When your business only consists of a small team, each employee needs to be giving their all to make sure that the organization runs effectively.
But productivity is about more than just staff being motivated and ready to get on with their job. Tons of outside factors affect how efficient your business is, for managers and employees alike. The annoying part: it’s so hard to identify which areas need change!
However, fret not. Here are six great ideas for areas where you can improve productivity in your small business.
Six Things That (Actually) Improve Productivity in Your Small Business
1. Have a Policy on Smartphones and Social Media
It’s a fact that smartphones have become completely intertwined with our daily lives. But what should you do about the issue of smartphones in the workplace? For most workers, they are both essential for carrying out work tasks and also a huge distraction that wastes a serious amount of time. While there is no doubt that smartphones can be an important tool in the office, it’s also a huge blow to productivity.
The only way to get around it is to create a policy on what is acceptable use on the clock. For instance, it’s not okay for staff to scroll through their Instagram feed every five minutes, but it is okay to respond to emails and work texts on the go.
Alternatively, you could implement a rule that staff can only use company phones, rather than their own personal phones, while at work. Obviously, this means every employee needs to have their own personal work phone. That can get really costly, but most service providers now provide “family plans” for small businesses. You could also choose only certain employees who actually need a company phone, saving even more money.
This is a policy you do need to be careful with. Remember that a lot of people use their smartphones for emergency contact with children and for other important reasons. Don’t be draconian, but understand the need for a good policy.
2. Reduce Your Dependence on Meetings
We’ve all been there: we sit in a meeting for an hour, learn nothing, do nothing, and pretty much just sit there and wait to get back to work. There are still far too many businesses that regularly hold meetings that accomplish very little (think Michael Scott from The Office). So it’s important to reduce the number of meetings your business has.
Understand exactly who needs to be involved in these meetings and what the meeting is going to accomplish. You may find that there’s actually nothing to be gained from an official meeting that couldn’t be solved with just a short conversation. If you absolutely must have a meeting, consider having everyone stand rather than sit. This gives the meeting a more casual feel, indirectly encouraging it to be shorter.
3. Manage Employee Schedules Properly
One of the most important elements of managing employees is they’re doing with their time. It can be a fantastic idea to invest in software that allows everyone in the office to keep track of schedules.
Options like Asana allows you to keep track of shift partners, dealing with holiday requests and more. This helps everyone involved (especially you!) because everyone understands exactly what’s going on with the team.
[RELATED: 10 Best Employee Incentives]
4. Test a Flexible Working Policy
One option that is popular with many employees is the idea of flexible working. This could include the possibility of remote working, non-standard working hours, or both.
There’s a lot of debate over whether or not flexible work is actually useful for either employees or businesses, and the answer is: it totally depends on the industry you work in.
The best plan is to test out the policy among certain employees first and see whether it is effective in the way that you hope. If it works, then you can roll out flexible work policies to the rest of the business.
If it doesn’t, it’s no problem. You can explain to staff that it isn’t compatible with the organization. Just don’t forget to explain the reasons why so employees understand you’re not just being a tyrant!
5. Reorganize the Workspace
This might come as a surprise to some, but looks can really hold back productivity. One of the biggest problems with efficiency is a workspace that has not been organized properly, and a disorganized workspace wastes everyone’s time.
Ask yourself: how long does it take for you to search for important documents? Are you prone to having piles of seemingly random pieces of paper on your desk? Firstly, this makes you feel overwhelmed and like you have more work than you actually do. Secondly, it’s taking you way longer to find the things you actually need and you are therefore wasting more time.
You need to make sure your team takes back control of their working area so that they can get on with their day without these sorts of time-wasting problems. Idea: pick one day of each week designated for “cleaning,” where each employee tidies up and reorganizes their desk space.
6. Ensure Managers Are Delegating Correctly
One problem that holds a business back is when managers aren’t willing to delegate properly to their team.
Many managers and team leaders overburden themselves with tasks because they want them done a certain way, or because they don’t trust their team to do the work correctly.
Firstly, this creates a feeling of distrust and incompetence among all employees.
Secondly, this also leads to an issue where you have some staff members not contributing enough to the business, while others are totally burned out and overworked. Make sure you keep an eye on any managers who are working overly long hours, as this could be the cause.
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