Productivity; it’s such a difficult topic to apply any measurement to, it might appear to wax and wane with the cycles of the moon, paydays, end of the month deadlines and who knows what else. Fortunately, a mass of studies have been done on bolstering productivity in your ranks – from behavioural psychologists to workspace designers, there are many hints and tips that will make sure your employees are happy and working productively…
Create the right workplace culture
The difference between an amazing workplace and an average isn’t tangible, it’s not based on the quirkiest offices, best locations or highest sales figures – it’s based on your working culture. Research shows that if you can create an atmosphere that creates family-like camaraderie between your employees then you’re going to see productivity go through the roof.
When people are surrounded by colleagues they feel have their best interests at heart, they’ll strive for more – and even if they’re not successful 100% of the time, they’ll feel supported nonetheless.
But wait – does that mean you have to like everyone? No, not at all – as with any ‘family’, there are people who you might not see eye to eye with, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look out for them. A business needs lots of different attitudes and personalities to spread in all directions. You don’t have to like someone to value them – and here you’re demonstrating your valuing of the team as a whole, in return, you’ll get people who are willing to work hard for the good of the business.
Understand the individuals
Human psychology is such that no two people are even close to being the same, their unique set of experiences and circumstances mean what makes one person strive for the best makes another person want to call in sick and spend the day looking for another job.
It’s only when you start to understand the individuals you work with that you’ll see these differences, even teams and friends can be motivated in totally different ways – so talk to your employees and see what works for them. It means having to have a dynamic approach – and you’ll never find overall solutions that fit for all – but no one expects that. A willingness to listen and adapt, even a little, goes a long way to making people invested and productive.
There are huge numbers of people whose dedication and productivity is potentially second to none – if they were just able to stop working themselves into the ground. It is so often the case that the most dedicated workers just don’t know where the line is between hard work and burn-out, meaning stress, anxiety and other issues relating to reduced mental well-being can feature for your hardest workers.
If you can encourage people to look after themselves you’re going to find productivity benefits. Self-care might mean some flexibility around days off, working patterns, social events or holidays – or it might mean a counselling service or employee assistance schemes. Whatever it entails for your team specifically, recognising that some people need some help to keep their brain working at 100% is important.
Revisit training frequently
How many times have you been on a training refresher course and remembered something that had completely left your mind previously? When we’re training, no matter how the training is delivered, we retain only a small proportion of the overall learning.
As an employee this can put you in a difficult position – do you hold your hand up and out yourself as someone who didn’t seem to be listening? Or do you keep quiet and try your best, hoping it’ll come back to you? The answer for most people is the latter – which means confidence, skills and ultimately morale can be lacking.
Revisit training frequently, let people know it’s okay to not remember. Deliver training in different ways – a dull piece of reading to one person is exactly what another person needs, and roleplay can either be the stuff of nightmares or the key to everything clicking into place. Broad and frequent training means no-ones left behind and hoping for the best.
Provide the right kit
This feels like a bit of a no brainer – of course your team need the right equipment to do their jobs. The important thing to remember is we’re not talking about people just ‘doing’ their jobs, we’re talking about people excelling in their positions.
Your computers from Vectorcloud IT Support in Glasgow , desks, chairs and coffee machines might be the stuff of productivity dreams – but are the applications being used up to the job? Are printers a thorn in everyone’s side? Do your storage solutions make finding files and resources a painful experience?
If you’ve got a team of 10 people who individually waste 10 minutes each day on trying to get that printer to work, fumbling around with conference calling equipment and waiting for slow applications to load then you’re losing an almighty 400 work hours every year.
Talk to people about what could work better for them, allow them space to critique any process in your business and you’ll discover the blackholes that are sucking up massive amounts of productivity month on month, year on year…
Be flexible with breaks
As a manager or business owner you’re free to nip off for a coffee or a breath of fresh air whenever you feel like it would be useful – but often, employees aren’t. There are few things more demoralising than looking up and realising it’s 2 hours until you can next take a moment away from your screen – so letting people know you’re okay with ‘brain breaks’ can be a motivational shot in the arm for most people.
What’s great about being flexible is that you can expect dedication and application of effort in return. More often than not, this expectation doesn’t have to be communicated – just the fact that you’re offering this individual flexibility is enough to ensure people are onside and working productively when they’re at their machines…