How can leaders improve employee productivity while still saving time? Here are the top 9 things you can do to increase employee efficiency at the office
- Don’t be afraid to delegate
While this tip might seem the most obvious, it is often the most difficult to put into practice. We get it – your company is your baby, so you want to have a direct hand in everything that goes on with it. While there is nothing wrong with prioritizing quality (it is what makes a business successful, after all), checking over every small detail yourself rather than delegating can waste everyone’s valuable time.
Instead, give responsibilities to qualified employees, and trust that they will perform the tasks well. This gives your employees the opportunity to gain skills and leadership experience that will ultimately benefit your company. You hired them for a reason, now give them a chance to prove you right.
- Match tasks to skills
Knowing your employees’ skills and behavioral styles is essential for maximizing efficiency. For example, an extroverted, creative, out-of-the-box thinker is probably a great person to pitch ideas to clients. However, they might struggle if they are given a more rule-intensive, detail-oriented task.
Asking your employees to be great at everything just isn’t efficient – instead, before giving an employee an assignment, ask yourself: is this the person best suited to perform this task? If not, find someone else whose skills and styles match your needs.
- Communicate effectively
Every manager knows that communication is the key to a productive workforce. Technology has allowed us to contact each other with the mere click of a button (or should we say, tap of a touch screen). This naturally means that current communication methods are as efficient as possible, right?
Instead of relying solely on email, try social networking tools.You can also encourage your employees to occasionally adopt a more antiquated form of contact … voice-to-voice communication. Having a quick meeting or phone call can settle a matter that might have taken hours of back-and-forth emails.
- Keep goals clear and focused
You can’t expect employees to be efficient if they don’t have a focused goal to aim for. If a goal is not clearly defined and actually achievable, employees will be less productive. So, try to make sure employees’ assignments are as clear and narrow as possible. Let them know exactly what you expect of them, and tell them specifically what impact this assignment will have.
One way to do this is to make sure your goals are “SMART” – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Before assigning an employee a task, ask yourself if it fits each of these requirements. If not, ask yourself how the task can be tweaked to help your workers stay focused and efficient.
- Incentivize employees
One of the best ways to encourage employees to be more efficient is to actually give them a reason to do so. Recognizing your workers for a job well done will make them feel appreciated and encourage them to continue increasing their productivity.
When deciding how to reward efficient employees, make sure you take into account their individual needs or preferences. For example, one employee might appreciate public recognition, while another would prefer a private “thank you.”
- Cut out the excess
If possible, try not to give employees smaller, unnecessary tasks when they are focused on a larger goal. Take a look at the team’s routine, and see if there is anything that you can cut to give employees more time to focus on higher-priority assignments.
- Train and develop employees
Reducing training, or cutting it all together, might seem like a good way to save company time and money (learning on the job is said to be an effective way to train, after all). However, this could ultimately backfire. Forcing employees to learn their jobs on the fly can be extremely inefficient.
So, instead of having workers haphazardly trying to accomplish a task with zero guidance, take the extra day to teach them the necessary skills to do their job. This way, they can set about accomplishing their tasks on their own, and your time won’t be wasted down the road answering simple questions or correcting errors.
- Embrace telecommuting
Allowing your employees to work from home might seem inefficient – after all, how can you guarantee that they will still be productive if no one is watching them? However, the reality is quite the opposite (in fact, studies show that people who work from home are more productive than office employees). Letting your employees telecommute will allow them to save time that would otherwise be wasted completely.
For example, say an employee is feeling too ill to come into work (or is simply worried about getting their coworkers sick) but can still be productive. If you don’t allow them to work from home, they will be forced to take a sick day and skip working altogether. Instead, allow your employee to work from home so they can maximize what time they do have available.
- Give each other feedback
There is no hope of increasing employee efficiency if they don’t know they’re being inefficient in the first place. This is why performance reviews are essential – measure your employees’ performance, then hold individual meetings to let them know where they are excelling, and what areas they need to work on.
Increasing employee efficiency isn’t all about what they can do better – some of the responsibility falls on you as well. But just like your employees, you aren’t psychic. So after reviewing your employees, ask them what you could do to help them improve. Maybe they would like a little more guidance on certain tasks, or would prefer a little more room for creative freedom. Asking for feedback not only gives you clear, immediate ways to help your employees improve, but also encourages a culture of open dialogue that will allow for continued development over time.