As a small business owner, you know from experience that employee productivity is largely based on the level of employee satisfaction in your organization. At the same time, you realize you don't have the unlimited budget of enterprise corporations nor the human resources department those companies have. However, there are some simple methods and tactics you can use to help employees get more job satisfaction and, as a result, increased employee productivity.
There are a number of challenges to overcome in the process:
- Lack of caring: Employees may not care that much about increased engagement or about learning techniques to do their jobs better.
- Fear of failure: Certain employees fear failure because they don't understand the role it plays in success. They avoid taking on projects where they may fail rather than deal with how others may think of them.
- Poor training: Sometimes, employees aren't motivated to increase productivity because they're not aware of techniques that allow them to do so. Proper training and encouragement are vital to improvement in this area.
It's vital that you improve relationships between leadership and employees. Talented employees are one of your biggest assets. You've put a lot of time into their hiring, training and development. When you demonstrate appreciation and respect, you will get more productivity over a longer period of time.
You can use various techniques to help employees build better relationships with each other. Sometimes it comes down to basic office etiquette, including:
- Communication style: Every employee communicates differently. Some prefer email, while others like the phone, and still others prefer you visit them in their offices. Try to get your team members to work with each person's preferred mode of communication.
- Respect people's time: In today's market, employees are doing more with less than ever before. By respecting the time of fellow employees, they demonstrate they value each other's work and input.
- Quit complaining: Employees should feel they have open channels to you and other company leaders to air complaints. Otherwise, they tend to get together for mutual gripe sessions. Show you understand people will always have different opinions about how things are done, but reiterate that you prefer they come to you when they are not happy with people, procedures or policies.
- New employee onboarding: An easy way to help improve communication and collaboration between employees is to make new employees feel welcome. Prepare an organized, thorough onboarding process that gives them the tools and resources they need to fit into the group and show positive performance right away.
Certain projects require the contribution of diverse, talented specialists from multiple departments. Their expertise and strong opinions are key to getting things done. However, those same characteristics sometimes make it difficult to make progress on a project. Today's fast-moving business environment demands the input and talents of people from different disciplines, backgrounds and viewpoints. You can reduce tension and conflict between personalities and departments by discussing the importance of collaboration and designing work flows that improve teamwork, communication and sharing.
Signs of Low Morale
There are several signs morale is low and employee relationships are strained:
- High turnover: Significant numbers of people are leaving your company faster than before.
- Lack of initiative: Employees rarely come up with ideas to improve products, services or processes.
- Lack of teamwork: Employees refrain from working together, sharing ideas and helping each other.
- Lack of friendly interactions: Employees rarely interact, and when they do, it is abrupt and curt.
Teamwork Is Vital
Teamwork is a vital ingredient in employee productivity. Projects often require the contribution of workers in different areas of responsibility. Positive teamwork engenders a sense of belonging and accomplishment. On the other hand, a negative experience causes anxiety and resentment.
Set Ground Rules
By setting ground rules and guidelines, you greatly improve the chances of positive teamwork outcomes in your organization. Remind team members about the importance of active listening, clear goals and constant feedback. They should ask questions when things aren't understandable, and trust that they will not be penalized for doing so.
Give your employees the power to make decisions. You spent a lot of time and money finding the right person for each slot on your organizational chart. Don't short circuit your efforts by second-guessing their decisions. Give them the resources and responsibility to decide the best course of action in their departments. Ask them how you can help them reach their objectives. By providing support and encouragement, you'll find they respond with enthusiasm, commitment and drive. The relationships between employees will improve, as will the relationships between employees and customers.
At the end of the day, improving employee relationships hinges on a relentless focus on communication, encouragement, leadership and follow-through. By showing your employees that you are committed to keeping lines of communication open and that you support and trust them in their areas of responsibility, you have done the majority of work needed to create a highly productive workforce.
Follow up on your original initiatives, constantly tweaking and adjusting your approach as you go. Over time, you'll develop your internal communication channels and work processes into a fine-tuned machine. Employees will feel happier about their roles in the organization, leading to increased productivity, higher profits and more satisfied customers.