Managing work productivity is a key goal for every business. It’s hard for businesses to survive in struggling economies, and productivity always seems like an easy metric to target. After all, if employees work more efficiently then budgets will be spent more appropriately and there will be less waste. This means bigger profits.
Many companies rely on employees to just work faster. While occasionally you do have an employee who simply isn’t pulling their weight, most of the time companies need to change their business environments to make it easier for employees to do their work. Then, their productivity naturally increases.
Here are five ways for you to increase productivity in your workplace.
1. Keep Technology Up to Date and In Good Repair
Have a copier that’s always breaking? Does your company use a program that desperately needs to be updated? Are all of your computers ancient and slow? Do your cash registers regularly fail, get stuck, or just not work properly?
When employees spend time fighting with technology that doesn’t work properly, tasks take longer. Stopping to fight with a printer or waiting for a computer to finish a job means lost time during that specific task, but it also means the employee spends time refocusing on what they need to do next. This can cause frustrations that ripple through a day.
2. Accommodate Different Working Styles
The problem is that many companies have the wrong ideas about what will increase productivity. Many offices still operate around separate, uniform cubicles, where each employee has an individual but identical workspace. Some companies allow employees to personalize their cubicles, while others do not. Other companies, meanwhile, have social workspaces with open floorplans where employees can easily collaborate with each other.
The problem is that each of these workspaces works for a certain type of person but does not work at all for another. Some employees thrive in social spaces, while others are badly distracted and can’t focus. Some employees need isolation to really get their work done, while others get socially deprived and will come up with excuses to leave their workspace just to reconnect. This can be a distraction to both them, and to other employees.
The best workplaces offer solutions for all types of employees. Social workspaces where collaboration is encouraged need to be presented in combination with areas that allow employees to hunker down and hyper focus on their tasks.
3. Reasonable Flex and Time Off Policies
Every flu season, businesses tell employees to stay home if they’re sick, but then create leave policies that don’t allow them to do so. Employees end up staying home to take care of sick family members, or when they’re feeling better, but not better enough to work. All of these sick days represent lost productivity.
Having reasonable flex time in your company – letting employees work from home, allowing them to make up hours during the week, and so forth – helps reduce that lost productivity. No, employees working from home probably won’t get as much done as they do in the office, but that’s still better than getting nothing done at all.
4. Great Training Opportunities
Yes, training your employees is an important part of maintaining office productivity, but there’s a different type of training opportunity that can be crucially important.
Modern employees change jobs and careers multiple times throughout their lives. They often want to see significant challenges in the workplace in order to stay engaged and happy. If your employees are just doing the same thing, day in and day out, they’re going to get bored, and bored is the enemy of productive.
Offering training opportunities for employees, whether that’s cross training in a new department, offering development skills to handle new tasks, or general career training to help them continue to improve at their jobs, having ways for employees to stay interested will help them stay engaged.
5. Model Reasonable Work Hours
Preventing burn out is a huge part of managing employee productivity. Employees who put in hundred hour weeks won’t stay productive at that level for long. Management can encourage employees to keep their work hours reasonable, but if they’re not actually doing that themselves, employees aren’t going to take care of themselves.
Building employee culture that praises getting work done efficiently instead of spending endless hours at the office is much more likely to be a productive work space with happy and satisfied employees.
Making sure employees stay productive is an important part of keeping a business successful, but before chastising or writing up employees who aren’t meeting productivity standards, businesses need to make sure there aren’t obstacles keep those employees from being productive and successful.