From water cooler gossip, to interminable meetings, to hours wasted scrolling through social media, the modern workplace is teeming with threats to employee productivity. These distractions are taking a toll: several recent surveys show that U.S. employees are spending a mere 40-50% of their workdays engaged in job-related tasks. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to help employees avoid common productivity pitfalls.
- Properly Train Employees: Whether it is on-the-job training, formal courses, or online learning, any investment you make in employee training is an investment in productivity. Properly trained employees are more effective, more likely to stay at their jobs, and less likely to expose your organization to unnecessary risks and liabilities.
- Avoid Burdensome Meetings: Before scheduling a meeting, consider whether it is necessary to accomplish your goals. Invite only essential personnel, and always draw up an agenda of items to be covered and distribute it in advance. Finally, communicate start and end times for the meeting as a whole and each agenda item, and stick to the agenda to the best of your ability.
- Be Proactive in Reducing Gossip: An office subject to constant gossip will ultimately suffer from poor morale and lower productivity. To stem the chatter, managers should communicate with employees regularly about issues that affect the company, their departments, and their individual positions. This will foster an environment of trust and transparency, and diminish the appeal of the rumor mill.
- Digital Distractions: While electronic communication has revolutionized how we work, it also has the capacity to impair our efficiency. For instance, computers help us work faster, but also make it easy for employees to “check out” during the workday with online shopping, entertainment, or social media. To ensure that technology does not become an impediment to productivity, employers should establish email, internet, and social media use policies, and train employees on each of these.
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