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Published: Jun 27, 2023 15 min read
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It's no secret that a business can’t be successful without productive employees, but understanding how to increase productivity in the workplace can be tricky. Luckily, there are some simple and proven methods you can apply to boost employee productivity, strengthen your company culture, and reduce turnover. And if you find yourself working for a company that is not willing to prioritize productivity and employee well-being, you can use ZipRecruiter — one of the best job listing sites, featuring a simple design and user-friendly features that help job seekers find the ideal job opportunities — to find full-time jobs where you'll be surrounded by other like-minded managers and employees.

Read on to learn more about tracking employee productivity and building a company culture that encourages employees to naturally perform at their best. Discover new ways to boost morale, foster open communication and ultimately improve efficiency and performance.

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What is employee productivity?

There are many ways to define and measure employee productivity, but it boils down to how much work an employee completes during a given time. Productive employees regularly meet deadlines, produce high-quality work and help their companies thrive.

How to measure employee productivity

In order to identify the best ways to improve employee productivity in your workplace, it's essential to begin by monitoring employee morale and productivity. Measuring employee productivity can help you identify areas of improvement so you can implement the solutions that will be most effective. Gauging where the company morale stands will tell you what aspects of the company culture need adjustments.

Here are a few practical ways of monitoring employee performance:

Implement a task management system instead of employee time clock software

Most employers use time clock software to monitor how many hours an employee is "on the clock," but in many cases, this isn't the most effective way to track productivity. On the other hand, task management software tracks how long each employee spends on a task or project. Most task management software lets employees track time manually by inputting how much time was spent on a task or automatically by starting and stopping a timer. A task management system gives you deeper insight into how your employees spend their time, and it can increase productivity by helping employees keep a record of how much time and effort they're investing in different tasks.

Conduct performance reviews regularly

Traditionally, companies have conducted performance reviews once or twice a year at most. However, conducting frequent reviews may help you address issues as they arise, rather than waiting months to bring up old concerns. It also gives your employees a chance to keep you in the loop regarding any obstacles they encounter in their jobs so you can work together to develop solutions. What’s more, employees want to receive feedback and know how they’re doing so they can, if necessary, improve their performance.

Start rewarding employees for their hard work

If you're struggling to figure out how to solve workplace morale problems, take a look around your organization and see if there are any programs in place that reward employees for their hard work or celebrate their work-related strengths. Small incentives can go a long way in boosting morale. Even something as simple as a handwritten thank you note for a job well done can be a powerful motivator. Understanding how to express gratitude towards employees can go a long way toward improving morale and productivity.

Other simple ideas include spotlighting employees in a company newsletter or blog, or bringing in breakfast for the team now and then. You could also implement a more formal incentives program that offers rewards like time off, small gifts or special parking spaces. Not only do these programs improve morale, but they also allow you to measure productivity in a way that shows appreciation to your employees.

How to improve employee productivity in the workplace

1. Provide employees with the tools that they need

If you've ever tried to complete a project without the right tools to do so, you know how counterproductive and frustrating it can be. Not only does it inherently slow down the process of completing a task, but it can also lead to resentment and burnout, as employees need to overcompensate for the lack of tools.

The tools your employees will need will vary according to their role. If you're unsure whether your employees have the tools they need, the best way to find out is to ask them.

2. Don't micromanage them

No professional wants to be micromanaged. So rather than keeping a watchful eye on your employees and immediately taking control when you perceive potential problems, you can simply let your employees know that you're there to help if they need anything. This strategy can improve morale and productivity by increasing your employees’ sense of autonomy. They will be more likely to let you know when they're ready to hear what you have to say, and to accept your assistance when you offer it.

3. Have open channels of communication

Having open channels of communication will help your employees feel comfortable coming to you if something is preventing them from being their most productive selves. Regularly remind your employees that you're available if they want or need to talk. You should also provide them with multiple channels to contact you, so that they may reach out through the one with which they feel most comfortable. That way, when an issue comes up, they'll know you're available to work out a solution together.

4. Request and provide regular feedback

Giving employees frequent feedback helps them correct small problems before they become bigger issues. And it gives you a chance to provide positive reinforcement as well. You don't need to reserve feedback for formal performance reviews. Instead, take the opportunity to provide feedback as is necessary. And be sure to request feedback from your employees as well. Knowing you're open to actively listen to what they have to say helps your employees feel valued.

5. Revamp your onboarding process

Knowing how to find great candidates for a job is an important part of the hiring process — in this respect, posting your job opening on a job site such as ZipRecruiter is highly recommended — but your work doesn't end once they are hired.

