It can be an everyday battle in some organisations: managers trying to improve the productivity of their employees.

Employees in the United States work 45 hours a week on average, yet they deem about 16 of those hours as unproductive, according to research by Microsoft. That means that employees are wasting just over a third of their working time each and every week! Just think how much could be added to the bottom line with just a 20% improvement in that figure.

Of course there’s no one single reason for wasting time. Perhaps there’s a lack of motivation, does procrastination rule, or is it just that the processes within the organisation are inefficient and cumbersome?

All businesses want to improve their employee productivity. So, if your team is in the doldrums, here are five tips to work smarter, more efficiently and boost productivity.


1. “We’re changing the world with technology.” – Bill Gates

Use technology to your advantage and provide your employees with the tools they need to do their job more efficiently. Devices like laptops and tablets, smart phones, cloud computing, Bluetooth, wireless internet, and a GPS can all help speed up how long it takes to get the job done. They avoid duplication of effort and make the running of the business smoother.

2. “The productivity of a work group seems to depend on how the group members set their own goals in relation to the goals of the organisation.” – Ken Blanchard

Make your employees accountable by encouraging them to communicate their goals and objectives at the start of the week.

This can be done by writing them down on post-it notes and sticking them on a team goal board, emailing them to team members, or using an on-line social sharing platform. Some on-line social sharing platforms also allow employees to instantly recognise each other, and gives managers real-time data on staff performance, helping them keep track of productivity.

3. “Everyone wants to be appreciated, so if you appreciate someone; don’t keep it secret.” – Mary Kay Ash

Managers can inspire employees to greater productivity gains by implementing arecognition scheme. Letting someone know they’ve done a great job, and sharing it with the rest of the business, not only inspires the employee but it also inspires their co-workers onto bigger and better things.

4. “Reward worthy failure – Experimentation.” – Bill Gates

In most business failure is not an option, yet this culture and the resulting fear of failure may mean that employees are unwilling to voice and try new ideas.

If your employees are allowed to experiment with new ideas, without the fear/pressure of failing, it can result in huge productivity gains due to increased employee engagementand potentially new, more efficient processes and procedures.

5. “Don’t encourage overtime. Tell your people that the best way to impress you is to do a great job in the time allotted for it and then go home and relax.” – The Mafia Manager

People can be sceptical about the productivity benefits of shortening the working week, but 37Signals, a software company that produces Basecamp, only makes their employees work 32-hour weeks, and achieves a higher productivity rate which mitigates the reduced working week.

Obviously this wouldn’t work for all businesses but you certainly wouldn’t be alone – a study by the Families and Work Institute in a 2012, revealed that just over 1 in 3 companies allowed their employees to work a four-day week by lengthening the work day.

And finally, never forget…

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning and focused effort.” – Paul J. Meyer