5 Strategies to Increase Employee Productivity

the-game-of-work-

5 Strategies to Increase Workforce Productivity

Usually, talent and people are the biggest factors determining a company’s success and failure.  How does a CFO energize a workforce to get the most out of these employees? Scaring employees with infective quarterly employee reviews is not best the way to drive performance and make them work smarter or harder.  As explained in the “Game of Work” written by Chuck Coonradt, it is much better to create a culture within your organization that makes people feel included.  This is a culture where staff sets individual goals, integrates them into overall company goals, and rolls all this up into a system to measure daily work performance.  Business management is not only about increasing employee output, engagement is crucial as well, according to  Bureau of National Affairs United States, businesses lose $11 billion annually as a result of employee turnover.

 We have put together a list of five (5) steps that California companies can put into place to help improve efficiency, productivity and engagement in the office.  Some of these steps defy old ways of thinking, but entrepreneurs may find that using will lead to a happier office and an increased return on investment.    

1.  Make Employees a Part of Your Culture   

icon-peopleWhatever type of business and industry you are in, be it: banking, sales, consulting, software, manufacturing..etc, you have to educate your employees on your goals, mission and value.  This is critical if you want to your bottom line to thrive- your employees are delighted and this will, in turn, please your users or customers.  Definitely have regular new hire orientations, in conjunction with semi-annual or annual “refreshers”, where employees have mass exposure to:

  • Business  
  • Culture
  • Strategy  
  • Target Audiences and Customers      

Every department at your company should distribute weekly email updates, which can include your goals and where you stand in relation to deliverables; it’s all proven beneficial to add a quote of the day or an employee of the week to your email.  Your employees are human- they are not robots.  Nurturing the people in your organization doesn’t require fear tactics, expensive perks or touchy-feely gimmicks.  It’s about motivating, engaging and listening.  Mission statements can be easy to write but difficult to conceptualize or bring to life- by nature, they are less physically tangible.

Google is a great example of a company that knows how build a “contagiously good” culture- the type of culture that attracts and does not need to advertise. Google founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, hold “TGIF” weekly hands-on meetings every Friday.  In the first 30 minutes of each meeting, they discuss and review new product launches, general news, demos on upcoming products and celebrate wins…etc.  But the second 30 minutes is the important part: Q&A.  Attendees can ask anything they want from “Will the CEO finally start wearing a suit?” to “ Is Google going in the right direction?   Staff meetings need to build transparency.  Try sharing with every employee the exact materials that were presented to at your Board of Directors as Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet does.  If you are a company that says “Our people are our greatest asset,” you must back this statement up by trusting and be open with these employees;  this is the only way to demonstrate that you believe they employees are trustworthy adults with have good judgement.  And giving these individuals more context as to what is happening (and how, and why) will enable and motivate them to do their jobs more effectively and contribute in ways a top-down manager needs.  

2.  Performance Management

Employees, on average, spend 5 and 1/2 hours per day at their desk or cubicle, and companies are paying for that time.  But sometimes the results of an employee’s work vs. time spent do not exactly align or match match up.  On the surface, a model employee that seems to highly productive can turn out to be one of your worst offenders.   The business advisory consulting company Deloitte, conducted a study, that shows that organizations are starting to realize and allocate resources to something called performance management or human capital management.  These techniques focus on measuring the performance of its employees and ensuring their output better aligns with the company’s business goals.  Some of the report’s findings include, that only 8% of workers who participated in the survey increased or drove business value. “This year, with 75% of respondents rating an ‘important’ or ‘very important’ issue, figures are up 68 percent from the previous year.        

 

Bottom line

Done poorly, performance management can not only waste valuable time, but also have a negative effect on engagement and retention. Done well, it can be one of the most inspiring and developmental events in an employee’s career, as well as drive performance improvements and organization-wide results.

3.  Ease Up the on Internet Restrictions

All too often, you hear about employers restricting the use of the internet.  This could be out of fear that company owned computers are being misused or that the company is with sensitive information which cannot be put at risk.   Needless to say, with the amount of resources that are available online, what you may not have realized is that, some tasks could be completed more efficiently if employees were allowed to browse more freely on online in ways that may not be anticipated by you, the employer.  

