Have you found your team struggling to hit objectives? Or perhaps you’ve noticed that everyone is more sluggish overall. If this sounds familiar, then it’s likely your team is working harder, not smarter.
The best way to maximize your employees’ potential and reduce burnout is by looking for prime areas for streamlining. So, continue reading for tips and tricks to increase workplace efficiency.
1. Gamify to Motivate
Gamification refers to the parts of games that entice players to keep going and play more. These things include leveling up, hitting achievements, and rewards. And as it turns out, these characteristics work just as well for improving efficiency in the workplace. To implement this at your work, consider adding incentives for reaching certain milestones or creating a leaderboard.
Even those who are usually immune to incentives may be enticed at the prospect of climbing the board. And never over-promise; only include bonuses that you can provide.
2. Rethink Meetings
Meetings are a great way to sync up with your team and disseminate important information. But, hold too many of them and you risk diminishing returns on productivity. A survey found that two-thirds of employees find that excessive meetings detract from their work.
To remedy this, you must change the way you look at meetings. To start, whittle down the invitations to include only those who are absolutely essential. When scheduling, be sure to look beyond your workday and consider the best time for your team to meet.
And remember, while collaboration is a vital part of any productive workforce, meetings are not the only way to accomplish this. So get creative with ways to reach out and invite idea-sharing. Better yet, survey the group to find out what times and meeting styles would work best for everyone.
3. Divide and Conquer Your To-Do List
A wall of tasks presents a daunting obstacle to the finish line. This is why one of the most effective time management tips is to batch to-do list items in small groups to be done together. To organize, it’s best to take a bird’s eye look at your list to find any patterns or similarities.
As an example, a possible category can be communications if you have a few tasks involving getting in touch with others.
For an added systemization bonus, estimate how much time it would take to complete each group as you make them and note it on the list. Then, go against every extinct and schedule your day around finishing the most time-consuming tasks first. Think of it this way; when you fill your day with sand, you’ll have no room for boulders.
4. Remember That Priority Is a Singular Word
These days, people are always talking about their priorities, but unfortunately, that word doesn’t exist. You see, the word priority is singular, and it means to come first. And if you have multiple things in that first spot, it’s not really first anymore, is it?
Furthermore, having more than one priority means your focus is fragmented instead of wholly focused on one thing. As a result, everything suffers. So instead, choose one thing that’s critical for completion by the end of the day.
If you finish it early, you can assign a new task to priority status, or you can simply pat yourself on the back for a job well done and continue working on everything else in your docket.
5. Streamline Processes with Automation
Your workplace is probably clogged with a bevy of time-consuming and tedious minor tasks that divert attention from important projects. So, anything that doesn’t require your or your teams’ special skills or expertise should be sent to automation.
For example, hiring a new employee involves hours of forms, credentialing, and verifications. At some companies, a new hire can expect to spend the better part of their first day buried in paperwork. For the employer, much time is spent away from focused work.
Luckily, you can automate this with easy onboarding software enabling your new hire to read and sign from the comfort of home.
6. Implement Process Mapping
If your office is like most others, there are archaic systems in place that are only still around because “it’s the way things have always been done.” Unfortunately, they’re often obstacles to workplace flow.
Process mapping is a way to reduce redundancies by mapping out step-by-step how a specific process is completed. There are several types of process maps, but the simplest one to start with is a basic flow chart. To try this out, start with the system that is most obviously due for an overhaul and then outline the steps.
Be sure to actually go through the process as you write the steps to be thorough. In doing so, the parts that don’t work will be illuminated. Then, once you’re fully mapped out and identify the bottlenecks, you can find ways to solve those problems.
7. Achievable Goals and Attainable Targets
When you set near-impossible targets to reach, morale and, consequently, productivity will suffer. Alternatively, set reasonable goals. You can use data from previous years to determine the benchmarks, then put your targets in that ballpark.
And, be careful not to stray too far from previous measurables.
However, on the flip side of the coin, you don’t want to lack ambition in your plans. People will meet the bar wherever you put it, even if it’s two inches off the floor.
8. Take a Closer Look at Your Office Culture
Sometimes it’s not time management skills lacking; it’s a poor work environment. If going to work every day is an employee’s idea of fresh hell, then you can’t expect them to deliver the goods. Find out if your office is suffering from a case of lousy culture by creating a genuinely anonymous survey that will allow your team to be honest about what it’s like working for you.
