If you’re like many small business owners and managers, you’ve read about and likely implemented all of the most common hacks to create a more effective work environment. While most of the tips and tricks out there are well-circulated for a reason, they may not have given you the boost to productivity that you were looking for.
Many of the business influencers behind those “hacks” don’t realize that efficiency is both multifaceted and closely linked to engagement on an individual and team level. At Axcet HR Solutions, we’ve observed firsthand how a strong and modern employee relations strategy contributes to the overall efficiency of an organization.
In this post, I’ll cover five unconventional, key steps to building a more effective work environment, so you can make the most out of your company’s time and resources.
1. Promote Team Dynamics
Strong team dynamics contribute to a more efficient and all-around better workplace. When you’re analyzing the dynamics of a team, the first place to start is with an assessment of the strengths of the individuals within the group. Next, consider how those strengths can come together to produce synergy.
One way to accomplish this is to conduct a comprehensive strengths assessment for each team member and share results amongst the group. (Pro-Tip: this is something an experienced Professional Employer Organization (PEO) can help you design, administer and implement).
Individual strengths assessments will lead team members to understand and value each other’s abilities. Once the team has an understanding of its members’ strengths, it can identify places where contributions from certain teammates make the most sense from an efficiency standpoint.
Harvard Business Review reports that “when employees feel a sense of purpose, companies succeed,” and of course, we have to agree. You can help your employees find a sense of purpose in their work in several ways. Consider the following strategies:
Connect employees to their end product by eliciting and sharing customer reviews
When you receive a positive customer review, make sure to reward or recognize the team members that helped achieve that client satisfaction.
Encourage employees to hone their craft
This can be accomplished by paying employees to take time to develop their skills outside of their regular work, by providing continuing education, or a mix of both.
Share your company’s larger goals
Be explicit with each team member about how their role and its associated metrics fit into the bigger picture. Doing so will help each employee establish a “why” behind both their day-to-day and longer-term tasks.
3. Make Creativity and Collaboration Part of Your Culture
The real secrets to efficiency in your industry and at your company are likely unique to the company itself. When it comes to pinpointing the simplest and most effective tweaks you can make, who better to tell you than your employees?
You’ll never know what golden nuggets of information you can source from your employees if you don’t encourage two things: (1) creativity, or the ability to think outside of the box and (2) collaboration, which helps ensure creative new changes are actually efficient across teams.
Here are some unconventional ways to encourage creativity and collaboration in your workplace:
Create systems for inter- and intra-team feedback
How simple is collaboration within your organization? How is communication within a team and with other teams accomplished?
If you’re still using e-mail only, it may be too formalistic, and employees may not even know the email addresses of those they need to get in touch with. Examine your communication systems for ease of use and access to those that employees may not interact with on a daily basis.
Define creativity and collaboration as some of your core value
You may value creativity and collaboration, but do you communicate those values to your employees? If you don’t share your core values in written form with your team, now is the time to start. Need help defining and sharing your core values? Your PEO can help with that.
Reward creativity and encourage a spirit of open input from all sources
If you value creativity, you need to express that you want to hear employee ideas. Managers are often in a great place to institute this change at a cultural level. Your company can begin by implementing a policy of favorable treatment for new ideas and encouraging managers to listen to their employees’ feedback for process improvements. If an employee’s idea is implemented and is successful, reward and recognize them for it.
4. Motivate, Reward and Recognize Employees for Their Hard Work
It’s no secret that motivating, rewarding and recognizing employees can do wonders to make them more productive, but how you get there is important. Consider the following unconventional strategies for incentivizing your team members:
Motivate employees by making their career trajectories clear and defined.
When an employee does something right, make sure they know that they’re not only appreciated, but they are advancing in their career at your company. Clear lines for career growth contribute to an employee’s sense of motivation and purpose, helping them be fully engaged (and more productive) at work.
Reward employees with trust and flexibility when it’s feasible.
According to a study recently published in Forbes, almost half of employees claim flexibility is the number one thing they’re looking for in a job. While trust and flexibility may need to be earned at your company, one of the best non-financial ways you can reward your employees is by simply trusting them, both with their responsibilities and their time.
5. Provide a Safe, Comfortable and Fun Working Environment
According to Dr. Deepak Chopra at the University of California San Diego, businesses are wise to focus on employee happiness and comfort, because: “…if your employees are happy, then your customers are going to be happy. If your customers are happy, then your investors are going to be happy. So start with your employees first, and then everything else will fall into place.”
We agree with Dr. Chopra—happiness is key to creating a space where employees are able to be productive and efficient. While this point may seem obvious, many business owners don’t realize that safety is a key component to fostering an efficient work environment, too.
A safe work environment brings several benefits to workplace productivity that aren’t necessarily obvious. Meeting the basic need of safety fully and completely will allow your employees the cognitive space and energy to complete their jobs without stress.
When employees know that their health and safety have been carefully considered and planned for, they’re able to more easily focus on the tasks at hand. Further, safe environments become workplaces with significantly less downtime in production. All in all, safety both improves morale and keeps uptimes high—two items that are absolutely critical for efficiency.
Axcet HR Solutions: Your Partner for Employee Relations (and Beyond)
To operate at their most efficient levels, small businesses need the help of Human Resources experts. When you partner with Axcet HR Solutions, you can outsource key HR functions (like employee relations and comprehensive workplace safety assessments) to a team of experienced professionals.