Helping your employees become more productive has a variety of benefits to your business, not just in terms of profitability, but also in terms of an employee’s own sense of satisfaction.
Happy employees are generally more productive. A recent study by the Said Business School found that "...workers make around 13% more sales in weeks where they report being happy compared to weeks when they are unhappy". So, by ensuring your workforce is content, it’s likely you will see an increase in the amount of work being completed by staff.
There are a number of ways to achieve this, but the most important thing is for employees to feel positive and empowered. If they feel pressured it can end up being counterproductive.
Here’s 5 ways you can increase employee productivity in your business:
1. Ensure your employees have the right tools for the job
Nothing is more frustrating to a worker than being asked to do a job without the specific tools needed to complete it in a timely and professional fashion. Not providing the right equipment or technology can lead to delays, leave your staff feeling frustrated and, depending on your business, can result in the unnecessary risk of injury if health and safety legislation is breached.
It may cost money to get the right tools, but that will inevitably be recouped by the time saved on getting the job done properly. For example, companies such as American Airlines and Virgin America both allow employees the flexibility to offer solutions to customer problems on the spot. This empowers the employee and also improves the overall customer experience.
2. Listen to your employees
If your employees say something needs to be addressed, listen to them – they might have valuable insights and feedback that could help move the business forward. With 34% of employees worldwide feeling that their companies don’t value their ideas, perhaps it’s no surprise that workers are often reluctant to share their opinions. The same research has revealed that those aged 18-29 are three times less likely to tell bosses their ideas than those aged 50-65. In addition, just under a third of companies have a process in place to manage ideas, which means there’s a risk of them going to waste.
Make sure your employees know they can approach you with ideas for the business, that they feel valued and listened to, and never make them believe an idea isn’t worth sharing. Fear will often prevent staff from revealing their thoughts, so make sure you encourage employees to give feedback on everything without fear of censure. Walmart is a good example of a company putting this into action. It has already been renowned for improving employee engagement, but is taking this one stage further by asking associates within community stores to get involved in how stores spend $5,000 to help their local communities.
3. Allow flexible working
"Nine-to-five" is becoming a thing of the past as more companies use flexible working to provide employees with a number of benefits to help them become more productive.
In fact, a quarter of workers who follow flexible working practices say they did more than 6.7 hours of additional work each week compared to sitting in an office during traditional working hours. More than one in five also said they were “much more productive” after moving to flexible hours.
Allowing people to work from home may cause you some concern initially but, with the right systems in place, it is possible to ensure everything is being done without appearing overbearing. Trust is a big factor in empowering employees and, as long as they are not abusing this trust, there are big benefits to be had from offering employees flexibility in their work hours, but also in the way they are able to solve problems for customers, for example, without always having to refer to a manager. These are relatively small things that can help to keep employees happier and more productive. It saves management time too, which gives them more time to deal with other issues that may arise.
4. Improve communication with staff
Time spent explaining to staff what is going on with the business, both good and bad, will provide a better working environment for all. But it is not just about major announcements, you also need to effectively communicate to staff what is expected of them and explain that you want them to be open and honest with you in return.
There are a number of online tools and services you can use to improve employee communication, such as Slack for enabling instant communications between staff no matter where they are, or Zoom for ‘"face-to-face" phone or video conferencing.
In addition, Zoom and services such as Skype or TeamViewer are useful if you need to share information on a computer screen as it can be much more time-efficient than getting everyone together in the office. You can also use video to communicate with staff via an internal or private YouTube channel.
These online tools will help staff keep in touch no matter where they are, so employees won’t waste time on unnecessary calls or travelling to the office or other meeting places to get work done that could otherwise be carried out online. It can save many wasted hours, automatically helping employees be more productive.
5. Increase incentives to hit targets
This can be a good way to ensure extra productivity, but be careful when implementing this initiative. Some staff will thrive in a competitive environment while others may feel stressed, so think about which of your staff will benefit from this kind of approach.
Incentives are often financial (such as bonuses), but they don’t have to be. For example, you may offer time off in lieu, or something else your staff would value, such as a spa day, vouchers or similar. If you’re running a fledgeling business then spending money on incentives may not be feasible, so you could encourage staff to complete work more efficiently by asking them to finish a set number of tasks within the day and allowing them to "clock off" once those tasks are done, providing work quality is not suffering. Alternatively, you can even ask your employees how they would like to be rewarded for meeting targets.
Another easily accessible option for businesses to tap into to reward their employees is using Membership Rewards® points available through Business Cards. Redeem points to take your staff on a fun day out or buy a new coffee machine for the office.1
These are just a few of the ways you can help increase your employee’s productivity without putting excessive pressure on staff to perform. After all, the evidence is clear that a happy workforce is a more productive one.
Want to learn more about improving your employee's productivity? See how utilising a Business Card like the American Express Business Gold Card could help you earn points with every purchase to treat your staff to all kinds of perks.
1. Membership Rewards points are earned on every full £1 spent and charged, per transaction.