Productivity is the core measurement of your business’ ability to complete the work needed to bring in revenue and to keep that work up consistently. Amazingly enough, most businesses experience similar productivity problems over time. What can a small and medium-sized business do to right the ship when productivity is down? Today we explore some ways to do just that.
Keep Your Employees Accountable
The number one cause of a lack of productivity usually comes from employees not carrying their weight. One of the major problems small businesses have is finding ways to keep their people accountable. There can be times during the year when productivity rises and falls due to weather, demand, or simply because managerial oversight isn’t as into managing it. This can be a major problem for businesses that depend on getting their money’s worth from their human resources. Here are a few ways you can curtail productivity slippage through accountability:
Manage but Don’t Micromanage
It’s one thing to take your team out for lunch, but if managers are friendly with their subordinates outside of work, sometimes those casual relationships can hurt work dynamics. On the other hand, if you hire a taskmaster to oversee a team of creative people, you may often find that the staff just gets bogged down with too much minutiae to actually do their jobs effectively; not to mention the effect that can have on employee morale. Ensuring managers are capable of leading is important. Accountability is about letting your staff prove that they can do the right thing, so managers that develop respect and trust is essential to optimal productivity.
Clearly Define Expectations
By setting expectations up front, and making those benchmarks clear to your staff, you can set up an environment where success is clearly defined. You may be surprised just how much productivity is wasted with operational redundancy, unwanted inefficiencies, and other personnel issues caused by employee confusion or a lack of leadership. Let your people know what’s expected of them upfront and you’ll see more productivity.
Give Them the Tools to Succeed
If you are going to successfully hold your workers accountable, you need to put them in a position to achieve the goals you set out for them. Part of that is to provide the necessary resources. More productivity is lost trying to piecemeal together something with tools that aren’t there. Chances are the loss in productivity costs more than anything they need to sufficiently meet the expectations of your customers.
Fear is Not Your Friend
You may think that holding people to unreasonably high standards is the same as holding them accountable. You may think that the more stress you put your people through, that you will eventually find people that meet that standard consistently. If that is your strategy, your business will suffer because you will be perpetually replacing people (at cost to your company). Getting people to want to come to work every day, especially in the most high-stress environments, doesn’t happen through fear, it happens through leadership.
Positivity = Productivity
To that last point, people are going to change jobs; that’s the way of things nowadays. But businesses that create a good working environment can bet that their employees will be more productive than in what would be called a “toxic” environment. According to a study conducted by The American Psychological Association, nearly $500 billion is lost from the United States economy each year as a result of workplace stress. Jobs have deadlines, they have expectations, and people do those jobs because of compensation they get for doing higher risk jobs, but companies that can keep things positive while also keeping the foot on the proverbial throttle will see better productivity figures and less flameouts and turnover.
Turnover alone is extraordinarily expensive for businesses. It is regularly estimated that to replace an employee, companies can spend between a half to two times one employee’s annual salary. The facts are that happy employees help businesses thrive and constant turnover doesn’t just affect your costs, it has an effect on your remaining workforce. It lowers morale and hinders productivity. Here are a couple of ways to foster positivity in your business:
Have a Retention Strategy
The first thing you will need to know to follow through with this is that it is extremely important for your staff to be treated respectfully at work. Two-thirds of polled employees find it is the number one reason people leave a business. That includes regular praise when they do something positive, on-time performance reviews, raises when applicable, and an acceptance of input and feedback. If you want people to be productive for your business, you need to treat them like they are more than just resources.
Benefits, Fringe and Otherwise
Health benefits are a massive deal for many modern workers, and for some the thing that will keep them at a job they may not absolutely love. These can be a non-starter for many smaller businesses, but if you can offer a health plan or subsidize employee healthcare costs, it is a really big deal that will go a long way toward keeping your people happy and productive. Other benefits can cost your business nothing—like throwing out the dress code, offering flex time, or creating wellness programs to keep your employees healthy (like quitting smoking, improving their mental health, or losing weight). The more comfortable your employees’ lives are outside of work, the more focused they can be at work.
The fact is that keeping productivity high has to be a priority for every business, and it takes some effort on your part to keep that productivity at acceptable levels.
Technology is a big part of productivity. Using it to fuel collaboration and to make your business more efficient are great ways to help keep your staff’s productivity high. To talk about productivity-enhancing solutions with one of our professional consultants give S3 Technologies, Inc. a call at (505) 242-5683 today.