9 Ways to Increase Efficiency at Work

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As 2022 begins to draw to a close, it is an opportunity for senior managers and leaders to look back over the year that has almost passed. Around this time of year, there should be consideration given to what success has been achieved and where there is room for improvement. 2022 has been a year characterized by uncertainty and challenges in the business world. Whilst the restrictions and challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic have passed in most countries, new challenges have emerged. Today, rising levels of inflation are affecting many countries around the world. With rising inflation comes a reduction in consumer spending power, which can result in lower sales revenues for non-essential products. In addition, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine has led to uncertainty and increased volatility in the global stock markets, which can have a direct impact on a wide range of businesses. There is now a greater need for all businesses to improve their levels of efficiency to remain competitive in an increasingly challenging trading environment. This article explains nine ways in which a wide range of businesses can improve efficiency in the workplace.

 

1. Offer Comprehensive Training Solutions

A highly trained and knowledgeable workforce can use their learning and expertise to work more efficiently and productively. There is a range of training programs that can help to shape businesses into more efficient organizations, which will be of significant benefit to senior staff. One such program is the scaled agile framework, which can be an effective way to transform organizations into leaner and more efficient concerns. Businesses should search out companies that are a scaled agile partner and offer this training to key staff so that efficiency projects can be undertaken across an organization. In addition to this form of efficiency qualification, a wide range of other courses should be offered to staff members that allow them to improve their skill sets and leverage new knowledge to help drive improved ways of working.

 

2. Set Achievable Goals

It is of paramount importance that any business sets goals throughout the year. These goals can be used to shape the future direction of an organization and can be an integral part of improving efficiencies in working practices across a business. However, it is important to remember that these goals should be achievable. Vague or overly ambitious goals that are difficult to understand or achieve will result in time wasted and the potential to demoralize staff when project failures occur. It is far better for any business to work towards a range of short, medium, and long-term goals that have clear and well-understood paths to completion. Many organizations use the SMART system of goal setting to achieve these. Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. By following the SMART framework, the likelihood of successful goals being achieved can be improved and these can lead to direct efficiency improvements.

 

3. Hold “Stand-Up” Meetings

Millions of employees will have vivid memories of attending meetings that seemed to last for hours and had a distinct lack of direction and meaning. Over time, when employees attend such meetings, they can feel like a complete waste of time and may contribute to reduced motivation of the workforce. This, in turn, can lead to lower levels of efficiency in the workplace as demoralization sets in. Whilst some meetings are essential for the dissemination of thoughts, strategies, and ideas, it is recognized in business that shorter-duration meetings can be a more efficient use of time. One way to reduce the length of meetings is to organize stand-up meetings. As the name suggests, all staff should be standing when the meeting is in progress. This small change can have a dramatic effect on the overall duration of any meeting and can encourage agenda items to be worked through efficiently without getting side-tracked into general discussions. See here for more of the efficiency benefits that can be gained from holding stand-up meetings.

 

4. Eliminate Non-Essential Meetings

Continuing the theme of meetings and their impact on organizational efficiency, it is important to consider that many meetings are not strictly essential. Staff and managers will have experience of attending meetings that served no distinct purpose and were a waste of time that could have been spent more effectively on tasks and projects. Senior managers should look at the weekly meeting schedules and decide whether they are all essential. For meetings that are simply used as venues to disseminate corporate information, a weekly corporate email could suffice. This still results in the exchange of information but does not require hours to be lost that could be used more effectively elsewhere. In the case of non-essential meetings that do require input or the views of key staff members, emails can still be a valid way to get feedback. Emails can be programmed to include voting buttons for all staff included in the message. The staff member then simply reads the information and uses their knowledge to make an appropriate “yes” or “no” vote. For more details on how to set up voting buttons in Microsoft outlook see here.

 

5. Encourage Regular Breaks

It is also vitally important to recognize the benefits that can come from having regular breaks from work across the day. Whilst taking breaks may sound counterintuitive in the drive for increased efficiency in the workplace, they are proven to improve both the quality and pace of completing tasks. Employers should recognize that the human brain can focus for a maximum of two hours at a time. After this point, concentration is markedly reduced and working performance can suffer. Some employees may not be able to focus for this amount of time and still work effectively. It is, therefore, vital to allow employees a short break every hour so that their concentration levels can remain at optimum levels throughout the working day. Staff who undertake repetitive tasks in an office environment, such as data entry or statistical analysis work, may benefit from regular breaks. This may also reduce the likelihood of errors, which need time to spot and rectify. In short, by offering your staff regular breaks from their screens you will allow them to work more efficiently over longer periods.

 

6. De-Clutter the Working Environment

Any staff member who has had to work in a cramped or cluttered environment will know that this can make concentration and focus harder to achieve. As a result, tasks may take longer to complete, and the quality of the work may suffer. Conversely, a working environment that is spacious and free of general clutter can help staff to focus much more effectively on the tasks at hand. Many staff like to work with some personal items, such as family photos on their desks, and this is fine. However, working areas that are extremely cluttered with random items and equipment should be discouraged.

 

7. Reward Success

In an organization that seeks to gain a high output and quality of work from its employees, motivation levels can be a key factor in achieving this. One way to effectively encourage hard work and high-quality output are by recognizing and rewarding success in the workplace. By doing this, an organization is demonstrating the value that it puts on high-quality work, and it can inspire the whole workforce to “go the extra mile” in all their tasks and projects. Common ways to reward success in the workplace include holding an annual staff awards ceremony. Such events can include prizes and recognition for employees who have delivered outstanding results on various projects or who have continued to produce exceptional quality work on a long-term basis. Put simply, award ceremonies can be a key part of driving efficiency across an organization, as they motivate employees to give their best and inspire others to reach the high standards achieved by current winners.

 

8. Offer Paths to Progression

Many employees seek progression as part of their overall career goals. This is especially true of the millennial generation who tend to subscribe to the philosophy of lifelong learning and want their careers to develop as they learn new skills and knowledge. By offering in-house routes to career advancement in a company, you will also be helping to retain key staff members who have a highly developed industry-specific knowledge base. Offering more senior roles with improved remuneration to staff will encourage them to spend their whole careers at the organization. This allows the company to keep a highly developed knowledge base in its employees and reduces recruitment costs which can save a company money.

 

9. Listen to Staff Feedback

As a final point, it is vitally important for any organization to listen to its staff if it seeks to gain from improvements in efficiency and more effective working practices. Staff members have a wide range of company-specific knowledge and will use this every day in their work. Over time, they may notice ways in which their knowledge can improve the efficiency of certain tasks or activities. Companies should welcome these insights by offering a range of ways to disseminate these ideas. Staff suggestion boxes are a traditional way of achieving this, but more modern methods could include having a dedicated email address for ideas for improvement and efficiency gains that are regularly monitored by senior staff. 

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