Five hot tips for dramatically improving staff productivity
Improving productivity isn’t about becoming a slave driver who
squeezes every last kilo-joule of energy from your employees. It’s
about helping the people that work for you get things done more
quickly and simply – making their lives less stressful and freeing
their time up as a result.
This is about creating a culture where there are fewer late
nights in the office, and where more projects get completed more
quickly, in one awesome swoop. Here’s how you pull it off.
This is a double-header of a tip to fight off the endless
scourge that is the over-crammed inbox.
First, try banning internal email (unless you’re sending
files to each other). It’ll be hard, and it’s probably not
sustainable, but it’ll make you all realise how much you over-use
it – and how much time it takes up. You’ll then all have the
discipline to cut down afterwards.
Secondly, get everyone to set an out of office that says they
will only be checking email at two times every day in the interests
of being more productive (and to call if it’s urgent). Turning off
email for the majority of the day stops people getting constantly
distracted every time a new email pings up. Smarta founder Shaa
uses this technique, and she’s one of the most productive people we
know, so her practices are worth copy-catting!
Implement flexible working
Freeing staff up to work flexibly – i.e. to work from anywhere
at any time – means they can work while they’re on the move and
work at the hours that they feel most productive. That freedom
improves their work/life balance, and lets them use up previously
dead time in their working day.
Flexible working has been shown to make staff’s lives
considerably easier, too – 2012
research from the Kenexa High Performance Institute found that
the number of workers reporting unreasonable levels of stress is
more than three times higher if working hours are not flexible.
So how do you go about adopting flexible working? Handily, O2
Business offers a flexible working consultation – call free on 0800
028 0202 or
submit your details for a callback.
Assess performance in the right way
There’s little less motivating for employees than feeling that
their hard work is not being recognised. If you aren’t measuring
their output in the right way (or at all) and aren’t giving them
decent feedback on how to develop, they’ll simply stop trying so
hard. So regular performance reviews – every six months at least –
are critical to improving motivation, which directly correlates
Setting targets is also a great motivator, and focuses staff on
being productive in the ways that are most beneficial to the wider
plans of the company. Our feature on
how to set business targets is a good ally here.
The smartest businesses are also realising that measuring
productivity is far more beneficial to both staff and the company
than measuring hours. This ties in with the thinking behind
flexible working too: results are more important than
presentee-ism. Set out what you expect staff to achieve, then try
not to fuss over how many hours they put in at the office or
elsewhere to get the work done. If staff achieve what you need them
to, that’s all you need – it shouldn’t matter where they do the
work from or when (unless of course they need to be face to face
with customers or on the phone with them at set times!).
Have sprint meetings
We all know how meetings can run on interminably, eating into
the day – and how often have you got to the end feeling like
nothing has really been achieved? Create an agenda that allows
people two-minute speaking slots, then time them and cut them off
to stop them, before going into a more open discussion. Keep
meetings to 30 minutes – or 20, if you can. The new rhythm will
take a bit of settling in to, but it’s a great
Create a culture of ownership
It makes perfect sense that the most productive employees tend
to be those who are keenest to achieve. But how do you foster that
drive? Let employees own projects they work on, or aspects of the
business. Assign project leaders to key business tasks and
functions, and make it clear that the project has the final call on
any decisions, and that any staff members working on that project –
whether they are more senior or more junior – report in to the
project leader for this bit of work.
Most people live up to responsibilities they are given. Feeling
like they own that piece of work or project makes an employee want
to make it succeed. That sense of ownership is much more motivating
than feeling like they are only coming in each day to work for
someone else. Ownership appeals to an employee’s inner entrepreneur
– and we all know how motivating those entrepreneurial inklings can
This article is in association with O2
via Small business advice from Smarta http://www.smarta.com/blog/2013/3/five-hot-tips-for-dramatically-improving-staff-productivity