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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.

More Articles About Workplace Productivity

Featured photo credit: Damian Patkowski via unsplash.com

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Dinnie Muslihat

Writer, content marketer & productivity enthusiast

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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

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