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Improving Employee Efficiency in the Workplace

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From incentives and performance reviews to company culture changes and time tracking, following these tips can help boost employee efficiency across your organization.

If you have productive employees on your team, you might assume that employee efficiency is also high. However, employee efficiency is a bit more complex than simply the amount of work completed. It also involves work quality, job satisfaction, employee engagement and more. Do your employees have what they need to be efficient?

In this article, we’ll define employee efficiency and workplace efficiency, dive into their benefits, and offer concrete tips to improve efficiency within your organization. We’ll also explain how ActivTrak’s workplace efficiency solution gives you the visibility and key metrics you need to help your team members be more productive and maximize their workdays.

What is employee efficiency?

Employee efficiency is an employee’s ability to produce the greatest amount of work in the shortest amount of time. However, it’s important to not confuse employee efficiency with employee productivity, which only focuses on raw outputs. Efficiency also considers quality. Meaning — an employee must produce a large amount of high-quality work to call themselves efficient. It’s important to know that quality depends on multiple factors unique to your organization.

Employee efficiency may look different depending on an individual employee’s knowledge, skill sets and experience. Still, this baseline definition of employee efficiency helps frame conversations around efficiency and employee performance.

Employee efficiency vs. workplace efficiency

Employee efficiency and workplace efficiency both focus on the productivity and quality of outputs from individual employees. The difference between the two? While employee efficiency typically refers to a single worker, workplace efficiency refers to the overall efforts of a single team or department. Whichever one you try to increase, collecting metrics on how your employees work can help you identify specific opportunities for improvement.

The benefits of an efficient workplace

Efficient employees bring numerous benefits to your organization, even beyond increasing the amount of work accomplished during a given workday. Some of the most significant benefits include:

Improved productivity

Efficient employees are productive employees, no matter what metrics you’re measuring. Even better? Efficient employees get the most out of their productive time, so the time they spend on tasks yields high-quality results with little to no wasted time.

Enhanced morale

Did you know that many tips designed to improve employee efficiency also improve employee engagement and morale? In a workplace that celebrates employee efficiency, you’re more likely to see happy, engaged and motivated team members who take pride in their work. That’s because staying engaged and committed to the company’s mission is easy when you have the tools and support needed to work wiser.

Increased employee retention

An efficient workplace runs like a well-oiled machine, and employees worry less about process bottlenecks, disorganized workflows and other issues that might distract them from completing tasks. It’s easier and faster to get work done at an efficient workplace, and the resulting boost in employee engagement and job satisfaction means employees are less likely to leave. That means higher retention rates, which are great for your bottom line, company culture, productivity and much more.

How to improve employee efficiency

The value of efficient employees to any organization -cannot be overstated. Try these tips to help employees become more efficient:

1. Encourage breaks

It might seem counterintuitive, but scheduling breaks throughout the workday can do wonders for employee efficiency. When employees spontaneously take breaks to check social media or chat with friends, it disrupts the flow of work and can make it challenging to get back on task. Giving team members formal times to recharge before returning to work with new energy encourages them to make the most of their focus time and limit in-the-moment distractions.

2. Promote a healthy lifestyle

When you’re sick, stressed out or overworked, producing high-quality work is likely the last thing on your mind. Managers should develop initiatives that support their team’s mental, physical and emotional well-being to help employees be more efficient.

In addition to providing healthy snacks in the office or potentially offering a discounted gym membership to employees, emphasize the importance of having a healthy work-life balance and avoiding burnout. Lead by example — take breaks, turn off work app notifications outside working hours, and take advantage of mental wellness days.

You can also use time tracking software to identify employees who may be spending too many hours working, so you can take steps to promote a healthier work-life balance. Research shows that people are very bad at correctly estimating time spent glued to their desks. Remind employees that burning the midnight oil doesn’t necessarily make you more efficient and that taking care of yourself is also important.

3. Implement flexible work hours

Offering flexible hours can increase employee efficiency and employee productivity by giving employees the freedom to align their work schedules with their most productive hours. Also, flexible hours show you trust your employees — making them feel more valued (and improving job satisfaction and employee engagement).

4. Match specific tasks to employee skills

While quality onboarding should help ensure that all team members have the same basic knowledge and skill set, employee talents vary from one person to another. Take time to understand where your employees shine and try to assign them specific tasks that use those skills while offloading other tasks to employees that might handle them more efficiently. A great way to identify employee strengths is through performance reviews or by collecting metrics that give visibility into employee performance.

