A typical office doesn’t run anywhere near as efficiently as it could. Of course, employees aren’t going to be as productive as they can be at all times, but there are quite a few common productivity sinkholes that slow down businesses and result in cashflow leaks that, when considered as a whole, can be a sizeable sum. Fixing these sinkholes is a key part of a better office. Here are the productivity sinkholes found in many offices and how an HR department can correct them.
1. Personal Mobile Use
When CareerBuilder ranked its top 10 biggest workplace distractions, personal cell phone use was right at the top, as it was an issue named by 50 percent of all respondents. With cell phones becoming more advanced, people are glued to them more and more often, whether it’s to check their social media accounts, text their friends, play games, or send emails. Only a relatively small number of employers prohibit personal cell phone use – approximately 25 percent of companies have made the ban. If cell phone use is an issue at the office, prohibiting it may be the way to go, or a supervisor can talk to individual employees about excessive cell phone use if necessary. The problem is that cell phone use can be difficult to catch because it’s often something employees do quickly from time to time, which is why a blanket “no personal cell phone use” policy can be the best deterrent.
2. Checking Social Media
Between Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, there are more ways than ever for people to connect with people online. Personal cell phone use and social media often go hand in hand, since mobile apps are the most popular way to access those social media networks. Keeping employees off their cell phones is one way to cut down on how often they check their social media accounts. It’s obviously also possible for employees to log in to their social media accounts on their computers. Employers may want to block specific websites so that employees can’t access them, or monitor internet use and talk to employees who are spending excessive amounts of time on sites that aren’t related to work.
3. Poor Company Culture
If a company hasn’t established a culture focusing on being as productive as possible, then employees aren’t going to make that a focus, either. In fact, 14 percent of the respondents in one survey felt that their company cultures were having a negative effect on how productive employees were. It’s important to remember that company culture starts at the top. The leaders should have positive attitudes and a commitment to moving forward and getting as much done as possible. Managers with an infectious appetite for success and hard work will motivate their team to be the same. Another good idea is setting goals for each team. This could be generating more revenue or getting a task done more quickly. HR software can track each team’s progress towards its goals and make sure that teams receive recognition when they do reach these goals.
4. No Privacy in the Office
The open office style has become a popular option in recent years since it’s believed to foster communication between employees and promote more teamwork. It all sounds good in theory, but in practice it often has negative effects on employees. One study found that when employees had private workspaces, they were 1.4 times as engaged at their jobs. Another found that the closer employee workstations were to each other, the more employees affected each other – good and bad. That’s positive news for an office full of employees with strong work ethic, but all it takes is one employee with a poor attitude to negatively influence those near him. Keeping workstations close together has its benefits, but keep in mind that those with high workloads might prosper from a quiet space in the office.
5. Sleep Deprivation
This is one for home and work! Lack of sleep is always a problem when it comes to getting work done. Employees who are sleep deprived are less efficient, but when people are busy, sleep is often the first thing that they cut from their schedule. Even cutting sleep by just an hour can have negative health effects and have a ripple effect on their productivity. It's impossible for supervisors to ensure that employees are getting sufficient sleep, but the HR department can educate employees on the importance of getting enough sleep every night. Providing a quiet area for employees to grab a quick nap is something more companies are investing in.
6. Checking Emails Too Often
This is one of those problems that people often fail to notice, because checking work emails is an important task. The problem is that employees can check emails too often, to the point where it becomes a distraction instead of a necessary part of the day. Employees feel like they’re working when they’re checking emails, but often, they’re just interrupting themselves from whatever more important task they were working on at the time. One survey found that emails were costing business owners 25 percent of the day. Although this issue can be difficult to fix, HR software with tools that track time spent on a computer can help. This type of software could be installed on every workstation so that employees can monitor the amount of time they spend on important tasks compared to how much time they spend on distractions. When it comes to making an office more productive, it’s best to start with one or two issues first instead of trying to change everything right away. Setting the right company culture is a good starting point, although the best place to start will depend on the business and its most prominent issues. After a change has set in, then it’s time to see if there are other areas that can be improved. Making adjustments wherever it’s necessary can result in a much more engaged workforce and a much more productive office.
7. Get Automating
Automation is the name of the game. If you’re really serious about cutting down on your productivity sinkholes, a HRMS or HR software is for you. With it, you’ll be able to track features like time-management (are your employees taking longer than necessary breaks?), piece together data on when lulls in productivity are, and act accordingly.