We all know the drill. Get up, go to work, go home, repeat. Most of us go through those motions five days a week, every week. But time spent at work doesn't have to be just the filler between leaving home and coming home. And yet, for so many workers, it is.
Enter: Managers. There are several things you can do to help your employees feel more engaged, more worthwhile and more passionate when it comes to their work lives. By incorporating just a few key strategies into your management style, you, your employees and your company's overall productivity could feel a boost.
"The more engaged employees are, the more productive and effective they are," John Palguta, vice president of policy at the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, told GovernmentExecutive.com. "It's the 'well, duh' finding. If you've got folks who are disengaged, who don't like their bosses, who don't like their work, who just come to their job to pick up their paycheck, they're probably not giving you their best effort."
1. Know where employees are coming from
It's easy to think of a salesperson as only a salesperson, or an administrative assistant as just that. But there's a reason you hired each of them, and the vast majority of the time their past experiences were an important factor. If previous positions helped a worker hone certain skills, consider whether your business could benefit, even if said skills are out of his or her current purview. If one of your workers has Web coding experience or is media savvy, it could not only give your business an edge, but could also save you serious cash on outsourcing to consultants, Eric Rudolf, a small business writer and marketing consultant, says on The Small Company Blog. So peruse resumes, talk to your employees and tap into the reserves of talent and experience that have gone untouched.
2. Be attentive
A huge—and hugely pervasive—office faux pas is when workers' tasks and desired duties don't match up. Sure, as a manager, you can't always accommodate everybody's hopes and dreams. But you can, and should, know what each of your employees is doing and understand how they would most like to contribute to the company. Work with them to find crossover between what they'd like to do and what the business needs done, effectively keeping them (and upper management) happy. There's no question employees are more productive when they're inspired by their tasks, and this is a sure-fire way to nurture that.
3. Have clear, two-way communication
It's important to make sure workers feel like they can come to you, and that you're not only going to them when there's a problem. By opening communication channels and building a culture where everyone's in the loop, you'll be able to take care of of issues before they even become, well, issues. If an employee is dissatisfied or struggling, he or she knows to go to you. If an employee is slacking, he or she can expect a constructive conversation about that, too.
Communication not only allows you to have healthy discussions about expectations and productivity with your employees, but it also helps foster openness and accountability. "You will gain a greater understanding and appreciation for your employees when you are able to get your hands dirty with them," says Joshua Riddle, a contributing writer for workawesome.com who specializes in time management and productivity strategies. If you're an absentee manager, your employees likely will feel unfulfilled and unmoved to get things done.
4. Streamline office operations
No one likes bureaucracy. Aside from its annoying nuances, though, it can take a bite out of productivity in your office. When employees are reporting to multiple managers or don't have clear expectations for their job, the work environment becomes a disorganized, frustrating cluster of inefficiency. More damaging, maybe, is the potential lack of oversight characteristic of a more bureaucratic system. Where there isn't well-outlined accountability or engagement between workers, their duties, and managers, it's easy for employees to fall into a habit of inefficiency.
5. Reward achievement
If highlighting the most productive employees becomes standard, productivity will gradually become more prioritized among your workers. Rewarding workers for their productivity—even those who are not necessarily the usual stand-outs—helps cultivate a sense that improvement and hard work is worthwhile, Riddle says. Most importantly, don't let productivity and improvements among staffers go unnoticed—reward their hard work and they'll continue to shine.
Image credit: Ollie Crafoord