Productivity is the buzzword of our working generation. With rapid globalisation, the ability to turn on a dime, respond to market opportunities and execute on them commercially and productively has never been more valuable. In this context, knowing how to improve staff performance and productivity in your business is critical.
Today's business heroes need to not only be productive in their own capacity, but they also need to seek ways to make their business systems, processes and operations more productive across the board. These are the leaders of tomorrow - those who are making a measurable impact on the organisation today.
So how do you improve staff performance and productivity? This post explores how business leaders in organisations can be more efficient themselves while increasing output across their teams.
1. Reduce time searching for content
A productivity hero is always looking for ways to find more time to put into high-value tasks, and what better way to do so than cut down on time spent finding documents and information.
Businesses create content all the time: documents, spreadsheets, presentations, emails and notes. Unfortunately, in many companies, this information is siloed - stored in email inboxes and on hard drives - making it hard to find and difficult to collaborate on. The longer your content remains unstructured, the more out of control it becomes and the harder it becomes to put into effective service.
How do you solve this problem? Enterprise Content Management (ECM). An ECM solution gives everyone in your business easy and secure access to all of the information required to make decisions, complete projects and work with maximum productivity.
2. Constructive procrastination
Everybody has that day - the day when the current task list just won’t hold our attention. Whether overwhelmed with deadlines or distracted by something in your personal life, there are simply days for every human when we are simply not as productive.
A recent cultural trend is encouraging ‘constructive procrastination'.
This is about accepting that a certain task or project is not going to hold your attention on a given day, and instead of avoiding it by scrolling through social media or interrupting a co-worker's day to chat, the constructive procrastinator will move their attention to a list of high-leverage tasks. These tasks might look something like these:
- Upskill via an online training course
- Organise your inbox for success
- Clear your workspace of clutter and change your desktop wallpaper for greater focus
- Do a big task you’ve been putting off that will take care of a lot of the little niggles
- Take an actual break away from your computer, get outside and clear your mind
- Investigate opportunities to make business processes more productive
Note: It's essential not to fall into the trap of not getting the work on your primary to-do list done. If there is a particular task that is continually being put off, consider using the Pomodoro technique to get it ticked off quick-smart.
3. Introduce automation
By automating repetitive and mundane tasks, your business will free up employees to concentrate on high-value work - the kind that motivates - instantly shifting them towards a more productive mindset.
By giving staff time for higher-value tasks like problem-solving, uncovering solutions and generating fresh ideas, your company will empower them and create a more appealing, engaging and challenging work experience.
Start by automating everyday, recurring tasks like:
- Social media posts - use a scheduling tool like HubSpot or Hootsuite to bulk schedule and automate your posts
- Data backup - set up automatic data backups, whether it's for your website or content stored in your document management or ECM system
- Scheduling – for regular workshops, meetings, events and appointments set up recurring invites in a digital calendar
- Tasks - bulk schedule repeat tasks in your project management software
- Invoice processing - use ECM to set up automated invoice processing workflows
4. Use the Pomodoro technique
The Pomodoro technique breaks down big, overwhelming tasks into 'bite-sized' chunks (called Pomodoros) separated by small breaks. The method trains your brain to focus and rewards you for staying on task with each short break. It also helps you to avoid multitasking, stay ahead of your deadlines and keep out of your distracting inbox.
While you only need a timer to get started, there are many Pomodoro apps available. The technique itself is straightforward:
- Choose ONE task
- Set your timer for 25 minutes
- Work on the task till your timer goes off
- Take a short break (e.g. go to the bathroom, take a stretch or fill up your water)
- Repeat! Every four to five, Pomodoros take a longer break
5. Adopt mobile working practices
With mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, employees can now work anywhere, anytime – empowering them to decide how, when and where they can do their best work and deliver the best outcomes. Productivity is, consequently, no longer limited to the office. Employees who can create and edit documents on the go, respond to customer queries anywhere, or make business decisions on the run are inherently more productive.
With the right systems in place, mobile access to content and information can quickly be realised and secure access can be granted across the organisation. The benefits include real-time information sharing, streamlined workflows and enhanced coordination and collaboration between team members and departments.
Make the most of collaboration tools
Whether your workforce is based in a physical location, works remotely or is a hybrid of both, collaboration tools will improve staff performance and productivity.
It's of no surprise that communication lies at the heart of good business practices. Without it, productivity is virtually impossible. While the communication skills of old (active listening, clear language, etc.) are still just as relevant, there are exciting software options now available to boost productivity even more.
Collaboration tools for increased productivity include:
- Project management tools like Trello, Asana and Microsoft Project will help keep projects and tasks in hand and completed to deadline.
- Video conferencing tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts and Skype mean that employees working remotely or travelling can attend internal meetings. They also open up opportunities to work with customers and clients regardless of location.
- Real-time document collaboration, like Kyocera’s document solutions, enable teams to work collaboratively on the same document at the same time. It also eliminates issues around version control and double-work caused when the wrong version of a document is circulated.
Remember, a common issue with many "productivity hacks" is that they assume all people work in the same way. Something key to knowing how to improve staff performance and productivity is understanding that our working styles vary greatly. What works for one doesn't work for all. Keep this in mind as you introduce ways of becoming more productive to your wider business.
Whether you're looking to scale up or diversify your business, automation can help you create efficiencies, support future growth and add value to your organisation. Download our guide, Business Automation: How it generates value and supports growth, to learn more.