Getting workers and team members to be more productive can be a job in and of itself. However, people are wired differently, and everyone has their own way of doing things and reacting to attempts at increasing workplace productivity. To address these challenges effectively, consider enrolling your managers in a comprehensive Post Graduate Program in Project Management that equips them with the latest strategies and tools for fostering productivity and leading successful projects.
This article presents a list of ten tips on how to increase productivity in the workplace. We will explore concepts such as physical and mental health, productivity techniques, job satisfaction, collaboration tools, and much more, all focusing on the goal of improving employee productivity.
Let’s dive right into the best strategies for how to improve productivity in the workplace.
How to Increase Efficiency at Work: 10 Ways
Here are the top ten ways how to increase productivity in the workplace. You’d be surprised how just a few small changes can bolster business productivity. Although most of these tactics are meant for bosses, managers, and business leaders, many can be adapted into practical strategies for the average working professional.
- Don’t Micromanage. For those needing a review, micromanaging is when someone, usually a person in authority, controls every part of a task or activity, no matter how small or insignificant that job is. People who micromanage are often convinced that their way is best and “that’s how I’d do it!” The problem is that the micromanager usually doesn’t have the complete picture and isn’t aware of the mitigating factors that influence the worker’s job. Furthermore, micromanaging insults the employee since it sends messages like “I don’t trust your skills, experience, or work ethic” or “You’re too dumb to do even small tasks on your own.” Many people, when faced with micromanagement, back away from the assignment. Micromanagement creates a subtly hostile work environment and hampers a team’s productivity.
- Overhaul your philosophy on meetings. There’s an amusing rendering of one of the most famous verses in the Bible, “For God so loved the world that He didn’t send a committee.” Too many managers and business leaders are too quick to call meetings, even when they could have received the same results if they had sent a simple e-mail to all affected parties. Non-essential meetings can adversely affect a team’s productivity.
And it’s more than just the frequency of meetings that’s a problem. Often, discussions turn into occasions where everyone feels obligated to talk at length, showing everyone how smart and engaged they are. Business managers and company leaders should ensure that the meetings are productive and not just an excuse for people to speak because they like to hear themselves talk. Nothing brings productivity to a screeching halt or interrupts essential tasks like getting called into a meeting that ultimately proves useless and could have been handled by a quick e-mail, text message, or even gathering the necessary people together for a brief discussion in the aisle between the desks or cubicles.
Consider the following flowchart, provided courtesy of the Harvard Business Review.
- Consider the employees’ health. When you feel healthy, your outlook tends to be better. Managers can take subtle steps to ensure that everyone’s feeling good. This consideration includes little tweaks like letting natural light into the work area, encouraging small physical exercise breaks even if it just means standing up and stretching for a few minutes, and adding healthy snacks to the break room instead of only offering junk food. In addition, some organizations have health-based incentives such as discounts to local gym memberships, sponsoring running teams for local 5K road races, and even offering in-house exercise or yoga classes.
These measures could also give employees adequate time off to relax, take a mental health day, hang out with family members, and do other non-work activities. If you make it conducive for employees to strike a healthy balance between home life and work life, morale rises, and productivity increases.
- Allow employees to work remotely. The global pandemic resulted in a paradigm shift in workplace culture and where workers did their jobs. Before the lockdown, many managers viewed remote workers with skepticism and suspicion. So what was to prevent remote workers from abusing their freedom from scrutiny, abandoning essential tasks, and refusing to stay focused on work because their boss wasn’t looking over their shoulders?
As it turns out, most employees prefer to work remotely and are still productive. Remote workers can complete tasks as efficiently as their in-house counterparts, provided they have a dedicated workspace and can minimize distractions
A simple investment in the appropriate tools (such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype, or collaborative software packages) will produce more value from remote work.
- Ensure that everyone has the right tools. “The right tool for the right job,” we’ve all heard this proverb. A successful business ensures its employees have all the resources to do the job quickly and efficiently. This strategy includes providing that every relevant application is updated and upgraded so that everyone has the latest software version and, ideally, it’s bug-free. Nothing is more frustrating than being asked to tackle a vital assignment only to have the program continually crash.
Also, consider using productivity, communication, and time-tracking apps such as:
- Todo list
But it’s not just software; remember your organization’s in-house devices. For example, are your printers constantly breaking down, making your employees want to take them out to a field and beat them with baseball bats? How old are your desktops or other assigned devices? Give people reliable equipment, and you will get better results.
