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Last Updated on April 30, 2019

7 Strategies to Increase Productivity in the Workplace

7 Strategies to Increase Productivity in the Workplace

As an employer, you know that increasing productivity in the workplace can be very beneficial for your business which is why you always strive to get the best out of your employees.

You also know that it’s not always the easiest thing to do.

Productivity in the workplace refers to how efficiently and effectively your employees achieve the goals and tasks set out for them.

Depending on the type of business you run, what constitutes as employee productivity may look a little different from company to company. Increased productivity could mean achieving a higher customer satisfaction rate, meeting earlier deadlines, or creating products in a more timely manner.

It’s worth noting that productivity shouldn’t always be measured by the amount of hours someone works. Instead, it should be measured by the work they put into their hours.

For instance, just because someone stays back and does a lot of overtime, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re being more productive than someone who has only worked the standard 40 hours. They both may have achieved the same amount of work, but it just took the former longer to do.

So, how can you increase productivity in the workplace? Here are seven strategies to try out:

1. Arm Employees with the Right Tools

Providing your employees with the right tools to do their work is a given. But the type of tools you arm them with can make a world of difference to how they work.

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An example of some tools you could use:

Be mindful when selecting tools and make sure you weigh up all of your options.

You may be inclined to go for the brand that is cheaper, but if it has less features and capabilities than one that costs a little bit more; then you may find that your employees will have to put in twice the effort or take twice as long to complete the task. Which, in the end, won’t save you as much as you had initially thought.

Here’re more productivity apps options you may want to consider: 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2019 Updated)

2. Invest in Training and Development

As an employer, it’s in your best interest to ensure that your employees grow and develop while they work for you. Sometimes, the nature of a job may change and naturally, you’d want your employee to be able to keep up. Investing in training and development can ensure exactly that.

Not only is it beneficial for them, but it will be for the company as well. Up-skilling your employees will not only widen their skillset, but it can spur them to do a better job. Your willingness to invest in developing their skills shows them that you’re committed to their growth and development, which will hopefully inspire them to invest just as much hard work into the business.

A more knowledgeable and skilled group of employees can help shape the future of your business. In order to compete with the best and succeed, you have to keep up with trends and changing methods. Investing in training and development can encourage growth at an individual level and at the business level as well.

3. Avoid Micromanaging

In an employee’s eyes, there is nothing worse than an employer that micromanages.

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Not only does micromanaging demonstrate to your employees that you’re a little bit controlling, but it can also indicate that don’t trust them enough to do a good job on their own. And if there’s a lack of trust, then how can you expect your employees to be motivated to work productively?

Once you allocate a task or project, set your expectations, offer some instructions, then let your employees be. Always be available if they need to ask questions, but let them take control of their own work.

By not monitoring their every move and telling them what and how to do things, you’re allowing your employees to learn and to make decisions for themselves.

Another reason why you should steer clear from micromanaging is that by not hovering over your employees’ shoulders while they do complete their assigned tasks, it frees up time in your busy schedule to catch up on your own work.

4. Establish Transparency

Your employees are the heart and soul of your business, keeping them engaged and in the loop is imperative to the operation of your business.

A lack of transparency towards your employees can decrease productivity in the workplace. If you leave employees in the dark with company information, then it could damage any trust built.

The level of transparency that can be offered to employees is different in every business. What you choose to share is, of course, up to your discretion and business policy. However, at the very least, information such as results and updates on what’s going on in the business should be shared to encourage a productive workplace.

Conducting regular catch ups is a good way to keep transparency across the company. It doesn’t have to be anything formal or take too much time. Depending on the size of your business, you can do it by departments and do casual team huddles every morning where everyone discusses what they’re doing and employees are updated on company-wide news.

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5. Authorize Flexible Work

Being able to skip the rush hour commute and working in the comfort of your own home is something many office workers dream of. According to the Future Workforce Report 2019[1] which surveyed over 1,000 US hiring managers, remote work has become the new normal. By 2028, it is believed that 73% of departments will have remote workers with 33% of full-timers working remotely.

Implementing a flexible workforce can become an added perk that motivates employees to work more productively. Having this flexibility is not only attractive to those who want to work at home, but also for parents and employees who have other commitments that may run at the same time as regular work hours.

For the employees who’ve proven their hard work, you can reward them by negotiating a schedule which allows them to work remotely once a month or so. It establishes trust and gives them a sense of independence. It also opens up a new way of working which could possibly see a more productive result for some workers.

6. Promote Health and Wellbeing

Employees’ health and wellbeing plays a significant role in increasing productivity in the workplace. Your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a proper rest, the quicker it can tire out. And the last thing you want is for one of your employees to tire out.

Drinking lots of water and maintaining a healthy diet is also important for keeping focus and concentrating at work. While you don’t want to dictate what your employees eat, you can encourage a balanced diet by providing healthy snacks such as fruit and nuts.

A great way to promote health and wellbeing is to make sure your employees actually take their lunch breaks and to do so away from their desks. Office workers lead sedentary lifestyles, so permit your employees time throughout the day to stretch their legs or to get some fresh air.

7. Create a Comfortable Workspace

Most people who work full-time in an office spend a huge chunk of their waking hours chained to their desks. Which is why it’s important to ensure that they’re working in comfortable surroundings.

Research has suggested that environmental factors such as lighting, temperature, and noise conditions can impact concentration and productivity in the workplace.[2] And employees who are happy with their physical environment are more likely to produce better results.

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As an employer, you can make arrangements to ensure that the office is organized for optimal productivity:

Check that there is fresh air and natural lighting coming from windows. If you don’t have the luxury of a window, install good quality light bulbs that don’t give off fluorescent lighting.

Another worthwhile investment is ergonomic equipment. While they seem expensive at first, it could actually save the business more in the long run. Think of the time and money saved on compensation for back problems or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Final Thoughts

There are many perks to increasing productivity in the workplace. It can drive profits, reduce operational costs, maximize resources, and improve customer service. Other notable things it can bring are a boost in employee engagement and an overall happy and healthy work environment.

Engaged employees are some of your business’s best asset. When an employee puts more effort and zeal into their work, they take pride in what they’re doing and are happy to be part of a team. Not only can this be economically beneficial, but it also reduces the chances of them moving onto another company.

Increasing productivity in the workplace is something every employer aspires to do, but it’s not always the easiest thing to deliver. You have to motivate your employees to do their job the most efficiently and the most effective way possible and to do that, you need strategies in place.

While the aforementioned seven may not magically transform your employees to be the most productive bunch overnight, implementing one or a few can drive them in the right direction.

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Featured photo credit: Damian Patkowski via unsplash.com

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Dinnie Muslihat

Writer & content marketer who specializes in keeping people productive.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

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