Never Mind the Quality - What's the Bandwidth? Does Productivity Come at a Price for Quality?

Allan Watts 7/7/2023 5 min read

There’s a lot of talk now of productivity in Jersey. In his address to the Chamber of Commerce Lunch this month, the Minister for Economic Development Deputy Kirsten Morel, told the gathered businesspeople that the Island will have to increase productivity by 7.5% over the next 17 years if we are going to support our ageing population without significantly increasing immigration.

Since he made his comments, the debate about productivity has raged. But the answers are not simple, and one question strikes us as particularly pertinent: does the relentless pursuit of productivity come at the expense of quality?


Productivity drives the bottom line

Productivity is a key performance indicator for many organisations. It measures the efficiency and output of employees, departments, or the entire company. Higher productivity levels can result in reduced costs, faster delivery times, increased revenue, and improved competitiveness. The pressure to be productive has led to the adoption of various strategies and practices, such as automation, streamlining processes, and setting aggressive targets.


Quality is critical to brand value

While productivity is crucial, maintaining high-quality standards is equally important. Quality ensures that products, services, and processes meet or exceed customer expectations. It involves consistency, reliability, accuracy, and adherence to standards and specifications. Organisations that prioritise quality establish strong brand reputations, customer loyalty, and long-term sustainability. Ignoring quality for the sake of productivity can lead to customer dissatisfaction, increased returns, and damage to the company's image.


The Productivity-Quality Dilemma

The pursuit of productivity can create a dilemma when it compromises quality. Here are a few ways in which productivity may come at a price for quality:

Time Constraints: In an effort to meet tight deadlines and quotas, employees may rush their work, leading to errors, omissions, or sub-standard outcomes. The focus shifts from ensuring quality to completing tasks quickly.

Insufficient Resources: Organisations may cut back on resources, such as skilled staff, equipment, or materials, to optimise costs and improve productivity. However, this can result in compromised quality due to inadequate support or insufficient attention to detail.

Lack of Training and Development: Rapid productivity gains sometimes overshadow investments in employee training and development. Without adequate knowledge and skills, employees may struggle to maintain quality standards, leading to errors and inconsistencies.

Neglecting Feedback Loops: When the emphasis is solely on productivity, organizations may overlook the importance of feedback loops and continuous improvement. Without a mechanism for gathering and acting upon feedback, quality issues may persist.


Balancing Productivity and Quality

Striking the right balance between productivity and quality is essential for sustained success. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Clear Expectations: Establish clear expectations regarding both productivity and quality. Ensure that employees understand that meeting targets should never compromise quality standards.
  • Adequate Resources: Provide employees with the necessary resources, including training, tools, and support, to maintain quality while maximising productivity.
  • Process Optimisation: Streamline processes to eliminate unnecessary steps, reduce waste, and improve efficiency without sacrificing quality. Regularly review workflows to identify bottlenecks or areas for improvement.
  • Continuous Improvement: Foster a culture of continuous improvement, encouraging employees to provide feedback, suggest innovative ideas, and participate in problem-solving activities. Implement feedback loops to identify quality issues and take corrective actions promptly.


How can HR Now help you improve productivity without sacrificing quality?

HR Now has developed a unique training programme to help employers and managers get the most from their people without undermining either the quality of their outputs or the quality of their working environment: both are equally important.

The HR Now Toolkit for Managers equips business leaders with the skills to have effective conversations, agreeing expectations, enabling, and empowering delivery and managing performance.

If you would like to find out more about how to increase productivity without losing quality, get in touch.