Your company’s success depends on the performance of your teams. You — and your teams, for that matter — have probably heard that a hundred times. But simply telling team members to “improve their performance” or “increase productivity” doesn’t actually help them. They need measurable goals with objectives they can meet.
When you break it down, it doesn’t take big changes to improve productivity. In fact, we've rounded up seven effective ways — like setting clear expectations, consolidating tools, and prioritizing well-being — to improve employee productivity at your company.
1. Diversify your teams
You should hire team members of varying ages, genders, and ethnicities. If you can, hire team members in other countries. A diverse workforce has so many benefits, including a boost in company performance. In fact, one study shows that diverse teams are 1.32 times more productive than less diverse teams.
Organizations that lack diversity also tend to be less productive. Teams who work with people from different backgrounds with different experiences have more perspectives to draw from, which can yield better problem-solving and more innovative ideas.
Make diversity a top priority. Set goals for hiring diverse teams with achievable objectives, such as diversifying your workforce by X% in one year. Here are a few other ways to prioritize diversity.
- Put together a diversity committee or group. A committee can help surface topics that need to be addressed or policies that should be implemented, especially around hiring. People from minority groups should be involved and lead the group since they have first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to search for a job as a minority. This is an opportunity for your organization to amplify diverse voices, listen to their challenges, and make changes to address those challenges.
- Hire a recruiter with experience in hiring diverse teams. Set expectations of your recruiters, so they are more intentional when they pick job candidates. Recruiters who have experience hiring diverse teams are especially valuable because they’ve seen what makes organizations successful in these efforts and what hasn’t been successful. They’re able to offer insights to help you meet your diversity and inclusion hiring goals.
- Post to diverse job boards. Diverse job boards give underrepresented groups a place to search for jobs with companies that support a diverse workforce. Post your job openings on multiple diverse job boards like the Professional Diversity Network’s recruiting website, RemotePOC, Out in Tech, Include, and Diversity.com.
2. Set clear goals & expectations for your team
Your employees need to know what their goals are in order to be productive. Clear goals help your workers understand what they need to achieve to stay on track with their workload and show what role their job plays in overall company goals.
In one survey, more than half of tech workers said that having clear goals and expectations is the number one contributor to their productivity. The next most important? Seeing how their work impacts the company. Employees want to feel like they’re doing more than just a few tasks every day when they come to work. They want to know that they’re contributing to the success of the company by working toward a common goal.
When you set goals for your team, they should be specific, attainable, and measurable.
- Specific: Vague goals are confusing, and leave your teams with questions. Be specific. For example, if you implement a goal for your IT team to resolve support tickets in a certain time, give them a specific time frame rather than being unclear. “Resolve each support ticket in an average of five minutes” is more clear than “Shorten the time it takes to resolve a support ticket.”
- Attainable: Goals should be reasonable given the skills and staffing levels of each team. If your teams are consistently unable to reach their goals, they may burn out or start to feel disengaged.
- Measurable: Goals should be quantifiable to show whether or not your teams have met them. Use certain metrics to measure goals, and consider setting objectives to help them stay on track. Something like “Achieve 90% of your assigned workload over a 3-month period” is more measurable than “Complete all of your assigned tasks and projects.”
Regularly check in with your employees to see how they’re progressing, so you can know if anyone is struggling to meet their goals or objectives. If an employee is struggling, you can either help them find a solution or readjust their goal.
3. Make it easy for employees to communicate
Easy communication means that your employees know who to reach out to and how to reach out to them whenever they have a question or need to collaborate. Making communication easy for your teams is especially important in our post-pandemic world, where remote workspaces and virtual communication are more common.
Easy communication is key to a productive workplace. In fact, according to LinkedIn, “Effective communication is one of the most important factors in creating an efficient work environment.” With easy communication channels, teams can collaborate without obstacles, ask questions to the right person or people, and access files from co-workers.
“Effective communication is one of the most important factors in creating an efficient work environment.”
Establish guidelines for your communications that include:
- When it is appropriate to communicate. For example, if employees should avoid communicating outside of work hours, specify that in your guidelines. However, some teams have co-workers or customers in other time zones, in which case messages may need to be sent during someone’s after-hours. Be specific about these situations and provide guidelines for your employees, so they know what to do.
- How employees are expected to respond. If your employees tend to receive messages after-hours, let them know they don’t have to respond immediately. Adding something like “Responses are only expected during your work hours” to your guidelines can help alleviate employee stress.
- The main communication channel, like Slack or email. Designating a primary channel for internal communications makes it easy for your employees. They always know where to go to reach out to someone when they need something.
4. Consolidate your apps & tools
Too many tools and apps make it hard for your employees to be productive because they constantly have to search for and switch between the right ones. Most companies — especially remote ones — have multiple tools they use for the purpose of improving some element of work.
