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Ways to Improve Productivity in the Workplace

The article was written by Sara Pantaleo.

Boosting productivity in your organisation means you will be able to increase profits.  Small businesses have twenty employees or fewer.  Therefore, it is essential to have strategies to make your business more productive and efficient.

Some of the ways to increase productivity in your small business include tools, systems and processes, and some are about how you build and nurture your employee relationships.  If one team member is not performing in a small business, the whole organisation feels the consequences; therefore, it is crucial for small business leaders to also focus on people.

Here are some of the ways to improve productivity in the workplace.

1.    Have a purpose, plan and clear goals for the business

Without direction in an organisation and a clear plan, your employees may not be working on tasks that improve or benefit the business.  Having clear strategic goals means that each department and employee has a compass on what needs to be achieved and prioritise their tasks to align with the business goals.  It is also essential to set and commit to deadlines.  Regularly meeting deadlines demonstrates reliability and the ability to stay focused.  Customers can be lost if an organisation does not ensure goals are completed on schedule.

2.    People Culture and excellent workplace conditions

Develop your employees, offer them support and practice positive reinforcement.  Create a culture where employees feel included and that they belong.  Employees that believe in the business purpose and vision are more likely to be happy working for you and performing at their peak.

It is also vital to create a well-organised and decorated office, a pleasant workplace to see every day and physically and visually enjoyable.  The more comfortable employees feel at the office, the less stressed they will be.  One way to maintain a healthy work environment is to create an upbeat atmosphere that makes everyone feel appreciated and motivated.

Every employee doesn’t need to be busy every minute of the entire workday.  Keeping your staff too busy can create fatigue and cause burnout.  That’s why one of the steps to improve productivity is to take occasional breaks.  Taking 10 to 15-minute breaks allows your team to recharge and feel refreshed when they approach the work again.

Try using 90-minute cycles divided by breaks.  It’s a practical tip that can lead to higher output.  During the 90 minutes, each employee should put as much effort as possible into achieving a task.  This is followed by a break to recharge.  Creating a flow of 90-minute sessions followed by short breaks is enough time to establish a rhythm and complete tasks without getting burned out.

3.    Reduce Distractions

It’s essential to stay focused while working; therefore, remove as many distractions as possible.  Remote employees have this advantage, whereas office employees must deal with background noises made by devices and co-workers.  Your team in the office should try using soundproof headphones and turning off their personal mobiles unless they are a necessary part of the job.

Avoid booking unproductive meetings that do not have a purpose and do not accomplish much.  Like staff meetings.  Some topics can be communicated via phone or a quick email.

4.    Be Efficient – Track and measure

Most businesses track their financial performance but forget to track and analyse how their team uses their time.  Studying the data reveals which employees are productive and which employees need more training.  The technology can assist you with communication and performance.

5.    Have the right tools, equipment and technology

Technology is an integral part of the modern workplace, and any business without some level of technical savvy will likely fail.  Assess that you have the right technology, system, and tools fit for your purpose.  There are many cloud-based solutions to achieve different outcomes you may consider.  Some of the technology to consider (This list is an indication only):

  • An accounting package such as Xero allows you to track your business metrics and performance accurately, keep inventory, make and record sales, manage and pay bills and handle payroll.
  • A Client Relationship Manager (CRM) such as Hubspot or Zoho allow you to keep accurate customer data and track your customer’s journey. A CRM will keep you efficient and give you the ability to nurture customers efficiently and without leaving it to chance.
  • Software packages that can assist in meeting your employer compliance and facilitate all the templates to help recruit, onboard and train employees, such as Employment Hero.
  • Industry-relevant – regardless of your industry, technology makes what you do easier. For example, if you work in health care, countless technologies save lives, protect patient privacy rights, and make sure providers get paid through insurance.  On the other hand, if you are a farmer, engineering and robotics will help you maintain crops and improve yield.
  • Communications tools such as Slack will allow instant message co-worker communication.
  • Social Media – Use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to communicate directly with your customers. Create and promote your brand and get your message directly to the customer.
  • Stay informed with the latest technology and adapt. New and upcoming technologies such as Blockchain[1], AI[2], and IoT[3] are revolutionising business.   Stay informed and aware

Being proactive and going beyond what is needed to limit, reduce or eliminate future vulnerabilities is a great strategy.  Businesses that don’t take time to proactively prevent future disasters may find themselves in a difficult situation when the disaster occurs.  For example, computer networking businesses would take a proactive approach by building a solid defence against cybercriminals.

