Top 10 Ways to Improve Employee Effectiveness

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How can managers improve employee productivity while saving time? Here are the top 10 things you can do to improve employee effectiveness in the office.

As the world changes the way it works, companies are evaluating the most efficient way to staff their offices. A study on remote working last year found that productivity increases by 47% when working remotely from home. But not all companies are embracing the remote working philosophy. According to a Workest survey of 1,000 small business employees, 67% of respondents said their company was planning a return to the office this year.

So how can leaders and managers improve employee productivity while saving time? Here are the top 10 things you can do to increase employee effectiveness.

Don't be afraid to delegate

While this may seem like the most obvious advice, it's often the most difficult to put into practice. We get it - your business is your baby, so you want to have direct control over everything that happens in it. While there's nothing wrong with prioritizing quality (that's what makes a business successful, after all), checking every little detail yourself rather than delegating can waste everyone's valuable time.

Instead, assign responsibilities to qualified employees and trust that they will do their jobs well. This will give your employees the opportunity to gain leadership skills and experience that will ultimately benefit your business. You hired them for a reason, now give them a chance to prove you right.

Match tasks to skills

Knowing the skills and behavioral styles of your employees is essential to maximizing efficiency. For example, an outgoing, creative, out-of-the-box person is probably the ideal person to present ideas to customers. However, he or she may have difficulty if given a task that is more demanding in terms of rules and details.

It is not effective to ask your employees to be excellent in all areas. Instead, before you give an employee a task, ask yourself: is this the best person to do the task? If not, find another person whose skills and style match your needs.

Communicate effectively

Every manager knows that communication is the key to a productive workforce. Technology allows us to connect with each other at the click of a button (or rather the touch of a screen). Of course, this means that current communication methods are as efficient as possible, right? Not necessarily. A McKinsey study found that email can take up almost 28% of an employee's time. In fact, email was found to be the second most time-consuming activity for workers (after job-specific tasks).

Instead of relying solely on email, try social networking tools (such as Slack) designed for even faster team communication. You can also encourage your employees to adopt an older form of contact from time to time... voice-to-voice communication. A quick meeting or phone call can resolve an issue that would have taken hours of email exchanges.

Keep your objectives clear and focused

You can't expect employees to be effective if they don't have a clear goal to achieve. If a goal is not clearly defined and actually achievable, employees will be less productive. So make sure that employees' tasks are as clear and precise as possible. Let them know exactly what you expect of them, and tell them exactly what the impact of that assignment will be.

One way to do this is to ensure that your objectives are "SMART" - specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Before assigning a task to an employee, ask yourself if it meets each of these requirements. If it does not, ask yourself how the task can be modified to help your employees stay focused and effective.

Encourage employees

One of the best ways to encourage employees to be more effective is to give them a reason to do so. Rewarding your employees for a job well done will make them feel appreciated and encourage them to continue increasing their productivity.

When deciding how to reward effective employees, be sure to take into account their individual needs or preferences. For example, one employee may appreciate a public acknowledgement, while another may prefer a private "thank you.

In addition to simple words of gratitude, here are some incentives you can try:

PTO: Instead of a bonus or raise, you can offer your employees extra paid time off without having to use their holiday or sick time.
Invite them to a meal: You can invite the team to lunch, dinner or drinks... or, if you're used to keeping your distance, send a GrubHub or DoorDash gift card.
Send a handwritten note: Sending a handwritten note shows that you recognize your employees' hard work and care enough to take the time to thank them.
Lazy Monday Coupons: Another option is the Lazy Monday coupon, which allows employees to arrive late on Monday morning.
Tell your boss: If you send an email to the team or a team member thanking them for their work, remember to copy YOUR boss on the email.
Try a wellness program: Consider implementing a workplace wellness program to reduce sick days and lower your company's overall health insurance costs.

Cut out the excesses

If possible, try not to give employees unnecessary small tasks when they are focused on a more important goal. Look at the team's routine and see if there is anything you can cut out to give employees more time to focus on higher priority tasks.

For example, if employees have to write daily reports for their supervisors, but the supervisors usually don't have time to read them, consider reducing the word count. Doing something simply as a formality wastes valuable time that could be used to accomplish goals that actually help your business.

Train and develop employees

Reducing training, or doing away with it altogether, may seem like a good way to save the company time and money (learning on the job is known to be an effective way of training, after all). However, it can backfire. Forcing employees to learn their jobs on the fly can be extremely inefficient.

So, instead of letting employees try to do a task at random, without any guidance, take an extra day to teach them the skills needed for their job. This way, they will be able to complete their tasks on their own and you won't waste time answering simple questions or correcting mistakes.

After the initial training, encourage the ongoing development of employees. By helping them broaden their skills, you will create a much more advanced workforce, which will benefit your business in the long run. There are many ways to support employee development: one-on-one coaching, workshops, courses, seminars, shadowing or mentoring, or even simply increasing their responsibilities. By providing these opportunities, you will be giving employees additional skills that will improve their efficiency and productivity.

Adopt teleworking

Allowing your employees to work from home may seem inefficient - after all, how can you guarantee that they will always be productive if no one is watching them? But the reality is quite different (in fact, studies show that people who work from home are more productive than office workers). By allowing your employees to telework, you are saving them time that would otherwise be completely lost.

For example, suppose an employee feels too sick to come to work (or is simply afraid of making his or her colleagues sick) but can still be productive. If you don't allow them to work from home, they will be forced to take sick leave and not work at all. Or, forcing your employee to miss a whole day of work if they have to wait 2-4 hours to get their refrigerator fixed is simply not effective. Instead, allow your employee to work from home so that they can maximize the time they have available.

Give feedback to your colleagues

There is no hope of improving employee effectiveness if they don't know they are ineffective in the first place. That's why performance reviews are essential - measure your employees' performance and then hold one-to-one meetings to let them know where they are excelling and what they need to work on.

Improving employee effectiveness is not just about what they can do better - some of the responsibility is yours too. But just like your employees, you are not psychic. So, after reviewing your employees, ask them what you could do to help them improve. Perhaps they would like a little more guidance on certain tasks or a little more creative freedom. Asking for feedback not only gives you clear and immediate ways to help your employees improve, but also encourages a culture of open dialogue that will allow for continuous development over time.

See the big picture

Things that may seem like an inefficient use of time today can actually be to your advantage in the long run. So before you veto an apparent poor use of time, ask yourself how it could benefit your business.

Investing in HR software now can save your business - and your employees - countless hours in the long run. From automated integration to automated payroll, adopting HRIS technology will improve efficiency, reduce frustration and help your business grow.

By using a number of our efficiency tips, you can be sure you don't fall behind and put that extra hour to useful and productive use.

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