How to increase employee productivity?
Technically speaking, employee productivity is an objective measure of units of output per units of input. However, recent trends have begun to include subjective measures when calculating employee productivity and how to achieve the ideal productivity targets. Unlike machines, human productivity is inherently subjective since no two people are exactly alike. While absolute output may still be used as a benchmark, non-tangible factors are increasingly playing a role in the measurement of employee productivity. Therefore, a best-practices approach to increasing employee productivity will include subjective criteria tailored to the individual.
No matter how many employees a company has, small business management always wants to have the most productive employees possible. The first thing to consider is how employee productivity should be defined. What exactly is employee productivity?
Productivity can be defined as how much output or product an employee creates versus the amount of time that employee puts in. Sounds simple, but small businesses often have different employees assigned to different tasks. Another important consideration when measuring employee productivity is factoring in how much the business is paying the employee. Simply put, if you have two employees producing the same amount, technically, the employee that is being paid less is more productive. In either case, as an owner, you want as much employee engagement as possible.
There are many ways to increase productivity in the work environment, whether it be through technology that is designed to boost productivity, or through non-technical processes that help increase morale and then indirectly lead to increased productivity. Here are several strategies you can use to improve your employee productivity.
Hire Right and Support
There is an old adage that says, “hire slow, fire quick.” This could not be more relevant to employee productivity. If you spend the time wisely during the hiring process, you stand a better chance of hiring the right people. Even with the best support in place, if you don’t have the right people in the right positions. Excellent options to help support hiring qualified candidates is a site like Zip Recruiter. One thing most small business owners fail to invest in is professional growth. There are local, regional and national conferences in almost any area of business including sales, marketing & public relations. There are also opportunities to join professional organizations like the National Association of Sales Professionals. An outside-the-box support strategy is to have your employees attend a conference or seminar outside of their field. There are leadership and business strategies that are universal and just because you operate a dental practice, doesn’t mean your office manager and staff wouldn’t be able to gain something from a seminar on customer service.
Have Clear Goals and Delegate Responsibility
David Mammano is known as America’s Entrepreneur Coach. He has given a Tedx talk and written a book on workplace productivity He says one of the biggest pitfalls of running a business and having productive employees is not having a clear vision or not sharing that vision with employees. “No matter what type of small business you have, your employees need to know what you want from them. Everyone has a metric or a measured goal they need to reach. As a small business owner, productivity begins and ends with you,” said Mammano. He continued, “Part of that vision is giving up control and delegating responsibilities. If you hired correctly, you should have employees that are capable of completing tasks and projects they are given. In addition to delegating, to help ensure your employees are productive, small business owners should regularly check-in with employees on the status of their assignments or projects. He even suggested a color-coded check-in with green meaning on pace, yellow meaning there are issues or concerns and red meaning that there are major concerns or issues. This strategy can be used for long-term, quarterly or even monthly goals.
Develop a Sense of Community
Trying to create camaraderie and a sense of community is another often overlooked strategy for improving productivity amongst employees. However, it is a powerful strategy and can work in any sized small business. “In one of my companies that has a small staff, we did several things together as a group that helped raise morale,” stated Mammano. “We would do field trips to local events, go to conferences together and even had a Bocce Ball tournament. A highly effective strategy is trying to connect people that don’t normally interact with each other.” Mammano also added that if your small business has a large number of employees or departments, the same strategies can be used with smaller groups or done within individual departments. “The goal, no matter how large the setting, is to make the company seem smaller and encourage cooperation.”
A day only has 24 hours in it, which can’t be controlled, but how time is spent can be controlled and more importantly, monitored. Small business owners should take advantage of the various software and websites available that make it easier to do. For a small fee per employee, Microsoft Analytics can tell you how your employees spend their time. Including other activities, it tracks employee emails and calendar entries that gives a business owner real-time data on how their employees spend their time. Time Doctor is a cloud-based service that can track how your employees use their time. It has multiple capabilities and if you have a larger company, Time Doctor will include in their fee a set-up service for you. It can track computer time, including taking screenshots and gives you an overview of each employee’s calendar. It also has the capability to run detailed reports on “poor work” time when employees visit no-work related websites. If you typically work on group or team projects, applications like Asana and Trello are project management platforms that can track tasks or assignments given to each employee. If your employees aren’t completing tasks – you’ll know it. If you are trying to increase productivity on both projects and overall work schedules, Asana can be integrated into Time Doctor.
The end-goal should be the same for whatever strategy you put in place for your small business. You want to increase employee productivity to improve your bottom line. Some strategies can be measured through technology and some methods can have indirect benefits for increased employee productivity. Any or all of them gives you, as a small business owner, a better chance of reaching that goal of becoming more profitable and successful.