However, it’s more than the culture that contributes to workplace satisfaction; it’s also the literal environment. So invest in ways to bring comfort and ease to the space. This might mean changing out harsh overhead lighting for warmer, calmer bulbs
9. Become a Master Communicator
If you’re not concise in how you convey deliverables, your team will never be able to meet your expectations. For this, remember that every goal is a story. And just like a story, there is a who, what, when, and how- just like they taught you in grade school.
Who is responsible for this project, what are the expectations, when is the target date, and how can it be achieved?
But, being a great communicator is more than setting goals. This vital skill also comes into play when giving feedback, one of the most important aspects of any leadership position. Be clear when reviewing your teammates’ work, and provide touchstones for improvement.
10. Not All Messages Require an Immediate Response
The easiest workplace efficiency tip you can implement right away is learning how to identify the messages that require an immediate response and those that can wait. Only you can create the parameters for what is urgent and what’s not, but you’ll likely find that most of what’s in your inbox can wait. Then, schedule two or three times a day to go through the rest of your messages.
During these allotted times, scan through your emails for any recognizable senders that you think need a same-day response. Then, search for any that you can respond to in 30 seconds or less. When you reach the end of your pre-set time limit, stop and migrate anything that didn’t make the cut to the following day.
And if you really want to get a handle on your inbox, use the filtering and filing tools that your email provider includes to label and file emails as they arrive automatically.
11. Avoid Burnout
Burnout is a very real problem recently classified as an occupational phenomenon by the newest edition of the International Classification of Disorders. It’s marked by decreased efficiency, withdrawal from work, and a negative outlook on employer relations.
This is why an essential part of time management is knowing when to take a break. But perhaps even more important is learning how to recognize when your team needs one. To prevent employee burnout, encourage your employees to use their vacation time and promote a healthy work-life balance.
12. Model Behavior
As a leader, the best way to effectuate change is to model the change you want to see. People look to their leadership to set not only an example but also the tone of the office. For example, if you’re spouting an ethos of teamwork and connectivity, but you never model working with others, or you’re absent from the day-to-day grind, the rest of the team will ignore the team goals and follow your lead instead.
This also applies to introducing new processes. For example, suppose you worked somewhere that was training everyone on how to use new time-keeping software, but the old guard refused to learn the system or change. In this case, it wouldn’t be long before everyone reverted to their old ways.
13. Organize Your Workspace
The saying is true: a cluttered desk equals a cluttered mind, which extends to the rest of the workspace. If when you’re at your desk, you find it hard to focus, the stuff that’s on it (and around it!) might be to blame. This is because even our eyes need a place to rest.
You can create those moments of rest by ensuring there are empty spaces to provide a visual resting place. Create homes for stationary and any tools you need, and hide paperwork in opaque folders so they can be out of sight and mind until you need to look at them again.
To go the extra mile, put away any calendars or to-do lists when engaged in deep work to avoid distractions of other upcoming projects.
14. Energize Your Team with Incentives
One of the best ways to increase worker productivity is to incentivize it. However, when creating incentives, you have to make sure that they are as generous as you can realistically afford, or no one will bite. Keep in mind generous doesn’t necessarily mean expensive.
The two most essential factors in an incentive’s effectiveness are if the offer is something meaningful and if its value aligns with the monetary value of the target. Knowing your employees well makes this easy work. For example, a five-dollar gift card to a local coffee shop might seem like a cheap incentive unless you were offering it for an easy target to a group of espresso fanatics.
15. Create a Robust Training Program
A new hire presents the best opportunity you have for instilling your company’s values and work ethic at the onset of their employment. A well-thought-out training program provides the building blocks for everything your new hire needs to know to thrive in the workplace. It should also anticipate any potential roadblocks, questions, or confusion and answer them in advance.
When your training is top-notch, your new hires will be ready to hit the ground running on their first day. But without it, there will be countless lost hours while they try to figure everything out on their own and will inevitably learn the “wrong way” from a certified non-trainer.
Choose the Workplace Efficiency Tips That Work Best For Your Business
Remember, your employees are humans, not machines. So when it comes to workplace efficiency, you shouldn’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. Again, know your audience, and what will work for them and what won’t.
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