In the business world, lots of decisions come down to the bottom line, and that line is almost always financial. We're accustomed to looking at whether or not we can afford to make certain decisions.
Productivity is always key; especially in the United States, we're accustomed to viewing the most productive workers as the best workers.
It's all well and good to make something great, but if someone else can make 10 things that are good at the same time it takes someone else to make one thing that's great, well, a lot of companies will choose good over great every time.
Seth Godin calls this mode of thinking the race to the bottom, the urge to compromise instead of insisting on the highest possible quality. We think you don't have to give up productivity in order to have greatness.
Here are five things you can do to increase productivity and its value while still offering amazing results.
Related Article: 6 Ways Yoga Can Improve Productivity at Work
Keep Office Equipment in Good Working Order
As an employee, there's nothing more frustrating than waiting for the finicky printer to work, or the slow computer to open the program you need or anything else that just doesn't seem to be working right. Capital expenditures can be difficult for a company at the best of times, but if there's something that's seriously hampering your productivity, fix it. That apart, it is a smart way to add value to your business, especially if you plan an exit strategy.
Odds are, it's also hampering your employees' morale and your company's culture, and long term, those things will do much more harm to your business.
Build Breaks Into the Day
Have you ever worked for a company that treats giving out the legally required 10 and 15-minute breaks during a worker's day as a huge hassle, and tracks all other time that employees spend not performing work functions?
As both an employee and an employer, it's a frustrating situation to be in. Employees feel micromanaged, and employers often struggle to fairly monitor and implement policies. How do you legislate how often someone needs to get a drink of water or go to the restroom?
So instead of legislating breaks, embrace the concept of breaks in a worker's day. You don't need to install a table tennis room, but the next time you're out shopping for inexpensive items for the office party, get some sensory motor fidgets for each employee.
Buy a few balance balls for people to use instead of rolling chairs, or consider offering stands that people can use to create standing desks. Research is clear that when we have the ability to move throughout our day, we are more productive and more efficient.
Plan for the Business You Have
Any company that spends most of its time customer facing needs to understand how many customers or calls it will have at any given time so that it can have the right number of workers ready to help.
While retail companies often rely on complex calculations based on their sales numbers, call centers can use software like Ringostat to track how many calls come in at different times and plan shifts to line up so that the right number of people are available at the busiest times. The case study shows that adding a call-back widget to a website increased the number of calls by 107 percent and improved the conversion rate from 0.68 percent to 2.04 percent.
Remember to Say Thank You
This ought to go without saying, but when was the last time you thanked your employees? Not with a party or a free sandwich, just stopped by their office or workstation and specifically and clearly thanked them for the job they do? Too often as we struggle to stay afloat in a sometimes discouraging economy, we forget that the employees who report to us sacrifice just as much, if not more, than we do, to make things work.
Ask Your Employees What They Need
Sometimes employers seem to afraid of asking their employees what they need to do to complete their jobs efficiently. It's as if every worker will ask for a pony and a house in the Bahamas in order to answer calls or be polite to customers. Instead, your front-line workers may have the absolute best suggestions on how to do their jobs well, if you would only ask them. Don't be afraid of your employees; after all, you are, or you should be, on the same team.
Productivity in an office is important, but remember that sacrificing quality for productivity is always a losing proposition. Focus on a balance between completing a task well, and completing it quickly, and you will generally find a good space for your business.
Related Article: Ask the Market Experts: How Do You Stay Productive and Mindful?
What suggestions do you offer to businesses that are looking to improve their productivity without sacrificing quality?