New Features, Productivity

Six Simple Swaps that Boost Employee Productivity and Improve Your Service

productivity.jpgIn today's economy, the cost of producing goods is rapidly declining. At the same time, the services-oriented market is booming. The services industry has grown by more than 65 percent in the past 50 years. 

In this services-oriented future, your people are your product.  That's why it's important to ensure you hire, and retain, positive teams with great service.  They are key to productivity.

So how do you keep your talented teams happy and productive? Here are six simple swaps to implement at your workplace to ensure those outcomes. They are scientifically proven and cited where appropriate. (Hint: These are not productivity tools; they are workplace enhancements. To read about proven productivity tools, try these five.) 

  1. Swap: Small Screens for Wider Screens  —  It’s official: Bigger is better.   A University of Utah Study has made headlines for connecting wider monitors to improved productivity. The study compared productivity on 18-inch and 24-inch screens.  In some cases, upgrading to the larger screen improved task completion by 30 percent.   This was especially true for text-based work requiring multiple documents and applications running simultaneously.  The implication is a savings of more than $2M per year for a 250-employee company.  
  2. Swap: Long, Uninterrupted Shifts for Frequent Breaks  —  It sounds counter-intuitive, but working smarter, rather than harder and longer, is shown to increase achievement.  In 1999, one study found that explicitly encouraging employees to take frequent breaks throughout the day resulted in 13 percent more accurate work.   The finding wasn’t isolated.  As early as the 1920s, factories began reducing workdays from six to five, because employees worked better when work-life balance improved. Vacation counts here too.   Time and again, countries with high vacation rates score higher on productivity.  According to  Forbes, “The most productive countries are Germany and France--each of which has mandated more than 30 days of vacation.” The average worker in the United States gets 10 days.  Read more here.
  3. Swap: Noise for Inside Voices  —  Human speech can travel up to 50 feet away, according to Herman Miller. Reducing noise in the workplace from human and other sources can help employees focus.  Some companies offer sound-masking systems that reduce common sources of office noise.  This makes sense, since satisfaction with your physical work environment actually increases how well you and your colleagues perform.  Ask your employees to keep talking at a respectful level, and to reduce unnecessary noises, such as video soundtracks when headphones can be used.   You may even wish to explore how color and temperature affect performance; for instance, the ideal temperature for focusing on work is about 65 degrees, and the ideal focus-color is beige or other neutral tones.
  4. Swap: Modern Metal Ambiance for Plants  —  Being surrounded by plants reduces human stress.  Researchers at the National Institutes of Health found healthy influences, specifically contact with nature, reduced employees’ self-reported stress and decreased their health complaints.
  5. Swap: Criticism for Praise  —  Happy employees do better.   Gallup reports employees who receive regular recognition outperform other employees and are also less likely to leave an organization.  Moreover, the presence of negativity in the workplace is estimated to cost the U.S. economy up to $300 billion -- each year. Building a praise-culture from the top down and encouraging managers and team leads to provide positive feedback can yield stronger performance and better bottom lines.
  6. Swap: Silence for Songs  —  Forget what we said about noise reduction, for the moment.  Music at a light volume has also been shown to boost task speed and quality.  The theory behind music’s effect is its ability to reduce stress.  The findings were significant to suggest that no music is worse than music that influences a positive mood.  Read more about this study and the so-called “Mozart effect” here.  

Read more ways to boost performance for cloud-based work.

Bonus: Are you new to project and financial management? Understand the key terms for project management and financial metrics