Productivity. It is the steady hum that keeps a business thriving at a clip. Highly productive business owners often run substantially more productive businesses, as leadership’s efficient and effective approach in addressing daily tasks tends to trickle down throughout an organization. In turn, improved productivity and streamlined processes can translate into reduced operational costs, increased revenue, and enhanced competitiveness in the marketplace.
Savvy business owners should make productivity a priority, both personally and throughout the companies they run. While the concept appears pretty straightforward, many business owners find the term ambiguous and are thus plagued by common productivity gremlins covertly adding inefficiencies throughout their companies.
Understanding the mannerisms and habits related to poor productivity is key in developing smarter, more efficient workflows and best practices for you and your business.
The following are the top three impediments to productivity in businesses today.
Inadequate Communication. Lack of clarity is an efficiency thief. It is also a key driver in poor performance, an inability to identify and reach goals, and ultimately the granddaddy of all business downers – lost revenue.
When communication channels are absent or broken between leadership, management, and employees, the entire system lacks clear direction on best practices, next steps, new initiatives, and other preferred efficiencies. From a human resources perspective, that missing clarity often leads to uncertainty, misunderstanding, stress, low morale, and a markedly dissatisfying company culture.
What you can do about it: Ambiguity is the enemy of a successful business. As a business owner, you should state and reinforce your vision, goals, and expectations constantly.
Consider an open-door policy for one-on-ones. Publish a monthly newsletter that includes best practices, company goals, and KPIS so employees can take ownership and understand the importance of their contributions. Praise performance often and loudly. Create productivity thinktanks with your management team and top performers.
Read “Tips for Setting Effective KPIs.”
Multitasking. One of the biggest barriers to business productivity is trying to do too many things at once. A Stanford University study suggests that multitasking actually decreases productivity by up to 40%. Now spread that across your entire business to truly appreciate how damaging multitasking can be to your bottom line.
Attempting to perform multiple tasks at the same time is often standard operating procedure for business owners who are used to wearing multiple hats in their companies. But research shows those multitasking business owners are not performing at the level that they think they are. Hopping between tasks may feel like an economical and efficient use of time, but in reality it increases the likelihood of errors, hampers creativity and innovation, and ultimately crushes overall productivity.
What you can do about it: Embrace the concept of monotasking or single-tasking, in which you direct your attention to only one activity at a time. This might be harder than it sounds, particularly for stretched business owners. But by concentrating on a single activity at a time, you increase focus and retention, reduce errors, improve the quality of work, and ultimately increase productivity. Explain and reinforce the importance of monotasking with your management teams and employees.
Poor Policy Enforcement. While most companies have workplace and performance policies in place, far too many businesses simply don’t enforce them. Codes of conduct related to attendance, attire, and other interoffice dynamics are often overlooked until they become part of a larger issue. But consistency matters. By not applying work rules and governance evenly and consistently, productivity often suffers.
Some of the more obvious examples of this are start times, extended lunch breaks, and jumping the gun on checking out for the day. Are a couple of minutes really that big of a deal?
Let’s break it down. Suppose you have a staff of 20, each making $25 per hour. Now imagine each employee squeezes an extra five minutes out of their lunchbreak and cuts out five minutes early each day. That totals two full hours of lost time across the board every single workday. Extend that annually, and those few minutes add up to $13,000 in monetary losses each year. And that doesn’t even include the actual negative impact to productivity, which can be exponentially more expensive.
Beyond these easily-trackable costs, poor or inconsistent policy enforcement can have an enormous negative impact on productivity due to employee discontent regarding unequal application of rules. Unhappy employees tend to be less productive.
What you can do about it: Create an employee handbook that outlines policies, procedures, and expectations. Make it a focal point of your employee onboarding process. Then stick to the rules and apply them consistently and evenly.
While there is no absolute formula for productivity, addressing the most common barriers to efficiencies in your business is sure to positively impact your entire organization.