Every business owner wants their employees to be as productive as possible. For the business, higher productivity means more value per dollar spent on salaries; for the employees, higher productivity means more satisfaction with their work performance when they’re able to achieve meaningful results.
However, achieving productivity within a team of employees is harder than it seems. You’re juggling dozens of variables, including varying employee attitudes and working conditions. Fortunately, there are plenty of strategies you can use to increase employee productivity in almost any scenario.
How to increase employee productivity
These strategies all have the power to increase employee productivity in your organization:
1. Improve recruiting and hiring
Some people are simply more productive and better disciplined than others. Accordingly, one of the earliest and most effective steps you can take to increase your team’s productivity is to master your recruiting and hiring. Choose people who seem self-motivated and high-achieving, and make sure they’re a good fit for your brand.
2. Give your employees the right tools
This includes both hardware and software tools. If your employees are working with decade-old laptops, or if they’re using freeware that has limited functionality, they’re probably not going to give you their best performance. You don’t need to spend an exorbitant amount on new tech, but even minor upgrades can make a major difference.
3. Instill autonomy
Research suggests that the most important factor in employee happiness (and by extension, productivity) is autonomy, or the ability to make independent decisions. Depending on your workplace, this could mean allowing employees to choose their own projects, adjust their own schedules, or just work on tasks without close supervision. If you trust your employees, let them take charge of their own work—you’ll both be happier for it.
4. Polish your communication
Miscommunications and poorly timed communications are responsible for massive productivity loss, and in many different ways. Poorly worded messages can lead employees to incorrect opinions, resulting in wasted time on unnecessary priorities. Similarly, unarticulated expectations are almost impossible to meet. Improve your communication overall, by giving employees more mediums to use, setting standards for relaying certain types of messages, and noting instances of miscommunication that could be improved in the future.
5. Reduce meetings
Meetings are a major source of time waste in most organizations, in part because they’re held for their own sake, and in part because they involve so many different people. You can improve meetings by appointing a leader, setting an agenda, and reducing tangents, but it’s even better to reduce the prevalence of meetings altogether. For example, you can reduce the number of meetings you have and simultaneously reduce the time taken in each meeting.
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6. Prioritize health and self-care
If employees are sick, unwell, or unhappy, they’re not going to work effectively—and they’re going to be miserable in their personal lives as well. Try to prioritize health and self-care in your business whenever possible. Allow your employees to take breaks and vacations, and listen to them if they say they feel unwell or uneasy.
7. Improve morale
Higher morale is almost always correlated with higher productivity. There are several ways you can improve morale: for example, you can hold regular team building events and bring people together for lunch or after-work drinks. You can also introduce more amenities or benefits to the workplace, like a dynamic break room or more favorable parking spaces.
8. Reward good performances
When someone does a good job, reinforce their performance with a reward. Depending on your business, you could offer monetary rewards like bonuses or raises, but these aren’t necessary. You can offer plenty of positive reinforcement with a simple, congratulatory message (especially if it’s public, so other employees can see).
9. Give regular feedback
One of the easiest ways to improve productivity is to let your employees know how they can improve. If they’re doing a great job, reinforce their efforts; if they’re lacking in some key area, tell them how they can get better. Annual reviews are ideal for this, but you may want to give casual feedback more often.
10. Ask for feedback
Feedback is a two-way street. Don’t just give your employees feedback; ask them for feedback as well. They may tell you about ways they’re dissatisfied with the business, or point out ways you can improve the workplace to encourage more productivity from everyone. Take their opinions and insights seriously.
Variables and experimentation
Remember, every organization is different, and what works for one team (or one individual) may not work well for another. One of your greatest keys to success will be ongoing experimentation, implementing many different strategies and approaches to see which ones stick.
Measure employee productivity consistently, and pay attention when it increases or decreases. Eventually. you will find the right combination of tactics for your team.
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