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Employee productivity is an important part of every business. Particularly in repetitious positions, it can be hard to maintain a level of enthusiasm and efficiency from your employees. As many managers will know, simply telling your employees to work harder does not always improve results, and sometimes makes a bad situation worse. So what steps can corporate leaders take to increase employee productivity?

Take short breaks

Studies have shown that taking short breaks increases productivity. This may seem counterintuitive, but taking less breaks can lead to quick burnout and boredom within a position. This is a particularly meaningful step in positions that require high amounts of customer service, many small menial tasks, or high pressure projects. Taking 3-5 minute breaks every hour can rejuvenate your mind and allow you to center your focus on the task at hand. These short breaks can also allow for time to take care of personal needs, such as staying hydrated, eating enough, or making a quick phone call. Not every break needs to be 30 minutes long to be effective, so finding ways to incorporate short breaks can greatly increase your employees’ stamina.

Give constructive criticism and achievable goals

A lack of achievable goals is often cited as a red flag to employees who might be looking for new employment opportunities. Having tangible results is key to letting employees know how well they are doing. It can also be helpful during review times to give your employees ways to improve. Having no constructive criticism and flimsy goals can allow people to stagnate at mediocrity, and can confuse them when they don’t receive praise for their work. Employees need to clearly understand what is expected of them so they are able to make improvements and continue developing their strengths, which will make them more effective at their job.

Make sure all employees are trained properly

Too often are companies run by people who have no idea what their job entails. From executives to mid-level managers, every person in your company should be trained properly. When employees are trained poorly by managers who do not know even simple tasks, the entire company can, and usually will, fall apart. An obvious pitfall of many organizations is the “learn as you go” approach. Some people learn well by working through their required tasks, but this should be done first in a controlled environment, not on your sales floor. Running through policies and procedures in a private setting will allow you to gauge where your employees are at and will tell you whether they need more training, or if they are closer to working with less supervision.

Incorporate innovation

Allowing your employees to come up with new solutions to old problems is a crucial part of any 21st-century company. In many rigid, corporate environments, there may be a rule for any situation that appears. However, encouraging the creativity of your employees will not only keep them engaged, but may also bring about a new way to complete a task that is more efficient than the old system. Likewise, incorporating newer software, operating systems, and hardware in your business will show that you’re able to keep up with the newer generations’ tech-savviness, and will attract young blood to your company.

Reduce turnover

This is an overarching step, but it is so critical to nail down. If your managers and senior employees are constantly training new people, your productivity is far below its maximum level. Likewise, there are often reasons for high turnover that can point out giant flaws in your company. Hiring the right people, providing necessary training, and compensating appropriately based on workload are three enormous factors that go into reducing turnover. If you’re a startup, it may take some time to find a good ground for each of these, but if you’ve been a player in the game for decades, it comes down to being your responsibility to fix these issues as they arise.

Employee productivity is the cornerstone to every successful business, but a business’s productivity level is only as high as its management allows it to be. Each of these steps is relatively easy, and most are affordable or free, so there is no excuse for neglecting these areas. If you’re finding your company lacks energy, take a look at your process and don’t think, “Where did I go wrong?” but rather, “Where can I go right?”