Today, savvy companies pay careful attention to improving the productivity levels of their workforce. All businesses strive to create an atmosphere where their workers can be highly productive. It can be even harder to keep your people engaged and productive when they are hourly employees. Even though they are uniquely challenging, you can still use some universal rules in order to improve their productivity.
Actually, one of the main reasons why employees find it difficult to maintain solid levels of productivity is the famous time waster called “multitasking.” As we all know, this modern work “disease” became so popular because of the fact that high-level managers push as much work as possible to their teams, thinking that doing more stuff means you can get more done. This is totally wrong. Indeed, multitasking often leads to unreasonable workload, which is one of the main reasons why occupational burnouts occur. In fact, 95% of the world’s HR leaders say that burnouts are sabotaging their workforce. When dealing with hourly workers, it is even more challenging to maintain high levels of engagement.
So what do we do about it?
Focus on single-tasking
This may sound pretty simple, but simple solutions are most effective. If you stay focused and do one thing at a time, you can actually complete more tasks in a given period of time, than if you were multitasking. So in order to keep employees productive, you can put “work in progress” limits, which literally means that a task should be finished before the next one is being started. This is one of the main practices of the famous kanban system invented by Toyota.
Multitasking is actually just task-switching. Moving back and forth between tasks will only slow down productivity and it takes more time to complete work items. According to a Stanford University research, when you try to do two things simultaneously, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.
So, keep things simple and focus on single-tasking.
Cut wasteful meetings
When I think of meetings, I imagine a bunch of people discussing different topics for countless hours. I have always asked myself “Why the heck do we waste so much time in meetings instead of doing actual work?” Countless meetings dramatically decrease overall productivity.
Meetings need to be used only for discussing further steps and emerging problems, but not for debating well-known facts or chatting. In fact, 59% of US workers state that wasteful meetings are the biggest obstacle to better productivity.
You can try to hold daily stand-up meetings. Short sessions (no more than 15 minutes) in the beginning of the day or a shift, where all team members shortly discuss achievements, what they plan to do, and possible obstacles. This practice really helps all team members get on the same page and stay accountable.
Encourage proactive communication
Communication is crucial for successful teams. Making assumptions can be devastating. Assumptions create confusion. Encourage all employees to communicate proactively. Nobody needs to wait until the next meeting or the right moment in order to share something that may be essential for work progress. I am not saying that workers have to interrupt each other all the time, but they have to feel free to raise concerns if and when they come up.
A good option to improve the flow of information is to incorporate an online collaboration tool. There are many solutions on the market, so if your business environment allows it, do not hesitate to implement one. Just make sure that all employees have a clear understanding that they don’t have to interrupt their colleagues constantly. Too many distractions and frequent context switching leads to low productivity. So, find the balance.
Create smaller teams
It is easier to manage small teams in order to keep them engaged and productive. There have been a few studies which try to find the optimal size of productive teams, and most of them concluded that the magical number is 10 or less. The authors of “Teams that Succeed” (Harvard Business Review) go even lower and state that best performing teams consist of no more than seven members.
Breaking down huge groups into smaller teams will help you increase overall productivity. Fewer people means flexibility and velocity. Think of it from this point of view: if you have a team of five people you have five opinions (problems, issues, etc.), but if you have a team of 25 people…
Additionally, you can put leads in charge of the different teams and let others see that there are opportunities to grow. This will keep the team highly motivated and productive. Plus, some healthy competition is never a bad idea.
What is the bottom line?
It is not easy to keep your team on the right track of productivity. Especially, when it comes to hourly employees. However, using some simple tricks can make it much easier for you to build highly motivated teams with ground-breaking levels of productivity. So start putting these tips to use now and see if they can help your team have the most productive year yet.
This article features the writing of:
Author Name: Pavel Naydenov
Bio: Pavel is a digital marketing expert at Kanbanize. Kanbanize is a modern Kanban software solution that helps teams increase their productivity and efficiency. Previously, Pavel worked at Nestle, AWMedia and others where he found his passion for online marketing. Currently, he authors in-depth articles in various topics, leads link-building projects and PPC campaigns. He is a big fan of cooking and rock music.