Managing people

7 Ways to improve employee productivity

Is your team too busy to get any work done?

It may sound like a silly question but consider how many days you’ve started the morning with a set to-do list, then got waylaid by meetings and emails. Sound familiar?

Over a third of 3,500 employees, we polled admitted to being productive for less than 30 hours a week. That means a whole day a week they’re ‘working’ but not actually getting any work done.

Our research – ‘Why your workforce isn’t working’ – revealed some intriguing takeaways about what workers really want, and the secrets to productivity in the workplace.  Here are seven findings from the research, and what they reveal about how to boost productivity.

Offer flexible and remote working

81% of employees we polled placed importance and value on flexible working. Today, employees are ‘always on’, work longer hours, and – at times – weekends too. Yet the traditional model of being in the office 9-5 often remains the same.

Why shouldn’t employees work from 7 am and finish earlier if they’re more productive in the mornings, or have international calls first thing? Why should parents have to miss the school run just to be seen to be in the office, when they may be working long evenings too?

Consider your flexible and remote working policy. If it doesn’t reflect how your employees want to work, it’s time to update it.

Cut the ping pong tables and office games

A tiny 5% of respondents said they value office games such as ping pong tables in the office. In fact, more than half of employees (53%) think that having games in the office is distracting and decreases productivity.

Yet, unbelievably, 40% of employers think games in the office are important to employees.

It’s time to re-consider office games in the workplace and ask yourself: are they really adding value?

Show employees you value them

What employees did want instead of office games was clear from our research: feeling valued in the workplace and being recognized for the work that they did. 66% of respondents said this was vital.

Workers aren’t motivated by company outings. They just want their employer to say: ‘great job’. They want to feel that their company values the contribution that they’re making.

There are endless possibilities to the ways that companies can do this – from training for managers to continuous feedback, or peer-to-peer recognition, right down to just saying a simple ‘thanks’.

Show that you support your workers’ wellbeing

39% of respondents said they believed HR and People teams could do more to improve wellness at work.

Whether its offering subsidized gym membership, providing free fruit, ensuring there is mental health support in place, or demonstrating at a wider level that the company values employee’s health and wellbeing through an instilled culture, this is something that’s flying up the priorities list for workers. Companies need to pay attention.

Ask employees for their views

Want to know how to boost productivity in the workplace? Ask your employees what they think.

Just 12% of workers we spoke to are asked on a regular basis what would improve their experiences at work. Almost half (47%) had never been asked at all.

Make sure that you demonstrate you’re listening by communicating what and how you’re changing – and the rationale if some things can’t be changed right now.

Understand what the data says

34% of workers felt organizations could increase their value if they used data to inform HR and people decisions.

When it comes to understanding more about your people and their productivity, look at your highest performing teams and see what patterns and insights emerge. Apply data science to your people analytics to test hypotheses and understand what they respond positively to.

Companies don’t make decisions on supply chains, their finances or distribution based on intuition – so why should they do the same when it comes to their people?

The single most important thing? Create a great employee experience

The standout takeaway from our research about productivity in the workplace? A staggering 78% of respondents said their overall experience as an employee had a huge impact on productivity.

This jumps even higher to 92% for the younger generations – a demographic that will make up 50% of the workforce by 2020.

Everyone is driven by different goals and aspirations. Some employees are motivated by money. Others want a great work-life balance. The needs might be different for someone who just moved to New York versus someone who wants to start settling down.

Organizations need to make it a priority to know what motivates and drives their people and work with them to create positive experiences so that they are doing their best work.

Being a ‘People Company’: your guiding principle

A third of employees saw their HR or People’s team role in creating positive experiences at work – so HR and People teams need to lead this cultural transformation. However, they can’t do it alone. The entire top table needs to be responsible for delivering positive experiences across the workforce.

The better an employee’s experience at work, the more engaged they are, the more productive they can be, and the more the business benefits.

Ultimately, it comes down to whether your business is a People Company. Are you an organization where your people are the most valuable asset, and where company success is dependent on their workforce being successful?

Do your people know this is the case? Most importantly, do you demonstrate it to them?