One common query I frequently hear from business owners and supervisors is how to get employees to be more productive in their day-to-day jobs, and remain consistent in their productivity, all year-long. This question comes up more now than ever since so many employees are increasingly becoming complacent while working from their homes.
This is more about low or average performing employees, not the stars. Pushing a star to be more productive can have the totally opposite effect. We will create another article on keeping star employees motivated soon, so check back often.
Low, or non-optimized productivity, can really hurt a business’ success both in the short-term and the long-term – with such behaviours spreading from one employee or workgroup to another.
Tackling productivity issues can be a challenge for many, as productivity is often the outcome, or symptom, of something more complex than just encouraging employees to work harder, pick up the pace, or work differently… what is the real cause?
Here are 7 proven techniques to help address productivity challenges in the workplace:
How is productivity defined in your workplace? Is it socialized in your workplace by how many hours an employee spends at their desk? How many emails are sent out or responded to? How many checkmarks on a to-do list or completion of projects? How early or late an employee works outside of traditional hours? Number of happy clients? Does “thinking time” or research time count?
Bottom line… are you assessing productivity on the right markers? Consider how you define productivity based on key performance indicators and measures. One size does not fit all when it comes to the nature of an employee’s work and the outcomes to be produced. This is where great two-way communications with an employee can come in very useful.
Engagement vs. satisfaction
The term “engagement” goes back decades; however, it still is a very meaningful one. An engaged employee is one who takes ownership in their work and is working in the best interest of the company, not just the self. According to Gallup, highly engaged businesses realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity. A “satisfied” employee, however, is one who’s needs are being fulfilled by their work or their employer – it may however not be in the best interest of the employer.
What initiatives or actions are you taking as the business owner or supervisor to get your team engaged in their work and to see their job as a meaningful one?
Giving employees more control over their work
Employees who have greater levels of control over how work is done, demonstrate greater commitment and engagement. Rather than tell employees what has to be done or how they are to do it, ask them for their input and ideas – the results will speak for themselves.
What gets measured, gets respected. Supervisors who work with employees to create goals, key performance indicators or measurable results will undoubtably see greater results in productivity. This clarity allows employees to better understand what is expected of them, and while there may be exceptions, most employees will work towards meeting them.
Reward performance, not personality
It’s easy to fall victim to praising or assigning preferential tasks to an employee based on how much you like them, their personality, or “just like me” syndrome. Employees who see this type of behaviour from supervisors can easily become demoralized or feel disenfranchised. Watch for this in your own management style and be sure to praise employees for their actual productivity, performance, or quality of work.
Invest in your culture
Workplaces where supervisors carefully craft a positive and motivating workplace culture have proven the difference it can make in productivity and performance. If a company does not specifically work towards building a preferred culture, the workplace will definitely create its own in the absence of one - and it may not be the one you want. It can be very hard to course-correct once a culture is in place so implement strategies early on to create the one you want.
Investing in employee development
Supervisors who support employee’s personal and professional development have a significantly greater chance of retaining employees and getting the best from them. Employees generally want to learn and to grow, take on more challenging work, or contribute in more meaningful ways. Giving them the tools, skills and motivation to do so will go a long way towards building a meaningful relationship, garnering trust and commitment. These elements all have a profound impact on employee productivity.
If you take the time to put in place these 7 techniques, you are setting the groundwork for a more productive work environment where employees are inspired to take greater ownership in their work – sounds like a place I would want to work!
Reach out to the specialists at TAP Strategy & HR Consulting to help you get the greatest productivity from your team at your workplace, all while building employee commitment and business success.
Bruce Weippert is the co-founder and president of TAP Strategy & HR Consulting, a boutique-style management consulting firm specializing in strategy, HR services and Helping Businesses Succeed.