A study published by Gallup found a direct correlation between employee engagement and company revenues. According to their report, actively disengaged employees cost American businesses anywhere between $450 to $550 billion in revenues each year. Increasing engagement contributes to greater productivity which, in turn, contributes to higher revenues.
Employers must, however, also account for the risks associated with burnout. According to one report, American employers spend more than $300 billion each year due to health care and missed workdays arising from worker burnout. Ideally, businesses must seek to improve productivity and efficiency without increasing work stress and affecting the employee’s morale.
Build Teams Progressively
One of the biggest reasons why employees face stress and burnout is because of poor team management. This results in instances where employees face uncertainty about their roles and responsibilities. Also, this leads to conflicts due to multiple power centers within a team. Consequently, a lot of energy is expended on issues that do not directly contribute to productivity.
Ideally, every business team should go through four distinct stages of development—Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. In the Forming stage, employees rely on their leader for guidance and direction. This is followed by the Storming stage where various workers try to establish themselves and, in the process, form cliques and factions. This eventually leads to agreements and consensus during the Norming stage, which is a necessary precursor to Performing. In the absence of these distinct stages, it is difficult for members to identify with their roles and perform according to plan. The result—poor productivity.
Reduce Layers in Decision-Making
Leadership styles can have a profound impact in the way employees work and this, in turn, impacts productivity. Micromanaging your employees may seem like a logical move to make sure that any deviations from project requirements are identified and nipped in the early stages.
However, such a leadership style communicates to employees that their instincts are not trusted. As a result, employees tend to inundate their managers for approvals and help. This clogs the system and brings productivity down. Strategy consultant Sarah Hoban recommends a three-step process to manage people without them knowing it.
Firstly, set expectations on what requires your input. This trains workers to think critically and make project decisions themselves. Secondly, reinforce your expectations, and force your employees to make decisions. Finally, teach them how to identify problems, assess the root causes and fix them—all by themselves.
These steps help reduce the layers in decision-making and can dramatically improve turnaround times on projects.
Train and Automate
Automating redundant work tasks help improve productivity in more ways than one. In addition to freeing up your employee hours, automating redundant tasks also helps avoid burnout caused by monotonous and repetitive tasks. This way, employees are more productive in tasks where they can add real value.
However, simply automating tasks alone is not adequate. Automation costs money and freeing up employee time without a clear strategy to improve productivity only ends up costing a business more money than it can make.
Automation should be tied to a proper employee training program. Reskilling and upskilling workers to perform high value tasks can help an organization raise the returns on their human resources expense. This strategy enables a business to grow its revenues manifold without a significant addition in workforce.
Extracting greater value from your workforce does not necessarily mean overworking your employees. The strategies mentioned above should enable an organization to chart the right path to increasing workplace productivity while keeping employees happy and satisfied in their role.
Anand Srinivasan is the founder of Hubbion, a suite of free business apps and resources.