In fact, the average SaaS company uses 254 apps, according to a Productiv report. That amount of searching and switching hinders efficiency. Tools that are meant to improve productivity end up being counterproductive because it takes too much time to find and use them.
Consolidate the functions of your apps and tools. Remove apps or tools that provide a function that either isn't used frequently or that another app already provides. For example, maybe you have two different knowledge base tools when you really only need one. Move all the files from one of the knowledge bases to the other, so you can get rid of one of them. Your teams can save time when they need to find a file.
Survey your employees to find out how often tools (and their functions) are used. The results can help you figure out which tools to remove or consolidate based on whether your teams need them or not.
5. Prioritize employee well-being
Employee well-being refers to the overall health of your employees. When your employees are burnt out with work or feeling unhappy with work, they’re less likely to perform well and more likely to quit. You can prioritize employee well-being by creating an environment free of unnecessary stress where employees feel happy and productive.
According to McKinsey, “A chaotic workplace environment of frequent, uncontrollable events adversely affects people’s motivation.” Meaning, people don’t feel motivated to get work done in an unstable environment. For example, teams may feel like they’re constantly trying to figure out which projects to prioritize or wondering who can help them with a problem they’re facing. These challenges can make it impossible for them to meet their goals.
Prioritizing employee well-being should be a company-wide initiative. There are a few things you can do. Start by setting a goal. Identify a metric that helps you measure the goal, like employee engagement. Then set a clear and actionable goal, such as “Improve employee engagement by X% in three months.”
Promote a healthy work-life balance. A healthy work-life balance is essential to preventing burnout and overall dissatisfaction. After all, work is just one part of your employees’ life. Here are a few ways to promote a healthy work-life balance:
- Encourage your employees to take breaks throughout the day.
- Have employees focus on workload rather than work hours. For example, encourage them to frame their workday as “finish ABC project” rather than “finish eight hours of work.”
- Regularly check their workload to make sure it’s manageable.
Review your time-off policies. This includes vacation, personal time, sick time, floating holidays, or other paid time off (PTO) you offer. Ask questions to find areas of improvement. Is there a possibility your policies are contributing in some way to the negative well-being of your employees? Do your employees feel like their vacation time isn’t adequate enough? If so, are you able to improve the vacation time policy to add more time?
6. Lead by example
Improving team performance starts with leading by example. Employees are inspired and motivated to work hard by hard working leaders. As a manager, if you’re feeling uninspired or unmotivated, your teams will feed off that. According to Asana, “The people you manage pay a lot of attention to what you say — and what you do. ... If you can model the right example to your team, they’ll be inspired to go along, too.”
Make sure you’re embodying the same characteristics that you want your employees to have.
- Get involved with your team with regular meetings. Regular team meetings can help surface issues like workflow bottlenecks. Addressing issues when they surface shows your team you support them and are invested in them and their performance with the company.
- Encourage good time management. You can encourage good time management by managing your own time wisely. Good time management means that you and your teams spend less time on admin and miscellaneous tasks and more focused time on the most important tasks.
- Avoid micromanaging your team. Micromanaging can lead to a stressful environment where your employees feel watched or like you’re doing their job for them. You can avoid micromanaging by setting attainable deadlines, avoiding scheduling unnecessary meetings, and promoting a work culture where your employees feel empowered to take ownership of their tasks and projects.
7. Provide ongoing training
Ongoing training helps your teams gain new skills and stay up to date on existing skills. Training also increases employees’ confidence in getting their tasks and projects done — they feel like they’re equipped with the skills they need to do their jobs right. When employees feel equipped to do their jobs, there are fewer obstacles in the way, and tasks come easier to them.
There are several ways to give your teams access to ongoing training:
- Hold regular training sessions (in person or virtual) for learning certain skills or new tools.
- Adopt a learning management system (LMS) like Eduflow or 360Learning.
- Use a wiki or other knowledge base where you can organize and store previous trainings (like skill shares or other how-to resources) that your teams can access as they need them.
Most of these methods allow your teams to get the training when it’s convenient for them. It’s important that training fits into their schedule and workload — otherwise, it becomes just another daunting task for them to complete.
Identify areas where you need to improve productivity
Productive teams are crucial to the success of your business. Take time to address the specific challenges getting in the way of the performance and productivity of your team, and identify ways to remove those obstacles.
One tool that can help you increase team productivity is OSlash. OSlash lets you turn the links and files you use every day and into easy-to-remember shortcuts that you can also organize into collections. OSlash integrates with your browser so you can easily search and access any of your shortcuts. For example, if your team has a lot of recurring meetings, you can turn the meeting URLs into a shortcut everyone can remember. When it’s time for the meeting, simply type o/standup into your browser, hit enter, and it brings you right where you need to go.
Using OSlash can save time and streamline tasks for your teams, improving your team efficiency.
Ready to 10x your team’s productivity? Learn more here.