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Whichever sector you operate in, there is always the need to out-do the competition and boost your bottom line. What this comes down to, essentially, is improving efficiency, so business leaders are constantly on the lookout for ways to streamline their processes and work smarter. After all, those doing more with fewer resources are most likely to succeed.
Since the cost of staff represents the largest outgoing for many firms, workforce productivity has particular significance and crucially affects competitiveness. As such, it’s important to create an environment that both motivates employees and gives them the necessary tools to succeed – including technology that eliminates wasted time and money – while not compromising on quality.
There are lots of ways to ramp up productivity levels, but here are our top 10:
Yes, financial compensation for hard work is likely to encourage hard work, but employees are more likely to be engaged if they find it personally rewarding. Take a personal interest in employees’ work, promote accountability and give them a sense of direction by finding out specifically what they want out of it and how you can help.
It’s also important to give employees the tools to manage certain aspects of their roles themselves, as it’ll give them a sense of autonomy, while freeing up managers to concentrate on higher-level tasks.
There’s no doubt that enhancing the quality of work can lead to increased productivity – not least because it reduces the frequency of errors and therefore the need to repeat tasks. Improving the knowledge and skills of staff also makes employees feel more valued, and showing your commitment to their progression is likely to instil in them a sense of loyalty and encourage hard work. This is especially important for middle managers, as they’re instrumental in communicating the company’s vision and organising operations.
If you notice a slump in productivity, it may be time to analyse your processes and see where time-consuming manual jobs could be automated with the right technology. Investing in a particular piece of equipment or software could significantly increase worker output.
It’s vital to choose solutions that take the least time and effort to set up and maintain, while bearing in mind the future needs of your business. Programmes that sync across multiple devices or can tie in seamlessly with existing software are sure to save time and create a connected workforce.
Sometimes it’s not enough to simply install a new piece of machinery or software and watch it fly. It’s worth scheduling regular servicing or checks to make sure everything’s ticking along as it should and avoid any time out of action.
It goes without saying that outlining clear objectives and paths to success is crucial for productivity. However, it’s important when doing so to be realistic and take into account the physical capabilities and limitations of your workforce. Otherwise, you risk putting off your staff with unachievable demands and having them sink into a ‘what’s the point?’ mentality.
Setting targets without evaluating how the actual work compares is redundant. Once deadlines have passed, it’s essential to analyse what was achieved and what wasn’t – and discuss this with staff to identify which elements can be fine-tuned to boost efficiency.
Although meetings are important for formulating strategies and planning your approach, senior managers should look to be economical with language and not elaborate beyond necessity. This will not only make the meeting feel more vibrant and energetic, but also allow attendees to get back to the work that keeps the cogs in motion as quickly as possible.
While you obviously want to make sure everyone is allocated to the right job according to their requisite skills, we all know that doing the same thing day in, day out can become tiresome. Where possible, try varying the type of work your staff members do – whether that’s putting them in another department one day a week, or just giving them the odd different-from-the-norm task. Not only will this improve their focus, but also expand their skills and allow them to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the business as a whole.
Although certain businesses don’t lend themselves well to flexible working – which could mean working from home or choosing when to put in the hours, for example – it is known that sticking to a rigid schedule can be detrimental to morale and productivity. Flexibility, on the other hand, can build trust and make workers feel somewhat indebted to the business, so it’s worth considering.
As with many other aspects of business, when it comes to productivity, communication is key. The quicker and more easily someone can be contacted, the quicker work will be done. Most modern workers are au fait with digital communication platforms, so think about utilising a work-friendly instant messaging programme or digital bulletin board to allow employees to exchange information in an instant – we’re all guilty of leaving our email inbox to rack up reams of unread messages from time to time!