Your number 1 goal as a business is to make customers happy since your revenue depends on customers choosing your brand over the competition (even if that competition is for another product category). But, satisfying customers comes at a cost, and, for some businesses, the biggest cost comes in the form of salaries and other costs related to employees. When you increase productivity, your employees perform the same work with less waste; generating higher revenues without increasing expenses (or at least with less expense than increasing your staffing). Most workplaces have a way to go before they become efficient, streamlined operations. Even in the most efficient operations, there’s always more you can do to increase productivity, especially as new technologies help workers get more done in the same amount of time without a negative impact on customers. Here are just a few of the ideas that can help you increase productivity in your office. I hope at least one of these ideas offers a means to lower costs while keeping customer satisfaction high.
As I mentioned, staffing costs for salaries and wages are often the highest cost for a business. This is especially true in service businesses, where your people are your most valuable product. A business can lower the cost of wages by reducing staff or hiring less expensive people (often translating to hiring less skilled and those with lower levels of education). Unfortunately, this decision easily translates into poor outcomes that lower customer satisfaction and, if you accept the premise that a happy customer in one who makes repeat purchases, recommends your brand to others, and requires less costly customer service, then that’s not an acceptable means to reduce your wage expense.
Other than customer dissatisfaction (or lower levels of satisfaction), hiring low-wage workers often actually decreases productivity so your actual cost is higher. For instance, in some research I did along the Mexico border, I found companies who brought their business back to the US side due to lower productivity on the Mexican side that resulted in higher costs overall. In today’s competitive marketplace for workers, you may even find it challenging to hire workers with low wages, further decreasing productivity and lowering satisfaction levels. Lower-wage workers also turnover at higher rates and produce less than higher-wage workers.
Another option to increase productivity is to micromanage workers with oversight to punish those who don’t produce at a high enough rate. An example of this is Amazon where warehouse employees complain they don’t even have time to visit the toilet or take a break because they risk firing for low productivity. This is a public relations nightmare and invites workers to unionize, which ultimately increases wages and makes it harder to institute productivity limits. Oversight efforts, such as monitoring computer clicks to ensure workers are on-task or installing cameras to track employees, may even backfire as workers spend time and effort looking for ways to evade your oversight attempts.
Instead, here are some options to increase productivity while not substituting one problem for another.
Use collaboration software
Making it easier for your team to collaborate with one another is one of the most important things you can do when want to increase productivity. Everyone knows meetings waste time by not producing enough benefit to justify the cost. Instead of calling another meeting where folks play “Words With Friends” instead of contributing to the discussion, implement some sort of collaboration software that everyone can use together in the cloud, such as Trello or Slack. Collaboration software makes it easy for workers and managers to manage projects from anywhere and offers tools like Pert charts, like the one below, to act as an early warning system for slowdowns that threaten delivery.
Invest in your team
Investing in your team is one of the best things your business can do to increase productivity. Encouraging your staff to learn a new skill or enhance their existing skills with modern processes works directly with your efforts to improve performance. Showing your team you view them as a valuable asset to the firm almost always translates into improved performance, even when you don’t invest in training related to their job. Allowing employees to pursue their passion, whether by taking classes, or contributing to a charity, or coaching a kid’s soccer team translates into employees who work harder and find unique ways to increase productivity within the business.
Outsourcing is something you should definitely consider if you want to spend a little less money in-house and hire highly-trained workers. If you don’t need to hire someone for a long-term position or you need someone with very specific (and expensive) skills, it’s often a lot cheaper and a lot faster to simply outsource those needs to an external company. For instance, despite the prevailing wisdom, it often makes sense to hire a marketing agency rather than move the jobs in-house unless you need a large marketing effort worth the cost of hiring multiple employees and paying associated costs for tools, as you can see in the graphic below.
Getting rid of clutter
If you want your office to operate in the most streamlined and efficient way possible, you need to ensure it’s not constantly drowning in clutter. That’s something that certainly can happen if you’re not careful, so it makes sense to make the most of cheap storage units to store some of those items. And you can get rid of excessive paperwork issues by going completely paperless in your office.
A big part of ridding the business of clutter involves managing your inventory efficiently. This is a complex task where you must optimize the supply chain versus optimizing for any (or every) specific element of the supply chain to ensure the system works at peak performance. Managing your logistics and other supply chain elements is highly quantitative that requires specific training, not something you run based on intuition and historic decisions.
Track time to optimize performance
If you want to stop wasting time and you want to make your team more productive, you need to identify where time is being wasted in the first place. That’s why you should encourage your team to track their time and find out where they’re wasting time. That way, processes you can improve and streamline pretty easily moving forward.
As you can see, there are lots of things you can do to streamline your office and benefit your business in the process. So be sure to make the most of the tips and ideas above if you want to streamline your workplace and the processes that take place there each working day.
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