Behind the success of any business are its employees. If a company churns out products on time, for example, it’s because its employees had the motivation to meet deadlines. If a business does not meet its supply quota, employees may be the ones to blame.
The point is that, for businesses, improving the productivity of employees is a must. According to Dynamic Signal, companies that double the rate of employee engagement obtain 147% higher earnings per share than their competition.
Forbes reports that teams with high employee engagement rates are 21% more productive.
But it’s not only businesses that benefit from increased productivity. If employees are productive, they can get more work done in a shorter amount of time. So how can you improve productivity in your workplace? In this article, we’ll discuss seven actionable strategies.
Business Owners/Decision makers
In this part of the article, let’s look at some practical ways you, as a business owner or a manager, can improve the productivity of employees in the workplace.
1. Give Your Employees the Right Tools
This is a no-brainer. If your employees are not equipped with the right productivity tools, they won’t function as efficiently or effectively. Check out this example.
Let’s say your employee’s task is to churn out daily sales reports.
If you don’t give them a computer and a printer, don’t expect those five reports from Monday to Friday on your desk by the end of the week. After all, coming up with a handwritten report can take hours or even days to finish. Imagine how long it should take for anyone to produce five reports.
Obviously, this is an extreme example, but it speaks to a broader point.
The tools you should equip your employees can be classified into three main categories:
- Collaboration tools.
- Communication devices.
- And time tracking tools.
Tools for Collaboration:
Collaboration tools are platforms your employees can use for better cooperation in real-time. But why the need for collaboration? Because it brings the following benefits:
- It helps people look at the bigger picture.
- It speeds up solutions.
- It increases efficiency.
Project management applications are examples of collaboration tools. With Trello, for example, you can see what tasks have been completed by each of your team members. This “bigger picture” helps you determine where the backlog is so you can address it and improve workflow.
Google Drive is another example of a collaboration tool. Like other file storage tools, it allows members of a team to drop and access essential documents in one place.
Source: Google Drive
Tools for Communication:
Communication is crucial in any business. If you don’t communicate to potential clients properly, you might miss out on an outstanding deal. If you don’t communicate your business goals to your employees properly, the results can be disastrous.
But communication does not only refer to the message itself or the tone in which it is delivered.
It also refers to the method of delivery. For example, in both internal and external communication, you have to decide what is the best channel for client communication. This could be email, social, or another option. For internal communication, apps such as Slack and WhatsApp are very handy.
Tools to Track Time:
It’s a given that you should utilize time-tracking apps. After all, you need to monitor the hours your employees actually work. But it’s not only you who should have access to these.
If your employees can track the time they spend on a task, they can schedule their work so they can be more efficient. They can also see which tasks are taking them too long.
An example of a time-tracking app is ZoomShift.
There are, of course, other tools you can check out to increase productivity.
2. Get Rid of Motivation Killers
Motivation and productivity are twin concepts in organizational development. According to BrightHub, the two concepts are intertwined in three ways:
- Motivation works as a means of attaining productivity.
- Motivation is the best cause to reach productivity as a favorable effect.
- Motivation is the stimulus that triggers productivity as a response.
As such, if you want your employees to be productive, you need to do away with anything that might demotivate them. These motivation killers can come in many forms:
Toxic employees can spread negativity in the workplace and be real motivation killers. The best way to deal with them is to minimize their role in the company. You can also put in place policies and maximum supervision.
Sometimes, it’s the system that’s a real motivation killer. This is why it’s crucial to put in place clear development opportunities for your employees. Remember, most people don’t want to be stuck doing the same thing for years. This is why it’s so important to have an effective business development strategy.
Also, make sure you give incentives to productive employees.
Bad leadership can be dealt with through proper communication. Once you’ve identified managers that demotivate their subordinates, talk to them about their leadership methods. If they don’t change, then it’s up to you to become part of the workplace solution.
Let’s leave it at that.
If the problem is inadequate communication on the part of management, just call your employees to a meeting and speak to them. Explain what the company’s goals are. At the same time, though, listen to their concerns, if any, so you can address them.
3. Don’t Micromanage
Sure, the temptation to micromanage employees will always be great. It is you, after all, who has that clear vision of what you want, and of how you want to get there.
Here’s the catch, though. Micromanaging negatively affects productivity.
Just consider this example. Your employee needs to send out 100 invitations to business prospects in three days. They put the approved invites in blue envelopes, as you instructed. Between jobs, you call them to ask if the spellings of the names of those invited are right.
They then have to individually check each message. It takes time.
This may be too extreme, but the point is, if you micromanage, you slow down your employee’s work and end up wasting the time both of you could have spent on other things done.
But micromanagement does not only affect productivity.
