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Workplace numeracy

“My job doesn’t involve a pen and paper, so I don’t need to engage with workplace numeracy.”

“My staff just work out in the yard, they don’t need any numeracy skills.”

These two statements highlight a common misconception in the Kiwi workplace, but workplace numeracy is not just sitting down and doing maths with paper and pen.

  • It’s estimating the time it takes to drive between different work sites.
  • Understanding and being able to talk about company data such as production targets and waste.
  • Scaling quantities when mixing things like cleaning products and building materials.
  • And it’s something that everyone in the workplace can benefit from.

Workplace numeracy will change your employees’ experience

We know that employers want their staff to engage with company goals and metrics, and we know that employees who can understand this information are more engaged at work. Sometimes, this isn’t the easiest thing to do. One of the big hurdles to a positive experience for employees is getting staff to engage in company and manager objectives. Equipping your team with a robust knowledge of workplace numeracy can be just what’s needed to enable this.

One of our clients shared this insightful example the other day. A manager sat down with an employee to go over one of their metrics—complaints received per 100 sales. Pointing out to the team member that the number had grown over the last month, and asking for an explanation why, the employee said: “Oh, I thought that the higher the number, the better it was.”

This story gets to the core of workplace numeracy. Imagine how disengaged that employee would have been, not being able to understand the metrics their team was aiming for. Now think how much more positive their experience will be, understanding the numbers behind their job. No more embarrassment or confusion—just the opportunity to bring their best to work.

Improved workplace numeracy does wonders to engage staff, and revolutionise their experience working for your business.

It’s great for the bottom line, too

Improving workplace numeracy is a win-win situation. Not only does it add value to your employees, but it also adds value to your business.

Besides the obvious bottom-line impact of a more engaged workforce, better workplace numeracy means less waste. When employees are better at estimating, they order the appropriate amount of stock more often—that means less downtime for production, and less leftover stock going to waste.

To put it in tangible terms, workplace numeracy is the difference between 2.35 cubic metres of concrete and 23.5 cubic metres of concrete.  At $100 per cubic metre, it’s clear that you could have a significant and costly mistake on your hands.

Empower your workforce, and see the benefits yourself

A New Zealand manufacturer recently put some of their team through Upskills’ workplace numeracy programme.

Prior to this, they had been having issues with waste, as new staff were struggling to accurately scale up ingredient quantities for different batch sizes. Staff were taking too long to make the calculations, or getting them wrong and spoiling batches.

As a solution, some of the staff decided that for their Upskills project, they would create a chart for new employees to use. The chart outlined different quantities that would be needed for different batch sizes, so team members could refer back to this for accuracy and speed. Production sped up, errors decreased, and the remaining team members ended up learning how to do the calculations based on the chart!

It’s these kinds of projects that we love to see. By increasing their numeracy skills, employees increase their job satisfaction. They actually enjoy coming to work, because they understand what’s going on and feel like they have something to add. Their employers see improved results, and everybody wins.

Next steps

Find out more about our workplace numeracy and literacy course

Get in touch now to benefit from upskilling your employees.

Upskills Ltd.

Address: 93 Church St, Onehunga, Auckland 1061
Free parking: 120 minutes, Gerrard Beeson Pl.
Phone: 09 622 3979