By RedBalloon for Business

How to increase productivity for employees and your business

Almost two thirds of Australian employees admit they’re doing the bare minimum at work doing just enough to avoid getting fired but not enough to feel like they’ve had a tough day at work. 21% of Australians believe they could be more productive.

According to Ernst & Young, this all too common case of ‘presenteeism’ is losing our economy around $305 billion each year.

As a people leader, how do you get your team members to give their best? Use this checklist to get started.

1. Set clear strategic goals

Set simple and achievable goals that people in your team can relate to. If your people don’t have anything to work towards (or are unclear about what that ‘something’ is!), it’s hard to maintain long-term productivity. Break them down big projects or a year-long vision into 3-5 milestones so you can track progress in a simple, memorable way, and make sure you are reminding your people about what the ‘big goal’ is often.

2. Link all your work to those goals

Do you and your team know exactly how what you do each day is contributing to the achievement of your company’s strategic goals? Create accountability and empower each individual to know their importance by linking KPIs or promises to your strategic goals.

Purpose and autonomy are more motivating than money and will increase productivity, discretionary effort and job satisfaction.

3. Use strengths to achieve

We are more productive when we use our natural strengths and skills. Ask yourself and your team members when you’re most likely to get into a state of ‘flow’ – that point when you’re so completely immersed in a task and find yourself working efficiently and productively. Is it when you write creatively, crunch numbers on a spreadsheet, research and learn or pull together a project plan? We have natural thinking preferences, so as a leader you should find out what these are (tools like the Gallup Strengths Finder or HBDI are a great starting point) and leverage these to get maximum return from effort.

4. Make yourself available

Set time aside to catch up with your team members regularly. Use this time to ask how they are feeling, ask for (and listen to!) to their ideas for specific projects or for their professional development, and realign their goals. One of the most effective ways to improve team performance is to make sure they can ask questions when they need to; this prevents the unnecessary delays that come with only being able to communicate via email.

5. Recognise their achievements

Organisations where recognition occurs have 14% better employee engagement, productivity, and customer service. Celebration of achievements – whether it’s with a verbal, written or formal piece of recognition – immediately boosts morale and, when linked to your company purpose and strategic goals, shows progress, which is one of the biggest motivators. Plus, giving recognition boosts your endorphins and will make you more productive too!

6. Lead by example

“As the leader goes, so goes the team.” This is our founder’s favourite quotes; it is simple and shows how important integrity is when it comes to building a powerful and effective team. Your behaviour and output sets the standard of performance within your team. If you want a more productive team, show the how it’s done! Recognise them frequently and encourage and empower them to do the same.

7. Make happiness a top priority

It shouldn’t take take a scientific study to tell us that we work better when we’re in a positive mood. Surely it’s common sense that employee happiness affects productivity and performance? But in case you need proof, a study with a Fortune 500 Call Center found that reps who were in bad moods had worse customer service, needed more breaks, saw more than a 10% decline in their productivity. Does your physical work environment encourage happiness and productivity? Can you find simple ways to motivate your team? Celebrating and sharing achievements – no matter how seemingly small – makes an immediate difference to morale. If you haven’t done this lately, do it today.

8. Avoid overwork

We all know the signs of workload overwhelm in ourselves and others. Temporary stress can bring out the best in us, but the stress and lack of sleep that is often associated with long periods of busy-ness at work has long-term negative effects on our health. If the busy period is temporary, then prioritise and focus (see step 1) and let key stakeholders know you have to push back on some deliverables. If it’s permanent, ask yourself if there is unrealistic expectation that’s coming from somewhere in your organisation? Or is it confined to your department or team? Go back to your strategy and talk through your concerns with your boss. At the end of the day being overworked causes fatigue, both physically and emotionally and is unsustainable long term. It’s empowering to accept you can’t always get everything done, focus on your top goals instead.

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To find out more about how the RedBalloon for Business team can help you reward and recognise your people, contact us today.