‘Productivity’ has become one of those in vogue and arguably overused business buzzwords that gets bandied about a lot in business circles, in business literature, and at business networking events.
But don’t let that take the shine off of the importance of productivity when it comes to your small business. Why? Well because a very valid argument can be made that productivity and efficiency is more critical for small businesses than it is for most other types of businesses that will likely have more resources at their disposal.
The way we work has also been shaken up in recent years and entire teams are no longer meeting face to face in the office five days a week to collaborate in person. Many small business owners and their teams have adapted to new ways of working, which has made many of us more productive with our time due to convenience and spending less time commuting.
However, small business owners would do well to continue emphasising the importance of productivity to their team members. So let’s look at a few surefire business productivity tips and tricks that small business owners can revisit, or explore for the first time, and share with their staff, whether they are working on site or at home.
1. Set realistic goals through accountability
Productivity is the measure of how well time is spent. To increase productivity it’s not about simply working more hours. Rather, it’s about how much you accomplish in the hours you do work. As a small business owner, giving your employees clear daily targets and goals that are realistic and achievable will help improve morale. And when your staff are feeling more positive about the work they’re doing, their productivity will naturally increase.
Also, people tend to work more efficiently when they’re focused on a clear and predetermined objective and are given clear and achievable deadlines. To implement such deadlines, break each task down into easily digestible subgoals by working backwards.
Determine the outcome that you want your staff to achieve, then work backwards. In doing this you are effectively reverse-engineering the process so that you can provide a series of outcomes. Repeat this goal-oriented process for each day of the week or stretch it out to a monthly basis if it involves longer-term goals.
Doing so will help you develop clear-cut guidelines and expectations for yourself and for your employees. And as an added benefit, as a small business owner this process will help familiarise you with the nuts and bolts of the day to day work your team members deliver for your business.
2. Take advantage of communication and collaboration tools
The key to productivity and increasing efficiency in a business is finding more efficient ways to work without compromising on the quality of the work. This applies equally to manufacturing a blue-collar product in a factory as it does to providing a professional white-collar service such as legal advice or accounting services.
It also applies to how your team communicates and collaborates, whether while on site at your business premises or when working remotely from home, or when interstate. A great way to manage your team and your workflow processes is by embracing the latest business tools and innovations that are designed to increase efficiency and make collaboration easier.
In recent years a whole suite of innovative business software solutions and apps have been developed to enable easy collaboration and communication for businesses. Products such as Trello, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Slack, Monday, Evernote, and Google Drive are great tools for communicating and collaborating for small businesses and their staff. So they’re worth looking into if your business doesn’t use them already and you are looking for ways to increase collaboration and efficiency in your small business.
3. Make your place of work enticing for your staff
Leading global brands such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon go to great lengths investing in making their offices places where their staff simply just want to work from and spend time in. They invest so heavily in their business premise and facilities because they know the importance of creating an attractive and positive work environment and how that directly relates to the motivation, morale, and productivity of their staff.
We’re not suggesting that small business owners install such fancy features as sleeping pods, gyms, wellness centres, bowling alleys, arcade games, and electric scooters in their workplace. But there certainly is merit in making your business premises more appealing to your staff. And doing so may not be as costly or as much of a hassle as you may think. Here are a few easy wins for making your small business offices more appealing to your staff:
- Add a table tennis table or a pool table, or both if you have the space.
- Provide breakfast options daily in your office kitchen.
- Invest in a qualify coffee machine.
- Have a beer fridge stocked and ready for Friday afternoon drinks.
- Start a lunchtime running club.
- Make a big deal of staff birthdays.
- Have a monthly company-wide BBQ or a pizza party on the last Friday of each month.
- Celebrate company wins and annual occasions. Host an annual end of financial year party and throw a company birthday on the anniversary of the day that you launched your small business.
- Host small staff events on significant annual days, like R U OK? Day (September 8), International Women’s Day (March 8), World Animal Day (October 4), and Daffodil Day (August 28), to name a few.
4. Embrace remote working
Not to contradict what we just said above about making your place of work enticing for your staff, but it’s also important to give your staff the option of remote working and working from home. Since the pandemic began, many employers and small business owners have embraced flexible working arrangements for their staff.
If your small business hasn’t already moved to flexible staff working arrangements, it’s not that hard to make the transition. The keys are to be clear regarding expectations, such as setting the days that staff will work from home and work from the office, as well as the work hours they will maintain on their work from home days. Those of us who are already working part of our working week from home will attest that our productivity on the whole has increased due to the flexibility and convenience of working from home.
Recommended reading: Working From Home – An Insider Guide by Small Businesses
5. Learn from your staff
Are you struggling to understand why certain tasks take so long to complete? Have you been looking high and low but just can’t find a problem area that can be streamlined? Well, a great way to unearth solutions to challenges in your small business is to seek the opinions of your team members.
Think about it – your employees are the ones at the coalface of your business and together they are intimately familiar with many parts of your business. So, when looking for areas where you can improve your small business processes, the best feedback may come from your staff.
When seeking their input, carefully consider how you frame your questions. For example, don’t question them on why certain tasks take the time they do. Instead, ask for their opinions on how the business may tweak processes and workflows to improve efficiency or to reduce operating costs. Engaging your team members in this way will show them that you value them and their ideas.
As you work on increasing the productivity of your small business, remember to also consider how you will protect it from risks and liabilities. A fantastic way to do that is through small business insurance*. At BizCover we’ve created a truly simple way to get your small business insurance online. Go online or give us a call 1300 920 864 to see how we can help protect your small business.