6 Keys to Improving Productivity in the Workplace

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kjhnioImproving your organization’s productivity can feel like a never-ending quest on par with searching for the Holy Grail. Of course it would be great to improve productivity, but once you do, won’t you be required to still achieve more? Yes, you will. But that’s no reason to slough off or shy away. Improving productivity is as fundamental a goal as staying in the black, and the two are more than a little closely related. Here are six keys to improving productivity in your workplace.

1. Better, Faster, Wiser Reports

For any organization that makes use of large amounts of data, one of the quickest ways to increased productivity lies in generating better, faster, and smarter reports. While it will take some time to research properly and get more information on, numerous reporting tools exist — Windward is an excellent choice — that can help you make sense of the mountains of data related to everything from resource allocation and supply chain issues to sales cycles and marketing effectiveness. When you can see quicker and more clearly what’s working and what isn’t, you can more effectively apply the necessary changes that will drive you toward improved productivity.

2. Fewer Meetings

Believe it or not, more meetings do not equal more production. Why? Because all the time you and your employees are in meetings, you aren’t working. Yes, it’s important to brainstorm, share ideas, and ensure everyone is on the same page, but do all that in as few meetings — that take as little time — as possible. Let your employees have the time and freedom they need to get their work done. You’ll be more productive, and sitting in fewer meetings for it.

3. Take Breaks

While it may seem wise to keep your nose — and everyone else’s nose — to the grindstone, research shows that taking breaks is essential to maintaining a productive atmosphere in the workplace. From short breaks taken throughout the workday to taking longer breaks like vacations and holidays, improving productivity requires taking plenty time away from improving productivity. In fact, even overtime should be given a rest. Productivity takes a sharp dive after workers put in 40 hours of work, which means getting anyone to put in more than eight hours a day is often a recipe for productivity disaster.

4. Set Group and Individual Goals

What are your employees working toward? What are you working toward? Goals give real weight to work, and they help individuals and teams stay on task and stay motivated. Set group goals within teams and departments, and update them as they are met. Encourage individuals to set individual work-related goals as well. As teams and people meet goals and expand upon them, make sure a system of reward is in place as well. While it’s true that people work more efficiently when there are specific goals they are trying to achieve, when you add in the promise of a reward, they become even more highly motivated and productive. The rewards don’t have to be massive either. Small cash prizes, gift cards, free lunch, an extra day of paid vacation — these types of incentives have been shown to motivate a wide range of employees across a wide range of fields and industries.

5. End the Multitasking

Many people believe that multitasking is one of the paths to greater productivity, but the result of such effort is almost always decreased productivity. So, stop doing more than one thing at a time. Sure, it seems like you’re killing two birds with one stone when you’re writing an email while talking to a vendor on the phone, but the reality is that you’re slower at both, and you might make a costly error because your attention is divided. Practice single-tasking yourself, and encourage all your employees to do the same. Better work will get done more quickly.

6. Honor Self-Imposed Deadlines

In most aspects of business, there are hard and fast deadlines that — if they aren’t met — can spell disaster. From delivering goods to a client on the date promised to filing quarterly business taxes, honoring deadlines is just good business. One place where deadlines get smudged, however, is in relation to self-imposed ones. Often initiated in order to offset a workload or ensure quality, self- or — internally imposed deadlines should be taken just as seriously as the ones that originate from outside your organization. Not only will they ensure procrastination doesn’t gain a foothold in your workplace’s culture, but they will also enable you and your team to trust each other — and yourselves — that when you say you’ll get something finished, you will.

Improving productivity in the workplace is a worthy goal. Put these six keys into practice, and you’ll be able to accomplish it.

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