Whether you want to hear it or not, employee productivity starts with good management. According to the Bureau of National Affairs, U.S. businesses lose $11 billion a year to employee turnover, often resulting from disenchanted workers. The good news is that there are simple things you can do as a small business owner to keep employees motivated — and a motivated employee is also a productive one. Here’s your seven-point checklist.
An employee study by gamification and behavior management platform Badgeville found that 70 percent of workers are more motivated by recognition than by monetary rewards. Employees who are acknowledged for their good work tend to feel more of an emotional commitment to their job, which results directly in increased effort (i.e., better productivity and improvement to your bottom line). So don’t be shy — bring out the warm-and-fuzzies for a job well done.
Sharing the company’s goals and vision with employees helps them understand the meaning of their day-to-day tasks and the value that they each bring to the job. Set up monthly or quarterly check-ins to provide honest feedback — even if that includes constructive criticism. When you hold your employees accountable, they’re more likely to deliver if it’s crystal clear what they’re expected to achieve. One underperformer on the team can reduce the team’s productivity by 30 to 40 percent, but if you do come across a few bad apples, don’t be too quick to hand them the pink slip. Instead, show them you’re willing to help them get better before giving up.
No one likes the feeling of having a boss constantly looking over his or her shoulder. Make the conscious choice to be the kind of manager who gives employees enough autonomy to feel encouraged, motivated, and trusted to do a good job. Empower them by providing direction and offering assistance, then step back and let them work in their own style.
If you’re always stressed and disgruntled, what kind of standard does that set for your employees? Hold yourself accountable, first and foremost, and be genuine with your team to instill in them a sense of trust in your working relationship. Good habits at the top have a way of organically trickling down to the bottom. Be the kind of manager whom employees admire and they’ll work that much harder not to let you down.
We’re lucky to live in an age when technology makes work life easier and more efficient. All companies, no matter how big or small, can benefit from hardware and software geared toward increasing productivity. Cloud storage and collaborative applications like Asana, which can help teams manage projects and work flow, could be well worth the investment, as are things like remote access and mobile device connectivity.
Don’t let talented employees hit a plateau. Build training and educational opportunities into the framework of your business. If you’re a small company, this doesn’t have to mean spending big dollars on career coaches, conferences, or fancy seminars. It could be as simple as designating mentors within the company. Making the effort to develop high performers means less turnover in the long run. According to Business Know-How, a 10-percent increase in workforce training can result in an 8.6-percent gain in productivity.
A happy employee is a healthy (and productive) employee. Eighty-nine percent of workers count office rapport as important to their overall quality of life, according to Globoforce’s Fall 2014 Workforce Mood Tracker survey, and the more friendships employees have at work, the less likely they are to leave for another job. Plus, these emotional connections are directly related to a more productive and engaged team. In addition to fostering interpersonal relationships, schedule office happy hours or outings and plan team-building exercises at least once a year. Put a vacation policy in place that actually allows your staff to take time off. Encouraging these “brain breaks” allows your team to come back feeling refreshed, recharged, and more productive.