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How to increase the productivity of employees

By: Jill Huettich


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Companies literally lose hundreds of billions of dollars in lost productivity in the workplace each year. This is especially problematic when you consider the increasingly competitive nature of our global marketplace. So, this begs the question of “how to increase the productivity of employees”?

And, while billions of dollars might seem like “pie in the sky” numbers that aren’t particularly relevant to your own organization, let’s make it more personal …

A key reason companies experience low productivity is employee disengagement. Employees who don’t much care for their jobs are significantly less productive than those who do.

Furthermore, an increase of just 10% in workplace engagement corresponds to a $2,400 increase in profits—per employee per year. That’s a number that may hit closer to home … which is why trying to increase productivity at your workplace makes good financial sense. Still, many organizations don’t know exactly what steps they should take to achieve that aim.

That’s what this introductory guide aims to help with. In it, you’ll learn what factors increase/decrease productivity at the workplace, as well as how you can increase your employees’ productivity to maximize output and profits.

What are factors that increase productivity?

There are a number of different variables that impact how productive a workforce is. Those factors include:

  • Employee Engagement – As mentioned earlier, happy employees are productive employees. In fact, organizations with high employee engagement are at least twice as productive as their counterparts with lower employee engagement.
  • Technology – When employees don’t have the right tools, output slows down. By contrast, technology designed to help teams meet their objectives can actually increase productivity.
  • Well-Defined Goals – Productivity is typically measured by how well a company achieves its goals. When those goals are well-defined—and even measured—employees are more likely to devote their attention to the right objectives, subsequently increasing productivity.
  • Processes – As you can imagine, streamlined processes speed up productivity, whereas cumbersome or confusing processes have the opposite effect.
  • Training – Training plays a critical role in productivity. Imagine, for example, how productive a long-term, engaged employee is, as compared to a new hire who’s still learning how to get things done.
  • Workplace Environment – Interestingly enough, a workplace that’s too hot, too cold, or too dim, can reduce productivity. Employees thrive best in pleasant working environments—not ones where they’re forced to work around their discomfort.

What are some ways of improving productivity

Here are 5 of our favorite ways to increase productivity in the workplace:

1. Improve recruiting practices

Rather than just seeking out smart, talented hires, try to find employees who fit in with your corporate culture. By recruiting people who align with your company values, you’ll increase employee engagement.

For instance, at Zappos.com, potential recruits meet with multiple Zappos employees—not just those conducting the interview. In fact, Zappos Director of Human Resources, Rebecca Henry, actually interacted with several Zappos’ employees in a variety of social settings for four months before she got the job!

While a quarter-long courtship might not be practical at your organization, it’s well-worth considering how recruits will fit into your corporate culture—before hiring them.

2. Increase employee engagement

As we mentioned earlier, engaged employees get more done. So, strive to create an environment where employees feel valued, perhaps by offering an employee appreciation program or some other type of public recognition to acknowledge a job well done.

Additionally, you can increase engagement by avoiding the tendency to micromanage. According to productivity expert, Robby Slaughter, the most effective tool for increasing productivity is to allow employees to “take ownership over how they manage their time and resources.”

3. Provide better training

Training plays an important role in employee productivity. Not only has it been shown to improve performance, but training also prevents time, money, and resources from being wasted.

Furthermore, employees often enjoy training, because it can improve the opportunities available to them within an organization. Training can also make employees feel important, because it shows that their employer is willing to invest time and money into them. As a result, training programs are useful for increasing employee engagement.

To take advantage of this at your workplace, consider developing mandatory training sessions (to onboard new hires, for example), as well as optional training for more seasoned employees. Optional training is a great way to build employees’ skill sets, while keeping team members enthused about the role they play at your organization.

4. Add more natural light

While this idea might seem farfetched, it’s backed up by research. In the late 80s, the post office in Reno, Nevada, upgraded its lighting system, making the lighting more worker-friendly.

In doing so, not only did the post office experience a $50,000 annual energy savings, but its mail sorters became the most productive sorters in the western half of the country! Just as impressive, their machine operators also had the lowest error rate.

The financial impact of these successes was a revenue boost of approximately $500,000 … per year.

While it may not be practical to move every employee’s desk next to a window, it’s worth considering an investment in warm-hued lighting.

5. Invest in the right technology

Do workers have to regularly fill out forms at your organization? Does your office perform routine tasks manually, because you lack the right software?

Productivity tools are some of the best investments a company can make, because the right technology enables workers to spend less time on mundane tasks. As a result, overall productivity is improved.

One such worthwhile investment is MindManager. With MindManager, team members can easily keep track of meetings, presentations, and personal tasks. Plus, because shared information is more readily accessible, employees save time, which ultimately increases an organization’s overall productivity.

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