Improve Employee Productivity: 5 Simple Ideas That Really Work

Despite what you may believe, you don’t always have to offer fancy gifts and big bonuses to motivate your employees to do more for your business. Showing them a little more trust, respect and recognition can go a long way when it comes to improving their productivity.

Employees who feel genuinely appreciated by their peers and management are much more likely to go above and beyond in their job.

But it’s up to you to create an environment where employees feel valued and motivated to help your company achieve its goals. Here are five things you can do to empower your employees so they can make a difference in your business.

1. Make sure they have a clear understanding of their jobs

Your employees need clarity of purpose – what their jobs are and how they fit in with your company goals. The first step in accomplishing this is a clear, precise job description that eliminates any confusion about their responsibilities and your expectations.

A well-written job description will spell out the responsibilities of the position as well as help managers and employees establish clear, relevant performance goals.

A 2014 report found that regular interaction with their direct manager was the number one driver of employee engagement, according to the Aberdeen Group. Often, this is because direct managers help employees understand how their individual activities support the organizational strategy, according to the report.

If your expectations of employees aren’t clear, it’s likely that they will become bored or resentful and more focused on their own survival than how they can help your organization succeed.

2. Be sure your timelines are realistic

Before you give your employees a deadline to meet any goals or complete any projects, you need to realistically determine:

  • What steps are required to meet the goal you’ve set?
  • What milestones will be used to measure progress?
  • How much time should it take to complete the goal?
  • Is your timeline challenging, as well as achievable?

Again, clarity of information is vital to the success of the goal or project. Pair up strengths to create a good, working team, and solicit input from those employees on how long it will take to complete a project.

Be specific about the milestones you’ve determined will be used to gauge their success – don’t make your employees struggle to identify what those milestones are. Confusion can cause employees to get frustrated. This can lead to complacency and a lack of care for their work.

Moreover, when you don’t allow adequate time for your employees to meet deadlines, team members are likely to feel overworked. Tempers flare, and employees are more apt to disengage than to work together toward a common goal.

3. Hold them accountable and give them the authority to get the job done

Accountability includes setting expectations and putting clear, meaningful consequences in place –not necessarily negative consequences. In fact, results are the most positive when employees don’t equate accountability with negative outcomes.

Examples of positive consequences include constructive feedback, knowing that milestones are being measured and progress checked and even increased responsibility.

However, if you give your employees more responsibility, it must be accompanied by the authority to get the job done. That means providing adequate resources to them and their team, as well as the latitude to make decisions and execute their own ideas. Moreover, they’ll need direct access to management, stakeholders and other decision-makers to get timely buy-in and approval.

Be their coach, not a micro-manager. Check on the milestones you’ve helped them set to see what progress is being made, but don’t expect them to run every detail of the project by you. It’s important that you strike a balance between accountability and authority.

4. Celebrate as they reach their goals

Employees desire recognition when they contribute to the success of your company. Make the time to acknowledge the good work that they’re doing and the milestones they’re meeting.

Monetary rewards are always appreciated, but aren’t necessarily whatmotivates your employees to higher productivity. Frequent communication with their leaders helps to ensure that their needs are being met. And a simple “thank you” goes a long way toward boosting employee morale and encouraging them to stay on track.

Low or no-cost ways to reward your employees can include spot awards distributed to employees on an informal basis, including inexpensive awards, such as movie tickets or gift cards.

Sponsor a contest or program with a financial reward (such as a gift card) encouraging creativity for individuals making positive contributions and taking innovative approaches toward revenue generation, cost containment (i.e., safety, process improvement) or customer satisfaction measures.

Look for ways to celebrate both individual and company success with your employees.

Remember: Lack of recognition may drive your best talent to look for jobs where they’ll get the appreciation they deserve.

5. Help them develop a clear career path

Don’t focus so heavily on the here-and-now of your company’s needs that you overlook employee development. Take an interest in your employees’ professional dreams and goals to build loyalty to your company.

Talk to your employees to understand what their career goals are and how they hope to accomplish them. Consider your business goals as well, but remember it’s not all about you.

Are there ways that your employees’ goals could help your business achieve its objectives?

From there, you can create a detailed action plan – employee development plan – that makes it easy for your employees’ to acquire the needed skills, whether it’s through training (formal or on-the-job), coaching or mentoring.

Make sure what they learn sticks. Shortly after they complete their training, be sure they’re put into situations where they can use what they’ve learned.

Insperity has been helping business owners improve their human capital management strategies for more than 28 years. Learn how Insperity can help you increase your employees’ productivity, performance and focus.