It is the Holy Grail, endlessly pursued for its mythic ability to transform a workplace into one where projects are accomplished on time, under budget, and with relative ease. It’s what we all dream of when we think of the term. It’s also why companies do their best to search for it, like Ponce DeLeon scouring Florida for the fountain of youth.
Most come up empty handed.
Which is why workers in the United States, on average, work the highest number of work hours per year than any other nation on Earth. Our employees spend more time at the work place, and more often than not, have little to show for it.
Productivity is defined as the rate of output per unit of input.
We tend to think of it differently, in layman’s terms.
Work harder, longer, achieve more. But that’s not what it is at all. Study the definition and you realize what it really means:
It’s a measure of efficiency.
Do the same with less? That’s increased productivity.
Do more with the same? Productivity increases again.
But what is it that we tend to do?
We work more. Longer hours. Overtime. Weekends. And achieve a small measure of gain. Look at the definition again.
That’s not efficiency. That’s just working more. Your productivity hasn’t increased, you’re just seeing your kids less.
So, to help improve employee efficiency, here are five effective ways on how to improve employee productivity at work:
Match Tasks to Skills and Behavior
This seems like what kids call a no-brainer. But it’s not. Look through your organization. Unless you’ve done a corporate soul searching before, you’re going to find inefficiency, particularly when it comes to HR.
We hire based on resumés and an interview. When we interview we ask questions to determine if the candidate can do the job. And for the most part, this system works.
But human beings aren’t resumés.
And if you’ve dealt with employees, with people, for any length of time, you know that. The person answering phones might be really good at it. That’s why they are your receptionist. They’re an extrovert, and can put people at ease. But what if that’s not the best fit?
We tend to identify problems. We miss possibilities.
If your receptionist is surly, you’ll fire that person pretty quick. But what if the receptionist, the extrovert, what if they could do more? What if they were better suited for something else? What if that charisma could be utilized in sales instead? PR?
For maximum productivity and efficiency, it is vital to know not just your staffs’ skills, but their behavior.
We all toss around terms like “think out of the box.” Don’t just say it. Do it.
Search from within, identify talent and don’t be afraid to move people around. Be willing to listen to them. They’ll tell you what they really want to be doing. It’s your job to notice and to be willing to match them to positions that extract the best from them.
Have Effective Communication
Communication is the key to a healthy relationship.
It’s true in a marriage, in friendships, and in business. Build a stronger relationship with staff, increase productivity, avoid mistakes.
Most of us who own businesses tend to focus on the bottom line. The numbers pay the bills, which pay people’s salaries.
It’s true. Which is why so many of us throw a Christmas party or a summer picnic where we “mingle” and call it team building.
How many times have you read in business magazines about expensive retreats where you build communication channels between team members? Ever wonder why people pay for those things?
Let’s face the facts.
Your business isn’t a social club, and no matter how well you like Muriel’s chicken salad, it won’t help if your business can’t communicate. Think about that for a second. Team building and company picnics help with social communication.
But what matters, is enterprise communication.
If I have a problem, how do I get in contact with the person who has the solution? Does that mean I have to always go through the business owner?
You’d be surprised how often that’s the case. Do you need to be notified for every little thing? Or would it be better to build channels where the right people talk to each other at the right time?
Efficiency is the name of the game. With the help of technology, it has become easier for us to reach people from different parts of the world with just a few taps and clicks.
Pro Crew Software lets you set schedules, track time, monitor employees, send videos, photos, and documents, and hold meetings. It allows you to empower your employees to talk to each other, to solve problems efficiently while still keeping you in the loop. You can step in at any time. But you can also let them sort it out by themselves as well.
This way, you can not only improve communication with your staff, but increase productivity, all while making your employees feel empowered; much more so than a semi-annual helping of Muriel’s chicken salad. (Which is pretty darn good if we do say so by the way.)
Set Goals and Focus on Them
Another no brainer. Who doesn’t have goals? Who doesn’t want to be a millionaire? Win the World Series? Play rock and roll at Carnegie Hall? Get the picture?
All of those are goals. But take one of them, any of them, and tell me how you’ll achieve it. Can’t do it? That’s the point.
Setting goals is essential if you want your employees to be efficient and productive. But goals aren’t enough. How many companies set goals like: “Increase sales by 18.5% in the next quarter.” Why that’s wonderful! How? Does the person who set the goal know? If they did, why didn’t they communicate that? If they didn’t…. why did they set the goal?
Break down your goals. Turn them into bite sized, achievable things that people can understand. Not just when they are nodding at the Friday meeting, but when they are talking to the staff that are under their supervision, so that those staff can effectively communicate and empower line workers, be they the guys welding truck chassis on the production line, or the team pouring concrete slabs.
Because if that’s not happening, your goals are dying before they leave the conference room. Be SMART. Make sure that every goal, every time follows this pattern: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
Every meeting should end with a SMART analysis. It ensures that you have goals that will be easily disseminated throughout your organization, no matter how far they have to travel from the boardroom. Tell your employees your expectations and always be specific on the impact that the project will have.
Train Employees and Support Professional Development
Who wants to work for a crummy company that leaves you feeling like you could be replaced by a robot at any moment? Companies that invest in training their employees and supporting their professional development are companies that people want to work for. Which means, in the hiring process you’ll get your pick of the best candidates.
Not to mention, the more you invest in your employees, the more invested they will be in you. Human beings are, by and large, social creatures. If you help me, I’ll have a greater tendency to help you. Investing in your employees will help lower turnover, which will keep talent in your personnel roster, rather than in the guy across town’s company.
This doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t have to take much time. Yes, you can send employees to workshops, or to continuing education. Those have their place and they certainly have their rationales. But you can also foster a culture of support and development within your company.
Simply take time each day to teach them something new, and introduce more responsibilities. You’ll be surprised. If people feel they have opportunities, they’ll tend to rise to them. Which will help you find better places to put them, and help you match their skills to different tasks.
Use Technology to your Advantage
You’ll often read that easiest and fastest way to increase employee productivity is through using technology. But there’s a catch. The wrong technology can be a handicap. You need something that works with you, not against you. Something that doesn’t leave you dialing tech support ever few days. Or forces you into expensive upgrades to get what you thought you were buying in the first place.
Pro Crew Software can help.
We built this software to help run our own company. And for years, it's done just that. No gimmicks. No nonsense.
You, your employees, and company save more time along the way. Embrace new technology, the right technology, that can help in bettering communication can also improve productivity, reduce costs, save more time, lessen problems, and make your business grow smoothly.