Increasing productivity is the attempt to increase output with the same input. Increasing efficiency, on the other hand, means the same output with less input.
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Increase productivity: This is how your employees work in an efficient and satisfied manner
There is a new email coming in every five minutes, someone from the team needs support, the next meeting is coming up or it’s time to work from home again – no surprise that productivity may fall short at times. Even simple measures that can be implemented immediately help to increase productivity and achieve better results without much effort. We will show you how to support your employees:
- Increase productivity and achieve more in less time
- Relaxed and satisfied team members
- Time management techniques and tips
- Easy-to-use tools from Humanoo
Productivity at work: what does it mean?
A survey, conducted by the platform karrierebibel.de asked employees how many hours a day they feel productive. The result: 40% of those surveyed stated a work productivity of 5-6 hours a day – for 34% of those surveyed it was only 3-4 hours. The remaining time is referred to as “serving time”. Needless to say, that with such low productivity rates in the workplace, the hoped-for success for the company may not materialize.
It is perfectly normal that people cannot concentrate 100% all the time. However, if satisfaction at work decreases permanently, employees feel over-worked, sick leave increases or too much time is wasted on trivial things then it is time for measures to increase work productivity. Ultimately, this can lead to your team being more committed and satisfied at work: Anyone who feels their work is productive usually also has the feeling of being self-effective, which in turn contributes to balance and thus to employee satisfaction.
The average productivity of employees can be expressed in a simple formula:
Productivity = Output/Input
The “output” of the formula for labor productivity is the desired result – for example the completion of a project or the production of a certain number of products. The input is what is “put into it”, i.e. the work output. This can be measured in hours, for example. This means you can calculate labor productivity by dividing the result by the labor input. You can see from the formula: If the input increases without the result improving, labor productivity decreases. Conversely, increased employee productivity can improve the result without requiring a higher (time) effort.
Negative case studies: reasons why productivity decreases
A study by Stanford University, which links multitasking to poor memory performance and a reduced attention span, shows that multitasking is not good for work productivity. Nevertheless, most employees encounter numerous situations in their everyday work in which multitasking is unavoidable and there are frequent interruptions to concentrated work:
- The work cannot continue because feedback or approvals are missing
- Tasks must be interrupted to look for important documents
- Colleagues interrupt the workflow with questions
- Employees must react to e-mails and other messages and their concentration is interrupted
- The working days are so fragmented by meetings, discussions, etc. that there are hardly any longer periods for efficient work
In addition, there may be longer meetings without a clear goal, or the daily structure is completely missing because employees work from home and receive no support in organizing their day. Such factors not only affect work productivity but may also affect the work-life balance. Most importantly, a lack of clear working hours in the home office or constant availability after work can have a negative impact. Let’s have a look at how labor productivity can be increased.
Increasing productivity: Tips and strategies
When it comes to increasing productivity, the term “time management” is used rather frequently. There is a common misconception about this: time management is not about finding more time to work more, but about using the available time more efficiently. Time management strategies help maintain focus and reduce distractions.
A well-known strategy for increasing work productivity is so-called time blocking. The working day is divided into blocks of time so that there is space for concentrated and undisturbed work phases as well as for exchange with colleagues and breaks. During the times blocked for tasks, employees should ideally be unavailable for e-mails, telephone calls or messenger services. The first block of time – either a working day or the whole week – is used for planning, because in order to increase productivity it is important to set sensible priorities. The two methods that we present to you here serve to do this.
Tip: Do you know the Pomodoro technique? It can help increase productivity. Work in undisturbed 25-minute sprints, with a five-minute break between each. The break is best used for a little exercise. After four Pomodoro blocks at the latest, there is a longer break of 20-30 minutes, during which information can also be exchanged with the team.
Increasing productivity by using the Eisenhower-Principle
The Eisenhower principle divides tasks into “important” and “urgent”. Important tasks are those that advance the company and contribute to its success. Urgent tasks are time-sensitive, so they have to be completed by a certain date in order to avoid negative consequences (e.g. answering customer inquiries, giving feedback to colleagues, obtaining approval). Based on these criteria, work tasks can be assigned as follows:
Important and urgent
Action: handle immediately
Important but not urgent
Action: diarise accordingly
Urgent but not important
Not important and not urgent
Action: delete from task list
By categorising each task following the principle above, one can identify immediate actions that can lead to an increase in productivity. However, if you have too many tasks on your desk, you will still be overwhelmed – in that case it is important to define priorities, too. The Pareto principle is the one that can help with the same.
Increasing productivity by using the Pareto-Principle
The Pareto principle is also known as the 80-20 rule. It states that executing 20% of the “right” tasks, will lead to 80% of the results – which in turn means that 80% of the other tasks only contribute towards a smaller part of overall success. The Pareto principle is about saying goodbye to perfectionism and directing focus and full energy – at least temporarily – to the following questions:
- What is the most important thing that needs to be done today?
- What is the one thing that really gets us ahead in the company?
- What can’t I do without so that I and/or my colleagues can continue working?
- How can I achieve the greatest possible result with the least possible effort?
The Pareto principle makes productive work possible, but it is also not a permanent solution when you are constantly overloaded. In general, it is not the case that longer working hours necessarily increase productivity – studies even indicate that productivity can remain the same with reduced working hours.
That’s how to increase productivity when working from home
The administration platform Asana carried out a survey on working habits in the home. The results show that there is significant potential for increasing productivity here: They surveyed more than 5,000 people and more than half did not even have access to their own desk, PC/laptop and/or a stable internet connection. They worked from the kitchen table, sofa, or bed.
Furthermore, the home office environment that was forced by the recent pandemic has brought a variety of challenges: Disturbance from children and partners, poor working environment and lack of daily routine are just three of the points that employees repeatedly mention in this context. Here are some things you can do to increase the productivity of your remote workers:
- Support the establishment of an ergonomic workplace (e.g. with grants or training)
- Provide noise cancelling headphones
- Specify a regulated work schedule (e.g. through active breaks with Humanoo)
- Help employees find and capitalize on their individual strengths through surveys
- Provide tracking tools or challenges to motivate employees
- Fixed closing times to ensure that work and private life are separated
Physical and mental health increase work productivity
It goes without saying that goals are easier to achieve when employees feel strong and healthy. Occupational health management plays an important and preventive role here. Sleep, nutrition, exercise and relaxation to reduce stress are important components of prevention. Humanoo supports you in increasing work productivity by making the following offers to your employees, for example:
- Exercise offers, sporting challenges, etc.
- Coaching offers to increase productivity, but also for personal development
- Meditation and relaxation techniques
- Nutritional advice
With Humanoo you can easily provide your teams with the appropriate tools – over 3,000 coaching offers are waiting for you! Thanks to automated surveys, you get access to regular reports that you can use to assess the success of your measures. Curious? Then learn more about how Humanoo works!