“People are definitely a company’s greatest asset. It doesn’t make any difference whether the company’s product is cars or cosmetics. A company is only as good as the people it keeps.” – Mary Kay Ash, founder, Mary Kay Cosmetics
Running a business successfully is a lot more than just tallying up the monthly balance sheet or having a great-looking website. Companies are driven by human beings who put real ideas, feelings and emotions into doing their jobs to the best of their abilities.
When employees are generally unhappy or not being rewarded for their efforts, productivity and efficiency can sink to an all-time low. Here’s what you can do to make sure you don’t find yourself at the receiving end as a business owner.
1. Encourage Employees to Relax
Studies indicate that employees who pay attention to their physical activity and fitness level are not only high performers, but generally have a very positive outlook on their work and office environment.
You should encourage employees to stretch regularly, take breaks from time to time and even engage in simple yoga moves as part of the workday. Sitting at a desk all day or staring at a PC screen for several hours on end can seriously affect productivity.
Ask everyone to get up and move around every 1-1.5 hours just to keep the juices flowing. Right before lunch hour or after meetings, you can have a quick yoga or aerobic routine. In addition, you can also encourage everybody to pursue an active lifestyle outside of work by sitting down and discussing ideas to stay in shape.
Some employers have gone as far as to dedicate an entire floor to gym and fitness equipment. However, make sure this does not end up being tedious or forceful. Also, make sure to take proper precautionary measures to avoid workplace injuries, including slips and falls.
2. Identify “Motivation Killers” – Get Rid of ’em!
You need to give this one careful thought – what are the underlying factors that are killing employee motivation? After all, if there’s little motivation, there’s going to be limited productivity or in some cases, none at all.
A good leader is also a keen observer. He/she will be quick to identify problems that are having adverse effects on employee productivity and efficiency. The usual suspects in this case may include:
- toxic and abrasive personalities – people who are quick to propagate negativity in the workplace
- lack of professional development and advancement
- no organizational vision or long-term goals
- no appreciation or positive feedback mechanism
- poor communication channels
You need to identify all such issues with an open mind and find ways to address them in a highly positive way that’s also rewarding for employees.
3. Technology is Your Friend, as are Telecommuting Privileges
Not leveraging technology can be a grave mistake. There are a number of apps and tools available today that boost workplace productivity. Asana, for example, is one collaborative app that can lead to increased employee productivity, particularly if they’re required to communicate between different office setups.
For a fact, some workers do better when they are allowed to work from locations they are generally more comfortable with, such as their homework setup. For others, traveling can be expensive and/or time-consuming, so consider telecommuting, which can also boost productivity, according to this Harvard Business Report study.
However, make sure to explain all new technologies properly so that there is no rejection. Employees often feel anxious about new ideas; you must take steps to reduce this anxiety. This can be done by answering questions or providing tutorials.
4. Effective Communication Is Key
It’s no secret that open lines of communication lead to a highly productive workforce. Thanks to technology, we can communicate with each other at the touch of a button, or rather at the flick/tap of a finger, in some cases.
One would be inclined to believe that communication is efficient at all times, right? Not quite; one study found that too many emails, for example, can consume nearly 30% of an employee’s time.
Now we certainly don’t have anything against email; it is still one of the most effective forms of communication if used appropriately. However, if quick team communication is needed, a tool like Slack is better than just email. Or if you feel that a brief conversation can better resolve a matter rather than going back and forth with emails, go for it!
5. Set Clear Goals and Expectations
Do you honestly expect employees to be efficient if they don’t know what they’re aiming for?
- Step one: define clear goals.
- Step two: know what is expected of employees.
Without this formula, your employees may be shooting in the dark, focusing on mundane and redundant tasks day after day, eventually becoming less productive.Try the SMART system: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely. Click To Tweet
Before assigning tasks, see if those tasks fit each one of the above requirements. If they don’t, determine ways to tweak those tasks so that workers stay efficient, productive and focused.
That covers it! Take the above into consideration and arm your workforce with the tools they need to be more productive.
Originally published 11/28/16; updated and infographic added 6/18/20; added additional infographic 8/22/20.