Business growth is vital in every aspect if a company wishes to drive more sales and rake in higher revenue. One way of achieving that is through enhanced productivity, which is important because of the numerous benefits it brings with saved time and resources. It lowers operational costs as less labour is required to complete tasks that are done more efficiently. This, in turn, saves costs on what would otherwise go into the pockets of the extra hands required. It also increases profitability as more workload is completed within the same timeframe that some may take a longer window to complete. Additionally, it reduces environmental impact as a heightened productivity level would result in fewer resources used, such as hours spent on equipment and devices. But, exactly how can this be achieved to its maximum potential?
Set realistic and achievable goals
A big reason why many businesses start falling behind despite having a strong start is that their goals are unrealistic. This is because many business owners enter the entrepreneurial field with dreams of building their own empire, having worked tirelessly to source for capital and rake in as much help as possible. Though it may seem easily attainable to achieve short-term goals because of their driven mindset, they should consider the needs of their employees before setting a common landmark to reach. It is important to bear in mind that as a company expands, it becomes more diversified with people from different backgrounds and capabilities.
Some questions to ask are:
- Is this individual experienced enough for the task given?
- Does the experience tally with the level of output they have been presenting?
- Are they already tied to many projects and tasks at the moment?
- Can they afford to work on this additional one and still produce the expected results?
This list helps to single out individual areas to determine if employees are capable of completing the tasks assigned to them, regardless of the results expected from it. It boosts productivity in the case where they are not fit for the task because of the initial assessment. Time is saved by instead, assigning the task to somebody who might be a better fit for it in their abilities or schedule. Just like how it makes no sense to assign a complicated coding job to a writer, the scope of work should be in line with their capabilities or adjusted accordingly if they are pursuing something out of their scope. It is also important to ensure not to overload employees within a short duration if they are already swamped and facing trouble with old tasks. This would decrease their overall productivity level as they become more demotivated on the job.
Create a conducive work environment
The type of work environment where employees operate can largely determine how far a business can prosper. Employees will feel more rejuvenated and connected if they are placed in a healthy environment, rather than one in which they dread every hour of the day. Those who love their jobs are more likely to hold a better attitude in helping a company thrive, where there is a mutual understanding of what each can provide for the other. If the work environment is not conducive enough or too negative, businesses can risk a high turnover rate, leading back to increased unproductive levels.
Treat the workplace as a bonded community – All forms of communication should be open, and employees are free to discuss any issues faced to reach a middle ground. This means that no one should be turning against the other in secret, and no dire consequences should be enforced unless it is truly necessary in order to promote a workplace with open views and camaraderie. Feeling like a part of a close-knitted community allows for employees to settle into their tasks more comfortably and check back on queries more efficiently. This saves time, energy, and helps the business to be more productive overall.
Positive reinforcement – Similar to being in a tight community where engagement is transactional, giving praise helps in recognising the efforts of an employee, making them feel appreciated and uplifted. It does not mean to over-compliment them, but rather, identify where they succeeded despite facing forms of adversity. It helps in productivity levels because they would feel even more empowered to do better on the next task, cutting back on wasted time which would otherwise occur in negative work environments.
Rethink meetings – Imagine having a client proposal due in an hour but a non-essential meeting takes precedence. That is certainly what many employees are feeling when some meetings are unnecessary, with more time put into formulating discussion ideas rather than actually communicating them. Former CEO of Intel, Andy Grove, believed that meetings were an essential part of their culture and made it a point to have constructive ones with a question template:
- Do you know the purpose of this meeting?
- Do you have an agenda?
- Do you know your role?
- Do you follow the rules for good minutes?
This agenda and template would then circulate before each meeting, drafting out the points of key topics to be presented, who would lead which parts, how long it would take, and the expected outcomes. It saves time because everybody is aware of their role without having to scramble during the actual meeting and raise redundant topics. Intel’s style is just one of many ways that a business can reconsider the importance of its meetings in order to boost productivity.
Use the right tools
It is imperative for employees to use relevant workspaces to communicate or softwares which can aid in their workflow. They are the backbone of business processes and their cultures, especially with the digital age catching up. Such tools assist in keeping tasks organised and store shared resources in a commonly accessible area. This allows for employees to spend less time on insignificant chores like finding a document on the cloud server and rather, convert that energy into producing more for the growth of the business. It helps to bring focus to the things that matter and spares them over being vexed.
Snacknation offers a list on some common tools used by businesses in online collaboration work:
- monday.com – Organises work clearly on a visual platform. Automate data entry, workflows, and other repetitive tasks to focus on more meaningful work. Voted as 1,273 executives’ favourite platform.
- Slack – Smart collaboration tool that allows teams to communicate better by breaking into channels for specific initiatives or projects. Integrates with apps like Google Docs and Dropbox for a more unified experience.
- Otter.ai – Automatically transcribes audio into text. Timesaving way to search, find, and share text notes with the team. Integrates with Zoom to make collaboration and remote work more efficient.
- Teamwork – Manage all your client work in one platform, from invoicing, to time tracking, to unlimited client access. Maximise resources and get a bird’s eye view of every project, even break work down into subtasks so everyone knows what to do.
The tools listed can benefit businesses greatly especially in the time of working from home, where online communication is of importance to enhance experiences. These softwares can also be of significant use to employees based in physical locations who wish to convert their documents online, rather than stick with the traditional way of stacking up papers.
Work with on-demand talents
Also known as freelancers, working with them brings a huge amount of benefits in more ways than just saving on time. They are also cost-effective, highly flexible, and businesses have access to a large circle of them because of their availability in all parts of the world. In fact, there are currently almost 1.219 billion freelancers worldwide currently, and proves to be game-changers for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB). 70% of SMBs in the United States have worked with freelancers at least once, and 81% of them plan to outsource for these talents again to grow their business. Even Fortune 500 firms who have a strong employee base have their set of freelancers who they see fit for jobs, as per a report on case studies of seven firms in the US, and two large multi-national enterprises.
So… why work with them?
- Specialised – They are experts in their own fields who cater to specific business needs or projects. There is no need to spend time micro-managing their work capabilities because business owners have full autonomy over who they want to hire if they work directly together. Have a financial research project that requires very concentrated knowledge? A freelancer might be the way to go.
- Global access – With the large number of them available worldwide, finding a freelancer most suitable for the job has become a walk in the park. There is also less concern over different time zones or geographical locations as remote working has become the standardised mode, so communication is made so much easier. It also promotes diversity and inclusion within the company to integrate people from all sorts of backgrounds.
- Simple and quick – Hiring processes typically take up to four months to fill a full-time position. Freelancing platforms allow for companies to save on that and instead, get matched with a talent in as quickly as 24 hours. There is no need to onboard them like a full-time employee would require, and there is no need for training since they already come with their own specific skills and equipment.
Freelancers have become increasingly popular, representing about 35% of the global workforce currently. Furthermore, the pandemic has shifted the way that organisations view remote work, with them being far ahead of the curve with digitalisation. Generally, productivity gaps are closed well with these various reasons, which bring about immense changes to workflows.