Monday, January 9, 2012

Five Ways to Increase Employee Productivity

By Robert Edward Smith

The twin factors of economic downturn and high unemployment can seem on the surface to indicate an employer's market when it comes to either reviewing employee's productivity or picking and choosing new applicants from the filled-to-bursting pool of unemployed workers. With an abundance of talent to choose from, companies can choose to set higher qualifications for their applicants, or consider raising productivity levels for the existing team, knowing the candidate pool today is inexhaustible. Yet, every company - regardless of the team it has in place - has to keep its eyes firmly focused on productivity. Borrowing a baseball analogy: a good manager must use a variety of methods to put his players in a position to win.

1. Communicate - Listen - Instill Trust

Sometimes the communication flow in a business is a one-way street, coming only from the direction of the employer-owner-supervisor. Make it possible for your employees to feel like they have a say in the way things are done. Let them know their input (if constructive) will not put them in a bad light or jeopardize their job. Whether it's the warehouse floor, the assembly line or the office cubicles, your employees know how production can really improve - if the company culture allows them to communicate it. But in order for that to happen, the employees must trust that their suggestions will carry weight and will be welcomed.

2. Incentives / Rewards

Programs that set realistic yet positive benchmarks for above-average production give employees a standard in mind that will keep them geared toward productive activity. The reward for overall production can be shared with everyone and can build team unity. Individual recognition can stimulant healthy competition in sales; in production jobs, employees know their efforts can bring them more than just a paycheck - maybe it could mean a promotion or a bonus as well.

3. Give Them the Tools

Sometimes an employee will be slowed by the tools he's been given. Whether it's an older computer or an inefficient order system, it's important that the employee isn't constantly compensating for a lack of modernity or efficiency when it comes to the daily (or hourly) duties of their job. Ask them if they have what they need to do the job and do they understand what is being asked of them. Maybe the answers will surprise you.

4. Give Them the Training

Consistently good output is a result of good training and the application of that training to the day-to-day activity. Is your training specific to each position or do you employ a one-size-fits-all approach to training new employees? Or if you delegate the training of new employees, does the company trainer or supervisor completely understand each position's duties and responsibilities? Do you use a manual? Is it updated regularly? Have your long-term employees fallen into non-productive habits? Reviewing policies and procedures regularly will keep production methods and skills fresh and top-of-mind. Training doesn't have to be dull, either. Keep it light, make it fun, let the veterans contribute and watch the results improve.

5. Help Remove the Distractions

Employees spend 2/3 of the day away from the job. As in anyone's life, there will be times when personal problems arise and may create stress as well as carry an emotional toll. It's widely known in Small Business that employees that have problems off the job carry them to the job. One method to alleviate these distractions is to offer Voluntary Benefits to the employees in the way of a Legal Services Plan along with some kind of Identity Theft protection. Studies have shown that productivity increases when such benefit programs are in place. These two benefits in tandem can resolve many of the modern day issues that can affect anyone. They are relatively affordable and carry no expense whatsoever to the employer, unless he wishes to share in the premium costs with his employees.

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