Help employees maximize every minute of their day

stock-photo-digital-composite-of-product-2351342-471715-edited.pngYour employees may physically be in your office from morning until night — but that doesn’t mean they’re being productive for all, or even most, of that time.

Seventy-nine percent of U.K. workers, for instance, said they weren’t being industrious throughout the entire workday in a recent survey conducted by Vouchercloud. Employees, according to the results, work effectively for less than three hours a day — just two hours and 53 minutes, on average.

Worker productivity problems can cause a number of troubling outcomes, including operational delays and reduced revenue; both scenarios can, in turn, negatively affect engagement and turnover efforts.

Yet decreased productivity can be a challenging predicament to fix. Realistically, employers can’t monitor personnel at all moments to determine when and why a productivity loss is occurring for each employee.

Companies can, however, institute a few widespread changes to help correct and proactively prevent productivity problems on an organization-wide level.

If your employees aren’t making the most of their time in the office, the following suggestions may help boost their efficiency:

Position employees to start the day right

A study involving insurance company customer service representatives found the mood employees start the day with can last until closing time — and can significantly affect job performance. Workers who were in a negative mood early on took more frequent breaks than happier workers, resulting in a more than 10 percent productivity loss for the day.

Employers can’t prevent traffic, tiredness or other issues that may initially put employees in an adverse state of mind; but you can take steps to turn that mood around once the workday starts. If your budget allows for it, offering perks such as complimentary breakfast items on a weekly, daily or periodic basis could have a positive influence on employees’ outlook — which may ultimately encourage increased productivity. We know companies that provide free food have happier personnel than ones who don’t, according to a survey from Peapod; a survey conducted by the University of Warwick found happy employees are 12 percent more productive than unhappy ones.

stock-photo-portrait-of-young-asian-empl-2494738-316973-edited.pngPlan for distractions

The human brain can only focus for 90 to 120 minutes before it needs a respite, according to research from Podio; you may be able to help employees stay focused by scheduling meetings and other events for an hour and a half or less. Encouraging staff members to take frequent breaks may also help. The employees with the highest productivity ratings work for 52 minutes, then pause and do something else for 17 minutes, according to research from DeskTime.

Watch out for worker productivity roadblocks

Encourage employees to tackle their most important weekly tasks during the generally most productive hours — 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, according to Accountemps research. Avoiding scheduling deadlines and important meetings from 4-6 p.m., the toughest time of day to focus for more than a third (37 percent) of employees, may also prevent decreased productivity.

Offer time management training

A University of Amsterdam study found employees who participated in a half-day time management training seminar reported a significant decline in procrastination-related behavior and an increase in their ability to manage time.

Encourage employees to delegate

Results from a three-year study involving knowledge workers in the United States and Europe, published in the Harvard Business Review in 2013, found eliminating or allocating unimportant tasks to others increased productivity among knowledge workers who spent 41 percent of their time, on average, dealing with discretionary activities that could have been competently performed by other employees.

For additional ideas on how to improve worker productivity, check out our blog posts on how to build the best holiday season schedule to avoid absence-related productivity problems; disarming your most disengaged employees;  five foolproof ways to prompt increased productivity and the alarming ways workplace discrimination can result in a productivity loss.