An effective onboarding process is also critical. It's where you set the expectations for the job and provide the necessary information for your new employees to do well in their roles. If it's been a while since you've updated your company's onboarding process, it might be time for a revamp. Try to see the process through the eyes of new hires. Does it provide everything they need to succeed in your company? Does it give them enough opportunity to ask questions and feel comfortable?

6. Offer employee training and skill development opportunities

Employee training programs help workers improve or add to their skills, which in turn makes them more productive. It also boosts morale by showing your employees that you see their potential and want them to thrive. As a result, they become more engaged in the workplace and more likely to grow with the company rather than look for opportunities elsewhere. If you're on a tight budget or unsure how to promote employee growth, think creatively. You might be able to create a mentorship program between experienced employees and new hires. Or, perhaps employees can occasionally work on projects with different teams so they get to cross-train and learn new skills.

7. Evaluate your company culture

Company culture can play a vital role in how productive your employees are. A culture of fear leads to disengagement and high turnover, while a positive culture built on trust increases employee engagement and productivity. You can create a positive company culture by encouraging collaboration between team members, promoting a healthy work-life balance and finding small ways to bring fun into the workplace. Learning how to foster adequate work ethic through example is one of the ways in which you could start building a culture that values hard work and commitment.

8. Set achievable goals

Setting unreachable goals doesn't motivate employees to try harder. It often makes them feel that there's no point in working hard because they won't achieve the goals anyway. Be realistic when setting goals, and get input from your employees when possible. You can meet with individuals or teams to learn what goals they've set for themselves and then merge those with company goals. That way, everyone is invested in reaching the same outcomes.

9. Improve your leadership skills

Actively working to improve your leadership skills doesn't mean you're not a good manager. From soft skills, like improving communication, to concrete skills, like effectively choosing between two great candidates, there's always room for more growth. You can find a mentor, work with a career coach or take a course focused on improving leadership skills.

Your employees’ feedback is one of the best tools to learn how to become a better manager. Check if any topics have been brought up repeatedly. You may be able to find patterns in the feedback that help you identify areas where your skills could use a little fine-tuning.

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Questions you can ask employees to improve productivity

If you need help increasing employee productivity or you're unsure of how to retain employees, one of the most effective things you can do is talk to your employees and find out what they need to be more happy and productive. Here are a few questions you can ask so you'll have a better understanding of how to support them.

What motivates you to get your job done?

People are motivated by different things — a feeling of accomplishment, checking tasks off as they're completed or praise from a manager, just to name a few. Once you understand what motivates your employees, you'll know how to encourage them to be most productive.

What are your ideal working conditions to be the most productive?

Sometimes it might be hard to spot workplace conditions that are hindering productivity. By asking your employees what working conditions they need to be most productive, you can learn what's working well and what needs improvement.

How do you prefer to receive feedback?

If you want your employees to receive and apply your feedback, it must be delivered in the right way. The right way will depend on the employee. By asking each employee how they prefer to receive feedback, you can ensure that you provide it in the way they'll be most receptive to.

Do flexible work hours improve employee productivity?

Implementing flexible work hours is an effective way of improving employee productivity. Workers with flexible work hours and arrangements typically spend more time working and get more done while working. They're more likely to stay with a company and have a better work-life balance that helps them stay physically and mentally healthy.

Do employee tracking devices improve employee work productivity?

There's a plethora of employee productivity tracking software on the market, and it can be tempting to believe that using one will magically boost productivity in your workplace. And employees may indeed try to keep busier when they know they're being watched. But being busy does not equal being productive. Monitoring keystrokes or time spent on the phone doesn't give you a clear picture of how much work is actually getting done and what distractions and workplace challenges your employees are struggling with. Done the wrong way, employee productivity monitoring can backfire. Rather than boosting productivity, it often leads to lower morale and a company culture built on distrust.

If you do use an employee productivity tracker, it's best to be honest about it with your employees and talk to them about how you will use the data. The tracking program will be most effective if you use it in conjunction with employee feedback to identify ways of improving your company's workflow rather than as a way to catch employees slacking off. It can also help you understand how to spot employee burnout so you can take action before you lose good employees.

Summary of Money's how to improve employee productivity or performance

Motivating employees to be more productive is a struggle for many managers. Before you can improve productivity, you need to know how to measure it. Most tracking devices do a poor job of employee productivity measurement, but task management systems, performance reviews and incentive programs can be very effective.

Once you have a baseline, you can work on improving employee productivity and efficiency. Allow flexible work hours, show your employees you recognize their work-related strengths, keep communication open, and promote employee growth and development. Encourage your employees to have a healthy work-life balance, and remember that happy employees are more productive.