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How to Improve Productivity in the Workplace

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6 min read
how to improve productivity in the workplace

Productivity is key to maximising a business’s profit and, ultimately, growth. Every organisation wants to have a productive workforce meeting every deadline whilst maintaining the quality of work. But can organisations achieve this? 

In this article, we’ll cover: 

 

What is Productivity in the Workplace? 

The CIPD defines productivity as “how effectively organisations, and the people working in them, produce value from individual and collective contributions.” In other words, productivity looks at how efficiently your employees (individuals or teams) complete tasks and how much they produce within a given time. The output is usually assessed by looking at the level of input (e.g. resources, energy, money).

Why is Productivity in the Workforce so Important? 

Ultimately, productivity is one of the biggest players in how profitable an organisation is for a whole host of reasons. Let’s have a closer look at them.  

Culture

Productivity and company culture form a two-way dialogue. Whichever way you look at it, a more productive workforce will help to support a great workplace culture. 

Measuring productivity can make individuals feel good at their jobs and valued in the workplace. Valued employees will want to develop themselves and drive a culture of continuous improvement. And, guess what? Continuous development circles back around to culture, as working in a group of people who always strive for better will make you want to better yourself, too. 

increase productivity in the workplace and how to

Innovation

A recent study revealed workers could free up to 20% of their time each week with no impact on productivity. This was done by outsourcing daily administrative tasks and freeing up a meeting time so that more hours could be spent on creative thinking. 

Creative ideas need time to be fully explored and developed, making them difficult to achieve in between meetings. They need dedicated time and attention. 

When our workforce is more productive, time is freed up for innovation and blue-sky thinking. This supports wider organisation objectives and helps drive the business forward. 

Customer experience 

Research shows that people who are happiest at work are those who are busy (to a certain extent). This suggests being productive has a positive impact on the way people feel in the workplace. Not only does this boost employee well-being, but it also means customers and clients will receive better service from happier staff. It’s a win-win! 

Productivity will improve a customer’s experience in other ways, too.  Efficient working practices will reduce wait times, weed out unnecessary processes and create a more positive experience from start to finish. 

Organisational goals

Last but not least, productivity levels will dictate whether an organisation meets their goals or falls short of them. These could be related to turnover, profit or growth of the business. Having efficient working practices will enable the employees to be productive and meet personal and team targets, which will make all the difference in those end-of-year figures. 

What are the Risks of an Unproductive Workforce? 

We’ve seen how productivity can positively impact the workplace, but what about the other side of the coin? How can unproductive employees be a detriment to an organisation? 

Damaged employer brand 

If productivity is seriously diminished, there is a risk your organisation’s external reputation will be affected. If an organisation manages their internal operations ineffectively, this will reflect negatively on its employer brand. Changing the perception of your employer brand once it’s been tarnished can be an uphill battle. It’s best to take a proactive approach to this rather than waiting for poor productivity to take the reins. 

Disengagement and lowered morale 

There are a few elements to this. If employees can see others being unproductive and ‘getting away with it’, this could cause them to follow suit. In addition, if individuals are themselves working unproductively, this can lower confidence in their abilities.  

Decreased profit

Productivity and profitability are intrinsically linked. If you’re unable to identify efficient ways of working, you risk business operations becoming inefficient which would lead to ROI being impacted.  

10 Ways to Improve Productivity in the Workplace

Every organisation strives to create a high-performing team, but what if your efforts simply aren’t making any difference? Here are some easy tips to enable high levels of productivity in your teams: 

1. Encourage rest breaks

Under Working Time Regulations, employees are entitled to a 20-minute break if they work more than 6 hours. This is not only a legal requirement, but it helps to ensure employees do not experience burnout. You should also ensure employees are taking their annual leave; a Glassdoor survey found that 72% of Brits viewed annual leave as an effective way to minimise burnout, but only 60% used their full holiday entitlement during the previous year. By actively promoting breaks and holidays, you’ll send the message to your workforce that you’re invested in their well-being and that taking time off is essential for their health. Health comes first, productivity will follow! 

