We are all constantly looking for new ways to improve productivity in the workplace, which starts with arrangements, achievements, tools, and communication that can increase efficiency and remove distractions. Productivity in the workplace can look more nuanced than simply “heads down and working” and this list provides an easy list you can pull off that’s sure to enhance your office.
Table of Contents
16 Ways to Improve Productivity in the Workplace
- Provide a Flexible Working Arrangement
- Recognize Team Members’ Achievements
- Provide the Right Tools and Equipment
- Take Care of Your Employees’ Health
- Delegate Duties
- Work Efficiently
- Remove Distractions
- Set and Commit to Deadlines
- Improve Communication
- Avoid Booking Unnecessary Meetings
- Use 90-Minute Time Cycles
- Provide Ongoing Training Opportunities
- Improve Workplace Conditions
- Decorate Your Office
- Trust Team Members to Do Their Job
- Ensure Employees Are Happy
Provide a Flexible Working Arrangement
We are learning more and more than the traditional 9 to 5 doesn’t truly work for every employee, every business, every situation. Nearly half of all working Americans now say that a more flexible arrangement of work and schedule would allow productivity and remove the drain they feel from the 8-hour workday. With the advent of the pandemic, more businesses have learned this to be true, and that allowing a flexible schedule works better for everyone.
Employees need a schedule that works for them, one that is crafted toward their needs. As we understand that people are people and not machines, crafting flexible schedules around needs and personality makes for a stronger, more ethical, more productive workplace.
Consider these flexible working arrangements:
- Adopt a flexible scheduling policy that has clear outlines for guidance, attendance, productivity, availability, communication, and need. This can be overseen by HR or your scheduling manager to make sure it’s not being abused.
- Implement by department so that the flexible schedule policy isn’t rigid by a company-wide standard, as instead curated to the needs of different departments.
- Watch performance so that you can measure how your new flexible scheduling policy actually works and so you can know whether or not it’s bringing in improvements.
Recognize Team Members’ Achievements
We need to be more empathetic right now, and part of that empathy begins with recognizing earned achievements. Motivating your team members is a huge part of improving productivity in the workplace. It encourages good behavior, defies laziness, and boosts morale. In opposition, a lack of recognition (or petty snubbing) can make your employees disengaged and uninvolved. This threatens overall team productivity.
There are many efficient ways to recognize team members’ achievements:
- Praise them, both during meetings and during private conversations
- Reward them, either with gift cards or other incentives
- Let them leave early on the weekends (even an hour early on Friday is huge for most people)
- Get in the habit of adding positive feedback to your daily actions
- Adapt new policies and programs that explain what sorts of behaviors get rewarded
- Define success by publicly showcasing who is doing well
- Train your managers to curate employee recognition programs
Provide the Right Tools and Equipment
When we are looking for how to be more productive at work, there are many tools that we can apply that increase our output in positive ways. Remember, just because something works for one person, department, need, or company does not mean it’s universally applicable. Make sure you test the tools before making them company-wide and make sure that the tool delivers a positive return.
Tools to try:
- Communication—Any tools that streamline communication are very necessary for the modern workplace. While we are used to Slack, Zoom, Discord, and other communication apps, consider taking a second look at anything that your staff is saying aids their communication, even in casual ways.
- Collaboration—Any tools that allow project management to become more effective are important for the team. Consider using Hubstaff Tasks, Connecteam, or other apps that let your staff collaborate in real-time.
- Document—When you have an easy pull resource, it ensures that your entire team knows how to complete tasks more quickly and efficiently, and reduces confusion and the downtime for explanation. Your team needs ways to easily and quickly share their files and documents; consider getting everyone personal Dropbox and Google Drive accounts with enhanced storage space.
Take Care of Your Employees’ Health
Did you know that the health of your employees goes above and beyond simply buying into health insurance? Your employees’ physical, mental, and emotional health is primary if you want your business to stay productive. Consider the health of your employees as the motor oil of your car; without it, there will only be friction. These days, most companies are offering enhanced wellness programs that help employees rest, lose weight, prevent diseases, and mediate mental health issues. This cuts down on total sick days and enforces general wellness in the workplace that everyone notices.
The easiest way to take care of your employees’ health is to actually show that you care about them. Actually, take a moment to look across the spectrum of your workplace. Do you detect stress? Anger? Frustration? Burnout? Do things seem more glacial and languid than usual? Consider ways that you yourself can be a panacea to these issues. Put some real thought into how you can keep your employees healthy.
Delegation can be difficult for even the most adept managers. It’s a responsibility that is immensely important for improving morale and increasing the overall satisfaction of your employees. Let your responsible, qualified employees with great track records delegate tasks and watch as your management style becomes more relaxed and flexible.
This sense of delegation responsibility will allow your employees to glean the skills and experience they need to advance into meaningful leadership positions, which will benefit your company overall and widen the pool of those that can advance. This improves careers and strengthens morale when we are asking ourselves how to increase productivity in the workplace.
There may be some untapped potential in your workplace that allows for a changeup of the “way things are.” Short-term lists and long-term priorities can be extremely effective, especially in small businesses or within individual departments. Your staff need (and want) structure, and providing efficient work plans and goal lists will result in more efficient productivity that lasts the full workday.
Face it, we are all a touch addicted to social media. Whether it’s checking news updates on Twitter or getting the serotonin boost of cute family pics on Facebook, social media can be a major productivity killer. While it’s not practical to ban phones or websites, there are some ways to create productive situations that reduce distraction.
