Productivity is a key element in the operations of all businesses and it should describe every process, from production to customer support. With high productivity come streamlined processes, satisfied customers and, ultimately, increased revenue, but the trick is telling the difference between a busy workplace and a productive one.

Nowadays, it seems like every manager is stuck doing paperwork and trying to do ten things at once, which might be confused for productivity, but that isn’t always the case. Actually, statistics show that ever since the economic crisis, businesses in the main European economies have been dealing with lower productivity rates that affected their performance and profit. Most top and middle level managers feel that productivity levels within their organisation could be better, but to do that first you have to pinpoint the productivity killers that bring your business down. 

1. Stress

Multiple studies have shown that stress at the workplace is one of the biggest obstacles in the way of productivity. In fact, stress can be a destructive factor, not only for employees’ mental health and personal life, but also for the organisation as a whole. People who are under constant stress at the workplace cannot focus properly, their problem-solving skills are reduced, they feel unmotivated and have problems engaging with the rest of the team. It is estimated that in the UK as much as 35% of workers feel stressed, which leads to absenteeism and understaffing. Reducing workplace stress is the first course of action to increase productivity, but to do that, you need to understand what makes your employees stressed: is the high workload, the environment, the colleagues, the pay check or relationships with higher management? 

2. Outdated Software

It’s no longer a secret that even businesses that operate offline rely on technology for their operations. From production and marketing to customer support and business process management, almost all companies use some sort of software that is supposed to make them more productive. However, software becomes outdated rather quickly and managers need to evaluate the relevance of their tools every couple of years to find out if they are setting them back rather than helping them move forward. Timesheet Portal say that online time tracking tools, expense planners and time-off management tools are the first ones to assess, because they track internal processes and influence productivity directly. Check if the software you installed to help you be more productive still works according to market standards or it has become outdated and needs to be replaced with something that has better features and increased functionality.

3. Poor Leadership

A company’s success isn’t determined by each staff as an individual, but by the way in which all employees work together as a team. Every team needs a good leader, a manager to assign tasks based on skills, supervise processes, establish strategies and help individual team members reach their potential. Without a great leader, even the most talented or promising employees can become unproductive, so make sure you are such a leader yourself. Be very careful when appointing other managers, because the smallest mistake can go down the chain of command and have long term consequences.

4. Lack Of Organisation

In order to be productive, a business needs to have a clear structure, with strategically chosen teams and team leaders. Each team member should know their role, their responsibilities and all work needs to be streamlined. As soon as people start to work without a clear goal in mind, productivity rates will drop. Moreover, you should have a framework to help you stay organised, save time and be more efficient.

5. Demotivated Employees

When an employee is no longer motivated, his or her productivity levels with start to drop, so the sooner you discover the source of the problem and address it, the better. Of course, each employee has a different mindset and there are many reasons why they no longer feel motivated:

  • Lack of engagement with the philosophy of the company and are not aware of the importance of their work.
  • They do not like their job and feel that they should work in a different field.
  • They are not satisfied with their salaries or employment benefits.
  • They feel that the company isn’t making any progress.
  • They feel that the job doesn’t offer them financial security.
  • Stressful work environment, unpleasant co-workers.
  • Health problems and personal reasons.

Some of these factors are under your control and you can improve them in order to restore employee motivation levels, others are strictly personal and depend on your employees. In any case, as soon as you notice that a staff member is no longer motivated, you or HR should talk about it to find out what’s wrong.

6. Lack Of Feedback

Most employees have reactive attitudes, their productivity and quality of their work change depending on the feedback they receive. When a worker does not receive any feedback at all for what they do, they soon start feeling insecure and productivity rates drop. Even if you are busy, try to talk to your employees about their work. If they’re doing great, give them good feedback, complement them, and they will feel valued. If their work needs improvement, give them constructive criticism to motivate them, but never make them feel like their work is not noticed or has no real impact.