If you ask reality star and heiress Kim Kardashian, “Nobody wants to work these days.” If you ask the average employee, however, they’re all dying to find the focus and fortitude that they had in spades before the pandemic upended their comfortable routines. The world is on fire, workers’ minds are elsewhere, and businesses and organizations continue to suffer the consequences.
Can you do anything about employee productivity in the workplace in the twenty-first century?
If you’re familiar with behavioral psychology, then you must realize that the answer is yes! There are tactics that can help whether you’re trying to make life more efficient for new hires, or trying to help your most seasoned employees find their chutzpah again. The key is unlocking the subtle science behind achievement motivation and providing what employees need to do their best work every day.
Are you ready to increase employee productivity but aren’t sure where to start? We’ve created a guide packed with twelve ways to help support, streamline, and inspire, no matter where you work or what you do! Keep reading and get ready to improve employee productivity!
1. Expand Employee Education
Think about the last time that you learned something new and felt confident about a skill. Maybe an instructor gave you a compliment or a good mark and encouraged you. Weren’t you filled with the near evangelical skill to show off, like an energetic old dog with a new trick?
If you provide your employees with opportunities to grow, they will come back to the workplace invigorated and ready to try new things. This might mean offering a full-day professional development workshop, sending employees to a conference, or providing access to online modules. Changing up the routine is sometimes all it takes to encourage your best workers to return and revolutionize extant systems!
2. Give Them What They Need
This might be obvious, but can you anticipate high productivity on technology and equipment that isn’t up to the task? If you’re expecting high output, you need to ensure that the tasks you’re asking employees to complete are possible with the tools they have. Sometimes, you need to give your employees fresh, appropriate materials to help them get the job done.
Think about trying to complete any task on an archaic computer. By the time you get the thing booted, you’re already exhausted! Now consider getting anything done with slow loading times, outdated software, and noisy, unresponsive computer mice.
Is it an investment? Sure! But when your employees double their work output, it will start paying for itself!
3. Cultivate Culture
“Company culture” is more than a buzzword to use at meetings – it’s a series of ethics, goals, and values that inform your expectations for your workforce. Right now, where does your company stand on collaboration, relationships, and teamwork?
There is a correlation between these elements and increased productivity. How can you make them a priority?
As always, this kind of change begins at the top. Make this element of your company’s culture clear, and then create the systems that make it possible. Even remotely, programs like Slack can help employees to connect and work together across continents!
A shift from individual to group success makes a massive difference in the output that you can expect to see.
4. Talk About It
So, you’ve noticed a productivity problem and you’re scratching your head trying to fix it. While we’re glad you’re here reading this post, why was this the first place you looked for a solution? If you want to know what hurdles are preventing your employees from working at their best, ask those employees!
If you’re resistant to talk to them, why? Do you already know what the problem is, but you feel frustrated by the systems that make it hard to get over those hurdles? Even just communicating that will make it clear that you’re listening to your workers and have noticed their plight!
Make sure to keep the lines of communication open so that it works both ways. If employees feel safe coming to you about broken systems or hurdles, you can address them before they become an issue. What system do you have in place that allows your workers to come to you with problems or concerns?
5. Have a Positive Meeting
To go along with the previous suggestion, think about the last time that you called an employee into your office to speak to you. Was it to reprimand or fire them? Was it for a disciplinary meeting, or to solve a nerve-wracking problem?
If your employees only sit down with you when things are bad, they will begin to associate your interactions with anxiety and stress. You might consider implementing “positive meetings,” especially with new employees. Call an employee into your office a few times per month for a purely positive reason, to show that you see their hard work and want to acknowledge it.
This will not only open up lines of communication by reducing anxiety, but it will also encourage them! These positive meetings are the adult version of a shiny gold star on the sticker chart. If you acknowledge and praise what you want to see, you will almost certainly see more of it!
6. Clarify Your Goals
If you’re frustrated because your staff isn’t meeting your expectations, you make have to ask yourself this question: are your employees aware of the expectations?
Often, when employees aren’t meeting your goals, it’s because the goals aren’t clear to them. Your best bet is to make those goals as specific as possible so that there is no ambiguity.
Instead of a range, provide a concrete number or absolute quota. Instead of a suggestion, set an expectation. This may seem unnecessarily strict, but clarity helps people to create routines that lead to success.
The solution might be as simple as sending out a weekly email with the week’s goals spelled out clearly. You may want to offer rewards for success and some kind of clear and consistent consequence when goals aren’t met.
