Let’s talk about employee productivity. How do you feel about the amount of work you and your employees get done each and every day? Are you satisfied with what you’re getting accomplished? Or do you feel like your workplace productivity needs a swift kick in the pants?
If you fall into that second category, you aren’t alone. As a business owner, you have a lot on your plate. In fact, a whopping 72% of business owners feel overwhelmed by their roles and responsibilities.
You brought on employees to grow your business and lighten your own load, so it’s understandable that you want them to be as efficient and productive as possible. But here’s a scary statistic: During a typical eight-hour workday, the average worker is only productive for about three hours. Yikes. That’s hardly enough focused hours to move tasks from your “to-do” list to your “done” list at a reasonable pace.
Here’s the good news: You can do something about it. In this guide, we’re sharing some strategies you can use to boost productivity (and employee engagement too).
Employee productivity and employee engagement: What’s the big deal?
Before we get into the actual strategies, let’s talk about the employee engagement piece of the puzzle, because it’s important when improving employee productivity.
What is employee engagement? As Kevin Kruse explains in an article for Forbes, it’s the level of emotional commitment your employees have to your business and your goals.
Employee engagement has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years, and it offers a slew of benefits for employers including:
- Better employee happiness and job satisfaction
- Greater employee retention
- Higher employee loyalty
- Improved work quality
- Reduced absenteeism
- Increased employee productivity
That increased employee productivity piece is the one we really want to focus on, and employee engagement is directly linked to productivity. As research from Gallup found, lower employee engagement scores mean lower productivity and profitability.
How to increase employee productivity: 8 powerful strategies
Productive employees offer a lot of advantages. But, how do you make this happen? How do you encourage employees to get more done—without being harsh and unreasonable?
Let’s cover eight different strategies you can use to boost productivity on your team.
1. Eliminate unnecessary meetings and obligations
67% of workers say spending too much time in meetings distracts them from the core responsibilities of their jobs.
Meetings are an important and sometimes even beneficial aspect of the working world. Perhaps plenty gets accomplished during your Monday morning staff meeting and you can’t imagine not hosting your quarterly goal conversation.
Nobody is saying you need to eliminate your team’s meetings altogether. Instead, this is about ensuring each and every time you take up hours on your team’s calendar, it’s a worthy use of their time and energy. Here are a few ways to make this happen:
- Create a simple agenda for each and every meeting (and make it a requirement for all team members!). You should walk into every single meeting knowing what’s going to be discussed. If you can’t give a clear idea about the subject, then you probably don’t need to be hosting a meeting.
- Carefully evaluate your attendees. Most times, people don’t need to be in a meeting to be “in the loop.” You can provide an email summary after the fact. People should only be in the meeting if they’re expected to be active participants.
- Revisit your recurring meetings. These have the tendency to turn into glorified “catch up” sessions. Make sure that every recurring meeting on your team’s calendar is still serving a purpose and providing value.
2. Institute time tracking
It’s tough for your team to boost their productivity and improve time management skills if they don’t know where their work hours are currently going. That’s why time tracking is so advantageous. It gives you and your team members a crystal clear idea of how they’re spending their work time so that they can identify areas for improvement.
Make time tracking a core part of how your team gets work done by introducing it to new employees during your onboarding process. Frame this as a way to empower your employees to own their work hours, rather than as a monitoring activity.
Don’t worry—one survey found that 79% of respondents agree that it’s perfectly okay for employers to monitor employees’ work-related tasks.
Time tracking should save time, not waste it. Hourly automatically tracks your employees’ time and location and helps your team get more done.
3. Automate routine tasks
An estimated 45% of work activities could be automated using technology. So, if your employees are currently spending a lot of time on repetitive, mindless tasks on a daily basis, it’s time to streamline those processes and lighten their loads.
The concept of automation seems intimidating to a lot of business owners. But rest assured that it doesn’t need to be anything overly complex and there are plenty of technology solutions that make automation straightforward.
For example, you could look for a specialized solution like Hourly to automate tasks like timesheets and payroll. Or, a tool like Zapier can link together some of the apps you’re already using to automate common workflows.
With automation, important work still gets done—without a ton of elbow grease from your team.
4. Stop micromanaging
If you want your employees to get more done, that means you need to be involved in every aspect of their work. You should be looking over their shoulders and dictating how they get their work accomplished, right? Wrong.
Micromanaging can actually severely hinder productivity. In contrast, a certain level of independence is what will motivate your employees to buckle down and get more tasks checked off their lists. In fact, science proves that autonomy is a great motivator—even better than financial rewards.
As the business owner and leader, you’re there to provide guidance and direction as needed. But otherwise, step back and trust your employees to do the jobs they were hired to do. Remember, you hired them for a reason.
5. Limit distractions
Interruptions are common in any work environment, but if you really want productive employees you need to foster a company culture that prioritizes focused work.
This can take shape in a number of different ways. Perhaps you’ll normalize silencing Slack notifications for periods of time during the workday. Maybe you’ll encourage team members to tell their co-workers when they’re too busy for a casual conversation. Perhaps you’ll limit the use of social media or smartphones in your workplace. Or maybe you’ll teach employees about time blocking and avoiding multitasking.
When it takes a little over 23 minutes to refocus after a distraction, your team can’t afford to have their attention ripped from the task at hand several times per day.
If you’re unsure of the best way to address this problem, have a candid conversation with your employees to discover what would help them limit distractions.
6. Provide the right tools
A reported 56% of employees say they don’t have the technology they need to do their jobs well. When you expect your team to get more accomplished, you need to provide the right resources to help them make that happen.
Again, this is an opportunity to talk with your employees and uncover the tools they’d really like to have at their disposal. While you might not be able to implement everything, even the act of having the conversation will prove that you’re listening and boost their productivity.
7. Celebrate your wins
When you’re so singularly focused on getting more done, it’s easy to fall into the trap of demanding more, more, more. But, don’t get so obsessed with what you aren’t getting done that you forget to recognize what you are.
Create some regular opportunities to celebrate the hard work of your team. A monthly pizza party, retrospectives after big projects, or even an “employee of the month” program can show employees that you appreciate their contributions.
Plus, even these small efforts will boost their motivation levels. The progress principle states that, of all things that can improve motivation and emotions during the workday, making progress in meaningful work is the biggest.
8. Ensure work-life balance
If you think working more means getting more done, you need to think again. One study found that companies with moderate-to-severe burnout had 22% decreased work output. Instead, you need to focus on ensuring adequate work-life balance for your employees—and the best way to do this is to lead by example. When your employees see you working ridiculously long hours (25% of small business owners work more than 60 hours per week), they’ll assume the same is expected of them.
Make sure you show them that you make time for non-work commitments that are important to you and always be encouraging and understanding if employees need to tend to a personal or family obligation.
And, of course, maintain reasonable workloads and expectations so that employees are able to accomplish their tasks during their normal work hours (and don’t feel added pressure to work outside of those).
Increase productivity on your team and move things from “to-do” to “done”
You know that you and your team work hard, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’d like to get even more done (without sabotaging employee engagement). Rest assured, it’s possible. Use the strategies we’ve outlined in this guide, and you’ll get more accomplished—with less stress.