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Did you know that more than two hours in an eight-hour workday are lost due to the inefficiency of the teams. This is a lot and it may hurt your business performance in the long run.

Is no wonder that the increase in employee productivity became one of the main goals of managers and HR departments. However, sometimes this is easier said than done and it’s an issue that many companies struggle with.

The article you’re reading might come in handy here – through it, you’ll learn more about employee productivity and actionable steps you need to increase it.

Key factors that impact productivity

The obvious benefit of increased productivity is more work being done. Yet, there are more benefits than just numbers and they include satisfied customers, improved brand reputation as well as better interpersonal relations inside the company.

To make teams productive, it’s important to be proactive and implement different strategies. We’ll go through the ones with the highest impact on the productivity of the individuals in your organization.

Set and track attainable goals

Setting specific goals on the team, department, or company level helps fulfill both short and long-term objectives.

First of all, step back and think about the exact things your team should be working on. Then, define the main goals of the process. You should be aware of your team’s capacity and each of its members in the process. Ambitious goals that do not match your team’s capacity will result in burnout and high turnover. On top of that, you will most likely fail to reach your target.

Instead, divide projects into smaller tasks to motivate your team, and assign them reasonable deadlines. 

Clarify roles and tasks

Aim to personalize your communication and make sure you address specific goals during 1:1 meetings. It will be easier for people to understand their roles’ expectations this way.  Start by creating a hierarchy of their typical tasks by importance. Communicate the time frame you expect them to finish their assignments. 

While doing so, emphasize the importance of work quality over quantity. For example, develop KPIs and accountability charts to help you track performance. This is how you’ll understand the reasons behind the productivity drop of the individuals in your team. 

Use emails as a to-do list. From tasks to projects, your inbox can serve as a tool to keep track of miscellaneous tasks and actions your employees need to conduct. Time tracking tools are useful here as well. They help you get a more precise picture of the time your employees should be spending on their tasks.

It is important to establish the structure and tracking systems, but the autonomy you give to your team members matters as well. Freedom to work the way they feel the most comfortable without micromanaging will motivate them to use their best capabilities.

Prioritize well-being

People’s well-being in the workplace is a top priority. In the beginning, you may not feel the difference in physical and psychological well-being deterioration among your employees. Still, you may notice more sick leaves, decreased motivation, and deteriorated atmosphere at work. In the end, this will lead to more employees leaving your company in the long term due to a toxic environment. 

If your employees are not feeling hopeful and in a positive emotional state, their productivity will suffer. This is why mental well-being should be higher on the list of priorities than the company’s productivity or economy.

Employees should be able to speak up about their concerns without fear of consequences. This kind of culture in the workplace helps create more resilient teams and individuals. Employees will feel safer by fostering a culture of communication, connection, and openness. It should encourage learning and failing without judgment.

Work-life balance is key. You can save your employees from burnout and still be able to keep up with the results. Many tools can automatize your processes, so your employees should know how to use them. For example, a simple act of call forwarding can make a big difference.

This way, when they’re not available to answer the business inquiries, their colleague will be able to take over and finish the assignment.

There’s a practical example of the impact well-being can have on a nationwide scale. On average, depression-related medical costs and absenteeism.

Consequently, reduced productivity in the U.S. economy costs the country $210.5 billion a year. The estimated return on investment in well-being is four times higher than the initial cost.

Give and receive feedback

Develop a culture of trust so your team can grow better. Start by giving meaningful and constructive feedback regularly. Feedback will give people insight into their progress and performance quality. If you do it well, it will lead to an improvement in productivity at individual and company level.

Good feedback is the one that’s objective, specific, and forward-moving. Your employees should understand it entirely. But have in mind that feedback can sometimes create fear and anxiety among your employees. Careful delivery makes all the difference here. Maintain a positive attitude and highlight its importance for improving and growing your business. This can take some pressure off the people who are receiving feedback and put them at ease.

Encourage your employees to give feedback to you. This will help them realize that the primary goal is professional development, not giving criticism.

