Unproductive employees are estimated to cost U.S. businesses between $450-$550 billion a year, according to a Gallup poll. And the consequences aren’t just financial. An unproductive employee is an employee who isn’t aligned with the company's mission, and that correlates to higher staff turnover. Both results are bad for business.
What are some of the things you can do to improve employee productivity? To start, you should have a solid business plan, instructive hiring orientations, and well-documented processes and procedures. But that’s just the beginning, as you also need to take specific actionable steps. Here are some tips for doing just that.
Create and Maintain a Positive Work Culture
Easy and comfortable communication between management and staff can boost motivation. People are not only motivated by money. They want to be heard, understood, taken seriously, and looked out for. An employee who does not feel comfortable communicating to management will feel stressed, which can decrease motivation.
A lack of communication with management can lead to productivity issues on a variety of other levels as well. If an employee feels deterred from talking to management, they may not report issues that management needs to address. This can hinder or even halt important processes, causing productivity issues and costing money.
Encourage Regular Breaks
Although breaks are mandated by state and federal laws, employees are not always taking them. Studies have demonstrated the link between taking sufficient breaks at work and an increase in concentration. A more refreshed and alert employee is going to be more productive than a fatigued employee. It really goes without saying.
Provide Regular Feedback
Providing regular feedback helps guide employees along the main objectives you have for their role in the company. An employee should never be left to guess if they are on point. A worker who feels a disconnect between the company’s purpose and their own will also feel less motivated. Feedback can be broken up into informal one-on-one monthly or quarterly meetings, as well as a more thorough annual review.
Be Encouraging, Honest, and Open
Managers need to employ a skill set of care and professionalism when communicating with staff at all times. Even in the event that “negative” feedback needs to be delivered, this type of communication will help avoid unnecessary hurt pride or feelings.
Just communicating professionally at all times will do wonders for employee motivation, much better than scolding, threatening, or intimidating. Employees who feel bullied or torn down by management are not your high performers-and they are much more likely to be the staff members that resign.
Provide Thorough Training
As the old saying goes, you only get what you put in. Your employees are an investment. You pay them a salary to achieve an end - productivity in the role you have created in the company. It is foolish to not follow through and ensure they are well-versed in their tasks and commitments. Failing to properly train your staff can adversely affect their productivity. Additionally, an unprepared employee will experience more stress and in turn, will not perform as well as they could.
Provide Good Tools
The software, computer systems, office furniture, and office supplies you provide for your employees are all investments in employee productivity. Everyone is aware how frustrating working with stubborn programs, glitchy systems, and uncomfortable chairs can be. Not only is the work not being done efficiently, the impact on employee morale and attitude can be extremely negative. An employee may angrily question why the company does not provide decent systems or comfortable furniture to use all day. This can understandably lead to lower employee productivity.
Develop alignment programs
Alignment programs encourage staff to feel more connected to their colleagues, their managers, and to the company itself. These programs help employees develop a more vested interest in working at your company.
There are many types of alignment programs. Often large corporations run several different programs for their staff, as some programs are short-term and some programs will appeal to certain personality types and not others. It is good to run a variety of programs so you can appeal to different employees.
You can incorporate gamification into your training and general operations which connects users in a playful and competitive way. Or, you can create an internal magazine that employees can contribute to where they can highlight their departments or individual work. You can even run your own in-house TED Talks where staff can share experiences and motivation. You can also run a corporate volunteering program where staff and managers can rally behind supporting a charity or cause.
For the most part, encouraging your staff to be more productive requires HR and management to a have a diligent mindset, one dedicated to consistently encouraging and motivating staff for the greater good of the company. Some of these tips may be time consuming. Running annual reviews, for example, can take up precious time. But in the end, you will be improving productivity and reducing staff turnover. Your company will be a stronger and more profitable company as a result.
For more HR tips on improving employee productivity, click here.