Today's digital world is full of distractions. Social media, content, videos...before you know it, your employees have wasted hours on the clock.
In order to understand your employees and their overall level of productivity, you have to first put yourself in their shoes.
You need to consider all of the distractions and issues they’re dealing with, then develop a plan for mitigating these issues and enhancing their focus on delivering results for your company.
Think Like Your Employees
“Most employers strive to build an engaged workplace of happy, productive employees,” employment lawyer Lara Williams writes. “But as they inevitably learn, simply getting staff to show up for work on time—or at all—can be the difference between building a business growing in overdrive or one perpetually stuck in neutral.”
Other employers don’t have any trouble getting employees to show up, but rather engaging them once they show up.
Do either of these issues sound familiar? Or are you afraid that you may eventually encounter problems like this down the road?
While you can’t physically control your employees and subordinates, you can encourage them to be more engaged and productive. However, before you can even think about this, it’s critical that you learn to think like your employees. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what distracts and holds them back.
Some things will be company or location-specific, but generally speaking, the following distractions are pretty common across the board.
- Personal issues. As an employer, the most challenging distractions to overcome are ones that are personal in nature. These include things like relationship issues, conflicts, parenthood, divorce, household conflicts, personal finance and other related things. These are troubling because you have to know when to step in and when to overlook certain situations. Getting too involved could land you in trouble in with the HR department. Not doing anything at all could render an unproductive employee.
- Social media. For all of the great things social media has done for businesses, it’s also brought a lot of harm and distraction along with it. Practically speaking, social media is a massive productivity killer. It’s always there waiting to be used and frequently takes employees away from their work.
- Mobile devices. In the same light, mobile devices are major distractions. Whether employees are monitoring social media sites, texting, making phone calls, playing games, or accessing apps, smartphones and tablets can sometimes be more of a distraction than an aide.
- Office environment factors. Finally, you have to look at the environmental factors of your office. Is your workplace conducive to productivity, or does it easily distract employees? For example, do your employees work in an open-air setting where everyone is in a single room, or do they have the ability to close their doors and work in silence?
Related Article: Tomato, Tomahto: The Only Productivity Technique You’ll Ever Need
3 Tips for Maximizing Productivity
Okay, so distractions are present in and around your business—now what do you do about them? Well, as an employer, you have to remember that you’re in the business of managing people.
You also have numbers to crunch, products to sell, and customers to satisfy, but it all starts with your employees. If they aren’t happy or productive, nothing else will work. On the other hand, if they’re functional and engaged, everything else falls into place.
There are many different methods for maximizing productivity, but let’s quickly examine three helpful tips that may point you in the right direction.
1. Start the Day Off Right
The key is to set the tone at the beginning of each day. You do this by making sure employees understand that showing up on time isn’t optional or appreciated—it’s mandatory. And if you’re going to take such a firm stance on the issue, there needs to be a strategic method for tracking and monitoring when your employees arrive.
While you may have a traditional time clock solution, did you know that these software programs are easily compromised? Employees can simply give coworkers their login information and ask them to clock them in or out at a certain time.
For large companies, this can be a major issue. After all, do you really know if one of your 10 HR employees showed up at 9 am last Thursday? It could have been 10 am for all you know.
This isn’t to say all of your employees are manipulative or dishonest, but you should know that these situations are common. Instead of hoping for the best, it would benefit you to implement a better system. For example, some clock providers have biometric solutions that require fingerprint authentication. Having this added feature can make a big difference in your fight to get employees to arrive on time.
Another idea is to implement a scaling schedule that allows employees to clock out earlier in the afternoon if they come in earlier in the morning. You have to be careful with this one, but it can be advantageous to have some employees work from 8-4 and others from 9-5.
Related Article: 14 Best Tools to Measure Employee Performance
2. Provide Economic Incentives Across the Board
Forbes.com contributor Victor Lipman brings up a good point when he says organizations can benefit from designing economic incentive programs that allow employees at all levels to benefit.
“There’s a natural tendency for management to focus most heavily on senior-level economic incentives,” he writes. “While this is completely understandable, it’s best not to neglect substantive incentives for lower-level employees…that is, if you expect them to be vigorously committed to an enterprise’s success.”
Money talks. If you want to get the attention of your employees, start a program that rewards productivity with financial incentives. Be very careful, though. This should not be the foundation of your productivity-boosting strategy. You’ll quickly establish a corporate culture that’s dependent on incentives to perform. A program like this should be icing on the cake—not the entire cake.
3. Have a Firm Device Policy
There’s currently a lot of talk regarding BYOD policies. Many businesses aren’t quite sure where they stand on the issue and don’t have any concrete rules or regulations. Well, if you want to maximize employee productivity, it’s critical that you take a firm stance on the issue.
One of the benefits of distributing your own devices is that you can control what these devices access. You can block social networking sites and prevent third-party downloads, among other things. However, you obviously have to weigh some of the negatives. Employees are probably still going to bring some of their own devices and will find a way around certain restrictions if they’re determined enough.
Read up on the discussion and think about BYOD in terms of productivity. Some studies indicate that offices with BYOD policies may be more productive. The data is far from conclusive, but it’s worth thinking about.
Putting it All Together
These three tips alone will not revolutionize a stagnant corporate culture or turn a workforce of lazy employees into go-getters. However, it goes to show you how a small tweak here and an adjustment there can alter the way your employees work.
Ultimately, maximizing productivity comes down to hiring.
You either hire ambitious workers who are willing to put in the hard work, or you hire lazy employees who simply put in their time and cash their paycheck at the end of the month. Refine your hiring processes, think about these tips and techniques, and don’t shy away from the importance of having direct conversations about workplace productivity.