If we look for the word “productivity” in any dictionary, we would probably find the following description: “The state of being able to generate, create, enhance or bring forth goods and services.” As we can see from this sentence, productivity is the single most important asset your startup needs to possess in order to carve its way into the market.
Alas, being deeply rooted in human psychology, reaching a high level of productivity can’t always be achieved through quick fixes and “efficiency” upgrades. In order to be sustainable and built on healthy foundations, productivity needs to be nourished and encouraged at all instances of your business.
Here are a couple of obvious and less obvious ways this can be accomplished.
Keep everything written down
Organizing thoughts has never been an easy task – we can all look at ourselves, for example. Fortunately, this common productivity poison has a very efficient cure coming in the form of notes, to-do lists, and tight schedules. As an employer, you can take care of the latter two – make sure to be as detailed and clear as possible, and have your instructions displayed on all important points throughout the premises. As for the notes, your job will be to encourage your employees to write everything down and share their thoughts with the rest of their teams.
Say “Yes” to pets
This may sound odd but pets are actually a huge performance booster. Namely, the recent study from the Virginia Commonwealth University found that bringing dogs to work can reduce workplace stress and improve employee satisfaction. Although these two things alone are already great foundations for sustainable productivity, nearly half of the participants declared they saw an increase in their productivity, while some of them reported better co-worker cooperation. It is also worth noting that Millennials are more attracted to pet-friendly companies.
Reduce the paperwork
Keeping the information stored on physical media like paper has some benefits, but creates an incredible amount of busywork that, in turn, creates the illusion of productivity. Printing, storing the files, organizing the storage, retrieving the information… All these things can be easily avoided if you simply give way to digital documents that can be safely stored and easily retrieved from the cloud. Running a startup gives you a distinct opportunity to build your company from the ground up around this digital infrastructure – be sure not to miss it.
Give your employees an opportunity to recharge
Break rooms are not an entirely new thing. But, are poorly lit spaces populated with old magazines and basic kitchen items the environment where our employees can truly rejuvenate? No, not really. So consider subjecting your free space to some of the affordable commercial gym fitouts and giving your employees a place where they can blow off some steam and receive a daily dose of dopamine. Or, you can give them a place where they can pleasantly chat while playing video games. How about combining the two into one comprehensive space where everyone can have fun and relax?
Make your workspace more Zen
Of course, as beneficial as these recharge rooms are, your employees should get a healthy dose of enjoyment from their work environment as well. Therefore, your goal will be to make the workspace more calming and relaxing. Some of the most efficient ways to accomplish that are allowing more natural light inside, populating the premises with lively indoor plants, modern office supplies, reducing the levels of noise, and installing a couple of calming water features. Having a quiet room where your workers can meditate is also highly preferable.
Introduce flexible scheduling
Although it has become the golden standard of the business world, the 9-to-5 time slot is not the most effective scheduling slot in existence. Such a slot might not even exist. Individual productivity is affected by a number of different factors that can’t be abstracted for bigger groups of people. So, in order to utilize your employees’ individual peaks most efficiently, you should allow them the ability to choose their own work hours. If they feel more comfortable working late hours or even from home, they should be given the opportunity.
Make your workspace fluid
Over the last couple of years, there has been much talk about open offices. And truly, unlike the restrictive cubicles, open workspace allows much more freedom for interaction and collaboration. On the other hand, recent surveys suggest that as much as 25% of employees feel dissatisfied in such an environment and the amount of labor lost each day due to distractions caused by open offices amounts to 86 minutes. The solution to this problem can be found in leveraging the strengths of both these setups and allowing your employees to transition to different workstations as they see fit.
Establish strong leadership
“I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.” These words by Alexander the Great should illustrate just how important strong leadership is for the success of one organization. And they are backed by real-life stats. According to a recent survey, as much as 35% of Australian workers see poor leadership as one of the most stressful parts of their job. So, do your best to turn yourself and your management into a group of people your employees can trust, express their problems to and rally behind.
Leverage the power of carrot and stick
Finally, we need to be clear about something. Positive reinforcement is a much stronger motivator than fear. If you want your employees to flourish, you need to establish a consistent system of rewards that will give them an incentive to constantly improve their results and maintain a high level of productivity. However, they also need to be aware of the deadlines and know what the consequences of breaking them are. If you manage to successfully employ these two motivators, your workers will create self-imposed deadlines and there will be very little need for course-correction on your behalf.
We hope these six tips gave you a couple of useful ideas on how to keep your workforce properly motivated and productive. The great thing about the startups is that they are still in their inceptions. The practices that encourage healthy workplace culture and, as a result, encourage productivity can be laid in their foundations.
Don’t miss this opportunity. The longer your business goes in the wrong direction, the harder it will be to set it back on track.
If you enjoyed this piece, be sure to check out Lessons Learned Starting An Unplanned Business