How to Increase Employee Productivity as a Small Business Owner

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Why are some businesses more successful than others? You may believe they have more funding and bigger marketing budgets.

While those sentiments are true, productivity also plays a significant role. Productive workers increase your brand’s revenue and chances of long-term success.

However, a study on US workers found that employees are only productive for 2 hours and 48 minutes a day. Another survey on UK employees reported that they’re only productive for 2 hours and 23 minutes.

So how do you increase your workers’ productive hours and get the most out of them? This article covers different tips on boosting employee productivity for your small businesses.

Use Time Tracking to Monitor and Boost Productivity

Time trackers are valuable tools for small businesses, especially those with remote workers. While time trackers primarily calculate billable hours and create invoices, they’re also great productivity trackers.

You can use a time tracker to monitor each employee’s work rate and performance. This way, you’ll understand which tasks they excel at and those they struggle to complete.

The data helps you optimize how you assign tasks. You can focus on allocating tasks that fit a worker’s skill set to improve employee productivity across the board.

You can also use the data to discover where workers are struggling, which makes it easier to provide the help they need.

Use Project Management Tools to Streamline Workflow

Project management tools offer you a range of capabilities that work together to help you boost employee productivity.

These tools allow you to streamline and automate workflows so everyone knows their role. Work is efficiently handed over from one team to the other, making the work process smooth.

Project management solutions also allow you to collaborate on tasks, see what everyone is doing, comment on on-going work, and provide well-detailed reports. As a manager, you’ll know who’s free and assign work more efficiently.

What’s more, most project management tools integrate with other apps such as file-sharing and communication platforms, calendar apps, and accounting solutions.

This way, you can work with schedules, track expenses, and share and edit documents in real-time.

Identify and Discard Time Wasting Activities

Some activities like unnecessary meetings kill your workers’ time and distract them from important work. According to the State of Meetings Report released by Doodle in 2019, meetings cost the US economy up to $399 billion and set the UK back by up to $58 billion.

So, while you may think that meetings foster communication, some of them are ineffective and unproductive.

Review the purpose of each meeting, and if a mail or general announcement will suffice, discard it. You should send out questionnaires to your team members to identify the meetings that are critical and those you should cancel.

You can also use data from your project management and time tracking tool to identify where your workers spend their time. This way, you can find apps and websites that distract them the most and get them to avoid them.

Encourage Communication

Communication is the backbone of collaboration, and team members must effectively collaborate to boost productivity.

Team members shouldn’t just relay information, but also provide necessary feedback to mitigate pitfalls, boost employee morale, and enhance the workplace mood.

You can use communication to drive productivity by:

  • Making yourself available and accessible
  • Providing the necessary tools required to communicate,
  • Removing communication roadblocks, and
  • Encouraging a brand culture of communication.

If you handle remote workers, you must provide all the technology required to keep your workers in touch. That’s because telecommuters are more prone to working in silos, which can hurt your team’s collective productivity.

Avoid Micromanagement

Some managers don’t know how to resist the urge to dictate every work process. This management style leaves employees frustrated and disengaged. It reduces their morale and creates a toxic work environment.

According to a study published in Gallup’s 12: The Elements of Great Managing, absenteeism driven by disengagement can cost companies with 100,000 employees up to $600,000 each year.

Another study published in the book My Way or the Highway by Harry E. Chambers found that 69% of respondents were considering changing jobs because of micromanagement. And as it turns out, losing an employee can cost you up to twice their salary, according to Gallup.

To avoid these steep costs, ensure you give your workers the autonomy to do their jobs. Doing that will boost their morale, increase productivity, and encourage them to be more creative.

Instead of monitoring your employees’ every move, you can use your project management tool to check out their work progress. You can also schedule non-intrusive check-ins.

Avoid Burnout

Burnout does a lot more damage than you can imagine. For starters, it reduces your worker’s focus and energy for work. It can also impact their health negatively and cost your company financially.

According to this Forbes article, Gallup found that disengagement due to burnout reduces employee productivity by 18%, increases absenteeism by 37%, and reduces your company’s profitability by 15%.

You can avoid employee burnout by using your project management and time tracking tools to identify which worker is handling too much work and reassign their task. You could also use data from those tools to determine how much work is too much for each employee and allocate work more efficiently.

Leverage Team Building

Team building activities build trust and allow team members to become more comfortable around each other, encouraging them to communicate more.

So, instead of organizing work-related meetings every day or week, you can substitute one of those gatherings to pursue social activities. These activities can include board games, icebreakers, or even cooking classes.

If you manage a remote team, there are different virtual team building activities you can organize. You can design virtual break rooms and organize things like office trivia, virtual fitness sessions, and workstation tours. You can also make team members participate in virtual games such as true lies, and multiplayer video games like Counterstrike.

Discourage Multitasking

Make it a company policy to frown on multitasking. That’s because doing more than one thing at a time can significantly hurt your team’s collective productivity.

On the flip side, focusing on one job at a time can shoot your team’s productivity numbers sky-high. So, encourage your employees to resist the temptation of responding to emails or checking out social media while tackling a critical task.

Reward and Recognize Your Employees

According to a study on employee engagement, workers admitted that they will be encouraged to perform better if their managers recognize and appreciate their work more.

So, make it a habit to reward and appreciate your workers whenever they do great work. You can praise them during meetings and when you make announcements regarding milestones your company just achieved.

You can also provide incentives such as gifts, vacations, and promotions.

Keep Optimizing Your Work Policies by Collecting Feedback

Collecting feedback from your employees helps you identify gaps in your work process and unfavorable policies that you should remove. This way, you’re including your employees in the decision-making process and making them feel like part of the business.

That sense of belonging can enhance the mood in your workplace and encourage workers to do more.

So, send out anonymous questionnaires to encourage workers to express themselves freely. You can also organize one-to-one meetings to ask personal questions about their work.

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