The Best and Worst Things You Can Do for Employee Productivity

Workplace leadership is an everyday challenge. Managers, bosses, and CEOs, whether in established firms or startups, have to deal with the task of maximizing employee productivity. We all want to excel and to see others tap into their full potential. However, there are things that hold our workers and colleagues back that we might not even be aware of.

These are, in my opinion, the top things that hurt employee productivity...and the top things you can do to help it.


Top 3 Things That Hurt Employee Productivity

1) An Open Office

While open offices have been a symbol of a progressive, hip office since Google popularized the model, they are not the best idea for employee productivity or happiness. Studies show that open offices actually hinder productivity and collaboration in the workplace. The environment created is often loud, busy, and distracting. Psychologically, workers retreat and are less likely to work together face-to-face and opt to email and IM despite being right in front of one another.

Open offices may look slick and modern, but they don’t actually foster better working environments, especially when it comes to work that demands deep concentration or privacy.

2) Bad Workplace Technology

Few things are more fury-inspiring than technology that doesn’t work as it’s supposed to. Whether it’s unintuitive or outdated, bad technology can greatly damage employee productivity. A poor Internet connection can add up to hours of lost time and waiting in a tech-focused industry.

Nearly all of us rely on some kind of computer, printer, or technology to get the job done these days—and if the software is outdated, the computer is slow, or the program is difficult to work with, it can not only make the workday a frustration, it’s simply not optimal for your bottom line.

3) Toxic Company Culture

Beyond the physical environment or the technology your employees work with are the people they work with. Company culture can make or break your productivity. How? Toxic company culture is hostile. It’s discouraging. It makes employees feel anxious, isolated, and disengaged. If your employees don’t like the people they work with, or worse yet, feel threatened, bullied, or harassed, you’re asking for anything but productivity.

Work towards establishing an environment that values mutual respect and a common bond. It’s important to have retreats, happy hours, and company parties. These things may seem superfluous, but they can establish a rapport that is much-needed.

Top 3 Things That Help Employee Productivity

1) Meaningful Feedback

One of the best ways to foster employee productivity is to provide great feedback. How this manifests in your work environment can vary, but what matters is that it is meaningful. A leader must deliver a critique that is actionable and framed with the intention of pushing towards personal and professional growth. You have to give them goals and the tools to meet them. Feedback must have a purpose and direction to be worthwhile.

2) Create Comfort

We often underestimate the importance of comfort in the workplace, but a lack thereof can be distracting. An uncomfortable environment can make us restless, which leads to wandering thoughts and a lot of up-and-down breaks. There are many aspects of a comfortable office space, but it starts with basic ergonomics. Are the desks and chairs comfortable and adjustable? Take complaints of pain seriously.

There is also an issue of temperature. A too-hot or too-cold office can be a major distraction in accomplishing tasks. In the same way, a too-strict or uncomfortable dress code can cause daily discomfort. When you keep comfort at top-of-mind, you remove these distractions that can steal thoughts away from the task at hand.

3) Manage Your Expectations

When I say “manage your expectations,” I don’t mean it in the traditional sense. This isn’t about lowering your expectations, but rather, making them known. One of the reasons employees fail to be as productive as they could be is because they do not know what it truly expected of them. Their benchmarks, goals, and tasks are not made totally clear.

As their leader, you can manage these expectations by pushing them to excel—be clear in what you want, and push them beyond what you expect. Push for more.

What pushes you to be more productive in your workday? Share what motivates you in the comments.