Since the past decade, increasing employee productivity has been the heart of the success of today's workplaces.
In spite of today’s influx of varying technology in the workplace like AI, automation, outsourcing, and other software systems; a huge chunk is still people.
Motivating your employees to increase productivity may seem difficult. Workforce productivity isn’t as simple as time tracking their breaks or putting a stop to the time spent on inevitable social networking.
Constant distractions around the workplace and time spent in social networking, rob your team of their focus and thus lowering the productivity output. This has a direct effect on the success of your organization.
However, no one factor is going to result in off-the-charts increase of employee productivity.
But introducing certain changes in the working environments, steadily, will definitely show some surprising results.
8 Key Strategies To Improve Employee Productivity
Here are 8 ways through which you will surely see a positive productivity output from your workforce:
1. Ditch the time spent on meaningless meetings
Time spent on meetings is one of the biggest obstacles to employee productivity. Yet we continue to schedule them, attend them and inevitably complain about them.
Almost 47% of employees complained that the time spent on meetings were the number one time-waster during work hours, as reported by Atlassian.
Meetings prove to be great interrupters when employees get pulled out of their “zone” during work hours. Only to hear information that could have easily relayed through an email.
Also, consider the fact that employees spend an additional amount of time to prepare for a meeting (read “waste time”) instead of focusing on getting their actual job done.
But if you must conduct a meeting, do it as Steve Jobs did.
After every meeting, Jobs had an actionable list of tasks describing exactly what needed to get done and which team member is responsible for getting it done.
He even assigned a title for that particular employee- “Directly Responsible Individual”.
As a result, every team member involved in the meeting came away with a clear idea of what was expected from them and who were expected to do it.
No frills and flares. Just plain old employee productivity at its best.
Here are some additional pointers on running productive meetings with high-efficiency gains:
- Before scheduling the next meeting, justify the purpose of the meeting. If you can send the same information through an email, then conducting that meeting is probably not worth the effort.
- But if you must conduct a meeting, then go prepared with the required arsenal. Make a list of requirements and agendas to discuss at the meeting.
- Limit the number of people allowed in the meeting. The larger the size of team members, the larger is the possibility of increased distractions.
- Give employees the option to opt out of a meeting during their work hour if they have some other work.
- Set a limit on the amount of time spent on the meeting.
2. Emphasize quality over quantity for similar work
The goal should always be not on the amount of time spent working, but rather on what do you accomplish during the time you are working.
Bosses like to measure employee productivity by conceptualizing the idea of everyone being an “ideal worker”.
An ideal worker comes to the office before anyone else and leaves after everyone else.
But this is hardly a suitable benchmark in measuring employee productivity as a whole.
In 2014, Stanford researchers discovered the phenomenon called “productivity cliff”. The study found that people who put in 70 hours per week produce nothing more than those who put in 55 for similar work.
Longer hours does not always yield better results. To summarize, the quality of the work done has larger efficiency gains than the quantity.
Here are some ways through which you can encourage a better quality of work rather than the quantity:
- Research shows that shorter workday(such as a 6-hour workday in Sweden) resulted in employees feeling healthier, less stressed at an individual level and more likely to take lesser days off from work.
- Offer regular breaks at work so that employees can feel recharged at an individual level.
- Encourage team members to leave their work at the office and not let it hamper their personal life.
3. KPI’s and OKR’s to hold your employees accountable on an individual level
The one thing that every manager should never forget about employee productivity is this:
Stop managing their time. Start managing their goals.
Smart managers know that micromanaging is not going to make life easier for anyone.
When managers become obsessed with time tracking every aspect of employees’ work hours, chances are that employees become even more prone to slacking off.
And that’s not all.
Manager’s who micromanage are more likely to be more resented by their team members. This, in turn, results in a communication bridge between them.
Your best option at an individual level?
Invest in collaboration tools, product or service that focus on completing the goals. Rather than focusing on micromanaging your employees’ work hours.
If an employee finishes a project in half of the amount of time and spends the other half social networking, it should be the last of your worries.
The goals are getting smashed, as far as concerned.
Some ways through which you can give goal completion more priority over time tracking are:
Invest in OKRs
The term OKR, which stands for “Objectives and Key Results”, is a goal-setting system innovated by Google.
As the name implies, OKR has two major components- the Objective and the Key Results:
Objectives are the goals that an employee needs to complete. Objectives should be achievable and specific.
Key Results are a set of metrics that measure one’s progress towards fulfilling the objectives.
Hire A Project Manager
When a single manager has to oversee a large number of projects, a lot of mishaps are bound to happen.
The amount of time for the completion of projects will significantly increase. The time spent on working will be instead used to waste time doing irrelevant things.
And this is exactly why you need a project manager.
