As most business owners know the minimum wage went up by 7% from $21.20 to $22.70 on April 1 2023.
The immediate effect on business owners who employ staff at the minimum wage is obvious, but the big unknown for most business owners is the flow-on effect to other staff who want to retain the margin between their current remuneration and the minimum wage. While we continue to have an employment shortfall in some industries, employers are potentially at risk of losing key staff should they not accommodate the retention of the differential.
Regrettably, if business owners do nothing more than agree to such pressures it is highly unlikely they will see an increase in productivity from these staff to offset the cost to the business without making further changes.
If a business already has 14 staff, a 7% increase in wages across the board – should it eventuate – is the equivalent of another staff member.
So how does a business owner increase productivity across the organisation?
There are several strategies I have adopted in the businesses I have run over the years, all designed to improve productivity – and therefore, the bottom-line profit.
- Ensure the company reporting structure is designed to create efficiencies. Key accountabilities need to be clear and flow naturally through the organisation.
- Understand your staff members’ preferred behaviour style and motivators and ensure they are in the right role to maximise these factors – a DISC profile on each staff member can be a very valuable tool for all business owners.
- Ensure each staff member is crystal clear on expectations and is regularly measured against those expectations. Priority expectations need to focus on improving the bottom line through productivity and efficiency gains, rather than by price increases.
- If you are in a business selling labour and materials, keep a running check on productivity measures such as billable hours v. hours paid.
- Invest in productivity and time management training for all staff.
- Eliminate unnecessary meetings. A meeting involving four people for an hour has a definite cost that cannot always be recovered.
- Invest in technology as appropriate to improve productivity and efficiencies.
- Encourage, engage and reward staff for innovation and productivity improvement suggestions.
- Ban use of social media during working hours for staff unless it is required for the job.
- Put staff health, wellbeing and welfare top of mind in terms of strategies and look for innovative ways of showing them you care – e.g. gym membership, birthdays off, acknowledgement of a job well done.
There is no doubt that the increase in the minimum wage will affect most businesses, either directly or indirectly, and while the most logical strategy is to increase prices, this could have an impact on sales volumes. This means it is critical that business owners start to look at more aggressive strategies that enhance productivity and efficiency before putting prices up.