Consistently assessing how your team works and areas of improvement will help increase overall workplace productivity.  While there are various tools out there that aim to streamline workflow, ultimately, as a leader in your organisation, you must be there to support your team.

Forget perfection.  It is unrealistic to be perfect in every aspect of your business.  Your business can only be as good as your technology and resources.

[1] A blockchain is a distributed database that is shared among the nodes of a computer network. As a database, a blockchain stores information electronically in digital format. Blockchains are best known for their crucial role in cryptocurrency systems, such as Bitcoin, for maintaining a secure and decentralized record of transactions.

[2] Artificial intelligence (AI) is the capability of a computer system to mimic human cognitive functions such as learning and problem-solving.  New level of AI is machine learning, which is the process of using mathematical models of date to help a computer learn without direct instruction.  This enables a computer system to continue learning and improving on its own and can solve problems based on experience.

[3] The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network of physical objects—“things”—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the internet.

Ways to Improve Productivity in the Workplace Read More »

Leading Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace

Does Diversity mean better performance?

In the last few months, there has been a lot of news about gender issues and how our Government has handled complaints by women for serious alleged incidents.

Many private business leaders were horrified and I have heard many say, ‘This would never be tolerated in private business!’.

We have strong laws in this country that regulate Occupational Health and Safety, but I have seen many workplaces that have zero focus on Diversity and Inclusion (D&I).

Diversity is generally defined as acknowledging, understanding, accepting, valuing, and celebrating differences among people with respect to age, class, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental ability, race, sexual orientation, spiritual practice, and public assistance status.

The latest McKinsey report, ‘Diversity wins: How inclusion matters’, found that the most diverse companies were more likely to outperform less diverse ones on profitability.

In actual fact, they state that the greater the representation in the workforce, the higher the likelihood of outperformance.

The five areas of action the report highlighted are:

  1. Ensuring the representation of diverse talent – advancing diverse talent in to executive, management and board roles
  2. Strengthening leadership accountability and capabilities for (D&I)
  3. Enabling equality of opportunity through fairness and transparency – Advancing to true meritocracy and leveling the playing field
  4. Promote openness and tackle microaggressions – zero-tolerance policy for discriminatory behaviour
  5. Foster belonging through unequivocal support for multivariate diversity – build a culture where all employees feel they can bring their whole selves to work

Embracing D&I will increase profitability, but the progress of making it a priority is slow, in large and small companies.

I believe part of the reason is that implementing D&I policies may seem overwhelming and organisations are concerned about the risk of unintended negative outcomes.  Such as discrimination and conflict, emanating from employees not accepting the differences.

Simply making pledges and having a policy is not enough when considering D&I policies.  Managing diversity is more than equal employment opportunity and affirmative action.   It’s a comprehensive process for creating a work environment that includes everyone.

Diversity is not about differences among groups, but rather about differences among individuals.

Diversity leadership requires a commitment and understanding that every individual in the organisation contributes to its diversity. 

Leaders capitalising on the skills and talents of an individual who is different on some dimension and making them feel a valued member of the organisation.

Leaders must consider diversity of opinion with the team, find shared ground and reach agreement through focused communication and understanding.

They must incorporate commitment to diversity and inclusion as part of their business strategy and add to their values.

In conclusion, in order to succeed with implementing effective workplace D&I policies and processes and create a culture of belonging, leaders must:

  • Include their team and work together to understand what is best for the organisation based on teamwork and group dynamics.
  • Review constantly. At least every twelve months and adapt as required.

Risks of getting it wrong

There are many benefits of creating an inclusive and diverse workplace where employees feel a sense of belonging.  There is a moral and ethical duty to ensure the safety of employees.  There are also significant risks to the business for failing to take steps to provide a safe working environment. These include:

  • Reputational damage: people ignore it, but one bad news story (or several) can significantly damage your relationship with your clients, employees and the public.
  • Penalties: you can face significant financial and/or criminal penalties for each breach of your state’s occupational health and safety, and discrimination legislation. You can also be on the hook for damages if an individual claims you failed your duty of care.
  • Personal liability: individuals involved in a breach of a business’ duty of care can potentially be held personally liable.
  • Injuries: if an employee is discriminated against, or sexually harassed at work, they may suffer an injury (mental and/or physical), go on leave and/or lodge a workers’ compensation claim.
Download some helpful tools:
Considerations when implementing D&I policies
Questions Leaders need to ask in regards to Discrimination and Harassment

Leading Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace Read More »

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