Consider encouraging your staff to turn off phones or take regular phone breaks so they aren’t “checking in” while working, which is itself a distraction. Ensure that desk time is work time; don’t outright ban anything, but encourage that people step away if they need to step away.
Set and Commit to Deadlines
One of the best ways to improve employee productivity is committing to and setting proper deadlines. When you regularly meet deadlines, you demonstrate an ability to stay locked in on your tasks. Companies that don’t commit to their deadlines can lose partners, customers, clients, and vendors if they miss their deadlines, and this goes double for employees and staff. When you run a company, it’s up to you to set the standard and meet goals.
Workflow is unilaterally enhanced by effective communication efforts. Communication lets employees complete tasks faster, collaborate effectively, provide feedback, and express their ideas and needs without worry. Through email, video conferencing tools, and instant messaging your employees can create a communication network that hosts a variety of benefits. While modern teams tend to dislike email, it’s still effective in communication. Video conferencing tools and instant messaging apps like Slack are great for immediate answers and quick tasks, and can be great tools for casual conversation and checking up on progress.
Avoid Booking Unnecessary Meetings
Despite the effects of Covid, we need to avoid booking unnecessary and repetitive meetings that take up big chunks of the day and drain employees of their energies. While meetings are great to quickly express needs and discuss strategy, there are other ways to make announcements that don’t require everyone to stop what they are doing and come together for yet another meeting. If you’ve ever heard the recent expression “this should’ve been an email,” ask yourself if that’s the case while you’re scheduling your next meeting.
Use 90-Minute Time Cycles
Have you ever tried the “90-minute session” motivational tool? Divide up the day in these segments, themselves divided by breaks. During each 90-minute push, task your employees with putting in as much effort as they can to accomplish their current task. Following is the break to recharge, and then another 90-minute push, typically followed by lunch or another major break. This helps establish a decent rhythm and gives employees something to look forward to that can prevent burnout.
Provide Ongoing Training Opportunities
When it comes to opportunities for growth in the workspace, hiring is not the only way to establish a growing business. There are plenty of people in your teams and departments that can utilize skills to help your business grow. Environments grow, evolve, and change over time. The only way to adapt to these changes is to engage in ongoing training opportunities that equip your teams with the skills they need to weather our changing economies.
Training can be more than setting up specific skills for individuals or departments. Skills such as management techniques, organizational methods, and more are all necessary to improve your team’s employee productivity. Often, employees don’t receive the training they need in these beneficial areas. These sort of training efforts showcase belief in the future of your employees. This belief will engender trust and curate a network of people that want to stay in your workplace.
Improve Workplace Conditions
Did you know that the average comfortable temperature is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit? Any environment that is too warm or too chilly distracts, and this additional discomfort can affect your employees’ work and concentration. Do you notice your employees constantly getting up for coats or jackets? Make sure that the office is a comfortable place to work season-round, and have regular conversations that try to reach the sweet spot for everyone.
Sometimes improving working conditions means scheduling activities that your employees can do together. These sorts of events can be great for improving morale, getting a sense of where everyone is at, and just letting everyone blow off some steam. Team building games and events are a great way to accomplish this while still focusing on the business.
Decorate Your Office
When was the last time you redecorated the workspace? A productive office is physically and visually pleasant, a place that’s both well-organized and well-decorated, a place that people actually want to exist in. Curate the comfort of your employees, reducing their stress and alleviating any anxieties. If your workspace is crowded, unpleasant, and disorganized, people won’t want to be there. Search for an upbeat atmosphere that is pleasing to everyone. You can even ask your employees for decoration suggestions. Maybe it’s time to move some furniture or change out the posters.
Trust Team Members to Do Their Job
Nothing is more frustrating than unnecessary micromanagement. Micromanagers are people who show that they don’t believe someone can do their job properly. We are all adults. If you hired someone, it’s because you believe in their skills, potential, and ideas. Show that you believe in your employees by trusting in them to do what’s right.
Over time, this lack of trust will show itself as an overwhelmingly toxic behavior that will erode productivity and destroy employee engagement. No one wants to feel stupid or incompetent, and you will notice that your employees aren’t working as hard or simply leaving for better jobs. Trust works both ways. If you don’t trust your team then they won’t return that trust. Set clear boundaries and expectations, and then after setting them allow your employees to be who they are and work as they will. You might be surprised by the results.
Ensure Employees Are Happy
Eliminate stress, and allow your employees to be happy. Stressful workplaces just won’t give you the results you’re looking for, and employees who are stressed will be less productive. Happiness is a prime necessity!
It’s easy to show your employees that you respect them and their time. Show that you respect their values, their place, their work. Don’t let your good employees go overlooked, and spend some time each day looking for new ways in which you can ensure employee happiness. There are so many fun ways to ensure your employees’ happiness, including communication team building activities that boost morale and allow everyone to have a little bit of fun!
In Conclusion, Happiness Means Productivity
A happy employee means a happy life (or business!). When it comes to improving productivity in the workplace there are so many things you can do: eliminate stress, search for positivity, include positive reinforcement, improve workplace conditions, and satisfy new communication needs. Everyone has it a little rough right now, and a touch of empathy goes a long way. Instead of flying off the handle or thinking your employees are being lazy, consider that they need a gentle hand and not a firm one. Your workplace is built on the livelihoods of real people, and when they sense they are being taken care of, they will return that to you tenfold.