Since the past decade, increasing employee productivity has been the heart of organizational success.
Despite 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 limiting the time spent on inevitable social networking.
Constant distractions around the workplace and time spent in social networking rob your team of their focus, thus lowering productivity output. It has a direct effect on the success of your organization.
However, no one factor is going to result in an off-the-charts increase in employee productivity.
But introducing slow changes in the working environments will show some surprising results.
8 Key Strategies To Improve Employee Productivity
Here are eight ways through which you will surely see a positive productivity output from your workforce:
1. Ditch 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 was 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 that employees spend an additional amount of time preparing 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."
Thus, everyone in the meeting has a clear idea of their expectations and the person responsible.
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 hours if they have some other work.
- Set a limit on the amount of time spent on the meeting.
2. Emphasize Quality Over Quantity
The goal should always be not on the amount of time spent working but instead on what you accomplish during your work.
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 the "productivity cliff." The study found that people who put in 70 hours per week produce nothing more than those put in 55 for similar work.
Longer hours do not always yield better results. To summarize, the quality of the work done has greater 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 a shorter workday (such as a 6-hour workday in Sweden) resulted in employees feeling healthier, less stressed, and take lesser sick days.
- 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
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 will not make life easier for anyone.
When managers become obsessed with time tracking every aspect of employees' work hours, the 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. It, in turn, results in a communication bridge between them.
Your best option at an individual level?
Invest in collaboration tools, products, or services that focus on completing the goals. It is much better 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 on social networking, it should be the least of your worries.
The goals are getting smashed, as far as concerned.
Some ways through which you can give goal completion more priority overtime 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 SMART goals that an employee needs to complete. Objectives should be achievable and specific.
- Key Performance Indicators 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 multiple projects, a lot of mishaps can happen.
The amount of time for the completion of projects will significantly increase. Instead of working, employees would spend time on tasks that are unrelated to work.
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", explains how checking email during work hours can drastically 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 do anything to remove such distractions.
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 least.
- Encourage good email etiquette among the team members for higher efficiency gains.
- Keep the subject lines of the emails short and clearly describe 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 good collaboration tools, products, or services 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.
A workplace is bound to be noisy and chaotic at times.
But it comes at the expense of dwindling concentration and menial productivity output.
Limiting noise and distractions can slightly improve 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 has 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 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.
- It keeps people mentally sharp and agile.
- Acts in reducing stress among employees working long hours.
- It 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 are. Minimalistic working environments make a workplace look 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 aim to refresh one's senses. Meanwhile, citrus aromas are great to de-stress any anxious employees.
8. Employee Engagement To Improve Employee Productivity
Here comes the last but the most vital factor in influencing employee productivity.
The single best thing a company can do to boost employee productivity is to ensure that employees are happy, motivated, and engaged.
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, be more productive, take fewer sick days, and create better working environments.
Here are some ways through which you can build a more productive and happier workforce:
- Make employee appreciation a norm in your company. If an employee has done an excellent 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 ideas into consideration.
- Invest in a corporate health care plan for better workforce productivity. Health is the greatest form of care that you can offer.
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!