Even though the ultimate goal of each business is to increase sales and make more money, I think we all agree that our most valuable resource is not money but time.
Productivity is precisely where money and time meet ‒ to achieve more and be more productive; you shouldn’t work harder. Instead, you should work smarter. The whole point is to use your time better and increase your efficiency and effectiveness.
Some managers struggle when it comes to making their teams more productive. Low morale, sloppy and unorganized processes, confused and unmotivated workers – all these are sure signs that your team is not productive enough. Even if your team is admirably productive, you can always motivate them to get better.
But this is not an easy thing to do. For this to happen, you need to take some obvious steps, but also do things that you would never think could lead to better productivity. A happy team is a productive team, so apart from having a clear agenda, you should also strive to treat your team amicably.
In this article, we will list the best ways to make your employees more productive. But before that, let us take a look at the most common productivity killers in modern offices.
What Are the Major Productivity Killers?
We all know that creating a positive office environment is the key to enjoying the time you spend at your workplace.
But do we know what hinders productivity in offices around the world? Lets’ find out.
1) Open Office Floor Plans
The main idea behind open floor plans is increasing transparency and egalitarianism in the workplace. And to a certain degree, this is effective.
But on the other hand, open floor plans are among the biggest productivity killers. They provide some distractions, so workers are unable to focus correctly.
Also, there is no privacy in such offices, which makes everybody feel like being under constant surveillance.
There are a couple of solutions, however. One of them is to install cubicles.
However, even though cubicles do reduce distractions, they make employees unhappy.
Another solution is to have a smaller office for each of your teams, allowing them to get to know each other better and eventually improve their productivity.
2) Too Many Rules
If you have imposed a long list of regulations and guidelines, you can expect your staff to get easily confused. Instead of increasing productivity, the overuse of rules leads to your employees getting lost in navigating complex processes and protocols.
Now you will say that some rules are necessary, such as those about safety in the workplace. And indeed, they are. So, instead of ditching your rules altogether, determine which ones are essential for the workplace and which ones border on micromanagement.
Don’t underestimate your workers. They don’t need rules to behave. The more rules you have, the more you make them feel like five-year-olds. When you abandon stringent regulations and focus on employee wellness instead, you will see the productivity increase automatically.
Personal technology has enabled us to do things that we would never be able to do without them. In the office, this means that workers can embrace more mobility and flexibility.
Still, if managed improperly, tech offerings can eat away employee morale, security and, of course, productivity. When your employee starts using their phone for business purposes, they will probably get distracted by calls, messages, alerts, and emails before too long.
You could solve this by examining your current protocols for personal technology in the office and then see if you have the financial means to get a work-only device for each of your workers. This will remove distractions and significantly improve their focus.
4) Messaging Apps
Tools like Slack or Trello are fantastic for improving team productivity and managing projects. With them, you can source quick answers and participate in different forms of rapid communication.
However, there is a thin line between the cases when such apps help and when they merely inhibit productivity.
Take HipChat and Google Chat, for example. They can be great distractors, and they can lead to employee anxiety very quickly. When using these apps, you always have to monitor them, which shifts your focus from the task at hand. This leads to more errors, increased anxiety and much more time spent completing the tasks.
Instead of having the messenger apps open all the time, your team could use them only for real-time and deadline-focused projects that need an immediate response. For other forms of communication, they can always use email.
Elon Musk walks out of all large meetings if he thinks they are not providing value to everyone present. And even if they do, he keeps them short.
There is something valuable to be learned from this man. After all, he is probably the greatest entrepreneur on the planet at this moment.
Although meetings can be useful for sharing work goals, creating plans and analyzing results, they often turn into time-sucking monsters that devour everyone’s life energy.
To prevent this, try standing in the meetings and keeping them short. Also, make sure that everybody comes to the meeting prepared and that you establish a clear action plan before closing the meeting.
How to Improve Employee Productivity
Now that you know what the biggest productivity killers are, and how you can get around them, it is time to take your team’s productivity to the next level.
We are going to list the best seven ways to make your team as productive as possible.
1) First, Set Your Goals
Setting clear goals is the initial step in your journey toward maximizing workplace productivity. Define critical goals and think about whether your team can execute them effectively.
You, as a team leader, need to come up with clear and concise goals as early as possible. This will help each of your team members better understand their role in achieving the common goal.
But you should also let your entire team participate in the goal-setting process. When your team has a frequent target and identifies with the goal early on, they will see it as much more critical, and they will be motivated.
If there is a large project waiting for your team, it can be intimidating to start it even if it has a reasonable deadline. When you have a gigantic project, try breaking it down into smaller goals. This will help you keep track of progress and support your team to stay motivated throughout the entire project.
Also, it is crucial that you provide clear instructions and objectives before starting a project and throughout its entire duration. When you are proactive, your team will follow. Discuss the common goal as well as individual objectives and responsibilities – What do you want your team members to do? How? When?
When you and your team have the answers to all these questions, it will be much easier to stay on track even when things are not working out as planned.
Make sure you focus on the goals which are vital to your business and acknowledge your team’s achievements when they reach a goal. Praising and rewarding is always an excellent way to keep people motivated.
