Your employees are among your company’s greatest assets. When you have great people, you can achieve great things. Investing in the right people can pay dividends in terms of profitability… but that can quickly come undone if your workplace and your work practices are unproductive.
The bottom line is, that if you hire employees, they need to produce value for your company that is greater than the cost of their salaries.
When employees are productive, it leads to an increase in revenue. Productive staff members spend the same amount of time – or less - on a task as an unproductive staff member. And they do it better! Productive people contribute to increased levels of morale among their colleagues: people can find it extremely demotivating if they are working with others who aren’t doing their fair share of work. High levels of morale in turn help you to attract and keep good workers.
Workers can be unproductive for a number of reasons, and it isn’t just through laziness. They may be working with poor systems, processes and policies that affect their productivity levels. In the worst case scenario, dysfunctional workplaces with ineffective leadership and a toxic culture can also have a negative impact on productivity levels.
To determine if you have a productive workplace, you need to assess whether your employees are efficient. You achieve this by examining your employees’ total output over a specified timeframe. How this looks will vary from workplace to workplace depending on the nature of your business and industry.
If you find that your levels of workplace productivity could do with an overhaul, there are some measures you can put in place to make improvements.
1. Properly train your employees
Sometimes in some workplaces, people learn on the job from colleagues who, in turn, also learned from colleagues. Unfortunately, their colleagues may not be performing the tasks in the most straightforward way and may be inadvertently be passing on poor work practices to their peers. Their processes might involve unnecessary steps or double-handling and other inefficiencies.
Inconsistencies in the way work is carried out can lead to mistakes being made which can in turn have a range of consequences. This can include work having to be re-done to fix errors, through to reputational and legal damage.
Mapping out the best, most efficient processes and training employees to work this way can ensure consistency across the board every time a new employee commences.
Similarly, when you have policy and procedure changes, delivering appropriate training to all affected employees will ensure they are working efficiently and effectively.
2. Ensure your employees have the tools they need
Your employees can’t be expected to work at their peak if they don’t have the right equipment and tools to do their jobs effectively. This can include the right software as well as hardware and other specialist equipment.
Sharing resources can lead to inefficiencies as well: do you have one printer, for example, among 100 employees? Do they have to regularly wait to use it? Is this the best use of their time?
3. Invest in productivity boosting apps
There are a range of innovative apps designed to make collaboration and information sharing easier across the organization. These are designed to foster teamwork and simplify work processes. Improving teamwork and collaboration has positive results for productivity.
They also enable your team to share ideas and solve problems together. When employees operate in “silos” they may be trying to solve similar problems, unaware that colleagues in other parts of the organization may have already found a solution… and spend more time and effort on the task than they need to.
4. Improve communication across the organization
Effective internal communications are necessary in order to have a productive workplace. When your workplace communication processes are poor, employees don’t understand the company’s goals and where they fit in with delivering on them.
Policies, procedures and protocols rely on robust internal communications practices to be implemented effectively.
A mass notification software tool like DeskAlerts can help to improve communications within your organization. It involves sending messages straight to desktops and bypasses the email system. Email has become increasingly unreliable as a communication channel as so many messages are sent and received every day they are easy to miss when people are busy.
The open rate for internal emails in your company, if it is like most other companies, will be around 30 or 40 per cent. And that’s a good result for email. With DeskAlerts, the open rate is never less than 90 per cent.
5. Reduce distractions in the workplace
When employees are distracted it stands to reason they’re going to be less productive. In the modern workplace these distractions can take the form of internet and social media use…and not just on computers, on mobile phones as well.
If these are causing issues for productivity within your organization, consider implementing policies where employees are unable to look at their phones during work time, for example, and can only use their devices on their breaks.
6. Encourage your employees to be more autonomous
It might seem counter-intuitive, but when you micromanage your employees and dictate their every move, it can have the opposite effect to what you may intend.
People don’t respond well to this sort of work environment and can become resentful and want to leave because they feel as though they aren’t trusted and valued. Micromanaging also stifles creative problem solving. When you give your employees the freedom, the support and the ability to have ownership over their own time and resources they can often flourish and work more effectively.
7. Gather employee feedback to make workplace improvements
Your employees are on the coal face of your organization and understand better than anyone what happens on a day-to-day basis performing various tasks across different areas of the business.
They will often have points of frustration about processes that take too long and may even have suggestions and ideas about driving improvements so that work processes are streamlined and more efficient.
You can ask your employees for feedback in a variety of ways, from surveying them anonymously, inviting them to talk face-to-face in focus groups, forming working committees or even having something as simple as an “ideas box” in a common area where they can submit suggestions.
How to measure productivity, example one: measuring time management
This method of productivity measurement determines how productive your employees are by recording how their work time is spent.
This form of measurement helps you to determine how long particular tasks take, which tasks they spend the most time on, how long is spent on non-work related activities, how long they take breaks for and how many days are lost due to illness and other absences.
You can use this measurement technique to determine inefficiencies in your processes and procedures and make adjustments and set goals to reduce wasted time in the future.
How to measure productivity, example two: quantitative measurement
Quantitative measurement of productivity examines your employees’ output over a specified time period, for example per hour, per day or per month.
So, for example, a manufacturing business may measure how many items they produce and how long it takes to make each item over a set period of time and what the financial value of those products is.
Then you can add up how much it costs you in terms of employee labor to create those products – factoring in things that the employee is not responsible for such as outages, supplier delays, equipment breakdowns, time needed for training and so on.
This will let you determine whether you are getting value for money or whether you need to make improvements.