Productivity: 8 proactive ways to improve staff performance

Stephanie Cvetkovic | 6th July 2018

We may have impressive public transport, a high quality of life and the Beatles, but when it comes to productivity, the UK lags behind. Although we saw an encouraging increase in 2017, there’s still a lot of ground to gain. Productivity rates in the UK remain around a quarter behind many of our European competitors, including France and Germany. With Brexit on the horizon, there’s been no better time to face our underperformance head on.

Improving productivity takes work. In order to succeed, emphasis must be taken off profits and put onto the wellbeing of employees and the company culture as a whole.

Tips to proactively improve productivity.

Encourage regular breaks:

Regular breaks may seem counter-intuitive, but they have many benefits which lend themselves to increasing productivity. Work for most of us means being sat at a desk, staring at a screen all day. The stationary nature of office-work can have extremely negative impacts on both our physical and mental wellbeing, which has a knock-on effect on productivity levels.

Actively encouraging work breaks, especially those that involve movement, will lower risks of diabetes and depression, restore motivation (especially over longer tasks) and improve creativity. Breaks also reduce boredom, and give more independence to employers, making them feel less ‘glued to the desk’. The result? A happier, more driven workforce, and a boost in productivity.

Music consensus:

Music has been proven to increase productivity in several studies, and the latest technology makes it easier than ever to bring a beat into the workplace. Systems are now available which allow the whole office to contribute to the playlist for the day – sounds fair, right? But that’s forgetting there are those members of staff who take it upon them to play DJ (aka ME J) so no one else gets a look in. There will always be a conflict of music tastes.

Some people work well with music whilst others find it near impossible. It’s important to remember the workforce as a whole when deciding how to approach music in the office. If you’re considering, or already have, speakers that play throughout, put a feeler out for how employees really feel about them – you may be surprised by the results.

Another alternative is leaving it up to staff, by playing music through headphones. This allows every individual to have both loud and quiet times as their mood and tasks change throughout the day.

Music has the power to boost the mood and motivation of your employees, but only if it’s wanted. A heavy metal song blasting in the ears of a classical-music lover will do more harm than good, so it’s not something to jump into without getting the consensus of staff.

Clean and calm environment:

My work at Expert Home Tips has taught me one thing… Messy office, messy mind. A busy day at work requires a clear head, which is hard to achieve without a clean, calm and clutter-free space to work.

It’s essential to provide employees with enough space and storage to enable them to keep their desk clear (under-the-desk filing cabinets are great for this). Additionally, ensure there’s a separate area to make food so that the office doesn’t turn into a make-shift kitchen, and also fit cable trays at each desk to keep them as wireless as possible.

Aesthetically speaking, it’s important to consider any changes you make to the appearance of the office carefully. Whilst posters, paintings and wall charts can add a pop of colour to the work environment, you don’t want to go overboard. Too much stuff leads to too many distractions and will lower productivity levels.

More flexible work hours:

Rushing into work in the morning doesn’t get the day off to the best start in terms of productivity. If strict work hours are causing employees to become stressed, it’s worth considering flexible working hours.

Allowing your staff to work around their outside life – whether that be family duties or even hobbies – can have a really positive impact on the way they’re able to perform when it comes to getting down to work.

Some people work well with a strict 9-5, whilst others benefit from the flexibility of an afternoon yoga class or making the most of their early mornings by working from home. The option to choose when and where you work can help build a more positive relationship with work. It will also increase happiness and productivity levels as a result.

Regular chats & meetings:

It’s time to get talking. How are your employees doing? Are they satisfied at work? Feeling motivated? Are they being productive?

Regular chats with your staff are important in understanding not just how they feel they’re doing at work, but outside of work too. There could be family or health issues affecting them which you have no knowledge of, and are unlikely to without asking.

Being open with your employees and encouraging them to do the same will help you help them with anything that may be bothering them, alleviating stress, increasing happiness and helping them perform their very best at work.

Team bonding events:

There’s nothing worse than feeling left out at work. Although gossip and quarrels are meant to end after school, spending so much time with people on a regular basis is bound to lead to some tension every now and then.

Team bonding events are not only useful for lifting spirits in the office but also help staff to form solid relationships with one another – great for improving productivity on team tasks.

Adding an element of ‘fun’ to work with a few team bonding events a year will also show staff they’re appreciated, and they’ll want to work harder for you as a result. A happy workforce is a productive workforce!

Regular updates on business performance as a whole:

Many businesses prefer not to disclose detailed information about performance and profits to their staff, but this could be doing more harm than good.

It’s important to remember every staff member, whether a complete junior or CEO, should be working towards the same ultimate goal – success for the business.

Giving employees a look into overall business performance is likely to boost their motivation. Good news will excite them for the future, whilst poorer performance shows honesty, and can also open up discussions about how to improve things. Getting your staff more involved will reiterate the fact they all have a role to play, driving them to work harder for the success of the business.

Goals & bonuses:

Another tactic worth considering when it comes to increasing productivity is implementing a bonus structure. This doesn’t have to be anything complex or costly, but it will help you set actionable goals for your employees to work towards.

Whether you choose to reward achieved targets with a monetary bonus, extra holiday, or something else entirely, it will give employees something desirable and concrete to work towards on a regular basis.

Goals are important to keep levels of productivity high all-year round – consider them as checkpoints to pass each month or quarter.

By implementing these tips, you will create a better culture, boost staff performance and benefit from a healthier looking balance sheet!