6 ways to increase your team’s productivity

Employees are people.  First and foremost, they have lives and needs–and often these lives and needs distract good employees from doing their best work. Employers need to realize that getting what they want from their employees involves helping employees get what they want.  If an employee is getting what they want out of a job, then they are going to be less likely to leave and a lot more motivated to produce work.

There are many things that motivate employees. Below are 6 things you can do as an employer that help any employee to concentrate and work hard.  Thus, increasing your team’s productivity.

  1.  Clean work spaces.  The human mind concentrates better with clean work-spaces that are well-organized.  Clutter=distraction.  So, provide clean workspaces and try implementing a clutter-free desk policy so that your employees are free from this distraction.
  2. Good lighting.  Have you ever tried to work in a under or overly lit room?  You are going to be scrunched up and have a lot of trouble concentrating.  Often, poor lighting leads to headaches as well due to eye-strain.  So, make sure your lighting is bright enough for work, but not so bright that everyone needs to bring sunglasses to the office.
  3.  Warm Temperatures. A study from Cornell University  tracked productivity by showing how the number of keystrokes a person made on a computer increased and decreased (as well as the number of errors they made changed) as the temperature changed.  The results? The lowest number of errors as well as highest typing rates fell at a temperature of right around 76 degrees Fahrenheit (or 24.8 Celsius).  This is warmer than most office buildings–and means a loss of productivity for those who are not keeping temperatures around this level.
  4.  Allowing for breaks. While this may seem counter-intuitive at first, it is important to allow employees to take breaks.  They need to be able to stretch, grab coffee, use the restroom, and reset their minds throughout the days.  No employee is 100% able to have limitless focus and work production.  So, allow times throughout the day for breaks.
  5. Limit Interruptions.  Interruption is the silver bullet to productivity. “A measly three interruptions per hour could cost you half-an-hour in wasted time” (Forbes). Interruptions don’t just stop work, they stop the thoughts and processes of the task at hand.  For deep-concentration based tasks, this means that work is repeated just to re-focus and get back into completing the work.  The higher the concentration,the more loss an interruption causes.  This can mean allowing for scheduled “work-only time” where phone calls and emails are not answered.   This can also mean limiting meetings and requests to certain days/times so that employees spend more time at their desk and less time in meetings.  It must fit your particular work-space and company, so customize productivity tactics to suit your business.  Also, don’t be afraid to set different interruption schedules for different employees:  A secretary’s main job is to deal with interruptions so giving them quiet work time makes very little  sense–but a programmer should be spending the majority of their time developing for your business so giving them the same expectations as a secretary to be responsive is bound to limit productivity.
  6. Affirmation of key behaviors.  So far, we’ve talked a lot about limiting physical distractions.  However, productivity is also increased through internal employee motivation.  Being motivated internally comes from the desire to achieve for the sake of achievement.  This desire can come from feeling as if the work we do matters enough for us to try.  This is where affirmation comes in. It is a communication to an employee that tells them what they should and should not be doing.  If an employee is performing poorly, you don’t want to reward that behavior.  But, if they are doing well, you want to let them know it is appreciated.  That will increase their knowledge of how to do a better job and for most employees will increase their performance.  Remember that you as an employer must be honest and sincere in your appreciation.  Patronizing an employee will tend to make them bitter.  Affirming an employee needs to take the form that means the most to the employee in order for affirmation to be most effective.  Taking time to understand what is meaningful to the employee when being thanked for doing well will allow you to be more effective in increasing team productivity.

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