5 ways to improve employee productivity

Productivity of your employees isn’t always a given. Prevent it impacting your business by identifying and taking action on periods of under-activity.

Every employer, whether they be a large organization or smaller company, will eventually run into a situation where their best employees are suddenly performing below par. There are endless reasons why this happens – why employee productivity is spiraling down.

When we think of poorly performing employees, we often assume that they are new employees and still learning or lazy employees with already poor work ethic. However, the major question to ask is not why this happened, but instead, how do we begin to fix the problem.

The key, of course, lies with communication. Unfortunately, according to a report by OfficeVibe, The State of Employee Engagement, 31% of employees polled said they wished their manager communicated more frequently with them. Meaning that almost one-third of the workforce feels that their leaders are oblivious to the significant stressors that cause their performance levels to drop. Recognizing that there is a problem among your employees is the first step to solving it. So, when an employee’s performance level begins to nosedive, here are some ways to get employee productivity back on track.

31% of employees polled said they wished their manager communicated more frequently with them

1. Pinpoint the needs of your employees

It should come as no surprise that various personalities, backgrounds, wants, and needs exist within a single organization. Therefore, the methods and programs that encourage these individuals to work their hardest will naturally vary. This doesn’t mean you need to turn into a detective.

Becoming familiar with the type individuals in your organization can be as simple as taking the time to listen to what they have to say. The biggest step is to determine the categories of individuals that exist within your organization.

Naturally, one of the biggest factors in the loss of engagement and decreased performance is the generational gap in the workplace. Since the modern workforce spans from baby boomers all the way to Gen Z, it can be difficult to pinpoint the needs and expectations of each individual generation.

Because of the 50-year age gap between your oldest and youngest employees, each generation will exhibit a wide range of views and approaches when it comes to growing their careers; whether it relates to benefits, compensation, training opportunities or work-life balance.

For example, Gen X, which occupies 60% of the current workforce, are career-oriented but strive for good work-life balance and family time. Millennials, however, care about factors their predecessors don’t. They value meaning in their roles and desire bosses that facilitate their professional development. Although driven by purpose, Gallup reports them as the least engaged generation of the workforce, with only 29% reported as being engaged. With 55% reporting not being engaged, Gallup estimates that millennial turnover due to lack of engagement costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually!

2. Make knowledge easy and accessible

While it may seem obvious, many employers tend to miss the strong correlation between accessibility and employee productivity. Yet, how can you expect your employees to work harder if you do not give them the tools to effectively do their jobs?

Like the saying “work smarter, not harder” implies, sometimes the secret to increasing the rate of productivity in your employees is simply making it easier for them to do their jobs.

To achieve this, knowledge needs to be centralized and easily accessible; connecting employees, managers, and partners to the news and updates of the organization.

Stress over business changes can lower the average employee’s performance 5%. Because of this, you want to be sure that your employees feel secure and in the know when it comes to ongoing and upcoming business decisions.

Knowledge is not only limited to decisions from upper management. Employees also need to be able to collaborate with each other in real-time, regardless of location. An intranet platform is a good way to ensure your team has immediate access to necessary info. Instead of them sifting through endless emails or losing important files, employees will have a one-stop hub for all their communication needs.

With an intranet, search capabilities will also be far improved, decreasing the time spent looking for a simple file or program and ultimately increasing employee productivity. Since employees are able to find and search for relevant information more quickly with intranet software, they can respond to problems faster and do their jobs better. The sharing of information between teams may sometimes be overlooked but there is no denying that the easier it becomes for an employee to do their jobs, the higher the chance of increased productivity.

3. Break down silos

We cannot say it enough – collaboration is key!

Many companies have the tendency to unintentionally (or purposely) create a separation between teams and departments. Whether the reasons stem from distance, or the purposeful restriction on information, it is imperative to your employees to not feel their knowledge is being controlled or limited in favor of another department.

39% of employees believe their organization does not collaborate enough

The flow of information should be seamless, moving from one department to the next as needed. In a survey of employees (born between 1980 to 2000) steered by Queens University, they found that nearly 39% of them believe that their organization does not collaborate enough.

Teamwork makes the dream work, so companies that allow silos and separations to develop within their organization run the risk of decreasing productivity among employees. If the silo effect is hurting your cross-team collaboration, consider equipping your employees with better collaboration tools such as intranet software that allows staff to work together regardless of location or functional role.

A social intranet with a People Directory at its core breaks down siloes and strong profiles enable users to find colleagues by job title, department, or expertise, and connect instantly with social tools.

About 75% of employers rate teamwork and collaboration as “very important”, yet only 18% of employees get communication evaluations at their performance reviews. – Queens University

Breaking down these silos means that your employees are privy to necessary information and free from the unnecessary stress caused by isolation and secrecy. Silos don’t come down on their own; the shift toward a more collaborative and productive environment needs to come from the top.

4. Offer small rewards

At the core of all employees is the desire to be recognized for their efforts and successes. Employees that do not receive this recognition are the first ones to lash out with lowered productivity and an overall reduction in effort.

Stats show that 44% of workers believe they are always or often overlooked and according to AttaCoin, only 53% of employees report feeling appreciated at work. This lack of appreciation can lead to depression, feelings of being undervalued and lowered employee productivity. While a number of companies recognize the value in recognition programs, 25% of companies do not incorporate any form of social recognition as part of their employee approach. However, a study by Globoforce showed that 93% of workers, at companies with recognition programs tied to core values, agree the work they do has meaning and purpose.

Only 53% of employees report feeling appreciated at work

What should recognition and reward look like? You would be surprised how far a $20 Starbucks card or a small company award can take you. These small gestures are powerful and have nothing to do with the money or the monetary value, but rather the fact that there is now a goal that all employees want to reach. These incentives capture the interests of your employees, increase their engagement and eventually encourage them to work harder and more efficiently.

5. Provide access on the go

Can mobile technology in the workplace make employees more productive? All signs point to yes. A report by the Economist shows that employees who believe their workplace effectively uses mobile tech are more creative, satisfied, and productive at work.

Mobility has become increasingly important to employees that may have flexible schedules due to having children, attending classes, or maybe living in distributed locations. The ability to connect to company news and other colleagues depends on the staff’s ability to access company information.

According to Gallup, 21% of workers report checking email outside of normal working hours and reviewing and responding to it the same way they would during normal working hours.

Without mobility, employees are limited to the data they can access and when they can access it. Having a mobile intranet can make a significant difference for distant or remote workers who have the desire to put in more effort on the go but do not always have the means.

A cloud-hosted intranet with a concrete document or content management system ensures your staff has access to all your documents, forms, and data, no matter where they’re located. They will also be able to perform critical tasks at any time.

While it is easy to blame the employee for the lack of enthusiasm toward their role, sometimes the first step is to take a second look at your organization’s use of social and mobile technology.

A successful workforce

When it comes to measuring productivity in employees, leaders need to be observant, flexible and most of all, remain vigilant. Although a solution begins with recognizing the problem, it does not end there. Management must be committed to developing the necessary structure, processes, and culture to support the changes and transformations up ahead.

Improving employee productivity can be as easy as fully accessing the many benefits of a social intranet software. Collaborating and sharing information leads to trust and knowledge that can be used to create a work environment that your staff can thrive in.

Once you create a workplace where your employees feel safe and encouraged to collaborate with each other and share ideas, a successful workforce will surely follow.