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Six Ways to Improve Productivity

Man pushing needle 

If you can get more out of your team, it can improve profits and strengthen your organization. Conversely, if you have a productivity problem, every aspect of your business can be affected.

From recent research workplace productivity, here are six ways that you can improve your business’ productivity:

Ensure that managers know how to delegate

One major bottleneck in business occurs when managers are unwilling to delegate tasks. Many managers are naturally hard workers who strive for the best for their companies.

This positive can become a negative if it leads managers to taking on too much work, believing that they need to do it all themselves to get it done properly. Managers can end up feeling stressed and overworked, which can in turn lead to burnout. In addition, if a manager is not willing to delegate, that manager’s team can feel that their skills are not being utilized properly. In short, everyone loses out.

Provide managers with training to help them understand how to trust in their staff and not put too much pressure on themselves. The popularity of courses providing managers with training on delegation is increasing all the time - many providers are now offering daylong boot camps for managers, supervisors, and team leaders.

Invest in business process automation

Business process automation is described by automation specialists Document Options as the act of “streamlining processes and simplifying your most time-consuming tasks” to help businesses run with improved efficiency. This means taking a look at a number of different day-to-day tasks that might take a significant amount of staff time, and automating those tasks that free up staff for more mission-critical tasks.

Examples of business process automation include automated invoice processing, smart HR document management, and automatic emailing and e-forms. While it may take some initial effort to implement the automation, that effort can pay off in increased productivity and workplace satisfaction.

Listen to staff

Communication is critical. It is vital that businesses listen fully to all of staff – not just those in positions of power. Most staff want to work hard and help the business succeed, and they often have important perspectives that upper management may lack. They often are the ones who really understand what is slowing them down, and what might be needed to improve productivity. If they are given the forum, they may, for example, point out outdated methods that slow things down. Take the time to quiz staff on a regular basis to ascertain what could be done differently to improve productivity, and take what they say to heart. They are the eyes and ears of your company.

Set realistic goals

Another barrier to productivity occurs when managers have unrealistic expectations. Setting unattainable goals ultimately will lead to staff feeling demoralized at the thought of falling short. Again, communication is key - it is a much better idea to talk to your team and set realistic goals.
Setting goals has a proven positive effect on performance - even in the long term. A Harvard Business Study found that ten years after graduating, the 3% of graduates on their MBA who wrote down goals ending up earning ten times more than the remaining 97% put together. Using a framework such as SMART goals can help staff to develop attainable and meaningful goals which managers can help to develop.

Outsource where appropriate

Some businesses are hesitant to outsource any aspect of their business, but it can be hugely beneficial if it helps the core mission. Good options include search engine optimization and digital marketing efforts, as well as cybersecurity and initial call handling. An article on Pitney Bowes describes outsourcing as that a company might otherwise not have in-house. This also might free up employees to focus more on tasks they can do best.

Ensure staff take their breaks

Remember, your greatest resource is a human resource.

Some businesses have a culture in which staff feel that they are expected to work as diligently and intensely as possible. In some businesses this can even lead to an unwritten rule where no member of staff feels comfortable taking a regular break. This can be damaging to productivity in the long run, especially because it can lead to workforce churn. In fact, a recent study by Forbes found that there was a correlation between workers taking a lunch break and those workers feeling engaged. Benefits of engagement means more productive workers with improved mental well-being and boosted creativity.

Improving productivity is great for both businesses and their staff, so organisations should be doing everything they can to make it easier for their team to excel.