As a manager, business owner or some kind of a team leader, you’ve certainly asked yourself a question – can my team be more productive? Maybe you’ve tried implementing some kind of motivation, such as pay raises for the best performing employees, but you haven’t seen any continuous improvement in employees productivity.
Building productivity and building engagement are inseparable. According to the Gallup study, 13% of the American workforce is actively disengaged at work, and only this 13% is responsible for $450 to $550 billion per year in lost productivity. Add that only 34% of U.S. employees are actually engaged at work and you’ll start to see the enormous cost of unproductive and disengaged employees, that your company is paying every year.
Reasons for decreased productivity
Increasing employees productivity, as every problem-solving process, starts with a diagnosis. To find effective countermeasures to decreasing productivity in your company, you first have to identify the underlying causes of your problem.
How to identify the cause of employees productivity drop?
The easiest and the most effective way is to simply ask your employees what caused a decrease in productivity. However, speaking openly about what they dislike in their work and what makes them disengaged with their superior is probably not the best idea. It may be better to conduct an anonymous employee engagement survey. When creating a survey, remember to ask open questions and leave space for your employees to explain their dislikes.
The most common root causes for productivity decrease and possible solutions
To help you out with solving the productivity problem within your team and company, we gathered 9 most common causes for productivity drops and propositions of solutions to get you inspired to increase your team’s effectiveness.
Lack of appreciation
It’s not uncommon for employees to feel underappreciated. Probably you’ve felt so yourself at some point in your career. You don’t always have to show appreciation with monetary rewards, sometimes a simple “thank you” or a recognition of the good job will do.
Your employees aren’t feeling like a part of a bigger picture
Not feeling like a part of something bigger is detrimental for employees’ engagement and productivity. It makes your workers feel like their work has no purpose. When you do something without the sense of working towards achieving a goal bigger than just finishing the task itself, you just feel like you’re wasting time. If what you’re doing has no purpose, why do it at all? Make sure your employees know what the company mission, vision and goals are.
Lack of development opportunities
Apart from a decrease in productivity, lack of growth opportunities can lead even to turnaround! It extremely important to check-in on your staff to make sure that they feel challenged, and that the challenge is actually achievable.
Work is a great part of life. We spent most of our day at work, getting ready or on the way to our workplace. It’s crucial to allow your employees to have a life apart from work, for their psychological health and for your team’s productivity.
Toxic company culture/negative atmosphere
As covered in the previous point, we spent a lot of time at work, with many different people. It’s important to have a positive, compelling company culture that not only will help your existing employees get engaged with their work and your company and help you to retain them, but it will also get a lot easier to acquire new talents for your organization.
Micromanagement and not delegating responsibilities
When employees don’t feel the sense of ownership and responsibility, they’ll get disengaged and as a result – less productive. Instead of delegating tasks and trying to have every single detail under control, delegate responsibilities and be the helpful manager, who people turn to for advice.
Unclear expectations and lack/not useful feedback
If you want your employees to perform the best they can, you need to communicate clear what your expectations are and also deliver direct feedback. There are some methods of communication that might be helpful especially with the negative feedback.
The one I like the most is the Facts, Emotions, Consequences, Expectations method. It takes some practice to really master it, but the more you try and use it, the better you get and communication in your team improves.
So, how to use it?
When delivering feedback, first speak about the objective facts. For example, your employee made a mistake in an important report, that was sent to a client and you had to fix the report yourself on a tight schedule. You probably are very mad – that’s understandable, however, you should constitute for a good communication example. Don’t yell, just explain what happened, using only facts. So, it could sound like that: “Your last report was delivered with a big mistake. Our client didn’t like that.”.
Then, you should explain how you feel about that. For example: “I’m mad at you and I’m frustrated because I had to find the mistake and fix it”.
Next, you say about consequences that will take place, or if the reprimand is the only consequence, you skip this part.
You finish the feedback with communicating your expectations – such as: “I expect from you to double-check your future reports”.
After you’ve delivered the feedback it is very important to allow the other side to speak as well. They might want to defend themselves, apologize, ask questions – and you can’t strip them of that right.
Good communication plays a gigantic role in company culture and is crucial for engagement and productivity in the workplace.
Lack of tools needed to do the job and inadequate technologies
Technology and work tools are supposed to make employees’ lives and especially work easier, and not be another obstacle in their way. Using old, inadequate tools can be detrimental to productivity in two ways: it’s annoying and decreasing motivation and engagement, and it’s a pure waste of your employees’ time, that they could spend on work instead of fight with broken software or tool.
Too many distractions and lack of work flexibility
Some tasks and projects require more focus than others. We all know it, however, we also know that in business everything should be done by yesterday, and everything is extremely important, so we tend to interrupt the deep work of our colleagues. The solution to this problem may be the idea of time blocking – to actually block the time in the calendars of your employees that they’ll use for deep work and focus.
Increasing productivity can be difficult…
… but it’s important to avoid the cost of unproductive employees. Start solving the problem with gathering data, analyzing root causes and then, implementing the right solutions. We’ve shared with you the most common causes and solutions of the productivity problem – maybe you’ve encountered some we didn’t cover in this article?
Don’t hesitate to share it in the comments down below!