Everyone who owns a business is obsessed with productivity, and rightfully so. It's just basic math that if your business is more productive you bring in more revenue. The question then becomes how do you make your employees more productive?
Let's take a look at four ways to get your employees to be more productive while also giving them a better quality of life.
1. Recognize result, not effort.
As I've written about before, there is a pervasive "hustle culture" that venerates working overly long hours and pushing oneself to the limit. Don't make it cool to work long hours. Rather, design a system that is results-driven.
In our company, we use objectives and key results (OKR) to measure if we are accomplishing our goals. Using OKR has been great because it makes people focus on what matters. It also helps with prioritization. You can easily figure out what needs to be taken care of immediately and what to and deal with later.
2. Encourage a healthy lifestyle.
An active body is an active mind. Several studies have shown the link between regular physical activity and brain health. Exercise and keeping fit helps with memory, concentration, mental health, creativity and cognitive ability as you age.
Whether you opt for a wellness program or you start a softball team or build a mini-gym in your facility, it's a good idea to help your employees get active, especially if your business is office-based. Get your employees to ditch the desk for some fun in the sun once in a while to keep them sharp and productive.
You can even get more involved in your employees' well being by providing them with tests to voluntarily check the levels of their hormones that are tied to stress like cortisol. This is something we provide for employees at our own company and many of them take advantage of it.
3. Give your employees autonomy.
If you want your employees to be productive, you have to give them room to work their own way without the dreaded micromanagement. That means delegating responsibilities to them and trusting them to carry out the duties prescribed to them.
It goes beyond just delegating to them, though. They should also have the freedom to take initiative and do things they think will be good for the company even if they end up making a mistake.
In our company we try to seed the notion with employees that it is better to do something and ask for permission later if they believe something needs to be done rather than not take action they believe is necessary because they were too afraid of making a mistake.
4. Don't ignore bad habits.
Accountability is the great equalizer. You cannot ignore someone's bad habits and make excuses for them just because they are a good performer and bring in results. Things like not showing up on time, not filling out their OKRs or reports, not acting in a professional or kind way, or something more serious need to be dealt with even if it's your top performer.
This tells other employees that it's a level playing field and no matter their results, they are expected to still carry themselves in a professional way. This kind of accountability makes everyone buy into the company more, increasing productivity.
Believe it or not, we've even seen companies that ignore drug addiction from a top performer because they covet the revenue a top performer brings in more than they believe in setting a good example.
We get calls from companies all the time that have established workplace drug testing policies and are supposed to have zero tolerance policies for drug use. But, when they find out their star employee has failed a drug test for things like cocaine or prescription drug abuse they try to find ways to accommodate these high achieving employees by giving them extra opportunities or finding ways around taking action.
This is fine, if that is what the company policy says. Some companies choose to try and support a person with a drug habit to help them ultimately break that habit. The trouble lies when this is done unevenly. Sometimes companies will be quick to let go of one employee who has tested positive for drugs while giving a star employee more leeway.
Beyond the possible legal consequences it is just not a good look for the company to play favorites like this. People get disheartened if one or a group of employees is seen as getting preferential treatment. If you want to have increased productivity, you have to have equal accountability in your organization and that means you don't ignore bad habits regardless of how good an employee is.