When to Hire & When to Fire - What to do When Productivity Plummets

The end of the year can be an exhausting time in the workplace. The final push to hit the year’s targets after 12 months of meetings, deadlines, projects and performance evaluations takes a heavy toll

It’s not unusual for employees to burnout or slack off around the holidays, causing productivity to wane. But to prevent it becoming a year-round issue, managers need to know how to get their teams back on track. 

Depending on the situation, combatting underperformance could mean restructuring your staff’s workload, taking a more flexible approach to their schedules, hiring new employees to ease the load, or letting go of those who aren’t pulling their weight.

Knowing the right approach for your team means getting insight into their challenges, honing your leadership skills, and leveraging your company data to drive decisions.

How to handle underperforming teams

Determine the cause

Find the problem, and you find the solution. If your team is under-performing due to year-end fatigue, that’s a short-lived issue that should resolve once they take a break. Which doesn’t mean you can ignore their dissatisfaction and simply hang on for the holidays. 

Find out where the stumbling blocks are - which projects are slow to complete, which staff members aren’t producing in line with their normal workload, which departments are falling behind - and focus your efforts there. Burned out employees may need more breaks throughout the day, greater flexibility in their schedules, or wellness programs. Struggling departments might need to share the load, collaborating with other teams to push projects over the finish line.

Identify problem employees

Burnout is a very real concern and should be addressed with empathy and understanding, but not all under-performing employees are genuinely overwhelmed. Some may be deliberately offloading their work on others as they skate by, taking advantage of the team’s star performers. 

Poor performers drag down teams. In the midst of a labor shortage, it may seem counterintuitive to ditch staff but if you’ve determined that someone really isn’t doing their job, it’s appropriate to show them the door. Keeping them on just to have someone in that role hinders your team’s progress and can lead to a toxic workplace culture.

Consider outsourcing

Once you’ve evaluated your workflows, you may find there’s just too much work for your team to handle or a skills gap that needs to be plugged. Work with HR to find a suitable candidate that can hit the ground running and take some of the pressure off your staff. 

Of course, this may be a tough task given the current instability of the labor market. If you can’t find the right candidate, there’s always another option - outsourcing. Done right, outsourcing can help your business quickly cover any shortages without the time, expense, and stress of hiring a new full-time employee. 

Be sure to pick a reputable company with solid expertise in your industry. Poorly-managed outsourcing can be more trouble than it’s worth, so it pays to do your research by investigating third-party providers thoroughly and exploring several candidates before committing.

Use data to drive your decisions

Whether they’re hiring or firing, managers shouldn’t make any decisions without being fully informed. 

Managers can get a more complete picture of daily contributions by collecting information across a wide range of data points including:

  • Projects delivered/completed 
  • Targets met
  • Interaction with company platforms
  • Time spent on messaging platforms, or other communication networks
  • Meeting participation
  • Sales revenue
  • Work hours

Learning how to read this data helps managers pinpoint which individuals and departments need the most help and how engagement typically trends over time. It’s also an invaluable indicator of employee behavior, cluing managers into who may be on the brink of burnout, who is doing the bare minimum, and which staff are becoming disengaged. 

The most effective way to collect this kind of data is by leveraging cloud-based tech tools. Employee Productivity Monitoring platform Prodoscore is a centralized hub that tracks how employees interact with their company’s digital infrastructure, unobtrusively monitoring when and how they’re logging into apps like email, messaging, your CRM, project management software, and others.  

Collecting all this information within a single interface makes data collection and analysis easy, giving managers everything they need to make those all-important hiring or firing decisions. To find out more about Prodoscore, or book a demonstration, contact us today.

How will visibility impact your business?