Back to Basics: 10 Ways to Improve Productivity

Although a little off topic from my typical marketing content (like lead nurturing and visual marketing), improving productivity is something that affects all businesses alike. A fact in today’s economic times is that most businesses need to do more with fewer resources.

The businesses that get the best work out of each employee with limited or less resources will be the ones who have the greatest success.

This concept of fewer resources may seem counter-productive when you are trying to increase productivity, but there are ways around it and I will show you.

#1: Create Flexible Schedules

Employers need to find a happy medium when it comes to employee schedules. There needs to be enough structure to keep employees accountable and productive, but also somewhat flexible to account for things that come up in everyone’s life.

Family Flexibility

For instance, if you have a boss you would feel guilty asking for time to go to a funeral, then there are some problems with that environment. Employees should be able to take time off for their children’s important events, family obligations, funerals, sick time, personal time, holidays, etc.

xImportant! Studies have shown that working from home results in 10%-20% increase in employee productivity.

In addition to taking time off, schedules can also be flexible for things such as weather. If there is a blizzard and an employee lives far away, it should be tolerated once in a while if they are late or even can’t make it in to work those days.

Availability to work from home or even make up the time should be created. In addition to bad weather, good weather should also be accounted for. How happy would you make your employees if you closed work an hour early on a sunny Friday afternoon?

#2: Build a Creative Environment

Many people don’t think much about it, but an office environment and setup can truly affect the overall employee productivity.

Working in a Comfortable Environment

Things like office lighting, wall colors, technology, desk orientation, and decorations can drastically affect productivity. Being able to have photos of family and friends, plants, windows, fun and ergonomic chairs and a creative space to take a break can really make a difference.

For example, I worked for an in-house marketing department that had little creative nooks with fun objects, colors and seating for brainstorming sessions or break times. It was a lot of fun and made for a very productive environment.

  • VIBE conducted a study that states multiple computer screens increased efficiency up to 50%.
  • Studies show that well-ventilated and well-lit offices increased productivity by as much as 16 percent and job satisfaction by 24 percent.
  • RPI conducted a study that states workers in windowed offices spent 15 percent more time staying on task than those workers in non-windowed offices.
  • 4.3 hours are wasted per employee, per week trying to find company papers or content, which adds frustration to the workplaces as well as reduced concentration.
  • Plants in the workplace help foster creative performance – a study from Texas A&M found that men produced 30% more ideas when working in an environment with plants and flowers.

#3: Increase Communication

This section is pretty self-explanatory so I will keep it short and simple. Employees need to know what is going on around them. They don’t want to have to guess about things like schedules, work time, benefits, rules, etc.

Keep this information public for all employees and make yourself as the owner or boss available for questions.

xCritical! Your employees need to know who they report to and that they can freely come to that person as a question or concern arises.

#4: Give Technology a Makeover

Part of increasing productivity is giving your employees the tools they need to work and succeed on a daily basis.

Stay on the Leading Edge Where Necessary

Equipment like up-to-date desktop computers, cell phones, laptops, tablets, projectors, audio/video conferencing, etc. are all crucial in today’s workplace and, in some cases, an absolute necessity.

Invest in someone who can manage these tools and keep them updated for all employees.

#5: Keep/Increase Employee Benefits

Some employers have had to cut back on resources in order to function successfully. Employee benefits (including family member benefits) shouldn’t be an area that gets cut, and should be increased if at all possible.

Employees who are healthy and happy will be more productive and have fewer absences. Enough said.

#6: Encourage Diversity

Diversity can mean a lot of different things in the workplace. It can mean cultural diversity as well as creative diversity.

Respecting Differences

Employers should be respectful of religions, cultural beliefs, creative differences, housing or financial differences and even educational backgrounds.

Creating a diverse environment opens up a lot of doors for creativity and productivity in the workplace and should be embraced for what it is.

Each employee may come from a different background and upbringing, but may bring something unique to the table that can really benefit the overall success of the company. Embrace and encourage it.

#7: Know When to Keep it Casual

Some environments have to be more professional that others and that is understandable. Some have more flexibility to allow for a less strict dress code and if that is the case, it should be allowed.

For example, I am a blog writer and work in a very creative marketing environment. We do not typically have clients in our office; therefore we can have a very flexible dress code.

If your environment allows for something similar, then embrace it. The only time you can’t be as flexible with your dress code is when:

  • Safety is a Concern (factories, food industries, etc.)
  • Employees have direct contact with customers or clients.
  • Employees dress too distracting, inappropriate or suggestive that it actually takes away from productivity.

#8: Balance Workloads

Overworked, stressed and tired employees are going to have decreased productivity over time. Keep workloads fair among employees and allow for breaks and time off when employees are showing signs of work exhaustion.

Sometimes you are better off hiring another employee than settling for the lowered productivity of the overworked employee.

#9: Create a Healthier Workplace

For obvious reasons, you want to create a healthier workplace. Health incentive and wellness plans are great ways to do so.

A healthy employee is a happier, more productive employee. Healthy employees have better attendance. They feel better when they are at work. You can help them be happy with some of the tips to the right.

Tips to Remember

  • Sponsor employee athletic teams
  • Offer flexible work hours
  • Make nutritional information available to employees in the office kitchen
  • Send weekly health tips via email
  • Sponsor healthy activities at the office
  • Provide ergonomic work spaces
  • Encourage hand washing
  • Set up a self-care station, including spaces for nursing mothers, injuries, blood pressure tools and scales
  • Become a tobacco-free workplace and offer incentives to quit
  • Offer incentives for weight loss and encourage exercise.

#10: Buy a Lunch or Two

My last idea may seem a little silly to most but I believe it to be a great tool to increase productivity – buy lunches for employees during lunch-hour work meetings and keep food available during the day.

This not only saves your employee money but it also makes them feel special.

Results show that 60% of employees who have work meetings with food provided or food available in their offices in general feel more valued and appreciated by their employer.

In addition, 46% of employees felt that more food perks would make them more satisfied and reduce their personal stress by 40%.

It has been shown that employees who stay in the office for lunch increase opportunities for collaboration and gain 1 hour of productivity per employee, per day. Yet only 19% of employers offer these types of benefits.

Final Thoughts

If you can increase productivity by a mere 5%, you will drastically increase your bottom line. Think of the items I have listed and take them back to your company. See what may work for your overall business structure and environment.

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always they result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning and focused effort.” – Paul J. Meyer