Every manager and supervisor wants to find new ways to boost productivity in the workplace. Productivity is, of course, a complex topic of discussion. It’s usually the byproduct of interactions from hundreds of different variables, and is often at least partially out of your control.
That said, with the right strategies, you can exercise a great deal of control over the level of productivity in your team.
Let’s take a look at strategies in some of the major categories of factors that influence productivity, including motivation, time management, and environment.
Motivation and Incentives
Let’s start by looking at how you can boost productivity with the right motivation and incentives for employees:
1. Set team and individual goals.
Goals are highly motivating, especially when they’re set correctly. Good goals follow SMART criteria; they’re specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. In other words, they’re specifically tailored to a given situation, they’re reasonable, they can be objectively determined as a success or failure, and they have a strict time limit. Set goals for teams of people (including your entire workforce in some cases), as well as for individuals on those teams. This helps improve productivity as well as engagement.
2. Incentivize performance with rewards.
This should be a no-brainer, but extrinsic motivation is a powerful force. If you want your employees to be more productive, consider tying a monetary or privilege-based reward for their success in a given area. For example, you could offer a bonus, a raise, or bonus time off in exchange for reaching a major productivity goal.
3. Publicly acknowledge greatness.
Take the time to recognize employees who have gone above and beyond the call of duty. This serves as positive reinforcement, encouraging that employee to continue their good habits, but it also serves as a way to inspire other employees to aspire to that level of greatness.
4. Grant autonomy.
One of the most important factors for happiness in the workplace is autonomy; in other words, your employees have to feel in control of their own work. Grant autonomy whenever you can, allowing employees to choose assignments, or at least choose how they approach assignments. Allowing remote work is a fantastic way to increase autonomy.
Much of an organization’s productivity is reliant on how employees choose to spend their time. These time management strategies can boost productivity almost anywhere they’re applied:
5. Set effective priorities.
Productivity isn’t just about getting more done—it’s also about getting the right things done. You can improve productivity within your team by setting more effective priorities; in other words, reducing the amount of time wasted on low-priority tasks.
6. Measure and analyze time expenditure.
Make sure you’re actively tracking how employees spend their time throughout the day. Not only will you be able to get a better feel for individual strengths and weaknesses, you’ll also be able to pinpoint the types of tasks and projects that bog your team down unnecessarily.
7. Delegate and play to employee strengths.
Each employee on your team will have areas in which they shine and areas they struggle with. Keep these strengths and weaknesses in mind when assigning tasks and distributing workloads; try to keep employees occupied with the work they do best.
8. Reduce meetings.
Some meetings are necessary, but the majority of meetings only serve to waste time. And because they often include many unnecessary participants, that time waste is multiplied. Eliminate or shorten meetings whenever you can.
9. Allow breaks and time off.
I’ve already mentioned the importance of breaks in relation to employee autonomy, but it’s worth repeating. Give your employees more breaks throughout the day, and more vacations throughout the year; the time away from work allows them to destress, decompress, and come back to the workplace with renewed energy and focus.
You should also consider how environmental factors influence productivity:
10. Nurture positivity.
Attitudes spread easily within a workplace; if someone is constantly negative and pessimistic, it doesn’t take long for the entire team to reflect those negative sentiments. Fortunately, the same is true for optimism and positivity. Spend time nurturing positive attitudes and weeding out negative attitudes; when your employees have a more positive outlook, they’ll perform better.
11. Give employees space and freedom.
It’s also important to give your employees more freedom in how they work. If possible, give your employees flexible hours and allow them to make their own schedules. Encourage them to work from home when they feel they can, and take breaks when necessary. This flexibility allows employees to figure out which strategies and approaches work best for them—and it also makes them feel more trusted and valued.
If you want to objectively increase productivity, you’ll need a reliable way to measure it as well. Keep track of how employees spend time, how many tasks they close, how many emails they send, their email response time, how many projects they complete, and other metrics. Here are some useful productivity technologies you can incorporate into your strategy!
As you roll out new productivity-related strategies and approaches, evaluate how these productivity metrics change; you should be able to figure out which tactics work and which ones don’t. From there, you can experiment and adapt to give your employees the best possible odds of success.