in any business, but they are also the most expensive asset and can be the main reason for failure too. 

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from my experience with managing post-funding budgets and setting up offices across new regions: do not throw people at problems. Why does this not work? It seems logical that as you encounter challenges with growth, you need more employees to help solve them. I am not against aggressive hiring- it’s a crucial part of growth. However, hiring to scale vs. hiring to solve a problem are two different things. It’s a common trap that start-ups fall into, and end up in a position where they have a disengaged workforce, a lack of alignment and a very expensive salary bill. 

Hiring to Scale Vs Hiring to Solve a Problem

Hiring to scale is a must for all companies, and enables them to create growth via better products, services, sales etc. This type of strategic hiring should also consider a candidate’s cultural fit into the company, besides professional experience.

On the other hand, hiring to solve a problem often creates pressured hiring situations. In such a scenario, the candidate’s CV-based professional acumen becomes the number one priority, rather than considering if he or she has the DNA to take the business to the next level. 

In other words, ‘go above and beyond’, don’t hire just to solve a problem, but create new innovative ways to drive the business forward.

In the past, we have hired to solve issues according to the client’s need, or to generate more leads etc. But once the problem is solved, these questions remain: is the employee capable of scaling the business? What has been the impact of hiring a candidate with a wrong cultural fit, just to solve that problem? Has the one problem truly been solved, or have three new problems been created?

Often, hiring by the ‘problem-solving’ approach does not benefit the business in the long-term. It’s like inviting a wrong person to take up a seat in the bus of your business, which leaves no more space for the right candidate- or worse, causes the right people to get off the bus! Both of these are difficult management challenges, but the good news is that they can be avoided.

Get the right people on the bus

Just like the metaphor explains: the secret lies in choosing the right people along your business journey, not just employees who take up a job. The bus(iness) is headed to a destination that all of the passengers need to believe in- knowing it will successfully make it to the destination, regardless of a few wrong turns or a flat tire! When your team is highly engaged, they will work hard to solve any tactical challenges which crop up along the way. People that care about the business and its final destination, naturally fight harder, work smarter and feel a sense of pride in their job: because they want to see the end result materialise.

So, how do you get 5 employees to do the work of 10? 

In my experience, it’s through boosting employee engagement and supporting the business leaders to become better managers and coaches. High employee engagement creates a sense of pride, which means employees will go above and beyond just solving problems. They will create new productive and innovative ways to make your business more efficient and the workplace an enjoyable place to work.

Here at Peakon, we are passionate about people and helping businesses achieve their goals with a productive and proud workforce. So if you are interested in finding out more about improving employee engagement to boost productivity, drop us a line on or @nryland

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