In Business Performance

Think that a team of dedicated employees is all you need to create a successful business?

Think again.

employee productivity

Commitment is great, but it doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t translate to productivity.

The word “productivity” gets thrown around a lot in the business landscape. However, few people understand how important it is to have productive workers.

Productivity is the heartbeat of your business. It keeps your company alive and thriving year on year. When your heart (/team) is working correctly, you probably don’t think about it much.

However, when something goes wrong with your heart’s normal rhythm, every other system comes grinding to a halt too.

If your productivity levels dip for too long, your company is in trouble.

So, how do you create a productivity powerhouse that keeps life-threatening incidents in your venture to a minimum?

Let’s find out.

The issue with productivity today

So, why is it so hard to get a productive workforce in 2019?

Well, we’re living in a brand-new world for one thing.

People aren’t just working together in-person anymore. We’re collaborating and communicating through cloud-based apps, software, and smartphones.

According to the Mio Workplace Messaging Report, 91% of businesses are using more than one app every day. That means we’re always jumping between different tools just to get things done.

As scientific studies tell us – multi-tasking is productivity poison.

Combine the headache of handling multiple tools, and apps with the confusion of dealing with new open-plan offices, remote working schedules, and coworkers located half-way around the globe, and you’ve got all the ingredients of a chaotic workplace.

It’s no wonder good engagement is hard to come by.

The good news?

The following ten tips will transform your business, one day at a time.

1.    Hire the right people to begin with

Okay, so you might not be able to fire the people you already have on your team – and we’re not really telling you to.

Instead, make sure that the next time you bring someone into your group, you check that they have the right attitude, as well as the appropriate skills.

You’re in a pretty great position candidate-wise these days.

After all, you can hire virtually anyone – anywhere in the world using cloud-based software and tools. You’re not restricted to choosing the most qualified person that happens to be on your doorstep.

Take advantage of this fact and ask your employees:

  • How comfortable they feel with the productivity tools you use every day (for things like calendar scheduling, video calls, conferencing, collaborating, knowledge sharing, etc.)
  • How they keep their own schedules on track by managing their to-do lists and staying on top of important deadlines.
  • What they need from you to be more productive (meetings at specific times of the day for cross-country hires, work tracking apps, better knowledge sharing capabilities, etc.)

Research shows that staff who feel “tuned in” to how your organization operates are more engaged, more efficient, and guess what….

More productive too.

2.    Use goals and targets to keep employees aligned

There are few things more harmful to productivity than your employees having no idea why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Have you ever spent a day in the office sorting through emails for hours, just to ask yourself: “What have I actually done today?”

If your team members can’t see why they’re working on something, it’s hard to remain motivated, engaged, and inspired.

On the other hand, if you set clear goals for everyone from day one, then you make sure that all your employees are on the same page. Before you start any new project:

  • Outline the goals of the work: Make a card on Trello if you have to that highlights what you want your team members to do, and why.
  • Let employees know where to go if they have questions: can they message you on Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Cisco Webex Teams?
  • Let employees know how to get help if they need it to complete the project: do you have something like Givitas in place?
  • Make priorities obvious: Ensure your employees know which of their tasks are most important right now, for your short-term goals, so they know how to organize their schedule. This is particularly important for remote workers who need to create their own calendars.

3.    Provide plenty of regular feedback through one-to-one meetings

Meetings have a pretty bad reputation these days.

A 2018 study found that the average person spends 187 hours (23 days) in meetings each year. In other words, – meetings take up a lot of time.

However, they are a vital ingredient of employee engagement when used correctly.

A productive one-on-one meeting with your staff member gives you a chance to highlight what they’re doing wrong, what they’re doing right, and where they need to make changes.

After all, we all make mistakes – but we can also learn from those errors too.

Having a remote team isn’t an excuse to avoid one-to-one meetings or conduct them poorly.

With the right software, you can just as quickly have a fruitful discussion with your employees via a video chat or conference call.

Just try to avoid giving feedback that’s all negative, all the time.

Celebrate the little wins too, and let your team members know that you appreciate them.

After all – you hired them for a reason.

4.    Encourage regular downtime and avoid burnout

Healthy, happy employees are much more productive than their sick and tired counterparts.

Around 15.4 million working days are lost in the workplace because of stress, anxiety, and depression alone.

Add in the occasional sickness bug, and you’ve got endless reasons why your team members may not even show up for work in the morning.

As an employer, you can’t stop your team from getting sick.

What you can do is protect your employees’ health as much as possible. For instance:

  • Keep stress levels to a minimum by simplifying the workload for your team members. Avoid app overload by looking for tools that integrate with others, and only introduce new software when it’s absolutely necessary.
  • Let employees use presence tools properly: Many collaboration apps come with presence tools where your team members can outline the days and times that they’ll be available to work. This is fantastic for remote workers who choose their schedule. Just make sure that you respect the “downtime” periods that your people select for themselves.
  • Encourage staff members to take regular breaks: Research suggests that people who rest their mind and body through the day are more productive. Don’t just suggest but enforce that every few hours includes at least a breath of fresh air.

You don’t have to invest in an in-office gym or yoga studio to help your team stay healthy.

5.    Improve employee skills with regular training

Companies that invest in employee training benefit from a 24% higher profit margin than their counterparts.

In fact, a development plan also leads to 37% higher productivity rates, and 21% increased income per employee.

Investing in your employees is investing in your business – it’s that simple.

While it can be nerve-wracking to spend your hard-earned cash on lessons and training for your team, it’s well worth the risk.

Even though your team members could abandon ship after they’ve received their free education, they’re statistically far more likely to stick around when your business offers development opportunities.

When you invest in training, you get happier, more productive people – and you benefit from team members with additional skills – so you don’t have to spend as much on hiring new talent.

