As leaders, our job is to guide our team toward the accomplishment of a goal or mission.
The more productive our employees are, the more effective we will be in our goal or in the accomplishment of our mission.
As leaders, then, we want to help our employees be as productive as possible and to help them grow to be more productive at work. How do we do that?
In this article, we discuss 15 effective ways to increase employee productivity in the workplace.
Table of Contents
1. Create an environment of safety and trust
One of the most powerful steps you can take to increase employee productivity in the workplace is to create an environment and culture of safety and trust.
Simon Sinek in his book The Infinite Game discusses how when teams feel safe, they can face outward and face the challenges from the world on focus on doing the mission of the team.
When they don’t feel safe, they face inward to protect themselves from those inside the organization. When they are facing inward, they are not effectively dealing with the outside issues and completing the mission.
This starts first with you being trustworthy. Your team needs to trust you.
- They need to know you have their back and care for them and are there to support them.
- They need to feel comfortable enough to speak up when they make a mistake or are not sure how to do something.
- They don’t need to fear bringing up problems.
- They need to feel heard and like their voice matters.
- They need to know that when they make mistakes, leadership isn’t out to “get them” but to support them, help them learn from it, and help them move forward.
2. Ensure they know what is important in their job
One reason many employees aren’t as productive as they could be is that they don’t really know what is most important for their job.
Often job descriptions are vague and their managers don’t explain to them what exactly they were hired to do and accomplish. They then spend time doing what they think is important, even though it may not be.
As a leader, you need to make sure you know what are the most important tasks of your employees and make sure they know as well.
3. Teach good time management principles
Once employees know what is important for them to do, teaching them good time management principles can then help them DO what is most important.
This can be done in different ways: at meetings, providing resources like books, quality online courses, mentoring, and so on. However, two of the most important skills you can teach your employees are prioritizing and planning. These two go hand in hand.
Prioritizing is looking at all you need to do, looking at your goals and the big picture, and then deciding what is most important.
How is this done? During planning! Each day (and even week and so on) your employees should learn to plan ahead for the next day (and you should provide them the ability to do so) so they can see the bigger picture and write out what’s most important for them to do the next day.
Of course, situations arise day to day, but when they have a plan and know what is important, they can effectively transition and know if what rises up is important or not.
Planning also helps keep you from deciding at the moment. When you decide at the moment, it’s harder to see the bigger picture of what is important, and it’s easy to do easier tasks or distracting tasks when deciding on the spot.
4. Remove distractions
Helping employees remove distractions (and giving them permission to do so) is another effective method to increase employee productivity.
One of the biggest distractions at work is emails and phones. They have to be done at times, but, in most cases, not ALL the time.
If possible, encourage your employees to turn off the notifications and allow them to go for periods of time without checking. In fact, encourage them to schedule in their day set times for email, phone, etc. (in fact, chunking tasks is an effective time management principle).
Reducing meetings (or having certain meeting-free days), giving employees headphones, and discussing with employees what distracts them the most, can be helpful in reducing distractions.
5. Model productive behavior
It’s not what you say, it’s what you do.
If you want your employees to be more effective, increase productivity in the workplace, and drive results, model the behavior you want. If encourage productive behaviors but don’t implement them yourself, don’t expect your employees to take those behaviors seriously either.
If you want them to implement good, productive behaviors, work on implementing them yourself.
6. Give autonomy in their work
One of the big three human motivations is autonomy. When employees are given choice and autonomy in how they do their work, they are more likely to be productive and motivated in their work.
When you micromanage, that kills motivation and productivity.
What matters most: that the goal is accomplished or the way the goal is accomplished? Is them doing it your way that important? Give employees autonomy in their work, and you are highly likely to see more motivated and productive employees.
7. Give purpose and meaning to their work
Another one of the big drivers of motivation is purpose. When people find purpose and meaning in their work, when they see how it affects the big picture or how it helps the people they are making it for or serving, they are more likely to be more motivated and productive.