One example of this could, the growing use of social media platforms, which now often can have a completely legitimate business purpose.   Journalists use Twitter to learn about breaking news stories to cover.  Branding and marketing across social media channels have become a necessity for many industries to help companies and employees grow. And social media can be useful for keeping tabs on your competitors latest moves.

Be that as it may, there are still so many employers today who refuse to allow their employees to use social networks at work.  And it’s not always about Facebook; people can have zero productivity without ever opening it in day. On the contrary, some employees can be super productive social networking gurus.     

4.  Setup a System that Measures Overall Employee Activity and Productivity

icon-targetIf you think about it, measuring productivity to increase ROI can be compared to measuring sales and marketing information.  In order to increase the number of leads, you must start tracking and counting how many are coming each month.  If you want to increase sales, you must understand the channels or sources that are generating the current sales and revenue.  Breaking an entire process of working with customers into steps, measuring each step and experimenting with other tactics can lead to an increase in ROI.       

The same can be said about employee performance management.  To improve overall structure, you must step back and look at the bigger picture — it’s similar to having a recorded history to use use for historical comparisons. That way, managers can ask questions like, “How are doing this October compared to last October when we worked from a different office location?” or “How many productive hours per week does the finance team have now, compared to last month when it had less on the payroll to manage?”  

Basically, in order to improve productivity stats, the reporting numbers must come first to get a clear idea of what needs to be improved upon.

One tactic that some companies use, is to record usage of websites and applications to help keep track of productivity levels.  I have seen some employers be open about monitoring desktops, which can create a transparent accountable environment.  One piece of advice is to try to stay away from doing the “gotcha!” attitude and instead use the mindset to identify overall trends in order to find creative ways to increase productivity.

5. Set Up Goals and Use Results to Help Workers Get Better    

icon-setting-goalsThe Agile movement has permeated business, changing how companies set goals and manage people.  What is the Agile movement you may ask? Well, the Agile Movement is a new age project management system- the Agile approach uses empirical feedback and iterative work intonations.  The whole premise is complicated but it works.  Google uses a transparent, agile goal management process known as OKR (Objectives and Key Results) that focuses on giving people stretch goals and helping them to establish regular, achievable results that others can support.  

When you are setting up a measurement system, employers should have a good understanding of what their company’s current state is and then set up the rules and expectations.  As an example, if a worker was spending seven hours a day on email and office applications, and maybe one hour on personal sites a day, he or she could be considered acceptably productive. Or not. It really depends on the management’s style and point of view, which is why it’s imperative that these new guidelines are set within each department or company as a whole.  

Managers should have regular check-ins regarding goals and progress, just like other critical key-performance-indicator (KPI).  As an example, goals could include a 10% increase in sales, a 10% satisfaction in support and a 5% less time spent factor on personal internet browsing. There should also be a plan set up for counseling employees who might be falling behind due to lower productivity.  A worker’s lower productivity could be due to a number of reasons, such as (spending too much time on entertainment websites, too many workplace distractions or personal issues.)   By identifying the areas that the employee is struggling with, managers can work to assist this individual reach his or her full potential and grow, as a team member, instead of firing them and indirectly paying for the cost of turnover.   

Lastly, with certain services, employees are able to keep track of their own individual performance and then hold themselves accountable for fixing any issues.  When they can take a step back visualize where wasted time comes from, it can be much easier to to focus on eliminating those distractions.  It can also create a gamification effect of sorts — “how much work did get done today, and did I beat yesterday’s measurement?”

6. Foster a Fun Office Environment with Brain Breaks

Although monitoring and understanding employee productivity is super important to the overall financial health of the company, it is also important for managers to acknowledge that everyone is human; that we all need a break from time to time. It has been proven that taking short breaks and vacations help brain function better. As such, it is perfectly ok to allow employees some latitude in conducting personal business while on a work computer.  Or like the biotech company Genentech does, you can host happy office parties every Friday with food and beverages so that employees can unwind and socialize with each other.   

Conclusion

Whether a company is executing a structural/financial transformation, assessing cost optimization opportunities, improving internal controls or undertaking a pivotal information technology implementation initiative, people can be the greatest asset or, conversely, the highest risk.   

Meaningful Impact is the direct result of putting your mission to work with people you care about and crafting every aspect of it. The most successful companies are driven by their culture…a culture which fosters all team members to voice and shape their own career and impact the future of their business.    

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