There is no doubt in my mind that people work best and are at their most productive when they are happy, are valued, feel secure in their jobs and are getting a fair return for the work they are doing
It is the same on the shop floor as in management – it would seem that this simple equation should be relatively easy to get right, but often we miss the mark. So, here are some tips to consider putting into practice.
Talk to your team
There are times when staff working under a management team feel that their contribution is not valued. They may be the worker bees, perhaps with lower skill levels. But they are as vital to your enterprise as those who manage them. These are the people who can really help your enterprise flourish. For example, they may well be able to identify new process methodologies through their in-depth understanding of what they do and the materials they are working with. But, to reach this degree of contribution, they have to feel they are listened to and heard, with action taken if recommendations stack up. This degree of engagement can really raise productivity and personal commitment.
The time is right
One of the most valuable lessons you can learn, whether you run a micro-business or a larger organisation, is about your own productivity. There will be times in the day or week when you feel on fire, full of ideas, able to make new approaches to clients, nailing every question before it is raised. And then there are other times when you might want just to be process-driven, doing a task that requires a methodical approach with a right/wrong answer.
I’m good at writing early in the morning, whereas on Friday at midday you will find me catching up with accounts, immersed in ‘process’. By understanding my patterns of energy, creativity and engagement, I can identify when in my week I get maximum productivity in the hours available to me. Why not try this out with your team? Ask people to keep a diary if they are not already aware of their ebb and flow. Then, consider whether everyone is doing the right tasks at their most productive time. Ask yourself the same question too. It may just take a little tweak to make a big difference.
Understanding how to make everyone in your organisation feel healthier, fitter and looked after will positively impact productivity. Sometimes all it involves is starting a works team – for example, football, netball or softball – or providing space for a weekly yoga session. You could bring in an occupational therapist to assess the physical wellbeing of the staff and see if there are any changes that could be implemented to prevent work-related illness and injury.
Greater wellbeing can also be encouraged by ensuring you have time to chat to everyone, to hear how they and their families are doing. This engagement adds to their sense of being looked after by the company. And it lets you hear any niggles or concerns that might require action in some way. Although these steps may sound simplistic, they can make a big difference to the way people contribute to their job and their workplace. A happier team is always going to be much more productive than one that is feeling disgruntled and out of step with themselves and the company.
Erica Wolfe-Murray is a leading business growth and innovation expert. Her book, Simple Tips, Smart Ideas: Build a Bigger, Better Business is available now, and her podcast, Simple Tips, Smart Ideas, is available on all platforms. She is also the founder of innovation studio Lola Media.