There are a lot of reasons why employees might not be at the top of their game. Maybe they’re having personal issues. Maybe they didn’t get enough sleep. Maybe they’re excited about something. This is all pretty normal. Employees are human and have their ups and downs, but when the lack of productivity becomes a regular thing, there is either something really serious going on outside of work or, more likely, there are some flawed management practices at play.
There are things any manager can do to help employees shine and, with the high number of employees that studies have shown are disengaged in the workforce, it is probably worth taking the time to improve in some of these areas. Employee engagement is directly related to productivity. Employees become engaged when they know the company or product well and can have a say in some business operations, when they are comfortable with their coworkers and happy with their bosses, and when they like and understand the tools and processes they work with every day. Having their needs met in these ways allows for maximum creativity and focus.
Make Sure Employees Are Well Trained
When you don’t really know what you’re doing, it’s hard to feel a sense of belonging and it’s impossible to be efficient. Devise a training program for your employees and make sure they know how to solve even the toughest problems they may encounter at work. Provide resources for further learning and for brushing up old skills. Make sure employees have some time to devote to this at work. When you give your employees a little time to learn while on the clock, they will see how important it is to you that they become experts. Show them you value it and they will respond.
It’s hard to do good work or even to work at all with constant interruptions. Make sure that your employees are able to focus by reducing their exposure to distractions. This might mean moving people around the office so best friends aren’t sitting right next to each other, giving a loquacious employee her own office, requiring only dedicated staff to answer phones and conduct customer service tasks, etc. And of course, if employees abuse smartphone or internet use, add a formal rule to the employee handbook.
Be a Good Example
Enthusiasm and good will are contagious. Show your employees how to love the company. Be on time and demonstrate the value of good attendance. Be respectful and patient. Give your employees a little extra and they will give you a little extra. Be this example in all ways and at all times so employees see the genuine example in you.
Employees feel appreciated when management provides perks. Perks come in all sorts of varieties and are not just restricted to monetary bonuses. We’ve seen beer fridges, gift cards for good work, lunches provided free, a fridge stocked with snacks and drinks daily, and so many more creative offerings. These days employees are pretty familiar with the landscape of perks offered at workplaces around the country. If an employee works at a place that offers none of these, they can feel that the boss is cheap or that they are not appreciated. Even on a limited budget, come up with some way to show your appreciation.
Update Your Business Processes
It is so annoying to have to go back in time when you walk through the office door. Waiting on slow computers, filing multiple copies of something that could easily be stored online, doing inventory by hand when there is an app designed for that, writing out your time on paper or in excel, and using a paper schedule have all become pretty irritating in recent years. Happy and productive employees don’t waste their time doing tasks a computer could do faster. Eliminate as many outdated business processes as possible and your employees will have the time and the patience to focus on more meaningful work.
Allow Employees to Maximize Their Contribution
Full time employees spend a significant chunk of their lives at work and, consequently, much of their contribution in the world is this work that they do for you. If they spend their whole day at work just following orders, it’s going to get old and engagement will inevitably drop. Every human being needs to feel that they are contributing something. Sure employees can fulfill this need elsewhere but if you give them the opportunity to fulfill some of it with you, you will have a very loyal, productive staff member on your hands.
Encourage Coworker Relationships
While you probably cringe at the idea of coworkers “wasting” their time chatting, remember that people are social creatures and positive relationships are never a waste of time. Positive experiences make us happy and happiness makes engaged employees. Talking and building friendships is very meaningful to us and when these needs are rejected, the 8 or 9 hours we spend at work each day can become devoid of meaning. Creating a social culture at work might be one of the smartest moves you can make as an employer. Not only will you see less turnover, but your employees will want to come to work.