Productivity in the Workplace
Contrary to popular belief, you are not productive when you have completed an entire Netflix series in one night unless that is exactly your job or you are taking a well-deserved vacation. Whether at home, college, or work, productivity in any form is beneficial. It is not one, but a collection of a great number of factors that come together to bring about the desired outcome. While achieving effective productivity seems like a tough job, it is only just the small things that all converge to make things work in the best way possible.
What a Productive Workplace Means for Businesses Today
Knowing how you can attain the greatest level of productivity possible and its importance when running a business is essential. Workplace productivity is defined as the efficiency with which available resources are utilised to produce gains or profits through a service or product offering. This is followed by evaluating the outcome and then taking the necessary steps based on the outcome to gaining even greater profits and sales with lower costs.
In simple terms, workplace productivity is the key to success in any business or organisation; it helps you unlock goals and achieve tasks with maximum efficiency. As proved by recent statistics, productive companies perform better generally, last longer in all industries, and are better able to cope with financial losses during disadvantageous times. The reason for this is that at such establishments it is not only the employer who works proficiently and neither is it the beginner level employees, but all of them come together to lead the organisation towards a brighter and more stable future.
For those interested in statistical information, it’s worth knowing that according to Gallup, 53% of employees give minimum effort. In other words, more than half of the entire global workforce putting in their least effort. What is more alarming is that actively disengaged employees cost the US economy a loss of $483 to $603 billion yearly. Moreover, the actively disengaged employees make up about 13% of the workforce, which is a sizable number.
However, the good news is that IBM revealed satisfied employees at productive and progressive companies work almost twice as hard (95%) in contrast to those with less positive involvement (55%) at work. Resultantly, companies with satisfied, engaged employees mostly outperform other less productive establishments by a whopping 202%!
Using Psychology to Boost Workplace Productivity
Now that we know what exactly workplace productivity is, learning how to implement it is imperative. According to recent research, people who are content and happy in their personal lives are mostly those who are productive in their daily lives. They are successful at work and seem to take time out for all activities despite a busy schedule. So, what do these people really do? How do they ace at work, considering all that is going on in the world and the ever-increasing workload? Here are a few easy ways for you as well as your team to boost productivity at the workplace:
- Creating an Environment of Trust and Empowerment
Naturally, when you know your effort will be appreciated, you work better, and may even go against all odds to prove you are the best at your job. When this admiration comes from the professionals at higher positions, the ecstasy intensifies.
Company heads and managers should establish that they favor autonomy and initiative as much as collaboration, no matter where or what employee-level it is coming from. Employee trust and mutual respect between employer and staff are linked to advanced levels of organisational commitment, active interest in the welfare of the organisation, and genuine intention to remain and efficiently work with the organisation.
A good way to demonstrate employee trust is to ask them to come forward and present their ideas and concepts for various projects from time to time. Furthermore, motivate them to do more in their respective departments and leave room for limited risks. If a staff member suggests a great solution or plan, ask them to elaborate on it, and remember to appreciate their effort and dedication, regardless of failure or success.
- Establishing a Healthy, Challenging Environment
A challenging environment does not always have negative impacts. Scientifically, the human brain grows smarter and stronger when it is challenged to learn and absorb. When formed correctly, a mentally stimulating environment enables employees to come up with a significant number of ideas that may wholly change things for a company.
To execute this, think of some of the issues in the company; perhaps it is reducing healthcare costs, an insufficient workforce, or decreasing profits. Instead of discussing these problems in a conference within the confines of a room, open the floor to all the relevant employees through an Idea Challenge. Next, be transparent and lay down the issues to them, asking for a decent, effective solution. Reward the top three or five ideas and implement the best one. For the employees who shared the other ideas, provide recognition openly and set them as good examples of leadership and communication, simultaneously motivating other employees.
- Encouraging Flexible Work Schedules
While all of us want the ‘perfect’ employees who take no days off, are working whenever required, and meet deadlines every single time, it is just next to impossible. Employers and managers can definitely help employees with balancing work and personal life by giving some days off with paid leaves or offering time management workshops. However, occasionally, all an employee really needs is some more time.
If an employee has a genuine reason for needing some time off, working from home, or cannot work a 9-5 desk job, allow them to work under a flexible schedule. If they are good at what they do and their efficiency does not drop while working from home or under special circumstances, focus on the results mainly. This shows that you are truly an understanding head, leading to more trust and effort from the employee. Once the unfavourable time is over, the employee can resume their work normally.
- Encouraging a ‘Solution-Only’ Policy
Unfortunately, when working in a company, especially when it is at its initial stages, problems outnumber the solutions. In a world where competition is rising day by day, keeping up and staying prepared for all possible issues is essential.
Therefore, from the very start, implement a ‘solution-only’ policy. Encourage your employees to think of solutions before any potential problems surface. In case an issue pops up, employees should begin brainstorming and focus more on forming effective solutions than fretting and making matters worse. Moreover, they should take responsibility, promptly report the problem to colleagues and heads, and learn from their mistakes.
