Loss of productivity can be expensive for businesses.
According to one Gallup study, actively disengaged employees cost businesses anywhere between $450 to $500 billion per year.
But that is only one part of the problem.
Bureaucracy in business is another major contributor to loss in productivity. An HBR study found that excess bureaucracy costs companies in the OECD countries a grand total of 9 trillion dollars each year.
Such expenses can be disastrous for bootstrapped small business owners and freelancers. Ensuring high employee engagement and a lean business framework is thus critical for your bottom line. Here are a few tips to achieve this.
Invest In Productivity Tools
Every business has two kinds of resources – money and manpower. Bootstrapped businesses tend to be frugal with respect to money and aim to make up for it through better utilization of manpower. That strategy can however backfire if your employees are not engaged enough.
One of the best ways to improve productivity is by investing in the right assessment tools. You may check out tools like HubStaff that help employees track time on their projects, and also help business owners monitor activity through mouse/keyboard usage and randomized screen captures.
This is especially useful for businesses that employ contract workers who are paid by the hour. Freelance business owners seeking higher productivity for themselves may also benefit from their free plan.
Optimize Business Operations
One of the main reasons for bureaucracy creeping in is because of poor business processes. For example, sales team members in an organization may be required to fill in extensive paperwork at the end of each month to cash in their expenses.
These employees also spend a good time of their working hours on the road traveling to and from their client places. The productivity of such teams tend to be pretty low as a result.
Optimizing such operations can not only save your organization a ton of money, but also improve productivity in the process. For example, your organization may hand out corporate credit cards to each of your sales teams.
This way, these employees do not have to submit bills and fill in expense reports at the end of each month.
Banks like the American Express also offer a lot of rewards on their credit cards – and this serves as a perk from your organization to your employees.
In addition to this, it is also a good idea for your organization to invest in high speed internet that would allow your employees to engage in video conferences with their clients. This helps your team members save time and money in commute that could further improve their productivity.
Open offices have emerged as a popular alternative to cubicles in the past few decades. Despite its intent to bring employees closer and increase productivity, studies show that open offices tend to make employees more distracted since those who prefer a quiet working environment may be unable to get work done.
Every worker is unique and it’s important to provide them with a workspace that ensures high productivity. This includes the option to telecommute and work from home. A number of studies in recent years have shown that employees tend to be most productive when they do not have to worry about getting their non-work stuff done.
By allowing your employees to work from home, or by offering amenities like creche and laundry in the workplace, businesses can make sure that their employees can stay focused on their tasks.
According to Phil Byles, the Head Of Digital Marketing at Simply Business; a company that has previously been a recipient of the Sunday Times’ “Best Companies To Work For” award, offering employees the flexibility to mix family responsibilities with work enables them to take their mind off non-productive concerns and focus better at their jobs.
Having said that, it is important to understand that telecommuting needs to enhance and not bring productivity down. For this purpose, it is essential to offer your remote workers the right equipment and infrastructure to work from home.
This includes ensuring a high speed broadband, and the use of cloud services to enable seamless collaboration.
It is also worth pointing out that organizations that offer these services to employees in exchange for long working hours end up causing burnout and this has a direct effect on attrition.
Outsourcing your job functions has its positives and negatives. For one, it allows your teams to focus on their core competencies and thus enables the use of specialists to carry niche tasks.
At the same time, outsourcing tends to be expensive over the long term since your organization fails to own the skills that is necessary to scale operations up.
As a general rule of thumb, it is a good idea to outsource non-core tasks that are repetitive or bring the productivity of your internal teams down.
This could include tasks like data entry, administration and cold calling that get cheaper at scale. Niche skills that add to your business expertise (like programming, analytics, etc.) increase the value of your offering and must thus be rendered in-house.
Employee Task Planning
Organizations tend to distribute their workers’ roles into multiple tasks that are different from each other.
While this helps keep the employees engaged, it also brings productivity down since the skills and knowledge gained from one task may not be applicable or do not add value in the other tasks that the employee works on.
An optimal work schedule involves distribution of tasks across projects that are complementary to each other. This way, employees gain expertise in one specific domain. This helps scale their productivity up.
Task management is notorious for bringing employee engagement (and productivity) down and tends to be more of an issue in some industries than others. In retail for example, especially for big chains with lots of brick and mortar stores, task management software can make profound changes. One company in particular was only executing 25-30% of their store’s next day tasks. After implementing retail software, Zipline, that number jumped to 90%. When tasks and communication is clear, employees are better engaged.
By keeping your workers engaged across multiple projects, you tend to keep their engagement up and all this helps with improved productivity.