Also Read: Project Management Risks to Watch For
6. Eliminate motivation killers. Motivated people are more productive. It’s as simple as that. And although there are many ways to motivate people, there’s a collection of surefire motivation killers that need to be identified, addressed, and removed.
- Disgruntled, negative employees who reduce everyone’s morale. Some people complain when things go wrong. That’s expected. However, others complain for the sake of complaining, and if that’s the only thing they’re contributing to the group’s effort, then their talents could be best applied elsewhere, like at some other company!
- Stress from overwork or lack of support. Employee morale takes a hit when people get overworked, especially when it appears that no one has their back. Employees in these situations feel overwhelmed and can even freeze up and do nothing.
- A need for career development opportunities and advancement. To many people, the prospect of doing the exact same tasks, day in and day out, for years, if not decades, is too depressing to contemplate. This situation lowers morale, and low morale means less productivity. And speaking of endless repetition…
- Boredom. Doing the same thing every day, especially if the tasks are redundant and don’t challenge or stimulate the brain, causes lethargy, inevitably lowering employee efficiency and productivity. While many employees relish a steady routine and find comfort in predictability, too much of anything is good for you. If people start complaining about boredom and their product begins to slack, it’s time to shake things up a little.
NOTE: If an employee says they’re bored AND overworked, the solution isn’t to give them even MORE work to do, telling them, “Here’s something different for you to do, to shake up the boredom!” This is imperative in your effort to understand how to increase productivity in the workplace.
- Employees feel they need to be more appreciated. And finally, we come to one of the worst motivational killers—employees who feel underappreciated and stop caring. People who don’t care won’t give their best effort. Employees must feel valued, including receiving incentive bonuses, recognition, extra perks, and listening to their ideas.
7. Keep everything simple. Or, put another way, “work smarter, not harder.” Develop a simple, straightforward, focused plan with clear steps, easily definable and measurable goals and milestones, and a clear, achievable conclusion. Refrain from bogging things down with endless details, micromanagement, and unrealistic outcomes. Instead, make your goals SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely).
8. Remove distractions. On the one hand, you want to avoid excessively cracking down on a few minor instances of people taking a few minutes to check their phones or look up something online unrelated to work. But on the other hand, you can lose a lot of productivity to excessive smartphone use, web surfing, social media, and other temptations. There’s a fine line to walk here. Draconian crackdown and enforcement will foster resentment. But allowing people to do what they want, whenever they want, will bring work to a halt. Managers should seek a balanced approach to increase productivity in the workplace, instituting guidelines that don’t make it sound like the employees are being treated like unruly teenagers. Perhaps phones need to be kept on “silent” mode or non-work conversations lasting more than a few minutes should be relegated to the break area. Use common sense, and keep in mind that employees are people.
9. Focus on only one thing at a time. This piece of advice is for employees and managers alike. If your attention is divided among multiple projects or assignments, your energy, effectiveness, and efforts will be diluted, and you won’t get the best results. You should complete one project and do amazingly well rather than finish three projects of mediocre quality. Stay focused and on target, and achieve something before starting something new. And this advice leads us to our final point, which is an essential aspect of this strategy.
10. Learn how to say “no.” This piece of advice is more for employees than it is for managers. It’s easy to agree to do a favor to someone who approaches your desk and asks for help. However, every extra chore, task, or project you take on will divide your focus (see point 9!) and take away the time and energy needed to do your job.
It doesn’t mean you have to snap at people. Learn how to turn down a request graciously and politely. But if you really don’t want to say no, you could instead say, “Not yet.” Inform the person that you’re in the middle of your work, but you could find some extra time at some fixed point later in the day. However, beware of people who always come to you to do their work. That pattern of neediness is a red flag. Unless you’re getting paid two salaries, don’t do the work of two people.
These are just ten of the more effective productivity tips; there are plenty more out there. Do an online search to find even more tactics for boosting productivity. You may notice that many of the above suggestions blend into each other. That’s because, as an aggregate, most of these ideas have a common theme to help you understand how to increase productivity in the workplace: “seek a balance in all things, and treat people decently.”
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Whether you’re a project manager who wants to upskill or someone contemplating a complete career change, this bootcamp is a valuable way to boost your project management career.