How to Instill Strong Productivity
Habits Across Your Business

See also: Overseeing Work

Employees are a business’s most important asset. Finding tools, habits and strategies to help your employees to become more productive is essential if you want your company to succeed.

However, there is a lot that can hold your employees back. Inefficient processes, limited communication options and a stressful work environment can all make it much harder for people to get work done and so reduce productivity.

These tips cover some of the best ways to instill productivity habits across your business.

1. Set Clear Expectations

Vague expectations or requests for increased productivity can do more harm than good. Your employees will only know what you expect from them if you communicate clearly and set explicit work and productivity goals.

If you believe something is important or worth striving for, you can’t expect your employees to know what you value by default. Instead, it’s good to make a habit of clearly communicating expectations and leading the way on company culture.

Over time, this can help build an office environment where employees know productivity is valued. This helps them find new habits and ways of working that boost their day-to-day efficiency.

2. Use Training to Teach Productivity Habits

Regularly scheduled training can provide a great opportunity to teach employees about productivity habits. Hacks like putting aside time for focused work, keeping lists of key goals and organizing your desk to minimize distractions can help workers stay on task.

Training in and of itself can also be a productivity-booster, even if you’re not focused on teaching employees how to stay focused and streamline their work. Mastery of work-related skills can also help make employees more confident in their decisions and more productive in day-to-day work.

Training can also help you teach employees about time-saving tips and tricks that are directly related to their particular workflows. For example, technology training can show workers shortcuts and features in the tools they use that will make their jobs easier.

3. Cut Down on Workplace Distractions

Workplace distractions can be one of the biggest barriers to productivity in a shared workspace.

For example, background noise can be a productivity killer, distracting employees or just making it harder for them to pay sustained attention to work or a conversation. Similarly, an uncomfortable office environment — one that’s too hot or too cold, too bright or dimly lit — can make it almost impossible to stay focused.

Fixing issues with workplace lighting, noise and temperature as they arise is a good way to ensure distractions don’t build up and produce an unpleasant environment. You can also make the office more comfortable. Plants, natural light and even certain wall colors can help boost productivity and create a welcoming atmosphere.

Regularly soliciting employee feedback on the workplace can help you pinpoint which distractions create the most trouble, allowing you to prioritize changes that will offer the biggest productivity boosts.

Passing on these distraction-minimizing tips to work-from-home employees can also help them cultivate a good environment. They can still boost productivity even when they can’t take advantage of the changes you’ve made to the main office.

4. Invest in Productivity-Boosting Tools

Inefficient workflows can quickly make you and your employees less productive or encourage you to pick up habits that drag down your productivity. Adopting new tools that help to streamline their work, on the other hand, can help everyone work more efficiently.

Project management software and similar tools can help you and your team organize tasks and better manage projects. Your team will be able to visualize how much work needs to be done and when it needs to be completed.

Identifying issues in your company workflows can help you find productivity tools that will streamline work and potentially help your employees find new ways to boost productivity. For example, you may find that important information or documents are being lost in long email chains or meetings. A communication tool like Slack could ensure essential information is available to everyone who needs it — without them having to search through email archives or meeting notes.

Tools like Dropbox and Google Docs can help you streamline collaboration if you find that employees are spending a lot of time trading local copies of files back and forth.

Regularly soliciting employee feedback can help you identify workflow snags or friction that may be holding your team back.

5. Stay Open to Feedback

A culture of productivity requires a culture that supports discussions — especially ongoing discussions about productivity and how people across your business are getting work done.

For many businesses, feedback means one-way communication. Often, this is in the form of regular reviews or performance appraisals that sum up the work that an employee does and where they may have room for improvement, based on information from coworkers and managers. 

This strategy is useful, and can help workers pick up new productivity-boosting habits. However, it may also mean that managers are missing out on valuable perspectives.

Organizational change can also come from the bottom-up. Creating a culture where employees feel empowered to both receive and give feedback about productivity can seriously help a business instill company-wide productivity habits. 

Rank-and-file employees can help you reshape your business. With their unique perspective, they may be able to help catch issues that only they would notice — like issues with certain tools or software your business uses, or issues with departmental workflows.

Two-way feedback like this will provide you with regular opportunities to check in with employees. This can allow you and your team to both share advice on productivity and receive feedback on how you may be able to improve company processes.

6. Hire and Onboard According to Company Values

During the hiring process, it’s good to ask employees about their values and what they look for in a workplace. This can help you find workers that will be a good fit for the company.

It’s also important to explicitly communicate your business’s values during the new employee onboarding process.

As your team helps a new employee learn the ropes and figure out the basics of their work software, they can also teach them how decisions like office lighting and tool choices were made to ensure a comfortable and productive working environment.

Together, these decisions can ensure you hire workers that will fit into your company culture of productivity.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Leadership

The Skills You Need Guide to Leadership eBooks

Learn more about the skills you need to be an effective leader.

Our eBooks are ideal for new and experienced leaders and are full of easy-to-follow practical information to help you to develop your leadership skills.

Boosting Productivity at Your Business

With the right strategies — like training and setting clear expectations around work — it’s possible to build a culture of productivity at your business.

Over time, fostering this culture can help you encourage your employees to pick up good productivity habits and share potential workflow upgrades.

About the Author

Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philadelphia with her husband and pup, Bear.