Use emails as a tool

Large part of business communication goes over email, which is why they can become a powerful productivity tool. Regardless of how you’re using your email, there is always room for improvement. To make emails an ally in improving productivity, pay attention to the following:

  • Use clear subject lines which summarize the content of your emails. It should also be searchable so the recipients can easily find the specific email later. 
  • Use headlines, bullets and numbering to create clear, comprehensive sections in the body of your email. This is how your readers will spend less time finding important information in it. 
  • Bold and highlight the section of your email that contains a request or an action point or even separate it from the body of the text for clarity. If you’re writing emails to large groups of people, make sure to address the person who needs to take action based on it. CC-ing should be used to make more people informed, but there’s usually only one or two people that need to take action based on your email

Reduce meetings

Meetings can be a helpful tool that will bring your team closer to company goals. But they can turn into a stepping stone on this journey as well.

Going from one meeting to another can be detrimental to your productivity since you won’t have time to focus on the critical tasks. Organizations spend approximately 15% of their time on meetings. Almost two-thirds of them are considered unproductive.

Meetings cost you resources in terms of both time and money. Per year, companies lose close to 37 billion dollars only in the U.S. 

To have productive and efficient meetings, you need to make them concise. Introduce time limits on the duration of meetings – that’s how you’ll keep everyone focused on the concrete goal.

Some companies go one step further by setting a meeting-free day per week. Without meetings for a whole day, employees have precious time to focus on work without distractions.

Emails are a good alternative to a large number of meetings – they allow team members to go over messages when they have time and don’t interrupt their work. For instance, try using them whenever you want to pass information or communicate about large chunks of data.

Communicate effectively

Effective and transparent communication is the base for good cooperation and understanding between your team members. Of course, conflicts are normal and arise occasionally, but they will be less common with effectively conveyed messages.

Digitalization made communication faster and more effective. Use shared platforms for communication, such as Slack. Collaboration programs that keep people informed about their progress are another great option. Jira is an excellent example.

Whether you choose face-to-face communication, emails, or one of the business communication tools, keep it clear and concise. That’s how you’ll stay on the same page with the people you are trying to pass the message to. This is how your employees will get definite instructions, and be able to act according to the expectations. 

Measure goals and performance

First of all, you need to understand their employees’ personal goals and interests. After that, you should see how the company resonates with them. For example, SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) can be devised to track the progress for a certain period. These kinds of goals are a necessity on a company and individual levels. By making them measurable, it will be easier to review the progress each of the team members has achieved.

If you can’t measure the performance, there are a few things you can do to improve it.

For example, if you have a sales team, you can track calls, emails, and meeting metrics through your CRM. There are many email hacks you can use to track their written communication’s success. You’ll notice that some sales representatives score higher on this scale. Their best practices can help those members of the team who score lower on the scale. 

Think beyond the profit

When employees manage their time well and get things done, they are more motivated to create even more value for your company. This will increase your profit and enable your company to sustain growth. As a result of higher productivity, you’re more likely to take better care of your employees as a reward for their efforts. This, in turn, leads to improved morale and better output, which equals to higher productivity levels. Your customers will enjoy the increased output of your company. Simply, your service will become better, and it will lead to higher profits, even though it wasn’t your main motivator.

You should remember that productivity is not just about achieving remarkable business results. Instead, it is a complex concept that should change your team’s performance and satisfaction for the better over time. The results will come as a reward for the properly executed process.

FAQ

What is the definition of productivity?

Productivity is a measure of performance or output. It compares the amount of goods and services that are produced based on the amount of resources used to create those goods and services.

In other words, it measures how efficiently the production inputs (capital and labor) are used to produce a certain amount of output.

Why is goal setting important for productivity?

The success you have in setting goals on the company and individual levels is important. It has a major influence on the productivity and motivation of your employees. Making the goals objective and attainable will help your employees complete their tasks better. In addition, without clear goals, your company will not be able to determine the direction it is intended to move. This will negatively affect all stakeholders.

How is productivity measured?

The most straightforward way to calculate productivity is to divide the average output you produced in a certain period by the costs of the resources. The output is commonly measured in units produced or in profits. Salaries, rents, materials, promotion, and other related inputs are considered costs.

About the author 

Dennis Vu is the CEO and Co-founder of Ringblaze, a virtual business phone system company that helps teams to better serve their customers, anywhere