According to a Career Builder survey, 75 percent of employers say their teams lose more than two hours of efficient work per day. The reasons for this vary — some employers say their teams struggle with time management, disorganization, and task management, some say they're lacking effective communication, and some say distractions get in the way of their teams doing their most productive work.
There's a big common thread among most of the employers surveyed, though: They want to know how to improve team productivity.
There are a number of tested and proven ways to boost teams' productivity in the workspace, but first, it's important to understand what employee productivity means and where (and why) your team might be falling short. Here's everything you need to know.
What Does Productivity Mean?
When people think of productivity in the context of what their teams accomplish at work, many don't realize that what they're actually thinking about is efficiency.
Efficiency is your team's level of performance as it relates to the amount of output they can create for as little input as possible.
Productivity, on the other hand, is the average measure of efficiency over time.
In order to improve team productivity, you must start with team efficiency. By taking steps to become more efficient — to produce more output with less work, or input — your team will naturally become more productive over time. Shifting your focus to efficiency means you need strategies that accomplish two different things:
- Creating more output, whether that means hitting more goals, boosting KPI metrics, or finishing more projects.
- Doing it with less input, which means doing less work or spending less time.
With those goals in mind, let's take a look at some actionable strategies teams can use to help increase their efficiency and their productivity.
7 Ways to Improve Team Productivity and Efficiency
One of the biggest challenges in modern workplaces is that most of us are responsible for not just our own, individual workloads, but also a collective one. Working in productive teams means more diverse skills, talents, and points of view are being applied to our work. But it also presents new challenges — especially when it comes to helping maximize each individual team member's efficiency and productivity as well as the team's as a whole.
For managers and team members alike, some of the biggest challenges to improving team productivity stem from the complexities of working collaboratively with others. But that doesn't mean productivity and efficiency can't be improved. Here are 7 actionable strategies to help your team start becoming more efficient and, in turn, more productive.
Set Realistic Goals
Goal setting is, itself, a science that not every team excels at. There are some strategies for setting good, realistic goals that many teams don't use to their full potential.
Having a common goal is only part of the goal-setting puzzle. When it comes to setting goals for your team, there are different frameworks for making sure that they're both realistic, and attainable. One popular framework is the SMART method of goal setting, which says you should make sure all goals are:
- Specific: Be clear about what your goal is and how you'll know when you've achieved it.
- Measurable: Choose goals that can be tracked, with specific KPIs or benchmarks for measuring progress.
- Actionable: Choose a goal that has clear next steps that will move your team toward achievement.
- Rewarding: Don't set goals for the sake of setting goals. Choose goals that have a deeper meaning or purpose for your organization or team.
- Time-bound: Goals should not be indefinite. Choose goals that have deadlines to motivate your team to keep moving forward.
In addition to choosing goals that meet the requirements of the SMART framework, it's important to prioritize your goals. One team can't tackle every conceivable goal at once, so narrow your possible goals down to just a few (or, even more ideally, just one at a time) so your team can give its full focus to achieving its goal.
And finally, throughout the process of setting and prioritizing goals, be sure to communicate clearly with your team and set clear expectations. Create a work culture that promotes transparency, where team members can ask questions and work together to ensure everyone understands each goal and how they can best work with the rest of the team toward achieving it.
Measure Your Progress
One of the most important parts of the SMART framework is the second one: Choosing goals that are measurable.
Once you've set your team's goals, be sure to keep tracking progress toward achieving them. This is crucial, as studies show that those who regularly track their progress are more likely to achieve their goals. In fact, the American Psychological Association found that the more often you monitor your progress toward a goal, the more likely you are to achieve it.
Whether you track your progress in a KPI dashboard, a task manager, regular update emails, or with informal check-ins, be sure to provide your team with measurable information that shows the progress they've made so far — and communicate their progress with them often. On that note, though, try to avoid scheduling frequent meetings to share progress updates — research shows that too-frequent team meetings can have negative effects on productivity, focus, and employee engagement.
