While productivity is a primary concern for HR departments, your workplace culture could be adversely affecting employee output. Let’s take a look at some strategies you might be overlooking in your quest for productivity.
1. Create a holistic environment.
An overemphasis on productivity devalues employees, and can create a fairly grim working environment. Remember our recent blog about the importance of employee retention? Employees value workplaces that offer trust, flexibility and autonomy. If you’re inadvertently sending the message that you value productivity over the person, you’re going to spend a lot of time and money replacing and training employees. Instead, make sure the work environment is welcoming, and that you offer basics such as quality food options on site. Make it clear self-care is part of your organizational culture.
2. Accept some subjectivity.
Obviously, as an organization you have a mission, and a series of clear outcomes you’re working toward. But to require that productivity be measurable from minute to minute is short-sighted. You want innovators, not cogs.
3. Support wandering.
We’re increasingly aware that a reasonable amount of downtime is necessary in order to do truly creative work, but we often forget to apply that to our thinking on productivity in non-arts-related fields. Don’t assume that an employee who’s staring into space or wandering the building isn’t working. They may have hit an impasse on a thorny task, and that walk they’re taking may unlock the solution. Provide spaces for employees to go when they step away from their desks, including exercise venues and gathering places.
4. Foster personal connections.
We bemoan silos within our organizations and how they hinder our efforts. Those gathering spaces we’ve described above can be excellent ways for employees in different areas to meet, develop relationships, and discover opportunities to problem-solve and collaborate. A coffee break now could be the key to an innovative solution down the road.
5. Untie your employees’ hands.
Are you still gatekeeping access to your employees’ favorite devices and productivity apps? If so, there are solutions, including hosting your whole operating system in a cloud-based platform. This enables you to secure your data without actually policing your employees’ tablets, phones and laptops, and without handicapping their use of tools that genuinely allow them to do better work, faster.
6. Encourage fun.
Believe it or not, employees who state they’ve been involved in a fun activity at work use fewer sick days. It’s not necessary that leadership be involved—sometimes the rank and file need to kick back together without management and HR around. But your support is important.
If employees know you value work/life balance, promote collegiality, and respect their judgment, it frees up their time and energy, and gets you better results.