After more than 15 years in the technology field, I am very aware of the positive benefits of understanding and using technology to increase business productivity. Each year we hear of new platforms, new applications, new appliances, and new solutions to help companies grow bigger and better. These changes can include technology refreshes, BYOD initiatives, new software and application implementation, harnessing the power of Big Data and social media, and the list goes on and on.
We all know that technology, when used properly, can increase productivity. Studies show that the right tools and the right solutions will make your business run more effectively and efficiently; however, businesses, no matter how big or how small, all have the same primary component that drives them to success or failure: their employees. A business cannot and will not survive without people.
What are businesses two largest challenges outside of keeping up with technology trends?
- Increasing Employee Productivity
- Keeping and Maintaining Employees
Ironically, most of the ways you can motivate an employee to be a productive member of your team are also the same ways to keep your employees. According to Lifehack.org, here are things you can do to increase employee productivity:
- Create a family-like atmosphere. Make sure your employees know that regardless of how you feel about them that you always have their backs and are willing to go to war for them.
- Know your employees’ backgrounds. Understanding your employees’ motivation will allow you to structure a support system that is both beneficial and motivating for each employee.
- Train, train, and retrain. Employees are more likely to be productive when they understand what exactly is expected from them and they are given the training to perform such a task. Training gives confidence, and confidence leads to employees who are productive.
- Small incentives will go a long way. You will be surprised at how powerful a $10 gift card can be in the work place. It has nothing to do with the money or the monetary value but more with the fact that there is a goal that all employees are trying to reach.
- Make your word the final say. Opinions and suggestions are great, but ultimately the final say should always come from their superiors. Valuing the opinions and listening to the suggestions of employees before making a decision will show them that they are part of a team and will give them a sense of contribution to the company. The more they feel that their voice is being heard, the more they will contribute to the cause of a company.
- Employees are people as well. Employees have lives outside of the workplace, and our lives outside of the workplace should always take precedence over work. That single mother you employ may not always have a babysitter lined up. The college student may have a final that he must complete to graduate. Be respectful and understanding when life happens to your employees, and you will have an appreciative and productive worker.
- Give them the right equipment. Make sure that the everyday equipment in the office works! There is nothing worse than having an employee say that they couldn’t complete their daily tasks because “the computer was down.”
- Answer questions. Just like a man would rather be lost than ask for directions (sorry, guys), an employee may feel it is better to do something wrong than to ask for how to do something right! For various reasons, such as being scared or not wanting to show a lack of specific knowledge to what is expected from them (see number 3), an employee will not move. You are the person in charge for a reason. Hammer the point home that asking questions is a good thing. Answering questions clearly and in a timely manner will keep the productivity going.
- Celebrate victories no matter how small. When an employee sees that every positive contribution to the team is acknowledged, he or she knows that their actions count and that what they do is really making a difference.
- Be a role model. When people see the boss working, they will also work. When they see the boss slack off, they will do the same. A workforce will always mirror their immediate supervisors.
- Not one employee is more valuable than the others. There is nothing worse in the work force than seeing employees not being treated as equals. We all have experienced having a peer who was viewed as the “favorite.” We also remember how discouraging and resentful that made us. If you are a boss and you have favorites, you run the risk of having a split workforce.
Earlier I stated that most of the ways you can motivate an employee to be a productive member of your team are also the same ways to keep your employees. The chart below outlines 10 things that employees seek when determining if they should stay or if they should go. The values that employees seek are also concepts that will make them more productive.
“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.”
–Anne M. Mulcahy, Former CEO of Xerox Corporation