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13 Things That Decrease Productivity in the Workplace

13 Things That Decrease Productivity in the Workplace
13 Things That Decrease Productivity in the Workplace

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. However, if you're not alert to the ways in which workplace productivity can be undermined, you may be pursuing some practices in your company that decrease productivity.

Similarly, you may not be aware that some of your company's practices are bad for employee productivity.

Therefore, let's look at 13 factors that lower productivity and some quick fixes that can turn things around in your office space.

13 Causes for Busted Productivity

There are many elements that can affect someone's individual productivity results. However, here you'll find the more universal causes that commonly affect employees' output.

1. Lack of Meaning

You can be forgiven for thinking that meaning shouldn't matter much. For two centuries during the industrial revolution, factory owners cared little for how meaningful screwing in screws or attaching wires was, yet they created the greatest productivity boost in history.

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

So, now we need to focus on bringing back the concept of making people feel 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 their input is respected, you can change them from people who see your company as a daily interruption of their free time into people who see their workplace as somewhere they want to go.

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

There are effective ways to identify a drop in productivity at work and counter it. You can create booths to which employees can retreat or a silent space where people cannot talk or answer their phones (and include a "speak out to preserve your silence" sign, so people are encouraged to speak up when others break the rules). If those aren't viable options, try offering noise-cancelling headphones.

2. Bad Managers

Though good bosses are not why we stay, bad bosses are why most of us leave. So, retrain or retrench the poor management, and the first step is to find them.

There are several ways to do this. A survey is the best idea, though it has to be anonymous. Note that bad bosses will often find ways to make it clear to the team that they will find out about negative feedback. 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 find patterns you can then act upon.

3. Poor Fitness

Your staff not being in good shape hurts your company in many ways. For one thing, the more unfit your workforce is, the more trouble they will have 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 can lower productivity.

The best way to 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 not be any space. An alternative is to approach a gym close by and see about getting a membership for everybody. If there is no gym nearby, encourage everyone to take a walk once a day. A 20-minute walk can refresh the mind and increase overall fitness.

Taking regular breaks can counter decreased productivity
Taking regular breaks can counter decreased productivity

4. Poor Food Choices

We are what we eat, and if we eat a lot of processed foods and make unhealthy choices, it can affect productivity and our output. A much better choice is to motivate your employees to 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, and make employees aware of them.

Getting flyers from healthy restaurants 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.

Even you can design a flyer with healthy foods & health best practices content using an online flyer maker, get them printed, and place them near the cafe & lunch area.

5. Poor Health Insurance

The worse our health insurance is, the longer we will wait to go to the doctor with problems. That means that molehills can turn into mountains and put an employee out of business for days and even weeks. If you offer good insurance, employees will be able to deal with health issues that could be a factor in decreasing workplace productivity.

6. Lack of community

Another holdover from the industrial age is the idea that we can just do our work, without breaks, socializing, or contact. For most of us, that isn't possible. More tellingly, if we don't have space to socialize with our colleagues, we don't feel interconnected, which can lead to low productivity, making it far easier for us to move on. Since turnover may decrease productivity, you want to avoid that.

A weak community can lead to a low productivity workplace
A weak community can lead to a low productivity 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 conducting their customer service requirements, they feel motivated and positive.

7. Poor communication

Poor communication can hurt your company's ability to function. This is largely due to people working at cross purposes or being confused about what their responsibilities are. Another big reason is that things that need to be done don't get done - because employees don't understand the requirements.

Therefore, you have to strengthen your communication channels. There are many ways to do so. You can create Slack channels and special message boards. You can use tools to let your employees help themselves with a self-service portal. And, of course, you can use an email manager, like Mailbird, which will make it far more likely for your employees to stay on the ball.

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8. No Opportunities for Counseling

Note that the best healthcare nourishes not only the body but also the mind. Loss, tension, and anxiety can all lead to problems, ranging from poor health to burnout. So, if you're going to expand your healthcare options, include opportunities for employees to receive mental health counselling as well.

9. Sick Building Syndrome

Some buildings aren't designed very well and can undermine the productivity of your employees. Sick building syndrome was identified way back in the 1980s, 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 components like lead (for example, in old paint) present in the environment.

So, if people are suffering from unexplained syndromes, have a professional come in and determine whether it's the building that's responsible.

10. Poor Lighting

Poor lighting can strain the eyes and tire the brain, which may also decrease productivity significantly. So, why not do something about it? The best option is to use a light meter to make sure work spaces are lit well enough.

Then, you can install lights where necessary. Instead of just adding more neon lights, if possible, introduce more natural light, as this has numerous health benefits as well.

11. No Greenery

Green is good for us. Research 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.

Having plants in the office can counteract decreased productivity at work
Having plants in the office can counteract decreased productivity at work

The color green is already a good start. Plants are an even better bet. Of course, if you are going to have plants, assign or hire somebody to water them. Dead plants don't work as well.

12. Sub-standard Furniture

We've all been there: back pain from poor sitting positions, sore necks from being bent over our terminals, and wooden bums from sub-standard chairs.

The best way to deal with this issue? 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 tables.

13. Lack of Recognition and Rewards

In many workplaces, employees often feel like their efforts go unnoticed. It's not a good feeling, let's be honest. That's where recognition and rewards come in. It is more than just a nice gesture. It's actually super important for keeping them motivated and engaged.

One cool way to show your appreciation is by giving out Custom Canvas Prints as rewards. These aren't your average plaques or certificates. Nope, these are personalized works of art that employees can hang up in their homes or offices.

Final Thoughts

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

About the Author:

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


What is decreased productivity?

In the workplace, it can refer to a condition in which workers who have completed their tasks efficiently in the past now struggle with doing the same work. When productivity in a workplace decreases, it can have negative impacts on the company, such as on its worker morale and profitability.

What causes poor productivity?

Here are some of the things that can cause reduced productivity in work areas. 1. Lack of worker morale 2. Having a bad boss or manager 3. Poor fitness4. Poor dietary choices 5. Poor health insurance 6. Lack of a healthy community at work7. Poor communication between workers and managers 8. Poor lighting and sub-standard furniture

Why is productivity important?

When the production process is improved, the output can go up. By increasing the input process, one can have growth in productivity. An upsurge in productivity means workers can effectively increase their output without an increment in the time and cost it takes to produce the goods or services.

How do you overcome low productivity?

You can overcome it by implementing these steps: 1. Allot a fixed time for each task. 2. Take frequent breaks. 3. Set deadlines for each errand. 4. Focus on one task at a time.5. Turn off your phone to limit distractions.6. Have plants in your workplace.