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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 January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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