5. Provide incentives to team members

Rewards and incentives are huge motivators.They show employees their hard work is noticed and help team members feel valued. These incentives can take the form of raises or bonuses, but there are many other ways to show your appreciation, like:

  • Add additional vacation days
  • Encourage employees start the day later or end earlier one day a week
  • Shout out praises publicly in a meeting or through an email
  • Send a personalized thank you note
  • Treat them to a free lunch

How to create an efficient workplace

To create an efficient workplace, start with these eight tips:

1. Promote clear communication

While instant messaging apps and video calls have given managers more ways to keep in touch with employees, creating a culture of clear communication is about more than just chatting. It’s about encouraging employees to speak openly about any concerns or ideas they may have, keeping them up to date on company initiatives, and inviting them to participate in critical discussions. Being open and transparent about what’s going on in your organization builds trust and keeps everyone on your team moving efficiently in the right direction.

2. Encourage collaboration among team members

Similarly, encourage open communication and collaboration between team members to ensure projects run smoothly and proactively eliminate bottlenecks. But be wary of too much collaboration. Having too many cooks in the kitchen can over-complicate tasks and extend timelines, so match job roles to employee skills and ensure your team members have enough autonomy to complete assignments efficiently.

3. Provide adequate resources

Employees can’t do their jobs effectively without the right tools. To maximize team efficiency, build robust onboarding processes, so employees are confident using your organization’s hardware and software. Also, periodically audit your tech stack to ensure your tools optimize workflows, help employees work productively, and don’t create unnecessary friction.

4. Implement flexible work policies

As some business owners and managers try to bring team members back into the office, it’s worth remembering that flexibility can be an asset. A study about remote work showed productivity is up 47% among employees who work from home, and encouraging remote work is a great way to boost efficiency and morale. Flexible work policies allow employees to create a work schedule that works best for their lifestyle, which in turn helps them be more productive during working hours.

5. Eliminate redundant tasks and meetings

To free up time and improve workplace efficiency, use automation to take redundant tasks off your teams’ plates. Companies can establish how long basic tasks should take and set performance targets accordingly to better understand where their employees spend their time and identify areas where tasks can be eliminated.

Also, be mindful of the meeting you’re scheduling. Staying connected is essential, but frequent or unnecessary meetings break up focus time and can reduce employee efficiency. Reserve meetings for projects that require in-person discussion, and think about whether or not other meetings could be replaced with a brief but informative email or instant message conversation.

6. Establish clear goals and track progress

Create goals that are SMART — specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely — and track employee progress toward them. Use a workplace efficiency tool to collect metrics, create a spreadsheet where employees track updates on their progress, have regular check-ins, or combine all three. Whatever the means, stick to your SMART goals to help boost workplace efficiency.

7. Train and develop employees

Training and development can pay dividends when it comes to increasing employee skills and, in turn, efficiency. As employees gain more experience and learn more about the best ways to deliver a project, they become more efficient workers. Consider pairing up new with more experienced team members so they can learn from one another or providing a bi-yearly stipend for professional development courses.

8. Provide feedback to individual employees

Whether through formal performance reviews or regular meetings, offering feedback is essential in helping employees improve their efficiency. It helps employees better understand their performance and work habits in ways they might not have considered before, plus it gives them insight into what they can do to improve. Once they have this information, they’re better equipped to make changes to work more efficiently.

Gain visibility to unlock employee efficiency

So far, we’ve given you some helpful tips for improving employee efficiency in your organization, but these techniques only scratch the surface. You need data to create a more efficient workplace and help employees be more productive. ActivTrak’s workplace efficiency solution provides the data-driven insights to help you understand how your team works at a deeper level — making it much easier to improve employee efficiency.

On a person-to-person level, ActivTrak gives you insight into employee productivity and well-being to help guide workplace strategy. Compare focus trends, utilization levels and employee productivity across your teams — remote, hybrid and in-office — to ensure employees are working to the best of their ability. Analyze time spent in video-conferencing software and messaging apps to ensure your teammates are empowered to collaborate but aren’t pulled into unnecessary meetings.

Our workplace efficiency solution also has features devoted to technology optimization. Identify which applications are most heavily used and determine how well they serve your organization, standardize workflows by surfacing redundant tools, and compare website and application usage to highlight which technologies best enable remote and hybrid work. These insights give your employees the tools they need to work wiser.

Request a demo to learn how ActivTrak can help boost your organization’s employee efficiency.

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