Does your team have a productivity problem?
If so, they’re in good company. About 75 percent of employers say that more than two hours of each work day is spent being unproductive. That adds up to about ten hours a week – longer than an average day of work! Even the most dedicated and engaged employees have reported leaving the office feeling like their day was unproductive.
It can be hard to pinpoint exactly what is killing team productivity, which can make it difficult to figure out how to improve the situation. Lucky for you, we’ve put together a list of five tips for improving productivity without having to compromise quality or efficiency. Just do us a favor and promise not to read it while you’re on the clock.
5 Ways to Improve Your Team’s Productivity (Without Compromising Quality or Efficiency)
1. Don’t (just) set goals
Setting goals is about the oldest trick in the book when it comes to improving productivity, so I bet you were expecting it to be on this list… wrong! Well, kind of wrong at least. Instead, you should create a process, and focus on that instead of your goals.
Goals can seem overwhelming, or focused too far in the future. It’s hard for employees to know what to work on today in order to reach the desired outcome in a month from now. A process gives you a clear outline for what you need to do every day. For example, if your goal is to run a marathon, your process is your training schedule. The same idea can be applied to a project at work. The process gives you actionable objectives that keep you focused enough to achieve what may at first seem to be a daunting task without obsessing over the outcome.
2. Stop spamming inboxes
Email is essential for business communication due in large part to its convenience, ease of use, and inexpensiveness. When email first came on the scene, people were astonished by how quickly they could send communications back and forward. What they didn’t see coming was how time-consuming email would become. The promised ease of sending an email led to more correspondence and inboxes full of unimportant messages. In fact, the average worker spends 13 hours a week on email nowadays, which takes up about 28% of their work week.
This is a difficult problem to fix, because emails do provide a lot of utility. They can be particularly useful for straightforward information sharing. There are plenty of times, however, when a message could be more efficiently communicated over the phone or in-person. In fact, a face-to-face request has been found to be 34 times more successful than email. So what are the situations when email is best avoided?
You should not use emails when:
- Asking open-ended questions. There’s no better way to start a game of inbox tag that goes on for hours (or even days).
- Explaining something complicated. If it’s not brief, it doesn’t belong in an email.
- Assigning an urgent task. A lot of workers have unread messages in the double-digits.
- Conveying emotion. Emotions and tone are hard to convey via email, which often leads to misunderstandings.
3. Limit distractions
The average employee is interrupted every 3 minutes and 5 seconds. Even if they are interrupted for only a short amount of time, every time a worker is interrupted it can take up to 23 minutes for their brain to get back to where it left off. While you can’t avoid every distraction, you can try to reduce your exposure. To limit disruptions your team will need to commit to setting some rules and boundaries. Some examples may include:
- Obeying the ‘headphones’ rule. If someone has a pair of headphones in, they are busy and should not be interrupted.
- Creating an interruption-free zone. Encourage employees who do not have their own office to use empty conference rooms or offices if they need privacy.
- Blocking time off in your calendar. Encourage employees to check each other’s calendars before interrupting them.
4. Invest in employee satisfaction
A study by the University of Warwick investigated the link between employee productivity and happiness. They found that happy employees were 12-20% more productive than their counterparts. Employee happiness doesn’t just lead to more productive individuals; it also creates a more productive workforce because it improves retention, saving time and money it would to replace and develop new staff.
A happy employee works hard, takes less time off, and creates close working relationships. Businesses like Apple, Google, Netflix, and Dell can attribute much of their success to an investment in employee satisfaction. While it might make you cringe to think about the money they spend on nap pods, Japanese toilets, and conference bikes, keep in mind that those companies are 40% more productive than the average company. This difference in productivity leads to significantly higher profits. They will be conference biking right past you on the way to acquiring more customers and growing their business.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to think of a crazy unique benefit or reward in order to keep your team motivated and happy. Talk with your team members and see what is important to them. It might be simple things, like highlighting milestones that people hit, permitting work from home days, or organizing a fun and relaxing event outside of work, like going to a sporting event or happy hour.
5. Use technology to your advantage
Using technology to increase productivity may seem counterintuitive, especially since technology like smartphones are seen as the biggest distractions in the workplace, but hear me out. It is possible to increase productivity with technology if you use it properly. If you identify a problem area where your team could use a productivity boost, it may be well worth your time to research if there is a tech tool readily available to fill that gap. I can almost guarantee that you will find something. You can also find plenty of tools that will automate everything from payroll to scheduling to social media.
Perhaps the most important technological tool for any company to have in its arsenal, however, is one that monitors and measures performance. Traditional reporting is a thing of the past in the Age of Automation. You can save time and energy by using a data visualization software to get a visual overview of where your team is at in relation to your goals. This is instrumental in increasing productivity, because it enables managers to more easily track their team’s progress and keep the project on track. Data visualization software can also motivate workers to be more productive when key metrics are publicized and viewed by the whole team. The data will either reinforce that they are doing a good job, or it will show them specific areas in need of improvement.
You can even use data visualization to see just how much your team’s productivity improves after you implement these changes. What are you waiting for? Start your free iDashboards trial by clicking here.