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How to Ensure Employee Productivity in a World Full of Distractions

How to Ensure Employee Productivity in a World  Full of Distractions

From Facebook to Pokemon Go, modern day employees have it pretty tough when it comes to distractions in the workplace. Although technology can also help them achieve their at-work goals more efficiently and effectively, it can also serve as a serious determent when it provides a more entertaining experience than the work they have in front of them.

If you’re an employer struggling to find the balance between offering an enjoyable work environment while also getting the best work out of your employees, you’re not alone. It can be difficult to achieve a workplace culture that fosters independent work, while also inspiring productivity and efficiency. Fortunately, there are several simple steps you can take to become more effective in your efforts to increase employee productivity without cracking down on employee fun.

Here are five ways you can ensure employee productivity, despite the many disruptions your employees face in today’s workplace.

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1. Keep your employees happy

In a recent study conducted by Warwick University, employees surveyed showed a 12 percent spike in productivity when they met criteria that considered them to be “happy” at work. The same study showed that unhappy employees showed a 10 percent decrease in productivity. Moral of the story? You need to make sure your employees enjoy their work environment if you want them to perform to the best of their ability.

A report on the study generated by Go to Meeting explained that some of the key factors involved with employee happiness include the quality of their relationships with coworkers, commute time, how well they get along with their managers, the degree of control they have over their work, and whether or not a natural work environment is accessible.

If you’re looking to increase productivity among your employees, consider each of the areas mentioned by the report, and think about what you’re currently doing to increase your employees’ satisfaction with them. Things like planning a few team building days, investing in ongoing leadership training, and offering spaces for your employees to work on benches outside of your office for part of the day, could really go a long way in keeping your employees happy.

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2. Understand where your employees excel

Few things are worse than attempting to complete a task in a timely manner when it involves skills that are outside of your own expertise. If you’re looking to have your employees work as effectively and efficiently as possible, it’s important that you take notice of their strengths and weaknesses, and assign their roles based on their abilities. Sure, you want to foster growth and encourage learning among your employees, but forcing them to work in an area where they are weaker will only leave them less happy and less productive.

If you’re at a loss when it comes to effectively managing your employees’ strengths and weaknesses, I recommend checking out this guide for a little help. It explains a little bit about how you can appropriately assign your employees’ tasks based on their strengths, while also guiding them to grow in areas where their performance could stand to improve.

3. Keep meetings light

We all get annoyed when we’re pulled away from current projects to attend meetings that seem kind of pointless. If you notice that employee productivity is lacking, a surplus of meetings could be the culprit. By scheduling and attending unnecessary meetings, your employees lose a significant amount of time from their days that could be better spent executing the projects they’ve been asked to oversee.

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Start to notice your meeting scheduling habits and consider whether or not you could stand to cut a few out of your daily routine. Once you’ve trimmed down your day a bit, ask your employees to do the same. Ask them to consider whether or not they feel that some meetings could be handled as a simple chat with a smaller group, in order to save some time and resources. You could also share this post from the Moz blog with them as well. It will surely give them a few good tips on scheduling more productive and effective meetings.

4. Consider a project queue platform

There’s something about having a to-do list that magically makes your work seem more organized and constructive. Providing a platform for your employees to create and complete their own to-do lists, will help them organize their work without making them feel like you’re imposing on their desire for autonomy.

An online platform I’ve had the best experience with is Basecamp. This platform allows you to create shared or individual projects, load up to-do lists in your queue, and collaborate with others using a shared file space. Your team could use a platform like this to either organize solo tasks, or facilitate the process of collaborating on group projects.

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5. Help them take ownership of their work

A critical component of productivity is accountability. Employees who take ownership of their work are more likely to work diligently to see it through to completion. Although many employers try to take the route of attempting to make their employees hold themselves accountable for their work, this is rarely effective. They key is to help your employees find projects that they can really call their own, and produce a finished product that they can feel accountable for.

