All entrepreneurs seek to have productive teams that serve the interests of their business, this seems obvious. But when you want to see this productivity increase, where do you start?
You first need to hire passionate people. We often tend to forget that motivation can be both extrinsic and intrinsic; it can come from outside as much as from within. Indeed, incentives exterior to individuals are not the only consideration, the person itself obviously plays a big role when time comes to find the strength to overcome obstacles and the creativity that will allow this person to actively participate in the company growth and even surpass your expectations.
Healthy and challenging work environments
Obviously, the employer (or its representative) is responsible for providing a work environment that allows the employees to blossom and give the best of themselves. Many different elements can contribute to creating a fertile ground for creativity and commitment.
Health is not a negligible issue. The capacity to mentally and physically dedicate oneself to work increases productivity significantly. Sickness and exhaustion are the main causes of absence, and we need not to forget that workers can be present without being efficient. Introducing incentives for a healthy lifestyle can prove to be very profitable.
Corporate culture and team building
Corporate culture is essential to create a sense of belonging and promote authenticity and fun at work. Conveying inclusive values allows the development of an “identity-like” relation with the business mission that can become an extension of the social presence of the individual.
Do not neglect team building. It’s very useful to consolidate your team and create relationships between the individuals who are part of it. It can translate into many ways like different types of activities outside the office, but also on a daily basis by playing group games, practicing sports, or simply discussing informally during breaks.
Breaks should actually be encouraged because they are opportunities to refocus and afterwards to dedicate sustained attention to the tasks that need to be performed. Quantity is not always a guarantee of quality and less can sometimes yield more… I invite you to read Pierre Leblanc’s blog post on team spirit.
Working standing up
Consider having standing workstations available. Rare are those who can stay seated all day. Also, remember that musculoskeletal problems can sometimes arise. Studies show the benefits of this change in posture on health as well as productivity.
Providing a space dedicated to meditation or even napping can also contribute to the capacity of the workforce to focus and avoid procrastination when capabilities are altered by fatigue and/or stress.
Working from home
Many employers still fear that their employees will be less productive if they work from home. Actually, allowing employees to avoid losing time for transportation increases their quality of life and offer them more flexibility. A happy employee is a productive one!
Obviously, it’s not always the right approach since it’s often impossible, but when it is, this policy will please your workers, who will certainly try to repay for your trust by making sure to deliver the goods. It can even contribute to reducing the number of sick leave days since, when it is a schedule flexibility problem for personal reasons (sick child, bank or dentist appointment, etc.), the employee will be able to accomplish tasks from home as well as deal with other obligations.
Communication, mobilization, and training
Information and communication are very important factors that allow increased team autonomy and better knowledge of the company’s objectives. It’s important to leave room for the teams to accomplish their work without getting into a dynamic of micromanagement in which the manager becomes a bottleneck by wanting to control everything. We need to promote autonomy and allow people to put their talents forward. After all, that is why we pay them.
Ideally, the priority list needs to be short. It creates less stress and it’s more encouraging. It’s often believed that multitasking is a good thing, but it has been shown that generally people accomplishing several tasks at the same time undergo a drop in their cognitive abilities.
Mobilize and train your teams. It might seem obvious, but feeling important and committed are factors contributing enormously to the success of the team. Obviously, training is fundamental, it allows employees to improve, continue to evolve in their work, and eventually aspire to new responsibilities.
It’s not a bad thing to wonder about the usefulness of meetings or at least to make sure to conduct them efficiently by establishing an agenda and limiting their duration. Don’t forget to properly communicate the objectives in advance so the participants can show up prepared. You will kill two birds with one stone by making sure that the meeting is productive and does not encroach on the productivity of the day-to-day operations. See the blog post of my colleague Dave Jacques on the subject.
Listen to the people on the front line, they often have very good ideas on how to save you time and money. They are the ones who use the processes and are able to note if they foster or harm productivity. It’s surprising to see how much we can be far from the reality on the field when trying to streamline without being conscious of the difficulties met daily by the different teams responsible for production and operations.
Let’s conclude by reminding that an increase in productivity is not always possible or even desirable. For example, it should not be done to the detriment of the well-being of workers or the quality of the products and services delivered. The unbridled pursuit of profit is not an end in itself and if everyone involved in your company (including you) can feel accomplished and live well from the fruit of their labour, the goal should be reached.