Micromanagement actually also leads to lower morale as the employee begins to feel a loss of autonomy. It also results in poor relationships because the employee only ends up working with the micromanager. Worse still, micromanagement will lead to high employee turnover.
4. Do Away With Unnecessary Meetings
Most employees spend at least eight hours in the office. This means that if four hours are spent on attending meetings, the employee is only left with four hours to do the remaining work.
This is fine if the meeting yielded significant results, say, attendees came up with a clear content strategy for the company. Or they came up with promo strategies to increase sales.
But what if the meeting adjourned with attendees only knowing about what each other did during the weekend? Then all those who attended will have wasted four hours doing absolutely nothing. This is a waste of not only working time, but also of company resources.
In short, you need to ask yourself if the meeting is absolutely essential, or if an email blast would have been just as effective. Here’s a flowchart from Harvard Business Review that can help you answer that question:
To avoid meetings that yield no results, make sure you have an agenda.
For instance, after a three-hour meeting, each attendee should already know their role during that critical business dinner next week. The group should also have a list of people to invite, and the specifics of the program.
But don’t just have the agenda. Even more importantly, stick to it.
Also, respect the time of your attendees. If you say the meeting will be at 13:00 and end at 16:00, start on time and end on time. You can even go as far as breaking this into 15-minute chunks.
In the first part of the article, we looked at what business owners and other decision-makers can do to increase productivity in the workplace. In this section, let’s look at three ways you, as an employee, can do this.
5. Remove Distractions
Many times, employees can’t get the job done because of distractions. A study by CareerBuilder found that the biggest productivity killer in the workplace, based on managers’ observations, were cell phones, at a whopping 52%.
This was followed by the Internet, at 44%, gossip at 37%, and social media at 36%.
The thing is, all these distractions can be controlled.
Cell phones, for instance, can be placed on silent, so when you’re working, you won’t hear if anyone contacted you. The Internet will only be a waste of your time if you decide to use it for anything that is not work-related, such as social media.
As for gossip, that can be avoided by, well, just not talking, at least during work hours. This one is trickier, though. Obviously, if you bring in draconian no-talking rules, this will hurt motivation.
The bottom line is this. If you remove those distractions, you get more done in a short period. This means you won’t have to rush finishing that report just to meet the deadline. In short, that’s less stress for you.
There are times employees become inefficient only because they are not organized. Here’s an example. You finished writing a significant report last week. You need to turn it in tomorrow, so you start looking for it.
You’ve checked all your papers on your desk (or so you say), but you can’t find it.
In that scenario, you only have two options: tell your boss you lost your report, or write an entire report in the few hours you have left before tomorrow. In either case, there’s a negative effect on productivity and from an even larger perspective, business operations.
To avoid these situations, simply declutter and organize your workspace.
Throw away those papers that are no longer important. Organize your documents, too. This way, when it’s time to turn in that sales report, you won’t have to waste your time looking for it since you already know where to find it.
7. Eat Healthy Foods and Exercise
Everyone needs their brain to be in tiptop shape to work efficiently in the office. If your brain is not working properly, a simple letter can take hours to finish. In short, time that should have been spent on other tasks is wasted on one piece of paper.
To avoid this, you can eat healthy foods. The list can vary, depending on what resource you look at. Healthline, for example, cites these 11 foods that can boost your brain and memory:
- Fatty fish
- Pumpkin seeds
- Dark chocolates
- Green tea
Complement those foods with exercise. BrainHQ says exercise affects the brain on multiple fronts. It increases heart rate and allows for the release of hormones. All these provide for a good environment for the growth of brain cells.
Many offices now hold regular yoga sessions for their employees. You should also put measures in place to prevent your staff from coming in hungover.
How to Improve Workplace Productivity
In this article, we explored the importance of productivity. Increased productivity does not only benefit companies. It also benefits employees themselves as they face less stress and less pressure to finish tasks on time.
We then looked at seven ways to increase productivity in the workplace. Some of these are from the perspective of business owners and decision makers. The others are from the perspective of the employees themselves.
For business owners and decision makers, giving employees the right tools — communication and collaboration tools, and time-tracking tools is a must.
They should also get rid of motivation killers such as toxic employees, bad leaders, a lack of development opportunities and inadequate communication of goals. They should also do away with unnecessary meetings.
As for employees, they should remove distractions and clutter. They should also eat healthy foods such as fatty fish, coffee, blueberries, turmeric and pumpkin seeds, broccoli, dark chocolates, nuts, oranges, eggs and green tea to improve brain health. They should complement this with exercise, too.
So what’s the article’s main takeaway? It’s actually simple. Although increasing productivity in the workplace is difficult, it’s not impossible. Just follow these tips, and there’s no reason employees can’t work like a well-oiled and efficient machine when they get into the workplace.