Productivity is a constant battle for any business. A lack of productivity can result in significant amounts of unnecessary expenses and wasted resources while effective productivity can help to increase employee morale and reduce expenditures. Some practices significantly increase productivity while others are counterproductive.
In this article I am going to explore why you should be concerned about productivity and share some easy steps to increase productivity in your workplace.
Why Worry About Productivity in the Workplace?
Early in my working career, I worked in sales in a cubicle environment. Everyday, I found myself struggling to increase my productivity. You see, I was in a department that was new and understood that, while our sales were difficult to come by, they were vital to the longevity of our newly developed department.
Since our department was somewhat of an experiment, there were only about eight of us in total. This meant that we sat next to one of the more established departments which was a high producer for the company. The interesting thing about this seating arrangement was that the established department was able to make twice as many sales with less effort than our department.
As I worked on increasing my productivity every day, I watched team members of the established department sit back and often turn down certain sales because they would have been too much work - work that we would have viewed as a gold mine.
As I watched this department day in and day out, I saw the effects of ineffective productivity on this department; they started experiencing turnover, customers were often unhappy, and the profitability declined.
Through this experience, I started to understand the power productivity can have on an organization.
I believe that every business owner (and/or manager) should focus on productivity in the workplace for four key reasons:
Productivity Leads to Efficiencies
One of the greatest benefits of productivity is that it leads to efficiencies. Productivity, by nature, encourages ones focus on the things that are most important. When one is productive, priorities get accomplished. And when priorities are accomplished, a company is much more efficient by taking a priority-based approach.
Productivity Creates Employee Satisfaction
It is human nature to feel a sense of accomplishment. Whether it is the satisfaction of completing yard work on a saturday, or calling every client on your list, we feel good when we are productive. Therefore, a productive environment - one that encourages and empowers employees to be productive - helps to increase employee morale and overall employee satisfaction.
Productivity Keeps Forward Momentum
Productivity is like a train - once it stops, it takes work to get it going again. When employees are productive day in and day out, managers and business owners are able to continue to refine business practices for even greater efficiencies and effectiveness. On the other hand, however, a lack of productivity leads to baggage and inefficiencies that must eventually be overcome to restore ideal operations.
Productivity Results in Customer Satisfaction
A final benefit of productivity in the workplace is that productivity leads to customer satisfaction. When employees are productive, customer calls are returned on time, business deals are done on schedule, and fee and billing are as low as possible due to reduced overhead.
Ways to Increase Productivity in the Workplace
Increasing productivity in the workplace doesn’t have to be a huge obstacle to overcome, but rather, can be the result of simple strategic intentions. The following hacks are four simple ways to increase productivity in the workplace:
Simplify to Increase Productivity
We live in a world of constant distractions. My wife and I have actually started utilizing a small, non-grocery store when we need to quickly pick-up an item or two like milk or eggs. We have found that the large grocery chains have so many distractions that make it almost impossible to quickly run in and get only what we need - we pass a redbox in the way in and have all sorts of impulse items on the way out (not to mention everything in between).
In work, the same problems arise. If we have a project to accomplish that will take us four hours of actual work, we may be lucky to get it done in two days due to phone calls, e-mails, peer visits, lunch breaks, and many other everyday distractions.
But what if we were able to sit in an empty room, by ourselves and just focus on the task at hand without any distractions? While this rarely happens, most of us would easily be able to knock out this project in just a few hours.
I believe that one of the best ways to increase productivity in the workplace is to take away unimportant decisions and to help employees simplify so that their responsibilities involve only those tasks which are viewed as critical. Simple decisions like deciding what to eat for lunch can be a major productivity drain on your employees. Simple solutions like bringing in lunch for your employees can help increase productivity so they don’t have to waste a decision on deciding where to eat.
E-Mail Management to Increase Productivity
E-mail is one of the biggest distractions to workplace productivity. There are many ways to increase productivity in using e-mail, but one of the best tips of the trade is to learn to batch e-mail responses. As e-mails come in at all different times of the day, they can be a constant distraction from achieving planned goals and objectives if they are viewed and replied to at the (naturally random) times they come into your workflow.
Batching e-mails is the process of dealing with all e-mail replies during the same block of time. This helps to more effectively reply to e-mails as well as ensure focus is kept on other projects throughout the day. Try batching e-mails at 10:00 am and 3:00 pm.
Increasing Productivity Through Communication
Communication is by far the most important leadership component for any business. A CEO must establish a vision and effectively communicate that vision so that employees are empowered to fulfill that vision without constant micro-managed supervision.
Communication is also a key to increasing productivity in the workplace. When employees don’t understand the vision or direction the company is taking - or they don’t understand how their assignments play into the larger picture - they can become complacent and loose their desire to contribute to the team. When this happens, productivity suffers. To hedge against this, try implementing a formal communication strategy. This could be as simple as having a daily “huddle” before the day begins and intentionally asking employees what help they need to accomplish their tasks.
Effective Meetings to Increase Productivity
Another way to significantly increase increase productivity in your organization is to ensure that only productive meetings are held. Too often, employees who aren't imperative to a meeting are invited - resulting in wasted resources for the organization. The result? Meeting sabotage.
In order to ensure productivity through meetings, the first step is to determine the purpose of the meeting and identify the type of meeting that is going to be held. Next, make sure you have a clear agenda, and establish goals for the meeting. Finally, you must execute as a leader, ensuring that each attendee adheres to set agenda.