Give purpose to your employees’ work. Help them see how their work helps the big picture and brings the company closer to its goals and mission. Show examples of how the work they do positively impacts the lives of your customers.
The more purpose they see in their work, the more motivated and productive they will likely be.
8. Provide mastery in their work
The third big drive of human motivation is mastery. People want to grow in their work, learn, get better, and grow in their careers.
When work is too easy and there is no challenge, they aren’t motivated. When it’s challenging and helps them grow, they are more likely to be motivated by it. Provide work that helps them grow (if possible). Provide other ways to grow in their job and career.
The more you do this, the more likely they will be more motivated and productive.
9. Give frequent feedback and appreciation
Feedback and appreciation are huge. And, unfortunately, too often, these are not done enough in our workplaces. Feedback is important to employees because it lets them know where they are at in their job, task, and project.
When they know, they know where they stand and can work to improve or do what they need to do to make it better. If they are on track, it lets them know that instead of wondering.
Appreciation lets people know that you notice and care about them and their work.
Here are the latest Employee Recognition Statistics and how appreciation/recognition can increase employee productivity in the workplace.
When people feel appreciated, they feel more motivated and are more productive. So, make sure to provide frequent feedback and appreciation to your employees.
10. Listen to them, their needs, their feedback, and their ideas
One of the best ways to demotivate your employees is to act like they and their voices do not matter. When employees feel unheard or ignored, they will care less about the work they do.
Listen to them (make them feel heard). Listen to their needs and help them. Listen to their feedback and implement (or experiment with) their ideas. The more heard your employees feel, the more motivated and productive they will be.
11. Provide and encourage growth and learning
Help your employees grow! Provide them with learning opportunities and resources. Help them look for their bottlenecks and work to overcome them.
Provide resources to help them grow in their most critical tasks. The more they grow in the areas that are important (and the more they overcome their bottlenecks), the more productive they will be.
12. Encourage risks, mistakes, ideas, and innovation
If you want your employees to be more productive, encourage innovation and new ideas. Encourage experimentation.
Yes, it comes with some risks. Yes, mistakes will happen. But if we see mistakes as we should, we know they are good things because they help us know what doesn’t work, so we can find what does.
When your employees innovate, new ideas come about, new ways of doing things happen, ideas to save money, to increase productivity, and even new products can come from it.
See innovation, risks, mistakes, and new ideas in the right way.
13. Provide the resources and connections they need
As a leader, a big part of your job is to serve your team to reach your goals. As the leader, you should be providing resources, making, connections, and opening doors for them.
14. Work through the bureaucratic red tape for them
Bureaucratic red tape is a killer of productivity (and it should be avoided – listen to our podcast episode 5 to learn more!).
As a leader, you should work through that red tape, remove what you can, and do what you can to help your employees not have to deal with it so they can spend as much time doing their most important work.
The more time they can focus on their work instead of bureaucracy, the more productive they will be.
15. Put people over profits and “results”
When you put results over people, profit over people, and so on, your employees trust you less, feel less motivated, and you will get less from them.
Too often companies put their short-term earnings and results over their people. For example, they lay off hundreds or thousands just to show “growth” for the quarter.
That’s not right.
Put people over profits and results. That seems counterintuitive, but in the long run, it makes sense.
When you put people first, they know you care about them. That builds loyalty, motivation, and, from that, productivity. You may show less profit now or less results now, but in the long run, you will come up on top.
When you focus on profits over people now for short-term gains, in the long run, you are hurting yourself (and that’s why many businesses die).
How to Increase Employee Productivity – The Conclusion
In this article, we discussed 15 effective ways to increase employee productivity in the workplace. Notice that we didn’t mention money, threats, competition between employees, and other strategies that many companies do.
What works best is much of what we discussed in this post: building a safe culture, serving your team, hitting the key motivators, and so on. These take more time and more work, but they are worth it – especially in the long run.
Now to you: Did we miss anything? Do you agree or disagree with us? Let us know in the comments below.
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