Complex Made Simple

5 ways managers can positively optimize individual and team productivity

Cameras, microphones, and spies. Past (and perhaps current) practices showed companies can stop at nothing to monitor their employees, particularly dedication to workloads and adherence to working hours

78% of employers use monitoring software despite the majority believing it’s unethical Having too many platforms to work on causes staff to forget who shared what with them Explain the “why” behind your expectations so that employees know that their work is meaningful

Cameras, microphones, and spies. Past (and perhaps current) practices showed companies can stop at nothing to monitor their employees, particularly dedication to workloads and adherence to working hours.

Motivated by needing to track employee productivity, today’s businesses have shifted the zoom lens to focus more on the content of staff emails and social media accounts.

Regardless, COVID-19 taught employees that they can be just as productive, if not more, working from home. And if you are the kind of person that completes a task more efficiently and quicker than anticipated, should you then sign off? Would the boss look down at that?

One LinkedIn member wrote: “Productivity should be measured in results, not hours,” and companies shouldn’t “punish someone for being more efficient” by assigning them more work.  

Words that ring true for many. Productivity though is measured in different ways and often not accurately. While some count the hours, and others judge efforts based on the impact on company revenues, there are numerous factors that impact productivity.

Employee monitoring stats

An ExpressVPN survey revealed that 78% of employers use monitoring software despite the majority believing it’s unethical. Over 1/3rd of employees believe their employers don’t monitor their online activities, but 56% feel anxious about their employer monitoring their communications.

Additionally, 41% wonder if they’re being watched, and 32% cut down on breaks because of it. Nearly 50% of employees would be willing to take a salary cut to prevent surveillance. Employees admit that 41% of their recorded work calls contain subjects that could lead to their termination. Moreover, 73% of employers used stored emails, messages, or calls to engage in performance reviews.

Too much communication 

Although communication and collaboration platforms are designed to improve productivity, they can sometimes have the opposite effect. A recent report from enterprise search platform Sinequa asserts that having too many platforms to work on causes staff to forget who shared what with them, and where that data is stored. As a result, employees spend too much time searching for files and information and end up asking colleagues to resend the material they had already been provided.

Sinequa found that 96% of UK employees have had to resend information they already provided and the request to resend data took place every 3 working days on average.  

At the same time, employers will need to measure and track their team’s productivity without making them feel anxious.  The following 5 suggestions can achieve this.

Productivity suggestions

  1. Set clear expectations

If you tell your employees what you expect from them, especially in a remote working environment, they’ll be happier and more productive.  Objective and goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

Explain the “why” behind your expectations so that they know that their work is meaningful. Provide examples and access to the right tools and resources Agree on reasonable deadlines.

  1. Use the right tech tools

A calendar can automatically schedule meetings and you can see where your valuable time is being spent. Slack is popular as a messaging tool that allows you and your team to communicate and collaborate in real-time. Basecamp is a project management tool designed to keep everyone on the same page. Hub Staff is packed with features like time tracking, screen recording, employee monitoring, and scheduling, and payroll software. Google Drive allows collaboration on online documents. Kickidler comes with time tracking, employee productivity analysis, and efficiency dynamics.  And finally, Time Doctor is a time tracking application that can break down how much time has been spent on a project or activity.

  1. Show confidence

Work environments built on trust are usually healthy and productive, especially when relying on others could be the difference between success and failure.  

Show confidence in people, both individually and as a team. 

  1. Measure results

Keyboard time is hardly indicative of performance or productivity, yet many employers track that. Employees who are aware their keystrokes are being tracked could be driven to produce high-volume work that has little commercial value.

A better approach is to measure and reward business outcomes. Reward quality, not quantity, especially if efforts translate into sales or customer satisfaction, or even an event that many raved about how well it was organized.  

  1. Show empathy

Increase employee happiness through positive reinforcement, such as showing compassion, empathy, and gratitude for the work and the results. At the same time, blaming some for failure is not a good strategy, as it creates feelings of preferential treatment. Provide positive feedback and constructive criticism instead.