When employee productivity wanes, profitability is at risk of declining, as well — an outcome no company intends to encounter.
Yet some do. A number of issues, when left unaddressed, can lessen workplace productivity.
Low engagement levels, which are a problem worldwide — according to Gallup, only 13 percent of employees are engaged on a global scale — can threaten output. Some organizations struggle with work overload that causes overextended employees to significantly slow down. Poor management can also have a damaging effect.
Paying close attention to key operational aspects, however, can help companies prevent problems, allowing them to protect — and potentially raise — their current level of employee productivity.
To avoid delay-related issues and streamline, speed up and generally improve your company’s workflow, consider the following five effective strategies:
1. Hire highly engaged managers
A supervisor’s attitude can have a considerable influence on workplace productivity. Gallup research found employing enthusiastic, involved managers can mean employees are 60 percent more likely to be engaged. The sentiment needs to start from the top down: Managers are 39 percent more likely to be engaged when executive teams are highly engaged.
2. Watch employees’ workloads
A LexisNexis survey of 1,700 workers in China, South Africa, the U.K., Australia and the U.S. found 59 percent of professionals felt the amount of information they have to process at work has grown significantly since the economic downturn — and 62 percent, on average, say the quality of their work sometimes suffers because they can’t sort through everything fast enough.
In the U.S. alone, 68 percent of full-time employees are suffering from an excess of work, according to a Cornerstone OnDemand survey; more than six in ten (61 percent) believe that overload poses the biggest threat to their productivity.
3. Ensure mental health isn’t an issue
Dealing with depression and other illnesses at work can be difficult. Nearly a quarter of Canadians living with a mental illness are unable to work because of depression and anxiety symptoms, according to a report from The Conference Board of Canada’s Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care. Similar findings indicate depression-related sick leave and employee productivity losses cost the European Union approximately €76 billion, according to another report.
Offering enhanced access to health benefits, such as coverage for evidence-based prescription drugs and paramedical services, modified work schedules and other support, as The Conference Board suggests, may help increase productivity.
4. Consider offering flexible working options
WorldatWork research indicates arrangements like part-time hours, shift flexibility and a phased return after being on leave can inspire a lower voluntary employee turnover rate; the higher an organization rates itself on the flexibility scale, in fact, the lower its turnover rate. (For tips on establishing a program, read our blog post on flexible work hour planning.)
5. Increase productivity with a device and internet use policy
One in five employers think workers are productive less than five hours a day — and more than half of companies blame cell phone use, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey. The Internet was the second biggest in-office distraction; 41 percent of employers said it was the largest efficiency killer.
The resulting workplace productivity issues can have a number of negative effects, ranging from compromised work quality (which 48 percent of employers said was a concern) to missed deadlines and lost revenue (cited by 27 and 26 percent of respondents, respectively). Clearly stating phones and Internet access should be used for work only may help quell some of employees’ daytime distractions.
Other approaches may also prove successful. Gallup research, for example, has found stressing workers’ contribution to your organization can help with retention and increase productivity.
Some organizations in the U.K. say they’ve been able to use non-cash employee and sales reward and recognition programs to boost employee productivity, according to a survey from the Incentive Research Foundation.
Companies who are open to making unique changes to their environment may want to try allowing animals in the office. Seven out of 10 employees and HR decision makers say having pets at work can produce positive effects, according to a survey published by Banfield Pet Hospital — including heightened loyalty and morale.
Making employees feel prepared, valued and generally satisfied can have a positive influence on productivity. For more about incentives, programs and other elements that can help you attract, engage and retain employees, download our free white paper on building an effective employer brand.