Joe Peters

Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate tech enthusiast. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie enjoys reading about latest apps and gadgets and binge-watching his favorite TV shows. You can reach him @bmorepeters

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5 Ways Small Businesses Can Improve Employee Productivity

Joe Peters

August 27, 2018

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Employee productivity is important in any business, but may be even more critical in a small business. Larger businesses may have several employees that all perform the same tasks. When some employees are more productive than others, it can balance things out so everything gets covered. In a small business, however, employees often have several responsibilities and no one to cover for them if they aren't performing optimally. Conversely, however, it is also often easier to spot underperforming employees in a small business. There are also a number of ways in which small business owners can actually improve employee productivity across the board. Here are 5.


1. Move to the Cloud

Cloud collaboration offers small businesses a number of advantages. It can facilitate remote work, which can cut down significantly on office expenses. Numerous studies have also shown that remote workers are far more productive than their office-bound counterparts. Since many cloud programs are also subscription based, it gives small businesses a great deal of flexibility when it comes to adding new staff or using seasonal workers. Services such as Microsoft Office 365 with OneDrive also allows workers to access important documents and other files directly from a phone, tablet, laptop or other devices. This means they can get what they need from wherever they are in addition to sharing important documents on the go as well.


2. Encourage Breaks

When it comes to productivity, there is a tendency to believe that maximizing your time involves finding ways to pack more work into your day. In truth, however, human beings can only focus effectively for a certain period before we need a break. Taking that break, however, can help us actually focus more effectively which has the effect of making us more productive in the long run. There are a number of different tools and techniques you can encourage employees to use such as the Pomodoro technique. None of these techniques will be effective, however, if your employees feel you frown on taking breaks. Taking regular breaks is an important part of being productive. One of the best ways you can encourage this behavior in your employees is to take regular breaks yourself.


3. Have Fun

Another misconception about productivity is that it is achieved by constantly focusing on work. There is little doubt that Google is one of the most successful companies on the planet. In part, this may be due to every one of their spectacular offices including not only recreational areas such as game rooms or basketball courts, but also plain old fun features like a slide. Having fun doesn't have to mean redesigning your entire office, but it can mean playing games with your employees or having a daily trivia question.


4. Provide the Right Tools

One thing to remember about human beings is that we are all different. Some people wake up raring to go and do their best work before the sun is up while others don't get all their cylinders firing until well after noon. Some people come up with their best ideas in peace and quiet or while listening to a certain type of music, while others find lively brainstorming sessions provide the best creative sparks. Some people are super tech savvy and find digital list and planning tools to be invaluable while others find there's nothing like putting a good old-fashioned pen to paper. The point is, we all have different tools that help us give our best and do our best. What works best for you doesn't always work as well for your employees. Rather than forcing them to use tools that work well for you, encourage them to find the tools that work best for them and then provide them what they need to do their best work.


5. Collaborate Carefully

We tend to place a high value on the idea of teamwork or collaboration over individual effort. While teamwork and collaboration can certainly be valuable, too much of a good thing generally isn't. Recent research shows that today's employees are often spending at least 50% of their time participating in collaborative activities with their bosses or managers and in some cases can spend up to 80% of their time on collaborative activities. The question is how much is actually being accomplished during these collaboration sessions and whether two people spending an hour working separately can actually accomplish far more than two people working together for an hour? If not managed carefully, collaboration sessions can quickly eat up valuable time that could potentially be better spent doing other things.


Wrapping Up

One thing to keep in mind about small businesses is that small business owners tend to be far more visible than the CEO or other C-Suite executives in a larger company. This means that your employee productivity is going to largely be influenced by your own. One of the best things that small business owners can do to help increase productivity is to be constantly working to maximize their own productivity. Sometimes this means doing more, but in many cases, it actually means doing less. Concepts like the Pareto Principle can help increase productivity by helping you choose the most valuable tasks to perform each day and finding a way to get rid of the rest. As you find your own personal productivity increasing, you may be surprised the effect this can have on the productivity of your employees.


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