Optimizing employee productivity translates into a huge bonanza for firms as this optimization improves your bottom line. It’s no secret that many people find they have trouble being productive at times when they’re at work. Distractions, exhaustion, unhappiness – those are just some examples of reasons that can cause productivity to plummet in the workplace.
One of the best things any employer can do, irrespective of their industry or market niche, is to help their employees maintain productivity levels by removing obstacles that get in their way. Current management thought views supervisors as coaches and cheerleaders rather than just someone who issues orders they expect employees to follow. Giving your staff the resources and tools they need to manage their days or evenings better is arguably one of the best benefits you could offer for working at your company.
The following points illustrate some of the resources and tools you should consider for your teams that can work toward optimizing employee productivity while also resulting in a happier and healthier workforce.
Optimizing employee productivity
Optimizing employee productivity comes not from instituting rules and monitoring performance carefully to eliminate waste, it comes from creating accountability in the individual employee and providing them the tools necessary to succeed at their assigned tasks. That also means handling conflict to reduce friction between individuals and workgroups. Here are some things to consider when you develop a plan for optimizing employee performance:
- Invest in your employees to show them you value their contribution to the organization. For instance, offering learning and career advancement opportunities.
- Provide them with the tools and technology they need to be productive. Offer training on how to best use these tools and remember that individuals learn in their own way and some take longer than others. So, don’t destroy your opportunity to optimize employee performance by growing frustrated with their progress.
- Offer open and transparent communication throughout the firm.
- Clearly articulate goals and align compensation with these goals.
Study factors contributing to lower productivity
Start with a clear understanding of where your employees are as a first step in developing a plan for optimizing employee productivity. This provides metrics to evaluate whether your tactics are working or not. One such technique is using a time tracking system to set your benchmarks. Whether you have shift workers or not, establish a time-tracking solution for your business. You can implement such a system in various ways, from paper-based to computerized or online solutions. These days, you can even use time-tracking apps for smartphones and apps. Take a look at this interesting article – The 5 Most Important Things To Look For In A Time Tracking App – for further information.
In contrast to the time and motion studies of the past, these time trackers are used to identify how employees spend their time with the notion of overcoming obstacles they encounter rather than punishing workers who don’t accomplish a given task in the time allotted. A number of factors impact a worker’s ability to complete tasks efficiently. By understanding these factors, you can redesign tasks to create greater efficiency. For instance, employees in charge of your firm’s social media produce poor productivity when forced to stop their tasks frequently to post on the firm’s desired schedule. By using a marketing automation tool like Hubspot or Buffer, you allow workers to schedule an entire day or week of posts at one time, thus reducing the time lost by switching between tasks.
Create shifts suited to each employee
The first thing you should do is look at how much work your teams must complete each day and determine shift patterns that distribute the work evenly across shifts. Then, consider distributing workers across shifts in a way that capitalizes on their strengths and fits into their family lives. Businesses such as hospitals, distribution centers, and manufacturing operations might operate on a 24-hour schedule, with 3 shifts per day.
Hospitals managed the shift situation by moving to 12-hour shifts, with each nurse and technician working 4 shifts/ week. This reduced issues associated with handing off patients between shifts since there was only 1 rather than 2 handoffs per day. Staff satisfaction improved and patient mistakes when down. Firefighters often work 24-hour shifts and the firehouse becomes their home during the times when they don’t have a callout. There’s no reason to only consider 3 8-hour shifts per day as requisite for success.
Also, make sure the shifts you offer are suitable for each employee. For instance, some staff may prefer to work evenings due to lifestyle demands at home during the day. Often parents sacrifice their relationship in favor of working alternating shifts to ensure childcare without relying on outside services, at least when their children are young.
Make breaks and vacations mandatory
In 2019, Americans left 768 million vacation days on the table. All too often, employees feel guilty about taking breaks when they work each day – especially if they have looming deadlines – so they will typically eat lunch at their desks or forego other breaks. The same goes for vacations. In fact, US employee culture encourages workers to see themselves as indispensable and lackers if they take their allowed days off.
You should insist that all team members take regular breaks to stay productive and focused and discourage attitudes that vacations are a sign of lack of commitment to the organization. Establish a culture of work hard; play hard that emphasizes breaks and time off.
For example, you can encourage them to take frequent breaks using the Pomodoro technique, where they work for 25 minutes, take a five-minute break, and do the same again before taking a more extended break of 20 minutes. Some companies even offer smartwatches that remind employees to take a walk every hour.
Pay your staff s fair wage
Let’s face it: you should pay each team member a fair salary. But if you’re not, now is the time to make that change. Why? The answer is simple: people are generally happier and more productive if they know they’re paid fairly for their work.
If you’re unsure what you should pay workers with different levels of expertise and experience, look at average salaries for your area for each role at your business using hiring tools like Glassdoor and Indeed that collect this information directly from other workers. Consider scales rather than fixed salaries, as more senior roles or ones with extra responsibilities should get paid more than junior positions. At Johnsonville, they implemented a pay schedule based on the skills needed for a particular job as part of a reorganization of the firm around servant leadership. When an employee masters a new skill, they get a bump in pay.
Remember to pay according to those metrics and not use gender or age to influence your decisions. The last thing you want to do is introduce biases in your workplace.
Offer flexible work
The COVID-19 pandemic meant more people worked from home due to social distancing restrictions in place from state or federal governments. Today, governments reduced such restrictions thanks to the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines and lower infection rates. But, industries learned how such flexible work conditions improved productivity and job satisfaction, and it’s certainly something you should consider for your business. Allowing remote work isn’t a license to lie in bed all day, but a system allowing workers to distribute their work across all available hours as long as their work gets done in a fashion that doesn’t slow down the organization. Remote work eliminates travel time, means an employee can throw in a load of clothes between meetings, and allows them to take care of their kids rather than losing focus during the day with worry over what their kids are doing.
The levels of flexibility you offer your employees depend on the roles they fulfill and your corporate culture. One example you might consider is allowing staff to work remotely, or perhaps work unusual shift patterns to fit around their home lives. Allowing workers to share a single position also helps provide flexibility.
Another might involve allowing staff to bring their children to work; you could create an in-house daycare center staffed by professionals, giving parents peace of mind knowing their kids are nearby.
Ensure teams have the best tools available
Last but not least, did you know that employees who don’t have the right tools at their disposal struggle with productivity?
Slow computers and other office machines mean tasks take longer to complete than necessary. Faulty equipment can mean that constant repairs take up a lot of time. Slow or inappropriate software also reduces productivity and adds to employee frustrations. Re-entering data, waiting for systems to load, interrupting work repeatedly to do short tasks on time, and other slowdowns indicate you need better software tools to optimize employee productivity.
Conduct a review of what each employee uses for their work and ask them what tools they might need to improve efficiency.
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