Overtime at work is becoming less and less of an exception, with most employees reporting the need to stay at the office beyond the 8 hours to finish their tasks. While people think that working longer might help them whittle down their to-do lists and make them look efficient, the opposite might happen after a couple of hours of burning the night oil at work.
Every company wants to utilize their staff so that they do not end up paying people who are not delivering results. Beyond that, the quality of employees’ work affects the performance of the organization, either on the production quality of their goods or how they provide services to the clients.
On the other hand, the need to stay longer every day can seriously impact the satisfaction or motivation of employees.
The solution is for managers to promote working smarter, instead of harder or longer. By employing the right techniques, employees are able to balance different tasks and clean out their to-do lists. Doing so lessens their levels of stress as well, while employers benefit from increased productivity and satisfied customers.
Here are some steps to smarter working that employers can implement:
1) Create A Culture Of High Performance
Companies with a high-performance culture are most likely to succeed when economies are struggling. The key is to encourage employees to do their best at work and reward them for doing so. There has to be an established framework where values and behaviors are defined so that employees are guided at work.
The most important aspect is, of course, the rewards and recognition system. It does not always mean bonuses and pay raises because there are other ways to motivate your staff.
It can be as simple as thanking them, recognizing their achievements or giving them additional training. The point is to increase their involvement by making them feel valued.
2) Set Objectives
Employees will work best when they know what to prioritize and what their goals are. This is the main reason why the first step to working smarter is to set specific and realistic objectives. Normally, these objectives come from the top and get cascaded down the ranks so that all goals are related to the whole company’s and the team’s.
Beyond that, employees know how their work contributes to the achievement of the organization’s objectives. Lastly, identifying goals also sets what level of output is expected of every employee. Managers can then see who is struggling or who are performing beyond expectations.
3) Target Your Recruitment Procedures
No matter how great the product is or how competent the managers are, employees make a company great day-to-day. Hiring the right people can really have a huge impact on the company’s performance, so managers need to focus on their recruitment efforts. You want nothing less than brilliant and hardworking people on your team to remain competitive.
This means releasing the right advertisement, looking at the right places where qualified people are. Thorough screening will weed out the least qualified and lastly, taking time for a comprehensive interview to identify the right one.
The risks of hiring the wrong person are high, from wasting company money and poor performance, plus lower morale within the team. On the other hand, the right person may motivate the team to perform well.
4) Invest In Software
Computers and software have truly changed how companies perform. Managers and company owners need to invest in the right software that can make work easier for everyone. It will help accomplish tasks faster and more accurate, thus saving time in the long run. Employees can also focus on other, more complex tasks that cannot be done by a machine.
At the same time, software can help companies monitor the performance of both the company and the employees.
For example, the right time and attendance software will allow managers to check which team members are punctual or are going on overtime. This information can truly help them manage their employees and the productivity of the team.
5) Promote Organization
Most people are unable to think and work properly when their workstation is a mess. Beyond that, being disorganized will cause stress and waste time when employees have to spend time looking for necessary documents. Worse, by not utilizing tools for organization like calendars or reminders, they might not be able to keep up with their appointments.
Promoting to-do lists or other ways to keep track of tasks and deadlines can help employees identify what they should be working on during the workday.
6) Get Input From Those Who Do The Work
Many employees have ideas on how they can make their work faster and more efficient, but at times, they lack the space or the opportunity to implement these improvements. Great managers involve their employees in efforts to promote working smarter.
At times, employees might actually require tools, software or further training that helps them work better and faster. Asking the people who do the work is a smart move that will also engage and motivate employees.
7) Use The Skills You Have
It is not impossible for your employees to have a whole list of talents that they can bring to the table. While they may be responsible for a specific task, you might utilize their other skills for special projects.
While it is great for engaging your staff, you should also ensure that these other tasks do not interfere with their main work. Still, you might find out that an employee who has the skills and the motivation to design the company newsletter will save you money from outsourcing it.
8) Reduce Useless Meetings
When employees get asked about what uses up their time most, many will answer useless meetings. Instead of being able to accomplish their work, they are wasting their time on meetings that are not truly necessary.
In many cases, an email may suffice or other tools can keep everyone up-to-date. If meetings are really needed, they should be kept short.
9) Establish Overtime Policies
In some companies, employees feel the need to prove themselves to their managers to get promotions. They might think that doing a lot of overtime is key to doing so. However, companies need to stress that spending too much time on their desks does not necessarily equate to higher productivity, better output and performance. Instead, they should promote work/life balance and go home on time.
Studies have shown that it helps keep employees sharp, motivated, focused, and creative. By discouraging overtime, you might end up with employees who work smarter during their 8-hour shifts. You can also encourage them to take frequent breaks to refresh their minds.
10) Know Your Utilization Rates
Lots of managers are unaware of what is truly on their employee’s plate. In many cases, they forget to consider any existing tasks or projects and they dump new ones until their team members are overwhelmed and overworked.
Encourage a system where employees monitor existing projects and their progress, even documenting how long it takes for them to finish a specific task. This gives managers a better view as to what their employees are really up to.
11) Allow Flexible Work Schedules If Possible
Sometimes, the reason for employee inefficiency is the traditional 8-to-5 work shift. For some people, they are more active in the early mornings or some perform better in the late afternoons.
Allowing employees to work on a flexible schedule means they work when they are most efficient, while still delivering the results expected of them. It also allows them to attend to other responsibilities, and this flexibility may make them more satisfied and motivated in the end.
12) Set A Good Example
In organizations where policies are not as clear, employees copy what they see their managers are doing. While they might not encourage going on overtime, team members might be discouraged leaving the office much earlier than their superiors. These employees might also feel compelled to stay longer to work or discuss their projects with their bosses.
Beyond setting the right overtime policies and making expectations clearer, executives also need to be good role models. This means, no emails after work hours and discouraging employees to even checking their email accounts.
Working smarter benefits everyone, with employees being clearly able to differentiate their work and personal lives and managers benefitting from top performance and team efficiency. This also reduces levels of stress for everyone and increases employee motivation.
The key is to start from the beginning, meaning finding the right people and implementing proper overtime policies so that teams have the skills they need.
The great thing is, most of these steps will not cost your organization in terms of financial input. Instead, company culture and the right policies are the biggest pieces of the puzzle.
When the business values and demonstrates high-performance output, the rest of the team falls in line as well. This paves the way for the company to succeed, even in the most difficult times.