11 ways to improve productivity in the workplace
Updated 04 July 2022 • 7 min read
Today’s workplaces are more dynamic than ever. In this environment, it’s important to continue to get work done, but it’s even more critical to ensure that the right work is getting done.
These 11 simple tips will help you increase productivity at your workplace.
What is workplace productivity?
Workplace productivity is about working on the right tasks in the most efficient manner to deliver measurable results. We’re not just talking about checking items off a to-do list, though — there’s a little more to it than that.
First, it’s important to ensure that you’re working on the right tasks. In business, there are nearly always going to be competing priorities, so determining the correct priorities is critical.
Second, you need to ensure that your organisation is working efficiently. You might check off 5 or 6 important tasks, but if it takes you all week to do them, that could be a problem.
Why should you care about productivity in the workplace?
Effective productivity could be the difference between success and failure in business.
If workplace productivity is about working on the right tasks in an efficient way, then a lack of productivity means the opposite — either working on the wrong tasks or working in an inefficient manner that makes poor use of (increasingly expensive) labour hours.
The importance of that should be clear. But there’s another benefit of productivity that isn’t always so clear, and so doesn’t get discussed as much: morale. Teams that are consistently missing deadlines (or working overtime) quickly get burnt out.
With that in mind, productivity is also a matter of employee engagement and satisfaction. This then becomes a feedback loop where happier, more engaged employees are more productive, and are thus happier, which makes them more productive, and so on.
11 ways to improve productivity in the workplace
We’ve established that workplace productivity is important and that increasing it creates a cycle of greater morale and productivity that continuously feeds itself. The next logical question is: how can you go about increasing productivity in the workplace?
Create an effective onboarding process
Proper onboarding is key to ensuring that employees know what’s expected of them and how to achieve it.
Onboarding is the process of introducing and acclimating a new employee to your organisation. Most onboarding processes involve regular check-ins and training for at least the first few months of employment.
Develop productivity metrics
If you’ve ever wondered how to measure productivity in the workplace, you’re not alone. As with any important initiative, you’ll need a way to track your progress and determine if you’re reaching your goal. Without specific numbers, this can be nearly impossible.
To develop a set of productivity metrics, consider what constitutes an output in your team or organisation. This will vary widely depending on your industry and the nature of each individual team. Some examples of outputs are:
number of completed sales calls
percentage of resolved help tickets
volume of words/pages completed.
Once you’ve defined the output, you can track it and break it down by individual worker or the number of hours worked. This will give you a baseline for setting goals and creating an improvement plan.
Minimise stress in the workplace
Most of us are familiar with the negative impacts of stress in the workplace: low morale, reduced motivation, shortened tempers, frequent mistakes, and frequent illness, among many others. Stress has been called the “silent killer,” and when it comes to productivity, that couldn’t be more true.
One increasingly common option to help with stress is to offer flexible working arrangements — in other words, the option of working from home or adjusting one’s schedule to accommodate other commitments. This gives employees more options for managing doctor’s appointments, child care needs, and other commitments.
Eliminate unnecessary meetings
Some meetings are certainly necessary — there can be value in synchronous, face-to-face interaction. That said, not everyone needs to be at every meeting, and unnecessary meetings can eat up an extraordinary amount of time.
The practical takeaway here is to ensure that your meetings actually need to happen and to invite only the people that actually need to be there.
One of the biggest factors affecting productivity these days is the constant stream of distractions. Many of us work on computers, and that means the internet is constantly at our fingertips. Add in the phones and smartwatches that are seemingly always buzzing with notifications, and it’s easy to see how this can become a problem.
When it comes to working on the computer, you can install browser extensions that block distracting websites. Smartphone and social media usage are harder to control — all you can really do here is encourage employees to limit their phone use to breaks.
Roster employees at the right times
Your business likely has times that are busier and times that are slower. To maximise productivity, it’s critical to ensure that your scheduling reflects this. This is generally straightforward but note that you don’t want to neglect your slow times — certain types of businesses, like retail, can benefit from scheduling extra help during the slow times in order to take care of restocking and other important tasks.
Use time-tracking software
If you feel unproductive, one of the most effective and powerful ways to see where your time is actually going is to track it. If you’re honest about it, you might be shocked at what you find. If you’ve ever wondered, “How does technology increase productivity in the workplace?” time-tracking software is the answer.
Time tracking can be implemented across an entire company, either as an optional software tool offered to employees or as a requirement for everyone. It’s a great way to encourage accountability and transparency, as well as improve productivity.
Check in with employees regularly
One of the most important and powerful tools to encourage productivity is the simple check-in. Stop by your employees’ desks to ask how they’re doing. Ask if there are any questions or issues you can address.
These informal check-ins serve 2 purposes: They give you an opportunity to make sure everyone’s meeting goals, and they also demonstrate to your employees that you see and care about the work they’re doing.
Set up performance reviews
Clear communication of goals is important, and there’s no better time to do goal setting than around performance reviews. That phrase can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Instead, reviews should be used as an opportunity to evaluate progress since the last review and recalibrate if necessary.
These performance reviews should be scheduled well in advance. This ensures clarity around when goals need to be met.
Recognise and reward employees
Giving employees proper recognition for a job well done can be a powerful way to boost morale, incentivise performance, and, in turn, increase productivity.
These rewards can be monetary, like a performance-based bonus, but they don’t have to be. Other ideas might be a long lunch break or an extra day off. You can also try a simple “Employee of the Month” program.
Provide adequate time off
It’s important to allow employees to recharge. For this reason, you should provide ample time off. This has a two-fold effect — not only does it give people a chance to take a break and come back refreshed, it also further boosts morale and engagement.
The amount of time off you’ll be able to provide depends heavily on the industry you’re in and the specifics of your business. However, in Australia, you’re required to provide a minimum of 20 paid vacation days. If you’re able to go above that, even better.
Increase workplace productivity with MYOB
Workplace productivity is an important issue, no doubt about it. It’s also an issue that needs to be tackled from multiple angles.
MYOB Advanced workforce management software can help you raise productivity levels across your business, from onboarding to timesheets and rostering. Get started today!
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