Workplace Productivity: working smarter, not harder

The ability to motivate your employees to work efficiently is critical to organisational success. This is especially true during times of economic uncertainty. Businesses are being forced to work smarter and it is starting to pay off.

A recent Robert Half study of 300 financial executives in Asia indicated that the top factors contributing to increased productivity were technology improvements (43%), staff doing more with existing resources (42%), hiring additional temporary headcount (38%), and process and infrastructure improvements (21%).

Strong organisation, solid procedures and a focus on motivating your staff are key to keeping productivity high. Here are six techniques to help you keep your staff focused, passionate and productive:

  • Encourage regular honest and open communication: It is important to keep your team up to date on what your company’s short and long term goals are and let them feel involved. In addition, your team should be encouraged to know they can openly express their concerns, observations and suggestions to you. In order to prevent rumours and distrust amongst your team members keep everyone informed of any company issues that could affect them because they will find out through the rumour mill anyway.
  • Choose your words carefully: How you communicate with your staff will have a big impact on motivation. While it’s advantageous to be as transparent in your communication as possible, finding the right mix of straight talk, criticism and praise will boost your team’s productivity – and your reputation as a capable manager. Sometimes, the method is the message. When you speak with your staff, remember to be liberal with praise as most people respond to praise by working harder. Whereas people who work hard but feel underappreciated are likely to cut back on their efforts. Never criticise an employee in front of the team and try to focus on the performance not the individual.
  • Recognise staff for a job well done: Staff recognition is often overlooked but it is an extremely effective and low-cost way to improve workplace performance and productivity. Employee recognition involves the acknowledgement of a specific person or team’s contribution, which has gone beyond everyday expectations. It’s all about showing employees that their hard work is valued whether it is a simple ‘thank you’, extra days off, public praise in the company newsletter, offering training courses or giving a promotion.
  • Give clear directions: One of the most common reasons why jobs are not performed properly is that employees are not given the steer they need. Give clear direction and help your team understand how their responsibilities align with business goals, but take care not to come across as heavy-handed. When you issue a project for example, spell out as many details as you can. Many employees won’t ask for more detail for fear of appearing incompetent. And once you’ve delegated a task, don’t interfere but let them run it the way they want.  Every project must have a reasonable deadline so that your team knows what they are working towards.  
  • Manage absenteeism proactively: Absenteeism is a drain on both a business’ budget and productivity. While some leave is unavoidable, there are ways to minimise the impact when staff is out of the office, such as offering flexible working options, redirecting workflow and bringing in temporary professionals to cover longer absences.
  • Improve workplace time management: Great time management is essential for your workplace to be at its most effective and efficient. If you notice that time regularly seems to be wasted with minor organisational issues, consider a time management workshop, hosted by an expert or a member of the HR team.  Alternatively ask a member of staff who is particularly efficient to share their time management tips in an informal setting.

Finally, remember to take the time to talk to members of staff who are leaving the organisation.  You can learn a lot from them as they are walking out the door. They take with them a lot of knowledge and valuable insights into what your team are really thinking. Conducting an exit interview can often give you insight into company problems, and ultimately barriers to productivity, which you may not be able to get elsewhere.

With these strategies in place, staff members will be better able to ‘work smarter’, consistently delivering the results your business needs and ultimately ensuring your organisation stays one step ahead of the competition.

For more information on how to maximise employee productivity, download our eBook.



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