With so many articles about productivity focusing on life hacks and time management methods like the Pomodoro technique, you might think of workplace productivity as an individual’s responsibility. Isn’t it the employee’s job to ensure they get enough sleep, avoid social media during the workday, and stay on top of their to-do list?
But workplace productivity is about more than individual employee productivity. It’s about creating a work environment that empowers your team members to get more done in less time. Here’s what HR professionals need to know about workplace productivity and how to use business process automation to increase productivity levels.
What Is Workplace Productivity?
Workplace productivity is a way of measuring the amount of work you get done and the amount of time it takes to do it. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics uses an “index of real output” divided by “hours worked” to calculate labor productivity.
Of course, what constitutes high productivity will vary depending on your industry and business goals. In some cases, it might make sense to focus on business efficiency metrics such as operational efficiency or financial efficiency.
In other cases, you may want to improve a team’s productivity by using better tools or more effective project management techniques.
At the organizational level, HR professionals will want to look for ways to optimize the onboarding process, facilitate teamwork, and increase employee retention.
It’s important to remember that getting more done isn’t the goal in itself. You may be able to improve productivity by doing less — by streamlining workflows, eliminating unnecessary tasks, and automating recurring tasks or business processes.
3 Benefits of Improved Workplace Productivity
Whether you’re looking for a minor upgrade or a full reset, here’s why it’s a good idea to take stock of your workplace productivity levels and make improvements.
1. Increased Profitability
In simplest terms, higher productivity levels typically lead to increased profitability. That isn’t always a given — cramming more paperwork into the workday won’t necessarily lead to higher profits — but it can lead to increased output and financial efficiency.
For example, a more productive HR team can onboard new employees faster, spend less time on paperwork, and direct their efforts at employee engagement.
2. Improved Company Culture
Focusing on individual productivity levels can be a recipe for burnout and overwhelm as employees feel pressure to get more done faster. But by emphasizing overall workplace productivity, you can improve employee well-being and encourage teamwork.
When work expectations are realistic and workflows make sense, employees feel more engaged in their job and are more likely to perform high-quality work.
3. More Flexibility
More efficient systems give your employees more options for when and where to work, expanding your talent pool beyond your physical workspace. Although in-person work has its purpose, working from home at least some of the time can improve workplace productivity and support work-life balance, according to Forbes.
As you refine your systems, you can make even bigger changes, such as transitioning to a four-day workweek, further cutting costs and eliminating busywork.
5 Strategies to Increase Productivity in the Workplace
Increasing workplace productivity isn’t just a matter of turning up the dial so that things move at a faster pace. Employees who feel rushed or stressed at work are more likely to run out of steam or make mistakes, ultimately lowering productivity levels.
Follow these five strategies to improve workplace productivity more effectively.
1. Remove Distractions
First, take stock of your workspace and eliminate as many distractions as possible. Do you have an open-plan office, or a Slack channel where everyone posts their favorite memes all day? You don’t want to be heavy-handed and take all the fun out of the office, but you can set reasonable expectations to limit distractions.
Encourage employees to turn off notifications as much as possible, and to avoid using social media during the workday. Set limits on the size and frequency of meetings so employees don’t get drawn into meetings that don’t have a clear purpose.
Asking employees to do a lot of things at once can make them appear productive, but multitasking can lead to reduced productivity and increase the risk of errors.
2. Use the Right Productivity Tools
Don’t leave it to your employees to create their own to-do lists: Use a centralized task management system so everyone’s on the same page. Not only will you get reminders and notifications about upcoming tasks, you’ll get greater visibility into how much time each task requires so you can see whether any team members are overworked.
The same goes for time-tracking and time management tools. While trying to squeeze productivity out of every last minute may be overkill, automatic time-tracking and leave of absence management software can help you keep track of each employee’s work time and plan ahead for upcoming schedule changes or absences.
3. Encourage Work-Life Balance
We’ve already seen how employee well-being is linked to workplace productivity, but what does work-life balance look like in practice? For some businesses, it may mean providing a flexible work arrangement so employees can work from home or take an extended leave of absence if they need to.
But you don’t have to have a remote work policy to improve the employee experience. Scheduling in frequent breaks, providing reasonable accommodation under the ADA, and supporting employees’ mental health needs can all make a difference.
4. Increase Automation
One of the best ways to improve workplace productivity is to automate tasks that don’t need to be performed by a human. This can include basic tasks such as scheduling meetings or sending out emails, but it can extend to more complex processes like onboarding new employees or approving a leave of absence.
Recurring and repetitive tasks are prime candidates for automation, as are common HR tasks such as employee benefits enrollment. You can streamline these processes even further by providing employees with templates or pre-filling paperwork with information that you already have, so they don’t have to fill it out by hand.
5. Provide Mentoring and Support
Digitizing and automating your HR systems can increase workplace productivity, but be careful not to eliminate the human touch. In particular, new hires who work from home may find it more challenging to learn new skills or get to know their colleagues.
Automate the onboarding processing to simplify and standardize training materials, but be sure to offer personal support when necessary too. Frequent performance reviews and mentorship programs can give new employees a chance to address knowledge gaps or workplace issues that are impacting their performance.
You can use a performance improvement plan to address productivity issues, or a reward-based system to acknowledge high-performing team members.
Streamline HR Processes With Pulpstream
Improving workplace productivity can save your organization time and money, and lead to a stronger sense of teamwork and work-life balance. But productivity isn’t just about getting more done. You’ll want to take a closer look to determine which tasks add the most value to your business, and which workflows you can streamline or automate.
Often, the best place to start is in the human resources department, due to its outsized role in shaping company culture and fostering good employee relations.
Pulpstream makes it easy to automate HR processes with our no-code, cloud-based human resources platform. From filling out digital FMLA forms to tracking employee attendance, Pulpstream takes care of the busywork so you don’t have to.
Request a free demo today to see Pulpstream at work!