As mentioned, however, always keep communication at the forefront of your mind. You don’t want to punish a worker for a bad week when they have a valid excuse!
7. Streamline Your Systems
When was the last time you’ve thought about your onboarding system? Does it require a new hire to fill out and copy physical paperwork, drive it to a specific location, or mail it off to an office somewhere? Do they need to trudge out to a twice-a-year training seminar in the boondocks before they have the skills they need to start?
Now that so much has gone digital, it’s time to think about putting a system in place to streamline your onboarding process and other systems. Something as simple as consolidating paperwork in one place makes it so much easier to get new hires ready for their first day! A system like WorkBright makes it simple to cut to the chase and get all of that pesky paperwork squared away!
More often than not, these systems are easier for you, too. You’ll have all of your forms filed digitally, where they’re easy to retrieve from anywhere. It can help cut down on desk clutter – another frequent cause of low productivity!
8. Deign to Delegate
You’re the boss, so it’s natural to think that it’s 100% your place to stay on top of productivity issues and fix every problem. While it’s true that employees will look to you for solutions, it can be dangerous to center yourself as a guru who knows everything. In some cases, it’s a wise idea to delegate tasks and problem solving to those with more direct experience with the problems leading to low productivity.
Give important tasks to the employees who have proven they can complete them well. Assign a point person to a project and encourage everyone to go to them with issues. You’ll free yourself up to put out any fires as they come up, and there won’t be any confusion about the chain of command.
Plus, employees who feel valued will often rise to the occasion. If you put your faith in those top-performing employees, they will go above and beyond to prove that you didn’t make a mistake!
9. Find an Expert for That
How well do you know your employees? Could you assign some superlatives without thinking too hard? Who is the most creative, the most efficient, the most analytical, the friendliest?
If you can’t answer this question, go back to #3 and work on your company culture!
Understanding your employees’ strengths is key to assigning tasks that they can complete both efficiently and well! When your workers are doing what they are good at, they can do it quickly and with joy!
If there is a task that just isn’t getting done, take a moment and consider whether the employee working on it is the right worker for the job. Is there someone else who might excel when given the chance? Is there a place where the current employee assigned that task might excel?
If you match tasks to strengths in the workplace, everything will get done to your satisfaction!
10. Incentives for Everyone
So, you want your employees to work harder and get more done. They’re already doing the minimum and getting paid. Under those same conditions, would you want to do more, or would you rather just go home at the end of the day and binge some Netflix?
Without a strong and compelling reason to go above and beyond, employees will usually choose Netflix. What incentives are you offering for extra work, especially during particularly stressful times of the year? Is there a good reason for your best workers to stay an extra hour, or take just one more call?
Better yet, consider rewarding your employees before you get close to those tricky deadlines! Encourage them to find those efficient, effective solutions and streamline their workflow!
The incentives that work will vary based on the employee or the workplace culture. As a general rule, everyone likes extra cash!
If you can’t do that, consider the love languages that will inspire your employees. Handwritten notes, dinner for the team, public recognition, or extra PTO are all great motivators!
11. Implement a Performance Review
You’d like to make your employees more efficient and productive, but do they know whether or not they’re efficient and productive now? Go back and review tip #6 about making your goals clear to everyone. Do your employees know exactly how efficient or inefficient they are?
If not, how can you expect them to change? You can send out a million emails encouraging more productivity, but if the least productive employees don’t realize the reminder is for them, who are they helping? A performance review is a great way to let everyone on your team know exactly where they can improve.
12. Be Flexible
When you’re trying to make a big change, your first instinct might be to get more strict and rigid. In reality, the best solution is sometimes to allow space for flexibility.
For example, are your employees unproductive because their commute is killing them? Might the option to telecommute completely transform their output? If other employees need to get away from the kids to get something done, do they have the option to work in the office?
Allow your employees to let you know what they need to do their best work and try to accommodate. This might mean staggered start and end times, unique work arrangements, or something totally different! Go with the flow and see how it revolutionizes productivity in the workplace!
The Fastest Roads to Employee Productivity
The workplace has fundamentally changed since the Pandemic began, and the time to find solutions to employee productivity problems is now! Any number of the ideas above can inspire, motivate, and encourage your employees to focus and get the job done. When employees are productive, everyone feels more successful and fulfilled!
Are you still searching for solutions that can help you support and connect with your workforce? Check out the rest of the blog for more posts that might inspire your next great workplace innovation! After that, log off and get productive!