12 Things That Decrease Workplace Productivity

Posted by Guest on April 25, 2018

As is so often the case, there are far more ways to get things wrong than to get them right. This is true in love, life and work. The thing is, if you’re not alert to the ways that workplace productivity is being undermined then you might well be pursuing some practices in your company that end up undermining productivity.

Similarly, you might simply not be aware that some of the practices that your company has are actually bad for how productive people can be.

For that reason, let’s look at 12 things that undermine productivity and some quick-fixes that can quickly turn things around.

1. Lack of meaning

You can be forgiven for thinking that meaning shouldn’t matter much to people. I mean, for two centuries during the industrial revolution owners of factories cared little for how meaningful screwing in screws or attaching wires was and yet they led to the greatest productivity boost in history.

But of course, now we live in different times. The big gains of automation have already been earned.

Now we have to focus on bringing back on making people feel like they are a part of something. There are many ways to do so, but one of the most effective has to be to give them back control. By giving them the feeling that it’s about more than following orders and that they’re input is respected, you can change them from people who see your company as a daily interruption to their free time into something they actually want to go to.

Introverts can’t get away from the noise

For the longest time now open office plans have been touted as the way for companies to work. And for some people they are indeed brilliant. But not for all of us. Some of us introverted types can get incredibly stressed out by constantly being surrounded by noise and people. So, give them the opportunity to get away.

You can create booths where people can retreat to. Or create a silent space where people can’t talk or answer their phone (and include an ‘speak out to preserve your silence’ sign, where people are encouraged to speak up when people break the rules). Or, if those aren’t options, make sure there are noise cancelling headphones available.

2. Bad managers

Though good bosses are not why we stay, bad bosses are why most of us leave. So, make sure that you either retrain or retrench the bad managers. The first step to doing so is finding out which managers are actually bad.

There are several ways to find this out. The survey is obviously the best idea, though it obviously has to be anonymous. Note that bad bosses will often find ways to make it clear to employees that they will find out what negative feedback they’re giving. So you’ll want to counteract that. Just as effective is to walk around and take note of where people look the least happy. Track that for a few weeks in a notebook and you might well find patterns that you can then act upon.

3. Poor fitness

Not being in good shape hurts your company in many different ways. For one thing, the more unfit your workforce is, the more trouble they will with concentration, memory and staying on the ball the entire time they’re at the office. Just as problematic is that people who are in bad shape get sick more often. And sick days hit productivity.

The best way to help fight these problems is to install a gym in the office. Of course, that might not be possible. It might be too expensive or there might be no space. An alternative is to simply approach a gym close by and see about getting membership for everybody. If there is no gym around, encourage everyone to take a walk once a day. Already 20min can help refresh the mind and increase overall fitness. 

Workplace Productivity
Taking walks can improve overall fitness and workplace productivity.

4. Poor food choices

We are what we eat and if we eat a lot of processed foods and similarly bad choices we suffer serious peaks and dales in our productivity and our output. A much better choice is therefore to make sure our employees eat well. There are a lot of ways to do so. The easiest is probably to find out where there are healthy food options nearby and who delivers them and making employees aware of them.

Getting flyers from healthy places and putting them in the break rooms will give people the chance to leaf through them in their time off and will lead to healthier habits.

5. Poor health insurance

The worse our health insurance is, the longer we will wait to go to the doctor with problems that we have. That means that molehills can turn into mountains and put an employee out of business for days and even weeks.

6. No community

Another holdover from the industrial age is this idea that we can just sit there and do our work, without breaks, socializing or contact. The thing is, for most of us that isn’t true. More tellingly, if we don’t get space to socialize with our colleagues, then we don’t feel interconnected. And that makes it far easier for us to move on. And as turnover hurts productivity, you want to avoid that.

Workplace Productivity
A strong community is important. Even at the workplace.

So, if you want to reduce turnover create opportunities for people to socialize. This means having a lounge where people can relax, as well as activities they can take part in, so that when they get back to designing ads, working for their professional writing service, or their customer service requirements, they feel motivated and positive.

7. Poor communication

Communication can really hurt your company’s ability to function. This is largely down to people working at cross purposes, or getting confused about what they’re supposed to do. Another big reason is that things that have to get done don’t – as people don’t know about the requirements.

For that reason, you have to improve your communication channels. There are many ways to do so. You can create slack channels and special message boards. And of course, you can use an email manager, like Mailbird, which will make it far more likely people will be on the ball.

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8. No opportunities to get counseling

Note that the best healthcare doesn’t just take care of the body but the mind as well. Loss, tension and anxiety can all lead problems ranging from poor health to burnouts. And so, if you’re going to explore expand your healthcare options, make sure that you also include opportunities for employees to get counselling as well. 

9. Sick building syndrome

Some buildings aren’t designed very well and in the process undermine the productivity of the employees. Sick building syndrome was identified about ten years ago, but many companies have been slow to catch on.

The idea is that there might be poor air filtration, not enough light or even harmful chemicals like lead (in for example old paint) which are present in the environment.

So if people are suffering from unexplained syndromes, make sure you get somebody to come in and find out if it isn’t the building that’s responsible.

10. Poor lighting

Poor lighting can strain the eyes and tire the brain. So why not do something about it? The best way to do so is to borrow a light meter and make sure that where people are working are well lit enough.

Then you can install lights where necessary. If possible, introduce more natural light, as this has numerous health benefits as well. 

11. No green

Green is good for us. There is research that shows that in neighborhoods with more green people get sick less often. Similarly, having green in the office has been shown to boost productivity and job satisfaction immensely.

workplace productivity
Plants in the office have proven to impact positively on workplace productivity.

The color green is already a good start. Plants are an even better bet. Of course, if you are going to have plants do make sure that somebody is responsible for watering them. Dead plants don’t work half as well. 

12. Substandard furniture

We’ve all been there, back pains from bad sitting positions, sore necks from being bent over our terminals and wooden bums from crappy chairs.

The best way to deal with it? Ask people if they’re happy with their furniture and what they would replace if they could. Perhaps they’d like to work at standing desks. Perhaps they would like the option to sit on a couch instead of always at their table.

Final thoughts 

The truth is that bad is stronger than good. Something that undermines productivity can undo all your good work in other areas. For that reason, always be on the look out for productivity undermining effects, like the ones I’ve listed above. Also, give your employees a chance to give you feedback about what they are struggling with most. Then, you can know where to take action.

About the Author:

James Daily is a professional writer, content manager, and blogger at Flash Essay. He counts astronomy, psychology, and cinema among his myriad interests.


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