How to Improve Employee Productivity

Your employees can be one of the most important parts of your business. If they are productive, engaged, hard workers, your bottom line will positively reflect that fact, and if they are unproductive and unmotivated, your business is likely to suffer. To boost productivity, keep these ideas in mind.

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  1. Use Clear Expectations and Deadlines

When employees know exactly what you want, they are more likely to follow through and meet your expectations. In contrast, if they don’t understand what they should be doing, they are likely to waste time and have decreased productivity levels. Ideally, your employees should know your business’s mission statement, and they should understand their role in meeting that objective.

Give your employees clear goals. Consider meeting with them on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, bi-annually, or whatever works best in your work environment), outlining upcoming goals, and talking about how previous goals have been met.

During your meetings, keep in mind that a lot of employees respond well to responsibility. To that end, you may want to talk about your expectations but let your employees decide how to use their time. Micromanaging your employees can backfire in a lot of environments.

  1. Offer Incentives

Incentives can help to boost productivity, and sales teams, in particular, tend to rely on bonuses, incentives, and commissions to keep sales levels as high as possible. Incentives can be tangible such as cash or prizes, but you should also incentivize your employees with positive reinforcement and constructive criticism.

Promoting from within can be a powerful way to incentivize your employees. If your team sees the hardest workers receiving promotions or raises, they will start to recognize the value of hard work in your organization and act accordingly. With a bit of creativity, you may even be able to find ways to incentivize your employees without spending any money. For instance, consider offering flexible schedules or the chance to work from home to top performers.

  1. Help Employees With Time Management Skills

Talk with your employees about time management skills. If a certain employee takes excessively long to complete a task, set up a meeting where you help them brainstorm ways to use their time more efficiently. You may also want to offer time management seminars or bring in speakers to help your employees learn about new time management strategies.

  1. Use Technology Strategically

The right technology can help with time management, but the wrong tech can hinder employees and waste their time. When investing in technology for your business, make sure that you train your workers to use the technology. If they don’t understand how to use the tools you provide, they won’t be able to get the most advantage from them.

When selecting tech tools, look for things that automate processes, streamline collaboration, and simplify communication. For instance, if your employees currently have to key all expenses into your accounting software, you may want to look for apps that let designated employees upload expenses that get automatically entered into your accounting software.

  1. Reduce Distractions

When employees are distracted, they waste time that should be focused on work activities. To reduce distractions, you may want to block social media sites from your work computers, but in some cases, you may find that giving your employees the freedom to answer their phones and use social media accounts, helps them be more productive.

That may seem counterintuitive, but when employees interact with colleagues over social media, they often end up being more engaged and innovative. That said, some research indicates that employees who use social media at work are also more likely to leave their jobs when they see a better opportunity. Ultimately, you may have to experiment with a few different social media and cell phone policies to figure out what works best for your business.

Also think about offline distractions. While an open work space can be appealing to many employees, it can be a distraction to others. Similarly, activities outside the windows, chatty customers, and employees on break in the middle of work areas can also be distracting. Take time to identify and eliminate the main distractions that may be affecting productivity at your business.

  1. Regularly Assess and Modify Workflows as Needed

You can’t just look at productivity on an employee basis. You also need to assess how organizational elements affect productivity. On a regular basis, examine the steps involved in your work processes, and try to identify and eliminate bottlenecks that are wasting time.

Consider getting your employees involved by talking with them about what is working and what needs improvement. Talking to the people who are on the ground actually doing the work can often yield more productive ideas than just communicating with management.

  1. Focus on Happiness and Satisfaction

When people are happy and content, they tend to work harder. Research indicates that happy employees are 20% more productive than their unhappy peers, and happy sales people outsell their unhappy colleagues by an average of 37%. By making employee happiness a core component of your corporate mission, you create a more positive environment where people are excited about being at work.

To focus on happiness, talk with your employees about how they feel about your corporate environment. You may even want to integrate an employee satisfaction assessment into your annual personnel reviews. Remember a lot of big and small elements can affect employee happiness levels. For instance, to keep workers motivated, your management team should be respectful and knowledgeable resources, but seemingly little things such as offering free coffee or catering lunch once a month can also help to boost workplace happiness levels.

Whether you’re starting a new business or trying to help your existing business rise to the next level of success, your employees play a big role in that process. Be creative in trying to encourage productivity, and remember if something doesn’t work, you can always try another approach until you find the perfect recipe for success with your business.

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