A project manager is better attuned to looking over projects that he handles. He has the experience and credibility to make better decisions and ensure that the project gets completed well within the time limit.
4. Make the email experience less disruptive to workforce productivity
Adam Alter, author of Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked explains how checking email during work hours can change your level of productivity:
So, on average, we check our emails six seconds after they arrive, which is a staggering number. Now it's staggering because when you check your email it takes about 25 minutes on average for you to get back into the zone of maximum productivity.
Once your employees get into the continuous flow of their incoming email, half of the employee productivity battle gets lost.
And here’s the thing- you can't really do anything to remove this distraction.
After all, emails in the workplace are as similar to peanut butter and jelly in a sandwich. There is no one without the other.
But what you can do is try to control this email flow in a way so that it affects the workforce productivity in the minimum.
- Encourage good email etiquette among the team members for higher efficiency gains.
- Keep the subject lines of the emails short and describe exactly what the email is about.
- Instead of relying on emails to manage projects (which can turn chaotic and hectic at best), invest in a project manager or project management tool like Trello. A project management tool will work wonders to help you manage your organization’s projects better and thus also help in boosting overall employee productivity.
- To make communication between employees easier, you can try out certain collaboration tools, product or service like Skype, Slack, etc.
5.Invest In “Still Spaces” to boost workforce productivity
Today’s workplaces are usually mayhem of noises, distractions, and constant interruptions.
Granted that a workplace is bound to be noisy and chaotic at times.
But many a time it comes at the expense of dwindling concentration, and menial productivity output.
Limiting noise and distractions can slightly be an improvement in encouraging employee productivity but it still might not be enough.
That’s why workplaces of today are incorporating “silent thought spaces”. It’s where employees can go to have a session of uninterrupted work done, meditate or simply recharge their overworked minds.
To combat this Steelcase developed a set of five Quiet Spaces, incorporating the company’s Vertical Intelligent Architecture soundproof architectural walls.
These silent settings make these “spaces” ideal for yoga, meditation, or simply peaceful work time.
6. Exercise breaks help to improve employee productivity
Taking out time to exercise may actually help improve employee productivity, according to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Frequent exercise can have innumerable benefits including:
- Keeping the mind focused and thus increasing productivity.
- Increased energy levels and improved work ethics.
- Keeps one mentally sharp and agile.
- Acts in reducing stress among employees working long hours.
Helps prevent a multitude of illnesses which brings down workforce productivity.
Here are some ways through which you can encourage employees to sneak in some form of exercise in the workplace:
- Encourage employees by rewarding employees if they make their daily commute through a cycle or by walking.
- Instead of regular desks and chairs, invest in standing desks or stability balls to sit upon.
- Conduct “walking meetings” to utilize time spent on meetings.
- Encourage employees to work out by offering “exercise breaks”.
- Invest in a corporate wellness program to build a culture of health and ultimate productivity in your organization.
7. Give them something nice to look at
Sometimes unexpected factors can have a bigger impact on increasing your workforce productivity than you think.
It might sound unlikely but your office decor has (more than a little) significance in increasing productivity among your employees.
Research suggests that an office enriched with potted plants can increase productivity by up to 15 percent.
Here are some ways to design your office for maximum employee productivity:
- Optimizing the lighting in your workplace is one of the easiest ways to improve employee productivity. It ensures that the eye strain gets reduced to the minimum.
- Utilize natural lighting during work hours as much as possible.
- A cluttered workplace is more likely to make someone feel far more stressed than they actually are. Minimalistic working environments makes a workplace look at all kinds of chic and inviting. It also makes it easier for employees to get their work done without getting distracted.
- Workplace colors play a huge role in building inspiration and motivation among employees working.
- Make sure that your workplace smells nice and fresh. Scents like peppermint aims to refresh one’s senses. Whereas citrus scents are usually used to de-stress the employees working.
8. Employee engagement to improve employee productivity
Here comes the last but the most vital factor in influencing employee productivity.
A highly engaged workforce can outperform a company experiencing low employee engagement by a whopping 202%.
An engaged employee is more likely to be happier, will be more productive, take lesser sick days and create better working environments.
Here are some ways through which you can build a more productive and happier workforce:
- Make appreciation a norm in your organization. If an employee has done a good job, show that you know it.
- Give continuous feedback to your team members.
- Give frequent and exciting rewards for time spent on good work.
- Involve employees in the company’s decision making processes. Make them feel like they contributed to the productivity output.
- Let employees know that their opinion counts. Regularly take their input, suggestions, and opinions into consideration.
- Invest in a corporate health care plan for better workforce productivity. Health is the greatest form of care that you can possibly gift.
Before You Go
Do you have any more tips or tricks to boost workforce productivity in your organization? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!