It seems like a straightforward cause-and-effect dynamic: an unproductive workplace doesn’t create as much output or generate as much business as a productive operation. However, the issue of significant low productivity goes even deeper to affect morale, motivation and even employee loyalty. Decreased pride in workmanship, business diminishes and a domino effect of negative business behavior can result.
Unproductive employees who are unable to effectively serve customers, fill orders in a timely manner, or otherwise perform their job functions and stay on task run the risk of losing business. These problems also diminish consumer confidence in a company, and customers might eventually take their business elsewhere. Small operations, in particular, must remain competitive to succeed, and an unproductive work environment decreases the business’s competitive edge. This can have a serious financial effect on the bottom line, even to the point of prompting closure.
Even the most productive employees are not likely to perform up to their full potential if they're surrounded by managers or colleagues who don't place a priority on consistently generating a quality work product. This can create a pool of motivated, hard-working employees who are unable to set or achieve business goals, maintain priorities or manage their time effectively because of their errant colleagues. This can lower morale, build resentment, decrease motivation and negatively influence the performance of previously high achievers.
Employees who don't feel a sense of achievement and who are not motivated to perform are likely to have low morale. This can lead to high levels of attrition as employees seek employment opportunities elsewhere. In addition to losing business due to low productivity, a business risks losing even more money in the form of frequently advertising open positions, interviewing and training new employees.
A company that goes through significant periods of diminished productivity runs the risk of damaging its reputation beyond repair. Even if performance improves at some point, consumers might have a poor image of the company in their minds. Rebuilding brand recognition and awareness can take time and cost money.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.