A Powerful Business Lesson from Covid-19

Accomplishing More with Less:   

A Powerful Business Lesson from Covid-19 

Not many business plans include how to handle pandemics or how to address shutdowns and extended absences.  The 2020 Covid Pandemic challenged both small and large businesses in unimaginable ways; pushing companies to find creative solutions to stay afloat during such a trying time.  Many businesses were able to successfully adjust and adapt. The larger companies, with 5000+ employees, managed to figure out ways to continue operating despite the many challenges they had to face.  

Throughout this ordeal, many have learned important lessons that should be carried over beyond the Covid-19 shutdowns. Some companies saw improved cost & schedule performance despite lower attendance rates. How could these companies get more work done with less people? The answer is simple: a deficit in NVA employees.  

Nonvalue-added (NVA) employees are those employees who go to work but don’t intend to actually perform their duties. NVA rates vary between companies. They tend to be higher with larger companies where the supervision ratio is greater or within companies that foster a culture that does not value productivity. 

NVA employees tend to hang out in pairs; stereotypically gathering near coffee stations and tool cribs.  They often roam the hallways looking to distract other employees who are trying to accomplish their daily responsibilities. These are the employees that move at a sluggishly-slow pace when on the clock, but race to the parking lot at the end of each shift. NVAs have frequent absentees, providing poor excuses on Mondays and even less believable ones on Fridays. They are often the first group to volunteer for furloughs and lay-offs.  NVA employees tend to have a negative impact on morale, productivity, cost, and schedule. 

Some may wonder why companies keep or tolerate NVA employees.  Common reasons Include: 

  1. Failure or refusal to document and track this group.  Therefore, supervisors find themselves unable to convince HR to take action. 
  2. Company Culture that condones lack of productivity. 
  3. NVA employees having each other’s back, pretending to work at certain times just to keep the job.

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