2) Prioritize Your Goals and Activities
To prioritize means to make choices that are sometimes tricky. With so many different ideas, goals and resources, we can quickly get side-tracked. That is why prioritization is one of the key elements of every productive team.
Once you have set a clear goal, it is much easier to prioritize and organize your activities in a way that allows you to perform effectively. It is all about choosing what to focus on at the given moment.
Also, when you prioritize, you connect your daily actions to your goals. Start each day with a clear set of high-priority activities and take small steps toward your goals. It is not about how many things you have done but about doing them right.
To become a master of prioritization, try taking the following steps:
- Plan each day.
- Set intentions and proactively visualize all daily activities.
- Choose a couple of smaller and a couple of bigger goals to achieve each day.
- Start your day with one smaller goal as this will motivate you for the rest of your day.
3) Build Trust
Now that you are clear about your goals and the steps necessary to achieve them, you should think about your relationships with your team members.
As a manager of a small business or a smaller team within a large organization, you need to build trust in your immediate working surroundings. If you encourage confidence right from the start, not only will your team be more productive but you will extend trust to the entire organization.
These are some of the best ways to build trust in your team:
- Communicate with your team members as much as possible. Listen with respect and full attention.
- Hire and promote the people who are capable of forming positive and trusting relationships with their coworkers.
- Work on developing your team members’ skills – both professional and personal.
- Make sure your staff members have all the information they need to excel in their roles.
- Protect the interests of all employees in the team.
- Confront hard issues on time and effectively.
4) Allow Flexible Work Hours
When you build enough trust in your team, you know that they will deliver the results that you need. However, to consistently achieve great results, they sometimes need to work flexible hours.
The popularity of flexible working hours has been on the increase for some time. If you notice that your employees feel better and deliver better results when they are not expected to come to the office at 9 o’clock sharp, you should encourage flexible working hours whenever you can.
Some of the benefits of flexible working hours include:
- Higher quality of products and services
- Staff satisfaction
- More choice when it comes to hiring
- Increased productivity
5) Allow Remote Working
This is an even more radical approach than allowing only flexible working hours. When you allow your workers to telecommute, you trust them enough (remember trust?) to let them work away from the office.
Even though some people advocate against remote working, it all boils down to this: If you have hired the right people and built trust with them, they will work as efficiently from home as they would in the office. They will probably be even more productive.
And don’t worry about being unable to communicate with your remote team members. With project management tools like Trello and Slack, or even if you use CollabPress with WordPress, you will be able to communicate with them as if they were sitting right next to you in the office.
Remote working is beneficial both for your business and your employees.
This is how your team members will benefit:
- First, they will be able to set their schedules (if you allow them to do so).
- There is no need for them to dress up.
- They can work and travel at the same time.
- Your employees will have more time to spend with their family and friends.
- Also, they will not have to waste time commuting.
- Lastly, they will be far less stressed.
- When it comes to the benefits for your business, we will list only the two most important ones:
- Remote workers are engaged and productive.
- Remote working reduces office expenses.
As you can see, when you encourage remote working, not only will you spend less money but you will also get better performance from your workers.
6) Consider Reducing Work Hours
You probably see this tip like a stab in the heart. But wait for a second to hear why shorter working hours can be great for your team.
Although you think that working more hours leads to better productivity, think again.
What would motivate you to put in all your energy and focus on your tasks entirely?
An eight-hour workday
A six-hour workday
It is a fact that extended working hours lead to being less productive. Over the years, businesses have come to the following conclusions:
- Working too much leads to health issues.
- Long working hours do not result in increased efficiency.
- Working more extended hours leads to errors.
You don’t need to reduce your team’s working hours right away. Instead, measure employee output and see if your workers are indeed more efficient when they work fewer hours.
Also, you can reward the behavior you would like to encourage.
For example, if someone has finished all tasks today and they are not due until next Friday, let them leave the office and not show up until the next review meeting.
Not only will this motivate that person but other employees as well. Then, you will get what you wanted in the first place – better productivity.
By the way, when you reduce working hours, your employees won’t mind working overtime when that is necessary.
7) Always Ask for Feedback
The last tip for improving the productivity of your team is asking your employees for feedback. It is essential that you know how they feel about the working atmosphere, their role and the goals they need to achieve.
You can ask for feedback in two ways: talk to employees or ask them to fill out a survey.
Both methods have their benefits and drawbacks. It is more personal to ask your team members to tell you how they feel about everything. But the thing is that they will never tell you everything. Instead, they will probably hide the key factors that could help you solve some of the challenges in the workplace.
On the other hand, if you opt for a survey, you will find that the answers are less personal. However, a good employee satisfaction survey can give you some crucial insights, especially if it is anonymous.
Both methods are useful, but if you genuinely want to find out where your employees’ morale stands at, we recommend that you do a survey.
Who would say that some of the steps to improving employee productivity are so counterintuitive?
Once you are done setting clear goals and prioritizing them, the best thing you can do is to take care of your team members. This includes building trust with them, allowing flexible working hours and even remote working if there is a need for it. If you can, consider reducing the working hours as well.
Also, make sure you always regularly communicate with your workers and ask for feedback. When you follow all these steps, you will motivate them to perform better and be more productive.
After all, time is money. When you maximize your team’s productivity, you will need less time to achieve better results and eventually increase your company’s revenue.