- Praise and Reward
While all ideal employees are proactive and quick to come up with innovative ideas and solutions, great employers and managers are just as quick to recognise, praise, and reward. The term ‘reward’ does not necessarily have to be an expensive trip to Las Vegas or Europe, but even a small trophy recognising an employee’s efforts works well.
When employees know their contribution, whether big or small, will not go in vain and be appreciated and supported, they are more likely to work harder and stay consistent. Additionally, offer deserving mindful breaks and be encouraging.
An Entrepreneur’s Checklist to Maximising Productivity in the Workplace
In the sections above, we learned what exactly it means to increase productivity and how to do it. However, nothing does it better than a simple, quick checklist. Therefore, let’s break down things further to achieve maximum productivity:
1. Building a Supportive Workplace Environment
The workplace environment can make or break things for your business. It is important for each employee to feel supported and motivated for things to go smoothly and progressively. A supportive workspace empowers employees not just physically, but also mentally as Judy Village, the president-elect of the Association of Canadian Ergonomists, explains, “It’s also about designing work to suit workers’ cognitive and psychological characteristics.”
Apart from general support, offering individual and tailored understanding also works wonders. For instance, some employees may need adjustable standing desks or variably positioned computer screens; such modifications promote wellbeing and enhance focus.
Keep in mind that employees only work to their maximum capability if the workplace environment is comfortable and non-disruptive. Therefore, maintain a productive space that encompasses mental and physical support, which includes trivial particulars like temperature-regulated interiors and ergonomic furniture.
2. Effectively Assigning Duties
Understand the fine difference between delegating tasks and dumping tasks on workers. As a manager or person of authority, true delegation implies that you assign duties to the right person, considering each employee’s capabilities and niche in order to create the targeted results.
You may have a stellar team with highly proficient members; however, if you are allocating a particular task to the wrong person, you might as well drop your plan in the first place. For example, an HR employee can hire potential workers much better than the one keeping check of all the cash coming in. When assigning tasks, keep the following in mind:
- Positive Delegation: Refrain from throwing tasks at staff members specialising in another, unrelated department. Instead, go through your employee roster and see who can deliver the desired result at the right time, the right way. This will save you unnecessary hassle and also allow the designated employee to gain more knowledge and experience in their relevant field.
- Consider the Results: Ask yourself what exactly the goal is and assign the task accordingly to the person most qualified for it. Such practices help you achieve the actual results, and not just unload the tasks.
- Allow Questioning: Ensure that your employee is well aware that they can ask you questions, even at the last minute. They should be comfortable asking for help and guidance throughout the process.
- Get Input: Along the way, ask for input and be open to healthy, critical discussions over a conference call, meeting, or whatever is most appropriate. Interaction with employees, whether in a big or small company, is a must.
- Noting Progress: If you believe your employee is headed in the right direction, take note of the progress and encourage them to do better.
3. A Seamless Onboarding Process
Success is not a one-step course, but a seamless, onboarding process. According to WebOnboarding’s 2017 report, 15% and 19% of office workers turned down or left jobs due to a poor onboarding process, respectively. In addition, 37% of employees only received ‘bits and pieces’ of training, ultimately leading to reduced productivity.
To ensure a seamless onboarding process, do the following:
- Good Head-start: Highlight your workplace’s positives so that employees have a good and positive head-start.
- Step-by-Step: Complete the onboarding process for each member in a logical, step-by-step manner.
- Schedules: Provide a schedule and other relevant details at least on the first day so the employees are confident and least distressed.
- Digital Access: Provide digital access to all relevant software and accounts, such as accounts, documents, and files.
- Past and Future: Describe the workplace manner accurately, provide some background information, and the desired goals.
- Complete Understanding: Ensure that all staff members fully comprehend how and when to use the available resources, from the work computers to canteen kettles.
4. Promote Effective Communication
It is no science that clear and open communication in business, as well as general life, helps eliminate confusion and misunderstandings. For maintaining effective communication, consider the following:
- Appropriate Medium: Choosing the right medium for a task to be done quickly and correctly is essential. For example, if you plan to address an employee’s performance or suggest an improvement, is best to do it in person. In contrast, to delegate a task to the right employee, send a quick email.
- Schedule Meetings: The best way to keep track of progress or receive feedback is to conduct timely meetings. This gives an opportunity to all members to meet and break down each component, leading to better performance.
- Listen and Speak: Do not just listen to reply, but listen to understand and answer appropriately. When someone shares or explains an idea, pay full attention and nod, showing you are all ears. Once they are finished, clearly and concisely get your point across, approving or disapproving, while staying respectful and professional.
5. Encouraging a Sense of Ownership Among Employees
Ensure that while all employees know you trust them, they also understand they are entirely responsible for their actions and results.
- Sharing Vision: Start with sharing your vision so that they feel like a part of the dream and are as devoted to it as you.
- Full Involvement: Involve them in planning activities and goal setting so they witness the entire struggle personally.
- Leadership Roles: Give employees some leadership roles so they know their responsibility and commitment. Also, motivate them to solve problems or direct towards the solution instead of giving orders and commands.
- Accountability: Hold employees accountable so that they always do their best and meet deadlines. If you are offering the ideal support, it is only fair that you receive the best results.
