5 research-backed ways to improve employee productivity

A company can only be as productive as the people who work there. Fortunately, more employers and HR professionals are beginning to understand that their own management practices can have a direct impact on employee productivity, engagement and motivation.

Even so, as an employer, it can be difficult to know exactly what to focus on when it comes to boosting your company’s productivity and profitability. Do you implement bonus schemes? Provide longer breaks? Offer additional perks like more vacation time or flexible schedules?

If you’re hoping to boost workplace productivity but aren’t sure where to start, here are five important things you should know about employee engagement and how you can motivate your staff to work at full productive capacity.

1. Avoid overloading employees

One of the biggest causes of job dissatisfaction and a lack of engagement at work is stress. A survey by global advisory and solutions company Towers Watson found that high stress levels at work lead to higher absentee levels and lower productivity. Another survey by Cornerstone showed that 61 percent of workers believe work overload hinders their productivity.

So what can employers do to minimize stress and prevent work overload?

Some possible solutions include giving workers a flexible and remote work schedule so they can complete certain tasks at their own pace, implementing workplace wellness schemes , and maintaining open lines of communication and encouraging employee feedback.

2. Give people a chance to use their strengths

Another big reason many people feel disengaged at work is that they aren’t using their unique talents, strengths or skills. Gallup research shows that employees who are able to exercise their strengths on a daily basis are more engaged at work and outperform those who don’t.

Since teams with high engagement rates are also more productive than those with low engagement rates, looking for ways to enable employees to use their strengths can be an excellent way to boost productivity.

Of course, the best way to make sure your employees will be able to use their strengths at work is to hire people with the right skills for the job. But there are other ways to help people use and develop their strengths, from informal coaching and professional development programs to checking in regularly with employees and evaluating their performance at different tasks.

3. Use social media strategically

Although social media is most often viewed as a distraction in the workplace, a number of studies show that when it’s used strategically, social media can actually enhance productivity. Research from McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) showed that organizations with connected employees can improve their productivity by 20% to 25%.

So what are some of the ways to use social technologies strategically? One study found that employees who took short 10-minute social media breaks were more productive .

Other potential ways to use it in the workplace include the gamification of employee training programs, the use of company blogs to keep employees informed and connected, and the use of social networks to encourage collaboration.

4. Provide more training opportunities

Aside from ensuring a higher standard of work, research published in the International Journal of Science and Research shows that investing in employee training programs can improve employee satisfaction and lead to greater efficiency and productivity.

Providing more training opportunities will also save time and money because when employees understand exactly what they are supposed to do and how, they will be more confident, will make fewer mistakes and the need for supervision will be reduced. Training opportunities can also increase staff loyalty which in turn reduces staff turnover.

5. Put incentives in place

Happy employees are more productive, more creative and more collaborative at work, and a study by UK-based recruitment firm Genesis Associates found that incentives are one of the best ways to keep employees engaged and motivate them to work more efficiently.

Money is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of employee incentives, but research shows that money isn’t the only way to motivate people, and there may actually be more cost-effective ways to encourage productivity.

For instance, one experiment by behavioral scientist Dan Ariely found that the promise of pizza worked better than cash to motivate employees. Other examples of employee incentives include extra time off, flexible working hours or meals out.

Of course, you may have to experiment a bit and get feedback from your employees to figure out which incentives would be most appreciated, but you can be sure that rewarding hard work, even if it’s just in small ways, does pay off.

DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.

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