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Today's business climate makes earning a profit particularly hard as companies juggle multiple challenges: increased government regulation, tighter budgets and constantly-evolving technology. But businesses can still prosper by boosting their team's productivity—getting more done while using fewer resources.

One method for measuring the effectiveness of your team over time is the "employee productivity curve," a chart representing employee effectiveness over time. The curve shows that an employee naturally becomes more productive as she progresses through her job and increases her comfort level with responsibilities, plateauing after all competencies are learned for a certain role.

However, by taking certain talent management steps, organizations can shift the curve and proactively improve employee productivity. Our recent whitepaper outlines five steps organizations can take to be more efficient about improving their employees' productivity:

1. Hire Better People, Faster

Optimizing the productivity curve begins with your hiring strategy, arguably the most important step to ensuring that your workforce is efficient and productive.

Take strategic steps to make smarter hires by encouraging existing employees to refer strong potential workers and equipping recruiters with better tools like configurable career sites and smart tracking systems to make the best hires. It's important to recognize that recruiting and hiring are inherently collaborative processes, so always create opportunity for feedback about candidates from other stakeholders.

2. Streamline the Onboarding Process

The success of a new hire largely hinges on the onboarding process. In fact, organizations that offer an onboarding program see a 54 percent increase in productivity from new hires, according to the Aberdeen Group. Effective onboarding also includes setting goals for new hires and explaining how these goals relate to the organization's mission, so employees understand the value they're bringing to the organization from day one.

3. Boost Employee Engagement to Keep Shifting the Curve

Once your new hires are off the ground and running, it's important to keep their engagement levels high so the productivity curve continues to improve.

Regular training opportunities, for example, can result in higher sales and gross profits for employees. Organizations that devoted the most resources to training and development saw a 45 percent jump in shareholder returns, according to McKinsey and Co. Another method of ongoing engagement is ditching the annual performance review in favor of ongoing, actionable feedback sessions. Consistent feedback addresses issues as they're occurring, rather than weeks or months later.

4. Nurture Strong Performers

Successful organizations also understand that retainment relies on more than training and development—you also need to nurture top talent. Identify high-potential employees, and offer them opportunities to grow and test skills for future roles.

In addition, be sure to focus on succession planning beyond the executive level, creating strong bench talent across your organization. Compensating your highest performers for their great work is also key to a business's success—losing an executive can cost your company up to 213 percent of the employee's salary and up to $10,000 for positions earning less than $50,000 a year, according to research from the Center for American Progress.

5. Identify and Address Disengaged Workers

Twenty four percent of American employees are "actively disengaged" according to a 2013 Gallup survey, and managing these unhappy, unproductive workers has never been more important or time consuming. On average, managers spend 17 percent of their time managing disengaged workers, according to a survey by Robert Half International.

First, make sure you can pick out the truly disengaged workers from those who simply need more guidance—there's a difference between misunderstanding and laziness. After identifying individual employees' situations, focus on providing transparent evaluations. Clear performance evaluations make it easier to pinpoint the exact cause of disengagement, whether it's a need for more training, better job direction or a serious review.

With smart recruiting and hiring strategies, great training programs and methods for nurturing both top performers and disengaged workers, you can boost your organization's productivity for a future of success. To learn more about the employee productivity curve, check out our whitepaper, Shifting the Employee Productivity Curve with Smart Talent Management Strategies.

Photo: Shutterstock