Let’s face it — productivity in the workplace isn’t always what we want it to be. In many instances, time that could be well spent tackling an important project is spent puttering around, engaging in pointless conversation or lost in reverie.
If left unchecked, low productivity can have a host of negative consequences including low morale, poor product/service quality and decreased profitability. To properly address this issue, it’s necessary to first identify some common behaviors that reduce productivity.
The Internet and Social Media
Although the Internet has revolutionized the world and unlocked infinite opportunities for today’s businesses, it can also be a major hindrance to productivity. That’s because it’s all too easy to get sidetracked — and all of a sudden 10 or 15 minutes have passed with an employee online shopping or watching YouTube videos.
Social media, in particular, can be problematic because of its addictive quality spurring countless people to obsessively check their Facebook or Twitter accounts. While a little Internet or social media browsing shouldn’t create any major complications, you may want to create relevant policies or even consider blocking certain sites if it gets out of control. For example, you might make a policy where employees are allowed to use social media during their breaks but not during working hours.
Cell phones can also be serious time wasters. Smartphones allow employees to get distracted with apps, playing games, texting and so on. Information on the Pew Research Center’s website states that “Nearly two-thirds of Americans now own a smartphone.” It’s likely that your business has suffered some type of productivity loss because of them. For this reason, you may want to mandate that employees only use cell phones during breaks or strictly for business purposes while on the job.
On paper, it might seem like frequent meetings are advantageous to productivity and keep staff members on the same page. Although meetings are often necessary, many companies spend way too much time in the meeting room to the point where it hurts productivity. In fact, an article on the Psychology Today website states that, “30 percent of managers claim that their time spent in meetings is a waste of time.”
Fortunately, there are several alternatives to traditional meetings that can effectively maintain communication without wasting time. Here are some examples:
- Send out company-wide emails to highlight important events or changes
- Utilize collaboration apps like Basecamp, Asana and Trello
- Send out bulleted mass texts
Workplace Gossip and Chit-Chat
You obviously want to have team cohesion where employees have rapport with another and discuss what’s going on in their lives. However, you don’t want excessive gossip and chit-chat at the expense of diminished productivity. Keep an eye on this and set some boundaries to prevent your staff from going overboard. If you notice that a particular employee is consistently taking this to extremes, you should take them aside and tell them to cool it.
While you can’t realistically expect your employees to give 100 percent effort 100 percent of the time, you should be aware of common behaviors that reduce productivity. By addressing these behaviors before they get out of control, you can minimize frivolous time wasters and get the most from your manpower.