Every company wants to find those secret productivity boosters. A CEO who makes a speech about boosting productivity has really said nothing at all. It’s obvious and universal. No company wants less productivity from its workers. No company is after pretty good productivity. They all want to maximize output. The only real question is how to make it happen. If it was easy, we wouldn’t need libraries full of books on the subject. We wouldn’t need endless seminars, retreats, and lectures. But it is never that easy.
There are too many moving parts and components that are difficult if not impossible to control. You can try to employ more people. But more chefs in the kitchen don’t produce a better soup. You can purchase more hardware. But it is a poor artist that blames her tools when mistakes are made.
The thing most managers don’t want to hear is that their workforce is already producing at maximum efficiency. They don’t want to hear it, in part, because if true, they would be out of a job. They would have to tell their supervisor that they are incapable of increasing productivity. If you have already tried all the traditional solutions, consider a few small ideas that could make a big difference:
That bargain brand coffee pot paired with the cheapest store brand coffee you could find is not cutting it, not even close. There is a reason your workers are late every morning. They are in long lines at their favorite drive-through bistro to overpay for a decent cup of coffee to help them start their day. This gets everyone starting their day rushed, stressed, and behind the 8-ball. That is time and productivity that can never be recovered. Your workers start their day behind and things only snowball from there.
You can flip the script with something as basic as great coffee options in your break room. For surprisingly little money and effort, you can even supply the cold brew coffee they like so much in the summer. The key is providing options that workers want throughout the day. If they have to use part of their break to leave the office building to get something that you could easily supply, the result is productivity loss.
A good break is a crucial part of a workday. While breaks are optional, you need to make sure your employees take full advantage of all of their breaks. Skipping breaks will actually harm their productivity in the long run. Exhausted employees make mistakes. Those mistakes can be critical. The 3 O-clock slump is a real thing. Some say it is due to eating too heavy of a lunch. You should know there is a lot more to it than that.
By skipping breaks, workers will become more exhausted throughout the day. By the early afternoon there are a lot of things working against productivity. Be sure that long coffee runs and poor break habits are not among them.
Fast and Reliable Internet Connection
One of the best tools to boost productivity is a fast and reliable internet connection. One of the worst things a client can hear when attempting to transact business is the representative making excuses about having to wait on a slow connection or apologizing for the network being down. This makes your company look like a clown car full of Bozos.
These days, the most basic and fundamental tool for the smooth operation of your business is a terminal connected to fast and reliable internet. It can no longer be laughed off as one of those things. There is no excuse. And the lack of it is costing you money.
You can’t blame your workers when they are behind on their work at the end of the day when they have insufficient tools for the job. A task that should take 2 minutes will take them more than twice that if it is internet dependent and the network is slow and unreliable.
Sales are lost because the unreliable connection gave clients a chance to reconsider and change their mind. All too often, telephone appointments are mangled because the agent working the phone and thinking on their feet cannot access the information they need at the moment they need it.
This is even more a factor for employees working from home. Work from home is a reality that is here to stay. That means companies are going to have to start providing some type of broadband stipend for home workers with less than reliable internet access. If you have a work computer that is not connected to a fast, ubiquitous network, you just as well not have a work computer at all. Productivity will suffer until the situation is resolved.
The one thing people want even more than money is recognition for the work they do. That recognition can come in a variety of forms. It could come in the form of a small raise. But it could also be a sideways promotion with a new title. Other ways to recognize the good work of people in your company is just to publicly recognize them.
Include a couple of sentences about their good work in the daily bulletin. Every team in the company should have an employee of the week. Managers should be instructed to recognize employees throughout the day. Give as much recognition as possible. It’s free.
Recognition is even more important in a stressful job. If sales are not going well, show appreciation for high dial volumes. Show appreciation for perfect paperwork 3 days in a row. Show appreciation for on-time attendance all week. Show appreciation for employees who help other employees. There is no end to the things you can call out as a job well done.
A word of public recognition will often increase productivity more than anything else you could do. Good managers don’t fire employees who have lost their spark. Good managers fire them up.
Sometimes increasing productivity is more about not losing the productivity you already have. Encourage more productivity by providing better coffee options and encouraging better breaks. Keep the work flowing with a reliable network connection that doesn’t stop your workers in their tracks. And give recognition out as if it were free, because it is. And it is one of the most powerful productivity tools you have.