Ongoing education is a MUST.

6.    Reward good work

It feels good to get a pat on the back for a job well-done, whether it’s from a coworker, a boss, or a supervisor. Employees love recognition. It’s the secret to turbocharging performance.

One study from ThinkSmart found that companies with incentive programs reported a 79% success rate in achieving their goals.

The great thing about rewarding your employees in the modern landscape is that you don’t necessarily need to offer huge bonuses, and cash rewards to keep people happy.

Something as simple as an emoji reaction on Slack or a thank-you message sent over email can make a massive difference to how your team feels.

There are even add-ons for your collaboration tools like Bonus.ly that can help you keep track of the rewards that you give to your people.

Remember, don’t go too crazy with your rewards.

You don’t need to give someone a $10 gift card whenever they complete a task on time.

However, finding regular ways to show your team that you appreciate them is a good idea, even if that just means using a quick Slack broadcast to say, “Nice job this week, team.”

7.    Give your teams as much flexibility as possible

Sometimes, it’s hard to be 100% flexible with your employees.

If you need all of your team members to come and learn how to use a new piece of hardware in the office, then you can’t just let them tune into the office over video.

Even in today’s highly mobile world, there may be times when you genuinely need your staff to be present in the office. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t embrace flexibility at every available opportunity.

Imagine you had a project that needs to be completed within the next 7 days. It doesn’t necessarily matter whether your employees work from 9 to 5 or from 7 till 3 to get that task done. What matters is that it’s delivered according to the right deadline.

In situations like that, there’s nothing to stop your team members from choosing their own hours and designing their schedule.

If your employees are doing digitally-focused work like responding to emails, working on virtual documents, or interacting with clients over a web conferencing tool, then they don’t always need to be in the office either.

If all your team member needs is an internet connection and the right cloud-based tools to be productive – give them the freedom to work from home.

Studies show that 60% of employees with flexible work options feel more productive and engaged. Giving your teams more freedom could be the easiest way to turbo-charge their performance.

8.    Share knowledge cohesively with the right tools

Speaking of making sure that your team has access to the correct information – if you want to boost productivity, then you need an excellent knowledge-sharing strategy.

According to Give and Take, employees often struggle to share knowledge effectively in the modern workplace.

That lack of access to the right information costs companies in the Fortune 500 an average of $31.5 billion per year.

However, when you give employees equal access to the “collective intelligence” of your company, you provide an environment where all of your team members can contribute to a more knowledgeable, inspired, and informed workforce.

This collective intelligence can include everything from voice and video recordings, to brainstorming documents, articles curated from across the web, as well as more intangible resources like experience, introductions, connections, social capital, and expertise.

The Givitas SaaS solution for knowledge sharing gives team members access to a complete collective intelligence, including all the expertise, insights, and experience of their peers.

givitas screenshot

When everyone can do their part to collectively share and build knowledge in the workplace, your company culture benefits too – creating an environment that your team is happy to be a part of.

That concept takes us onto our next point…

9.    Create the right company culture

Company culture has always been an essential part of running a productive business.

When your team members feel comfortable in their workplace, they’re more likely to achieve both their individual goals, and corporate targets too.

Of course, there’s more to culture than table tennis and after work break-out sessions.

In today’s highly digital world, you need a culture that transcends physical boundaries, to help remote workers feel just as connected as your in-office team members.

If your remote employees don’t feel as connected to your brand as the rest of your team, they’re more likely to become disengaged.

According to studies, a lack of engagement often leads to absenteeism, turnover, and low-profit margins.

Invest in an engaged company culture by:

  • Having regular video conferencing sessions where your team members can experience face-to-face interactions at a distance.
  • Keeping in-office and remote employees up-to-date about the latest news in your business with a regular newsletter.
  • Hosting one-on-one meetings with team members where you can track their development and improvements in performance over time.
  • Making it really easy and efficient for employees to exchange help, which boosts culture and productivity.

10.  Use the right technology for the best results

Finally, to create genuinely productive teams, you need to make sure that your staff members have the right tools and tech close to hand.

This ONS study found that 90% of CEOs believe that digital tech is crucial to productivity.

That doesn’t just mean making sure that they have a good internet connection and a computer. These days, team members rely on everything from project management tools like Asana, to file-sharing tools like Google Docs and Dropbox.

Rather than just dumping a selection of different software solutions onto your teams, take the time to find out what they need first.

Send out a survey asking your remote and in-office workers what kind of technology might help them to get their work done faster. Such as:

  • Calendaring and scheduling tools
  • Scrum boards and project management tools
  • Video and audio conferencing
  • To-do lists and reminder apps
  • File storage and sharing
  • Screen sharing services
  • Knowledge sharing tools

If you find that different employees prefer to use various tools, look for ways that you can integrate those things, rather than asking people to give up using their favorite apps.

For instance, solutions like Mio can sync your Slack, Cisco Webex, and Microsoft Teams spaces, so all of your instant messaging conversations are connected and you keep your teams in sync.

10X more productive in 10 days

Crushing productivity is hard.

Especially in today’s chaotic and dispersed modern workplace.

However, that doesn’t mean you should give up on creating a more aligned and engaged workforce.

The right tools, strategies, and processes will help you to give the heart of your business the charge that it needs, so your company can continue to thrive in an increasingly competitive space.

With the advice above, you’ll have everything you need to start transforming your company with better communication, collaboration, and culture.

Let us know how you’re working on your productivity levels in the comments below. Then implement these 10 changes and check back after 10 days to let us know how much of a productivity boost you’ve seen.

About the Author

I’m Dominic Kent, Director of Content Marketing & Comms at Mio. Drop me a message on LinkedIn if you need help boosting productivity levels in your business. You can also follow me on Twitter, where I regularly share insights on remote working and productivity.

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