Delegate Tasks Based on Strengths and Weaknesses
Every member of your team brings their own strengths, weaknesses, talents, and skills. Part of ensuring the entire team is as efficient and productive as possible is making sure that each member is given tasks, jobs, and roles based on what they bring to the table. An important aspect of teamwork is delegating tasks to the team members best suited to do them well. And, on the other hand, forcing team members into jobs they don't have the skills or experience for is a surefire way to severely limit the entire team's productivity.
Fostering a work environment with transparency, open communication, and diversity will all make it easier to ensure everyone on the team is doing work that is best aligned with their skills, experience, and strengths.
Give Your Team Members Ownership
How badly does micromanaging impact a team's performance?
In one recent study, 71 percent of respondents said being micromanaged interfered with their job performance, and even more — 85 percent — said micromanaging at work caused their morale to be negatively affected. While there are managers who believe micromanaging will help their teams get more work done, research actually shows that the opposite is true.
Instead of micromanaging your team, increase their efficiency by giving them more ownership of their own work — and their own success. Science backs this up — research shows that most workers are actually more productive when they're given autonomy at work than when a manager or leader surveilles their every move. This is because so many people are intrinsically motivated to do good work, not because their manager is watching them, but because they naturally take pride in what they do.
Offer Constructive Feedback, Praise, and Rewards
Intrinsic motivation isn't enough for everyone, though, and that's why it's important to also offer extrinsic motivation for team members who need it. This can come in many forms: Holding team building exercises or activities, praising team members for their successes and good work, commiserating together over setbacks, and rewarding the team with incentives when they achieve goals or meet other success benchmarks.
These same strategies are important both when team members succeed, and when they fail. No team will achieve all its goals without ever facing a failure or a setback. That's why constructive feedback is so important — both for individuals and for the whole team, depending on what the situation warrants. Providing regular performance reviews with feedback can help team members grow and improve over time, which will contribute to the growth and improvement of the team as a whole.
Encourage Work/Life Balance
Employee burnout is severely on the rise.
A study by Indeed showed that more than half — 52 percent — of workers reported experiencing burnout in 2021, up from just 43 percent in a similar survey before the COVID-19 pandemic. But Indeed's survey found some other pretty alarming trends: Young people were burning out at high rates even before the pandemic, with 53 percent of millennial workers reporting burnout pre-COVID, and 59 percent experiencing it in 2021. 58 percent of Gen Z workers said they were burned out in 2021.
It should go without saying that no team will be at its most productive when its members are burned out. That's why one important key to improving team productivity is combatting burnout by encouraging a company culture that includes a healthy balance between work and life. Some other effective strategies include:
- Giving employees ample time off, including mental health days.
- Fostering a transparent workplace culture where burnout prevention and employee well-being are openly discussed.
- Empowering your employees to customize their notifications so they don't receive phone calls or Slack messages when they're not at work.
- Not expecting team members to work overtime or be available after the workday ends, and not messaging them after hours or on days off unless it's a true emergency.
Give Your Team the Right Tools
Our final strategy to improve team productivity is to take advantage of the sea of productivity tools that exist.
In the digital age, technology tools have become ingrained in almost every part of our lives, including work. And the right tools can become crucial to our workflows and productivity.
For example, a task manager or project management software can help teams delegate project steps, track their progress, and stay on top of deadlines, while also serving as a single source of truth for information related to a project that has multiple collaborators. This is especially important in the age of remote work, when co-workers may work asynchronously most of the time.
Other crucial productivity tools use automation to streamline workflow processes, prioritize work when team members all have important tasks to accomplish, turn progress into measurable metrics, and so much more.
Part of maximizing your team's productivity is giving members the right collaboration tools — and why not customize those tools so they're exactly what your team needs? Glide allows businesses to create custom web and mobile apps that meet their exact business goals, including many that start with a template and can be up and running in just minutes. For example: Glide's Planner app, which allows users to organize projects by category and tasks by project, set due dates, track deadlines, and check off completed tasks.
Supercharge Your Team's Productivity with Glide
If your goal is to increase team productivity, your next step is to give your team the right tools to do so. And to make sure you're using the right tools, build them yourself to suit all your team's productivity needs.
Start building your business apps for free today with Glide. We can't wait to see what you build.