3 Ways to Increase Worker Productivity in Your Small Business

U.S. companies spent $720 million to measure and improve worker engagement, according to the 2012 Bersin by Deloitte Employment Engagement report. The report said that number will easily double within three years. A high level of employee enthusiasm and loyalty towards the company is essential because of the well-established positive correlation between engagement and profits. Worker productivity is important for your small business.

Gallup conducted its latest Q12 Employee Engagement meta-analysis of nearly 50,000 companies and their 1.4 million employees in 2012. This eighth edition of the Q12 yielded similar results as its predecessors: highly engaged workers are more productive and their respective companies experience higher profits, higher customer ratings, less absenteeism, less shrinkage due to theft and less turnover.

There is no universal method that will guarantee a more engaged workforce. It all depends on your overall company culture and budget; however, the following three ideas have been proven effective both by scientific research and quarterly profit reports.

Incorporate Plants to Increase Worker Productivity

A Norfolk Island Pine here and a Dracaena there can make all the difference between your company happily handing out year-end bonuses or pink slips. An Exeter University study found that adding a few plants to barren workspaces increased worker productivity by 15 percent. The lead researcher in the study told The Guardian that the plants added an element to the offices that triggered psychological engagement and feelings of happiness in workers. This increase worker productivity.

The Fiddleleaf Fig is green, sturdy and doesn’t take up much space. Dieffenbachia, snake plants and philodendron are some other options to consider. Keep in mind the study placed one plant for every square meter of space in the office. Additionally, photographs or paintings can be substituted for plants in offices that lack proper sunlight to sustain botanical life.

Bring Back Cubicles

A 2010 survey by the International Facilities Management Association found that 70 percent of offices used open-plan layouts. This means employees work in large open spaces as opposed to cubicles and offices separated by walls and doors. Some office managers like the idea because it allows easy collaboration and an avenue to keep a watchful eye on everyone. However, these types of plans are obsolete, counterproductive and loathed by workers.

Ethan Berstein, assistant professor at Harvard Business School, conducted a study in 2012 to prove once and for all if open office plans lower or boost employee engagement and worker productivity. The five-month study conducted in China found that workers on assembly lines bordered by curtains were 10 to 15 percent more productive than those on wide-open lines. Bernstein attributed the increased production of the experimental group to the workers’ willingness to share work duties and advice amongst one another to make everyone’s job easier.

A complete office overhaul can be expensive, but the return on investment will be easily measurable in a short amount of time. Not only are workers more productive but workers in open office settings also take more sick days than those with separate offices and cubicles with walls, claims a report on Ergonomics. So, you might want to consider investing in office cubicles once again.

Reward Excellence

Nearly half of employees would leave their jobs if they felt unappreciated by management, states a 2012 survey by staffing agency Office Team. It’s simply human nature to want recognition for a job well done. Most employees want tangible rewards like gift cards while others only need verbal recognition.

Managers know their employees best, so always tailor the recognition to the individual. Some will be satisfied with the movie or sporting event tickets. Consider gift baskets with wine and chocolates for the more introverted folks. Every top-performing employee should, at a minimum, be the subject of a company-wide email sent by management, detailing their contributions and exceptional work.

The science is clear: a happy employee is a productive, loyal one. Investing in employee engagement is essential for all companies looking to boost profits and become industry leaders.

Posted by Dragan Sutevski

Dragan Sutevski is a founder and CEO of Sutevski Consulting, creating business excellence through innovative thinking. Get more from Dragan on Twitter. Contact Dragan