4 Approaches to Improving Employee Productivity

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The standard full-time workweek as we know it in America maybe around 40 hours, but research has shown the average employee actually works closer to three hours per day — so, more like 15 hours or so per week. And, to a certain extent, this is understandable; the human brain can only intensely focus on a task for a given amount of time.

Rather than holding your breath waiting for employees to start sitting still and focusing on job duties for every second of every workday, consider instead what you can do to reasonably improve employee productivity.

If your efforts are successful, everyone will be happy: Employees will get to enjoy more streamlined workflows with fewer distractions, while your bottom line will experience gains as a result of increased productivity.

Audit Existing Workflows & Streamline

The first step is digging into teams’ existing workflows and tools — identifying specific inefficiencies and coming up with targeted improvements as they arise. Administering an employee survey is one helpful way to determine which processes are tripping workers up or causing their productivity to stall.

Consider this an opportunity for managers to take stock of job duties assigned to each role within their team. Leaders may discover certain day-to-day workflows are currently redundant, outdated or otherwise inefficient.

Define Expectations & Set Clear Goals

Improving productivity in the workplace is just like any goal — you have to define the challenge, come up with a measurable result your organization would like to achieve, and design a system for tracking progress along the way.

It’s not enough to gather up employees for a staff meeting and tell them they need to become more productive ASAP. A better approach is setting realistic and attainable performance goals for each role, then communicating these clearly to workers. There’s motivational power for employees in working toward clearly defined goals as opposed to a general mandate to “work harder.”

Empower Faster, Data-Driven Decisions

Sometimes employees are simply stuck through no fault of their own, like when they’re waiting on certain information before making their next move. It’s not that the marketing manager doesn’t want to make that final call on the new email campaign; they’re still waiting for a special report from the data team before doing so. Hold-ups of this nature can cost the company a lot in terms of lost time and missed revenue opportunities.

Today’s self-service business intelligence tools aim to connect users throughout a company directly to the ad hoc data insights they need. Employees can ask questions of company data and receive answers in seconds, as opposed to waiting for data specialists to hand down reports.

In other words, self-service data platforms like ThoughtSpot put performance insights directly into the hands of the “average” user, which can empower them to make expedient and accurate decisions — driven by data.

Hold Only Purposeful, Necessary Meetings

As CNBC cites, a recent survey by consulting firm Korn Ferry found 67 percent of workers say “excessive meetings keep them from getting their best work done.”

The solution? Hold only the most crucial meetings — and make sure every single meeting has a purposeful agenda. Avoid pulling people away from their desks for disorganized, needless or overly lengthy meetings. Ask managers to take a critical look at their teams’ current calendars and determine the excess fat to trim, so to speak. Consider less disruptive ways to communicate talking points to teams — perhaps by posting them in a shared portal or productivity app.

Improving employee productivity is typically a matter of making it simpler for employees to access information, work toward goals, communicate with one another and have the time they need to focus on their to-do lists.

As our second lead editor, Anna C. Mackinno provides guidance on the stories Great Lakes Ledger reporters cover. She has been instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. If you see a particularly clever title, you can likely thank Anna. Anna received a BA and and MA from Fordham University.