SoapBox HQ offers up an excellent article that explains how you can help your employees take accountability for the work they produce.

Now that you’ve got the tips to get started, it’s time to analyze your current employee productivity efforts, and see how you can implement these concepts to send your employees’ performance through the roof! If you have any questions or additional tips for fellow readers, I’d love to hear them. Let me know in the comments below.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via static.pexels.com

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Bristol is the most congested city in England. Whenever I have to work at the office, I ride there, like most of us do. Furthermore, I always make sure to go at off hours; otherwise, the roads are jam-packed with cars, buses, bikes, even pedestrians. Why is that? Because everyone is working a traditional 9 to 5 work day.

Where did the “9 to 5” Come From?

It all started back in 1946. The United States government implemented the 40 hour work week for all federal employees, and all companies adopted the practice afterwards. That’s 67 years with the same schedule. Let’s think about all the things that have changed in the 67 years:

  • We went to the moon, and astronauts now live in space on the ISS.

  • Computers used to take up entire rooms and took hours to make a single calculation. Now we have more powerful computers in our purses and back pockets with our smartphones.

  • Lots of employees can now telecommute to the office from hundreds, and even thousands of miles away.

In 1946 a 9-5 job made sense because we had time after 5pm for a social life, a family life. Now we’re constantly connected to other people and the office, with the Internet, email on our smartphones, and hashtags in our movies and television shows. There is no downtime anymore.

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Different Folks, Different Strokes

Enjoying your downtime is an important part of life. It recharges your batteries and lets you be more productive. Allowing people to balance life and work can provide them with much needed perspective and motivation to see the bigger picture of what they are trying to achieve.

Some people are just more productive when they’re working at their optimal time of day, after feeling well rested and personally fulfilled.  For some that can be  from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m; for others, it could be  2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

People have their own rhythms and routines. It would be great if we could sync our work schedule to match. Simply put, the imposed 8-hour work day can be a creativity and morale killer for the average person in today’s world.

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Productivity and Trust Killer

Fostering creativity among employees is not always an easy endeavor, but perhaps a good place to start is by simply not tying their tasks and goals to a fixed time period. Let them work on their to-do list at their own pace, and chances are, you’ll get the best out of your employee who feels empowered instead of babysat.

That’s not to say that you should  allow your team to run wild and do whatever they want, but restricting them to a 9 to 5 time frame can quickly demoralize people. Set parameters and deadlines, and let them work at their own creative best with the understanding that their work is crucial to the functioning of the entire team.

Margaret Heffernan, an entrepreneur who previously worked in broadcasting, noted to Inc that from her experience, “treating employees like grown-ups made it more likely that they would behave the same way.” The principle here is to have your employees work to get things done, not to just follow the hands on the clock.

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A Flexible Remote Working Policy

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously recalled all her remote workers, saying she wanted to improve innovation and collaboration, but was that the right decision? We’ve all said that we’re often more productive in a half day working from home than a full day working in the office, right? So why not let your employees work remotely from home?

There are definitely varying schools of thought on remote working. Some believe that innovation and collaboration can only happen in a boardroom with markers, whiteboards and post-it notes and of course, this can be true for some. But do a few great brainstorms trump a team that feels a little less stressed and a little more free?

Those who champion remote working often note that these employees are not counting the clock, worried about getting home, cooking dinner or rushing through errands post-work. No one works their 9-5 straight without breaks here and there.  Allowing some time for remote working means employees can handle some non-work related tasks and feel more accomplished throughout the day. Also, sometimes we all need to have a taste of working in our pajamas, right?

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It’ll be interesting to see how many traditional companies and industries start giving their employees more freedom with their work schedule. And how many end up rescinding their policies like Yahoo did.

What are your thoughts of the traditional 9-5 schedule and what are you doing to help foster your team’s productivity and creativity? Hit the comments and let us know.

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