This guest post comes to us from Rae Steinbach, a freelance editor at 15five. Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course.
All businesses care about productivity. It’s literally the reason they exist; productivity has a direct link to the production of goods and services. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for low productivity does not relate to the number of people or the work process. Instead, it has to do with a leader’s ability to motivate staff to care enough about their work that they produce more.
Continuous performance management that focuses on improving morale and empowering workers has demonstrable effects on productivity. Here are five techniques to improve productivity that require minimal effort and deliver maximal results.
Talk To Your Staff
No one likes feeling like they’re taken for granted. While one expects to have to do their work, that doesn’t mean employees want to be treated like cogs in the machine. Managers and supervisors who interact with staff members on a conversational level can not only improve performance but often also gather helpful insights about how the work environment can be improved.
Ask staff what makes them feel productive. The answers can reveal important information like any necessary tools, communication channels, or work styles that help to increase yield. Encourage team members to take ownership of projects while keeping goals and objectives clear.
The key ingredient to improving productivity is checking in on progress and emphasizing the importance of each staff member’s output. People who feel like management cares simply work better.
For some people, the satisfaction of a job well done is enough to stay motivated. For most others, however, having work acknowledged and appreciated significantly improves morale. Over two-third of workers report feeling ignored. Employees that feel unappreciated are twice as likely to quit in less than a year.
Complimenting staff on successes produces a cycle of improved morale and productivity. Regularly demonstrating appreciation leads to a rise in self-esteem and confidence in work, which, in turn, leads to an uptick in productivity.
Encourage Work/Break Cycles
Most people have heard about circadian rhythm. This refers to the 24-cycles our bodies go through, with the awake/sleep cycle being the most well-known.
Another body cycle known as ultradian rhythm affects our bodies in small time periods throughout the day. Studies show that we go through 90 to 120 minute cycles of energy and interest throughout the day. Simply put, we aren’t designed to work on one task at full power all day without a break.
Management can take advantage of this biological design by encouraging people to find their unique cycle and take breaks at the optimal time. Suggest that employees self-monitor attention and energy levels, even by using a timer, to find a rhythm.
Once found, employees can incorporate that cycle into their workflow. This allows team members to schedule during their most productive periods, and take ten or fifteen minute breaks to help refocus and re-energize.
Address Teamwork/Individual Work Balance
Businesses tend to push the idea of teamwork as a necessity to success, largely because it is. Teamwork sparks creativity and innovation. However, collaboration can also hinder focus and attention to the task at hand. Over 90% of remote workers, for instance, feel they can get more done at home than in the office.
Incorporating work style into team management can improve productivity by playing to employee strengths. Teams won’t function properly if a member obviously doesn’t want to be there. Individuals don’t work well if they feel isolated. Determining where each employee fits can mean allowing some people to skip certain meetings, while regularly pulling others into group settings where they thrive.
Make Meetings Count
Meetings can be a challenge in the workplace. For some, they’re overly time-consuming and produce little accomplishment. Others may view meetings as important channels for communication and planning. Everyone agrees, however, that these discussions need to be focused on the issues at hand and end when everything has been addressed.
Instead of one long monthly or weekly meeting, consider short daily wrap-ups. Standing meetings are popular because they send the signal that they are going to be brief and not take up unnecessary work time.
If a longer meeting is necessary, remember that ultradian cycle. Schedule breaks, even if it’s just a quick two minute stand-and-stretch. Take the anxiety out of the meeting by giving a public time frame and stick to it.