Employers’ Guide to Boosting Workforce Productivity in 2024
Productivity has been a buzzword across all industries for a long time. Whether you’re talking about the classic example of measuring how many widgets your workers make in a shift or the output of knowledge-based employees working remotely, ensuring your employees are consistently productive is key to the long-term success of your business.
As we head into 2024, there are key actions you as an employer can take to support your workers in being their most productive selves.
An employee who doesn’t know what they need to focus on to make the biggest impact in their job isn’t going to maximize productivity. They may take on the latest project that comes across their desk or complete several small tasks that won’t further your company’s goals.
When assigning a new task or project, ensure your employee fully understands:
- What is the deliverable
- When the task is due
- Whether the task is a priority
- How that task or project fits into the overarching company goals
Make sure your employees know that they can always approach their manager if they have concerns about their work priorities, and if they need clarification on a task or project. Listen when your employees tell you they’re feeling overwhelmed and adjust deadlines and priorities accordingly.
Sometimes, the key to getting more done is to actually expect your workers to do less on a daily basis.
This can extend to how you schedule and conduct meetings. If a meeting is optional for certain employees, make sure they know that and don’t punish them for declining the invitation. Whenever possible, utilize emails, phone calls or instant messages in place of meetings. And when a meeting is necessary, require an agenda be sent to decrease the chances the meeting will get off topic and derail everyone’s day.
Encourage Flexibility and Time Off
It’s common sense that the more your employees have time to rest and recharge, the more engaged and productive they’ll be at work. But ensuring that everyone can take off the time they need and still get all the work done can be a challenging balancing act for many managers, especially if you’re already working with reduced staffing levels.
When a worker comes to you with a PTO request, don’t burden them with finding a backup person while they’re away — that’s your job. Simply ask them if they’re planning to do anything fun and tell them to enjoy their time off. The work will get done and your employee will come back ready to tackle anything that comes their way.
One of the best ways to encourage your workers to take their PTO is to model the behavior. Use your PTO and be open about your desire to support every individual in taking the time they’ve earned.
Additionally, it’s important to realize that not everyone is productive during the same hours of the day and support a flexible work environment whenever possible. Maybe that means you allow your employees to choose whether they want to work remotely or in the office, or a hybrid of both. For those workers whose tasks don’t require availability during typical work hours, consider allowing them to work out a schedule that’s best for their natural rhythms. With the proliferation of connectivity tools, it’s easier than ever before to keep asynchronous working schedules but still manage to get everything done.
Invite Professional Development
While it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that every person who works for you now wants to stay in their role indefinitely, it isn’t realistic. And if you’re not actively helping them to develop professionally, you risk losing great employees to another company.
By investing in your employees’ professional development, such as offering stipends for training courses and certifications, sending workers to conferences and helping them balance returning to school, you’ll show that you’re committed to their professional and personal growth. When your employees feel supported in their development, they’ll be more likely to give you their best work and may even stay employed with you long term.
Consider creating a line item in your budget to help support worker development. These funds can be used for training courses, certification tests, offsetting the cost of enrolling in community college or any other development activities you want to encourage your employees to take part in. If that isn’t something you can financially back right now, find ways to let your workers know that you want them to undertake professional development activities — allowing them flexible time off to attend courses or work on homework is a great way to offer this benefit without additional costs to you.
Support Work-Life Balance
Healthy employees who feel that they have a great work-life balance are more likely to give their all while at work. If they know they’re able to work their schedule around doctors’ appointments and school functions without having to use PTO, or if you offer a wellness program that supports their health goals, you’ll get more quality work out of your workers.
Offering a flexible schedule — or at least assuring employees that they can occasionally flex their schedules to make room for life events — gives your workers that crucial work-life balance they crave. Discouraging “hustle culture” and overwork also gives your employees the peace of knowing that, if they work their required number of hours each week, they won’t be penalized for not showing up early and staying late.
Additionally, dissuading workers from having work email and instant messaging apps on their personal phones removes the chances that work will bleed over into real life, giving your employees that break every day (and every weekend) that allows them to come back to work ready for the next day.
Offering your employees easy access to health and wellness programs, including an onsite clinic for their medical concerns and sponsored wellbeing programs to help them reach their health goals, shows you care about them feeling well. Not only are you able to quickly deal with work-related injuries — many of which only require onsite first aid — but your employees have the option to receive their regular medical care at work.
Wellness programs also help you build a sense of community. Employees who are more connected to their coworkers and their company are more engaged in work tasks and, as a result, more productive.
If your employees don’t know what’s expected of them, or how success in their roles will be measured, they’ll never know if they’re productive. As a leader, it’s essential that you communicate effectively, both when you have something you need employees to do and when they’re doing a great job.
The key to effective communication is choosing the right channel for your message. A quick question or small bit of feedback doesn’t require a meeting; that’s better suited for an email or instant message. But a performance review or serious concern about an employee, on the other hand, should be handled with a face-to-face (or virtual, if that’s how your workplace is set up) meeting.
No matter what channel you choose, honesty is important. Give constructive feedback with clarity and kindness and avoid blaming. Focus on actions or behaviors, not people, and provide solutions and opportunities for improvement. Being open and honest builds trust with your employees, and they’re more likely to feel safe and supported — even when what they’re hearing is negative — which may lead to more lasting change.
Your Partner in Workplace Productivity
At Medcor, it is our goal to help you support your employees to be their healthiest, safest, most productive selves. Our employee health clinics offer easy access to medical support for work-related injuries, as well as routine care, and our wellness programs help them stay healthy. Speak with an advocate today.