It’s every business owner’s dream to know their organization runs like a finely-tuned machine.
At the heart of this dream:
A team of employees making efficient use of the time, energy, and resources at their disposal while maximizing the value of their output.
Unfortunately, this dream is often a far cry from the reality most businesses face in terms of employee efficiency. As recent studies have shown, a little less than three hours of the average employee’s day is spent on productive work—with the rest of the day being spent on tasks that don’t move the needle all that much for your company.
Such inefficiency can be damaging to your business. As Gallup found in 2017, actively disengaged and inefficient employees cost the US economy over $600B annually.
On the other hand, the more efficient your employees are, the better things will be for your business. Not only will your team be more engaged and productive, but you’ll also have more resources and capital on hand to reinvest back into your business moving forward.
While hiring top-notch, dedicated employees is essential for our purposes in the first place, it’s crucial that you also enable them to work as efficiently as possible whenever they prepare to do so.
In this article, we’ll discuss four key ways to do just that.
1. Facilitate Organizational Alignment
Efficiency is all about getting from Point A to Point B with as little effort as possible.
That said, if your employees aren’t exactly sure where Point B is—and they can’t really see the path laid out in front of them—they won’t be able to make their journey as efficiently as you’d hoped.
Aligning your employees toward a common goal can improve productivity and efficiency by 56%.
On a more practical level, this means finding the best-fit position for each of your employees. When your team members are able to put their knowledge and skills to optimal use—and are doing work that they actually enjoy doing—they’ll inherently be more productive as they work toward their goal.
This also means developing standard operating procedures for your various processes, as well. This allows your employees to set a clear path for themselves, ensuring they always take the most efficient route when setting out to accomplish a task.
On a more conceptual level, it’s also important to get your employees aligned in terms of your organization’s mission and vision. When this alignment occurs, employees are 54% more likely to go above and beyond their contractual duties to accomplish their goals—and are also 85% more loyal, to boot.
2. Provide Flexibility and Balance
The modern employee thrives off of having more control over how they work.
Case in point:
- 65% of employees say they work better when working from a home office
- Working from home just once a month can boost employee efficiency and happiness
- About 50% of employees say working from home is their best option when they need to focus intensively on a specific task
Note that these stats aren’t a matter of preference; they’re a matter of productivity. Still, when the employee is able to work in an environment that’s most conducive to their productivity, satisfaction will almost certainly follow.
When—and how often—your employees work can also have a huge impact on their productivity levels. As Microsoft’s recent success with the experimental four-day workweek shows, there’s no sense in your employees being on the clock during the times they’re least productive.
While in Microsoft’s case the dip in productivity had to do with summer weather, there are likely many other reasons why your team may be inefficient at different times. On the other hand—as with Microsoft’s team—there are other times in which productivity is higher than average.
The trick, then, is identifying when these moments in your employees’ lives are, and allowing them to work when they know they’re most able to do so.
3. Enable and Equip Your Team
Facilitating employee efficiency involves preparing your team to maximize their productivity levels, and giving them what they need to make it happen.
The key to enabling them:
Proper training, and the right tools.
Though you may have worked together to create your new standard operating procedures, you’ll still need to train your employees in these new ways. Moreover, you’ll also need to allow them to practice these new procedures before bringing them into actual operations.
And, though you may have given your employees more flexibility over their working conditions, you’ll also need to provide them the tools necessary to get their work done efficiently. This includes the tools needed to facilitate remote operations, such as:
- Internal communication apps like Front, Troop Messenger, or Chanty
- Team management software like monday.com or Basecamp
- Meeting management tools like Soapbox
- Knowledge management software like Helpjuice
- Time tracking software like Timeneye
Aligning your employees and providing them more freedom in how they work will only lead to higher productivity levels if you’ve set them up to succeed. By providing your employees with proper training and the tools they need to efficiently accomplish their duties, you’ll enable your team to be more productive than they’ve ever been.
4. Centralize Everything
With your team constantly spread out, and data constantly flowing in and out of your organization, it’s essential that you centralize as much of your operations as possible.
This especially goes for your team’s tools and technology, your communications, and your organizational knowledge and data.
While there’s no denying that the use of technology typically leads to more efficient processes, it’s also important that your employees can use these tools to their maximum potential.
This means ensuring the tools within your tech stack integrate well with one another—allowing your employees to utilize multiple apps with as little friction as possible. According to a 2017 survey by Harmon.ie, 67% of employees agree that streamlined integrations lead to an immediate increase in focus and efficiency.
Your tools should also be platform agnostic whenever possible. As shown by Apperian’s 2016 Executive Enterprise Mobility Report, 53% of respondents say that having access to mobile versions of their tools leads to more efficient and productive business processes.
With an integrated tech stack comes the ability to centralize communications throughout your organization. This allows your employees to carry out conversations on multiple tools, channels, and platforms—and ensures that all of these correspondences are saved in a single location. This leads to fewer redundancies and less confusion when collaborating with one another.
(Which, in turn, leads to a potential 25% spike in employee efficiency and productivity.)
Finally, you’ll want to make use of an electronic document management system (EDMS) such as an internal knowledge base to help house any and all data, information, and/or documentation held by your company. Whether an employee is looking for certain SOP documentation, specific product info, or a creative file for a previous marketing campaign, they’ll easily be able to find what they need with minimal friction within your internal KB.
With data and communication flowing freely throughout your organization, your employees will always have the information they need to efficiently accomplish whatever task is laid out before them.
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