16 Tips for Improving Employee Productivity

Is employee productivity a concern? These 16 tips can help you get your staff to want to work harder and be more productive.  

How productive are your employees? Having employees usually means a business owner is focused on increasing sales and profitability. But having employees means you have to focus on something else, too: managing employees and getting them to be productive.

Working with people is an art—not a science, and getting the most out of your employees probably won’t happen without the skill of a superior manager—one that knows the balance between managing and trust.

Use these 16 suggestions to help your employees become more productive.

1. What’s your pay scale?

If you pay low wages, you may attract employees who aren’t very productive. The better employees tend to go where they can make more money for their skills. If you want great employees, plan on paying competitive salaries for your location.

2. How does your office look?

People don’t want to work in a dungeon or some office that looks like it hasn’t been cleaned or decorated since the early 80s. How about your office furniture? Do they have a comfortable chair, a computer that works well, and a desk that’s in good shape? All of this contributes to morale. You want them to be excited about coming to work.

3. Practice common courtesy

Do unto others, right? Do you greet your employees in the morning? Do you know their spouse and kids’ names and something about them? Do you ask about their family? Do you know their interests? People want to be valued as human beings rather than employees.

4. Give them a reason to work hard

It’s your business and you want to see it grow. Your employees should have some buy-in to that vision but they have families to feed and the costs of things like food keep rising. They want to work for somebody that offers advancement opportunities and they’ll work hard to get there.

RELATED: 4 Steps to Getting Superstar Performance From Your Players

5. Do you have a culture?

Great companies have a culture or DNA. Only certain people will fit in to the culture regardless of their skill level. They use certain words and phrases, and they love the culture so much that it becomes just as important as their work. Your employees will work to protect the culture. Successful companies always have a culture.

6. Hire intentionally

Finding the right employees will take time. What they say is only a fraction of the story. You have to research their past. Call past employers, ask for verifiable accomplishments, etc. In other words, don’t let just anybody into your culture.

RELATED: 5 No-Fail Hiring Tips for Small Businesses

7. ALWAYS have goals

Every employee should know their objective—not just their job. Their job is simply the action involved in reaching the objective. If you don’t set goals, your employees with hit them every time, right? Goals help them to buy in to the company vision but equally important, give you an objective way to measure their performance.

8. Don’t play favorites

There will always be employees that resonate with you better than others but keep your treatment of all employees consistent. Morale will plummet if your employees see you developing a stronger relationship with one over another.

9. Be over the top with praise

Have you ever worked for the fault-finding manager or client? You know, the one that always finds the problems but says little to nothing about the wins? You couldn’t wait to leave, right? When you praise liberally, the critical comments you have to deliver are much easier to take.

10. Be direct

If you care about your employees, you won’t want to hurt their feelings but when it’s time to have difficult conversations, be direct and clear. Don’t try to come up with the flowery language that will lessen the sting. They might not like it at first, but they’ll grow more if you’re direct while still being respectful.

11. Minimize meetings

Sometimes meetings are important but when your employees are sitting at a conference table talking, they’re probably not doing what you hired them to do. Let your workers work and only hold meetings when it’s absolutely necessary.

12. Manage time wisely

Just like at home, there’s plenty of stimuli for employees at the office. Side conversations with other employees, social media, and phone calls are the more common ones. Encourage your employees to manage their time well and set deadlines and benchmarks that keep them busy throughout the day.

13. Be open to suggestions

Invite employees to give you suggestions for ways to improve productivity, increase business, decrease customer complaints and other matters.  A suggestion from someone who’s dealing with a problem every day and sees issues you don’t could results in thousands of dollars in savings (or new business) each year.  When you implement employee-suggested improvements, be sure to give public kudos to the employees who made the suggestions. 

14. Don’t let them take on too much

Your more gung-ho employees will want to get their hands in things you didn’t hire them for. Sometimes that’s a great thing but other times, they might migrate to things they enjoy while leaving parts of their own job that they don’t like unattended or cared for. Give employees other opportunities to shine but make sure they’re doing what you hired them to do.

15. Hold annual reviews

Each year you should have a one-on-one employee review where they’re eligible for a raise. Spend a lot of time focusing on the positives while intermixing the negatives.

RELATED: Performance Appraisals:The 5 Biggest Mistakes Managers Make

16. Know when to say goodbye

If you’ve given warnings, worked with them to improve, and tried everything else you could, say goodbye. This not only gives you the opportunity to hire a better performer, it sends the message to your employees that you care enough about them to protect the company and their work environment. It also shows them that underperformers won’t have a job for very long.

Bottom Line

If you do nothing else to increase productivity, look at the culture of your company. Are you a fun person to work for? Is your business a fun place to spend the day? Do you encourage hard work but make sure everybody laughs a lot? Before you go to work on them, work on things that are easier to control—like your environment.

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