Hide this You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

How to build a lean and productive workforce

How to build a lean and productive workforce
Image credit: John Cooper | Flickr
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
Reader Resource

Position yourself for growth in 2017—join us live at the Entrepreneur 360 Conference in Long Beach, Calif. on Nov. 16. Secure Your Seat »

As we begin 2015, organisations across the globe are positioning themselves aggressively for growth. Businesses, on the other hand, cannot ignore the indivisible role of human capital behind a company's growth and success. Engaging the 21st-century workforce today demands serious focus because skills are becoming scarce, workers are becoming demanding and millennial (Generation Y) are now taking charge. All these factors are forcing companies to develop innovative new ways to find people, develop capabilities and share expertise.

According to the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2014, companies cite workforce capability as one of the top three business challenges in present time. Despite high unemployment rates and the surplus of labour, companies are surprisingly reporting difficulty in recruiting and retaining skills required. As per the survey, about 33 per cent of the small business owners and chief executives said that they have unfilled job openings because they couldn’t identify qualified applicants.

Building a Productive Workforce

To any entrepreneur, a happy and productive workforce can define the success of his/her organisation. Maintaining a positive work culture and getting right talent on board can help startups sail in the right direction. It is very critical for a start-up owner to get involved in the hiring decision because a good team member not only brings value to the organisation, but equally contributes towards its success.

Expressing his thoughts on the same, Ankit Jain, Founder and CEO, Voice tree Technologies shares, “Always hire people depending on your customers' needs. No organisation can build a team in one day. It takes time and for us it took almost two to three years. The key factor which helped us build the team is happiness because I always make sure that my team is happy and they are passionate about doing what they do. You can never ever beat the productivity of a person, who is as passionate and motivated as you."

Jain’s entrepreneurial journey started with a team member of one, but in a span of two years, he built a team of 80 employees. And it terms of revenue, his company grew from zero to eight digit numbers. As an entrepreneur, his responsibilities include – building a team, sales, product and defining the right market strategy. Jain believes that sharing the organisation’s vision and mission with the team members lead to a good work culture.

Building an Organisational Culture

Organisations should focus on building an environment and a culture of continuous learning. The culture of the workplace controls the way employees behave amongst themselves as well as with people outside the organisation. A healthy culture encourages employees to stay motivated and loyal towards the management. “Maintaining a great culture easily adds up to 30-40 per cent value to an organisation,” says Nishith Desai, Founder, Nishith Desai Associates.

Improved conditions of work lead to a healthier work force, which will in turn improve the workforce productivity. It is the culture of the organisation which extracts the best out of each team member. The culture develops a habit in the individuals which makes them successful at the workplace. “Building a unique culture is very important for any organisation to stay ahead of its competitors. At GOQii, we focus on building a healthy and productive workforce by understanding our employees’ needs, demands and lifestyle. We serve our employees organic food in a hygienic environment; arrange regular physical activity sessions, and encourage them to live a healthy lifestyle,” shares Vishal Gondal, Founder & CEO, GOQii, a fitness technology device that offers a wearable fitness band paired with remote personalised coaching.

Thus, underpinning a productive workplace is a healthy workplace culture. It includes the collective values, norms, systems, aspirations and beliefs in workplace behaviours. Furthermore, high standards of leadership and management practice lead to higher standards of employee health and productivity, which in turn lead to higher standards of leadership.

Role of Technology

Today, technology plays a crucial role in evaluating the productivity of the workforce. Usage of technology enables to track the progress on the tasks assigned to the employees. Moreover, with the help of communicative technologies, employees can scale up their performance to the best, as it efficiently addresses the workplace related issues and strengthen relations between the customers and employees. Employees, who have the ability to identify potential behind every technological advancement, can help organisations improve their work processes. 

Sharing his views on how technology is changing the way we work and the skills we need, Arjun Khanna, Chief Happiness Officer, Benetton India, asserts, “A person should only be hired when he or she has the passion for learning and inclination towards new technologies.” Khanna has about 15 years of experience in talent management, organisation transformation, organisation design and re-structuring. Currently designated as a strategy consultant, he is making the lives of people happy for Benetton India.

Thus, we can say that technology has changed the nature of collaboration, expertise sharing, and the skills one needs to succeed. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are disrupting one wave of workers and opening new career opportunities in analytics, machine-assisted manufacturing, and the service industries. The skills we need today and in the future are dramatically different than what they were only five years ago.

Role of HR Department

For a start-up organisation, the Human Resource department is as crucial as other departments. Setting up a HR agenda mandates the start-up business to follow a proper recruitment process, which helps to define the job descriptions including the roles and responsibilities.

In a start-up organisation, a single person plays multiple roles and therefore, the sense of leadership should be deeply imbibed in the employees, so that they can equally take part in the decision making process of the organisation. The methodologies involved in the entire human resource management can foster the workforce and help start-ups manage and retain the good talent.

Murali Bukkapatnam, President, TiE Hyderabad, points, “HR functioning has been under increase pressure to do more with less with less number of workforce. Effective talent management is critical for governing a lean and productive workforce.”

Bukkapatnam is a serial entrepreneur and has lived in the US for 17 years, where he was the founder of BSP Systems, IT consulting and Services Company based in Fairfax, VA USA. He came to India in the end of 2008 to start a hospitality venture – Mandava. Later, he founded Capitol Projects Private Limited focusing into affordable housing in real estate. He is also the President of TiE Hyderabad Chapter and a founding member of the Hyderabad Angel Network.

As team members, employees should possess the natural tendency to grow and learn new things. Moreover, a start-up owner should hire an employee, who can be taught about learning and developing new skills. “We believe in assessing the person who is more inclined towards building and learning new things. We try to go beyond resume and personal life. I believe all organisations have to be learning organisations,” says Khanna.


The crux of the lean and productive workforce lies in a business system which manages and organises the operations, suppliers, customer relations, where certain tools and practices can create a precise customer balance. 

Jain emphasises that it does not matter whether a candidate is required or not, if he or she can bring value to the organisation, then get them on board.

An entrepreneur needs to be well-versed on the job description of its team members and get involved in the entire hiring process to know what each role is supposed to do. Leadership defines the culture of the company. The individuals, who joined the company and grew along with the company, are described as the pillars of the company.