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Crack the Whip or Cajole the Procrastinator? How to Help Your Employees Be More Productive at Work

Presenting the numbersProductivity is a huge issue for every business. The less productive your employees are, the lower your profits are going to be. This doesn’t mean, though, that you have to be a slave driver. In fact, sometimes, some simple encouragement and adjustments to your business operations are more than enough to get the job done. Last year we talked about a couple of things employers can do to increase office productivity. Here are a few more examples of how you can encourage your employees to stay on task and get more done each day.

Encourage Employees to Take Breaks

This might seem counter intuitive, but it works. A study highlighted in Forbes Magazine showed that almost sixty percent of employees surveyed said that breaks helped them focus, improved their morale and boosted their energy levels. When employers discouraged breaks by rewarding those who eschewed them, morale dropped and stress levels rose. You’ve undoubtedly experienced this yourself: when you get blocked or burnt out, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to get up and walk away from your desk for a few minutes.

Make Sure They Have the Right Tools for the Job

Let’s say you run a financial planning business. You know your advisors are great but more often than not their meetings run long because they have to spend a lot of time doing simple calculations or looking up statistics for people whose retirements might not be exactly straightforward. Retirement planning tools can save you a bunch of time in both answering questions and getting the statistics they need to ensure that a client’s bases are properly covered. Tools like this (or whatever might be good for your industry) save time and allow your employees to help more clients each day. This increases their productivity and your profits.

Pay Your People Properly

You need to look no further than Costco for evidence that paying your people well is good for the company. Costco employees—even the newest and lowest ranked—earn more than any other employees in their industry. This is just one factor in why Costco has been heralded as one of the best companies to work for in the whole country. The fact that higher paid employees are happier and more productive is easy to witness first hand. All you have to do is compare your Costco shopping experience to your Walmart shopping experience. Costco, and other companies like Trader Joes, Mercadona, etc prove that you can raise wages without raising prices, writes Jessica Weisberg.

This is not just true in the retail industry. It is true of every industry. Pay your workers a fair and livable wage and you’ll increase productivity, loyalty and your profits. It’s guaranteed.

Make Your Employees Accountable

The best way to do this is to set up very clear cut goals and expectations for your employees so that they know what you want from them and they know both the consequences and rewards of not meeting them. That last part is important. In addition to potentially punishing someone for not doing well (taking away responsibility, not giving as high a raise at evaluation time, etc) you must reward people for meeting your expectations and, should your expectations be exceeded? That reward needs to grow accordingly. If people operate only in a system of fear, their morale will drop. The reward acts as incentive to do well.

How do you motivate your employees when you want to increase productivity? Are you a whip cracker, a cajoler or a briber?

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