- Feedback: Provide constructive feedback, meaning tips on how to improve and achieve more. Do not only criticise and discourage, as this is highly demotivating.
6. A Healthy Working Environment
A healthy and productive workplace is one where the authorities, employees, and all management come together to create a progressive environment, which promotes smart actions and every member’s safety.
A healthy working environment not only consists of a good-looking and well-maintained office but also satisfied employees who are glad to be part of the team. Up-keep the workspace’s condition by ensuring the occupational health and safety of your employees, which includes correct placement and coverage of electric wires and availability of fire alarms and fire extinguishers. Furthermore, treat the employees as valuable assets through sick leaves, work breaks, and workplace accidents. Free access to a gym, yoga sessions, or other weekly beneficial activities also works great.
7. Using Project Management Software
It is the era of technology and advancement. Unlike old times, pencils, erasers, and bundles of paper sheets no longer cut it. Instead, now several software applications help you plan, schedule, manage, allocate and find resources, and keep track.
Planning and Calculating: Using project management software helps you plan tasks effortlessly as they cover and calculate variables like cost, time, and scope. Such software also helps keep plans up to date and track progress against the baseline.
Overview and Management: Project management software also provides all staff members with a complete overview of finished, ongoing, and planned projects. This helps the management foresee and deal with all kinds of bottlenecks before they arise and lead to disaster.
Team Collaboration: One of the greatest benefits of software programs is increased teamwork and prompt feedback. Project management software allows employees as well as leaders to collaborate, discuss tasks, dependencies, timeliness, and outstanding work.
The Best Productivity Tips for Individuals
Let’s now list down some productive and useful tips while working individually:
1. Escaping the Abyss of Emails
Do you see an email? Answer it right there and then. As certain as you are about answering it later, that will not happen in any time less than 3 days. In fact, in three days, you probably will have 10 or more emails to reply to.
Avoid collecting and keeping a large number of answered emails as this mostly leads to greater avoidance, and worse, overlooking of time-sensitive, important emails.
2. Time Track Your Tasks
There is often a great difference between planning the time a certain task will take in your head to practically doing it. While you may theoretically complete a task uninterrupted, most times when you really get down to it there are numerous other matters requiring immediate attention; this leads you to spend a lot more time than initially planned.
However, luckily this is an easily avoidable mistake. You can either use the more complex applications that are available on phones, laptops, etc. or you can simply note down the time you start working on a project and record when you are done. As you keep practicing, you will notice you take lesser time to complete it, which ultimately motivates you to do better, and develop confidence in your abilities.
3. Identify and Overcome Distractions
Who doesn’t love that little bing from WhatsApp or Facebook on our cellphones? As necessary as that is during leisure time, it is best to avoid it when working. If things other than your smartphone are distracting you, such as the television or even a particular friend, try limiting or temporarily shutting them out during work hours.
If it is your phone, try placing it out of reach on a faraway table or inside a drawer where you do not see it until well after you are done with the task at hand. If it is a person posing a distraction, ask them, or better yet, refrain from making conversation or sending texts till you are free. Start with small periods, such as half-hour, 2 hours, 3 hours, and work your way up.
4. Work Smart – Don’t Overdo it
While knowing you have completed all your day’s tasks is good, feeling sick later on with burning, stinging eyes and a backache every other day is simply not worth it. You may have even noticed that work done in a panic or hurry is often not approved the first time around and needs to be redone or reviewed. Remember to always work smartly, not excessively. Work that is clustered or done haphazardly gives the impression that the doer is irresponsible or careless; two characteristics companies avoid at all costs. Keep the following in mind when working:
- Meeting Deadlines: To make this happen, try to start a project well before its deadline so that you have plenty of time to think and make changes.
- Save Time: Save time by eliminating mundane time-taking tasks and get on to doing the important tasks.
- Review and Revise: Leave ample time to review all that you have done. This will significantly decrease the chances of trivial as well as big errors. You may even come up with better ways to write or complete a task when revising it.
- Constant Pressure: Keeping an eye on the clock is right; however, if it is adding to the pressure, putting it aside briefly is a good option. Work normally and do the best to your abilities. Once done, you will be surprised to know you have done a decent amount of good-quality work in a short time. Take control of your day instead of letting the day control you!
5. Multi-tasking is your Enemy
When the volume of the principal idea is turned down, you end up losing focus to peripheral, and relatively less important matters. Opening 20 tabs with 20 different topics, though all relevant to your work, will certainly not help. If only, it adds to the clutter and complexity of the situation, making it difficult to untangle and resume.
For starters, turn that recent series off and reply to the friends’ group chat later. Try to free up time by outsourcing your admin tasks. See what is time-sensitive or needs relatively more time, and begin accordingly. Set time for one task and only move on to the next when it is done. Additionally, keep a clean workspace, turn off distractions, and seek a quiet place to work.
Workspace productivity is not one, two, or even three factors coming into play, but numerous, all related to various aspects. The entire team, including the employer, executives, employees, and junior staff must be content, supportive, and appreciative of one another. Ensure that each member understands their role and strives to deliver to the best of their capabilities. Whatever the outcome is, learn from it and design the next plan based on the experience you have gained.
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