2. Make better use of meetings 

Organisations need to take a more selective approach to meetings. A survey by Korn Ferry found that 67% of employees felt they spend too much time in meetings.
Always ask yourself the question “could this be an email?”. If not, reduce the time of the meeting as much as possible to ensure the conversation is focused. Ensure meetings have clear objectives and agendas to make the best use of the time. Create a schedule, share it around beforehand and stick to it! This can be tricky, so try working in 10-minute sections to avoid overrunning.

the importance of increasing productivity in the workplace tips

3. Promote the Pomodoro Technique 

The Pomodoro Technique essentially breaks working time up into manageable chunks to maximise productivity. This works on the premise that individuals will become disinterested – and run out of steam – if they work for long periods without breaking. Typically, the chunks (called ‘pomodoros’) are 25 minutes in length followed by a 5-minute break. Longer breaks are taken after 4 consecutive hours of focused work. This technique should particularly promote productivity in desk-based roles. 

4. Set small targets

Managers need to be mindful of this when they are delegating tasks or creating objectives during a performance review. Overly ambitious targets can be hard to digest and internalise. Employees can often be left in the dark about where to start or what to tackle first. However, if managers break these bigger goals up into smaller, more manageable activities, employees are more likely to confront them confidently.

5. Regular check-ins

Another tip for managers is to regularly touch base with people in their team. Individuals may not always be confident enough to reach out when they’re unsure about something. Regular check-ins will allow employees to ask little questions so that time is spent more efficiently

one to one meeting template to help manage staff

6. Use RACI matrix

A RACI matrix essentially assists a project in running smoothly by outlining who will play what role in ensuring the project is completed with a deadline and to a good standard. ‘R’ refers to who is responsible for an activity. ‘A’ stands for accountable. ‘C’ and ‘I’ then relate to people that need to be consulted or informed. Having a considered and methodical approach can boost productivity and reduce the chance of a project stalling. 

7. Encourage clean workspaces

Tidy desk, tidy mind! It turns out that employees who keep a clean desk can work 7.5 minutes longer without feeling distracted. By promoting a clean and tidy environment, teams will be able to focus on the task at hand. Try rewarding the neatest employee in the office with a voucher or an hour off on Friday. Healthy competition is a great way to encourage everyone to up their game. 

8. Implement effective communication channels

Another way to considerably boost productivity is by implementing communication channels that are fit for purpose in your organisation. If your teams work in different locations, having a mobile instant messenger may be helpful, whereas office-based staff may benefit from a video call channel such as MS Teams. Organisations should ensure that employees can contact others easily and receive quick responses. This should prevent any barriers to their activities. Putting measures in to avoid unnecessary delays in communication will support creating a productive workforce. 

9. Recognise and reward employees

Organisations often don’t associate the way people are feeling with productivity, yet there is a clear correlation between the two. When employees feel their hard work is being noticed and appreciated, they are more likely to continue doing so. Receiving recognition and incentives makes people feel valued and appreciated. They are more likely to chase that same reward. These employees then drive a high-performance culture and encourage those around them to do the same. 

10. Use time-tracking software

If used in the right way, time-tracking software can help us measure productivity and therefore become more aware of it. When individuals are aware of their output levels, it can often drive productivity because they feel they are being held accountable for their work. 

How Factorial HR Can Help You Improve Productivity in Your Organisation

Factorial’s time tracking tool makes it easy for managers to track and record time without hassle. Why manage timesheets when you could be managing people?

Our time management software streamlines processes using the following functionalities: 

  • Employees can clock in and out from the office entrance, and employers will receive a notification if they clock in from another location.
  • Both managers and employees can review and visualise hours worked and hours pending.
  • Time tracking can be carried out by project to improve forecasting and better understand the productivity of your workforce. 
  • Automate timesheet collection, calculation and analysis.

✅Make the most of our 14-day free trial today and see for yourself how Factorial can boost productivity levels in your organisation!

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Amy is a knowledgeable People professional with over a decade of experience across a variety of private and public sector organisations. With a particular interest in employee engagement, Amy is an advocate for employee-centric approaches in all areas of HR which is reflected in her writing. Before a career in HR, Amy read English and Creative Writing at university and later studied for her CIPD, HR Management.

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