Employee performance is not only crucial to your company’s success, it’s also something you can proactively improve. Yes, employees are ultimately responsible for getting their jobs done. But if you’re concerned about business growth, you need to be thinking about employee productivity at the organizational level.
As you build out your business strategy this year, and in years to come, include ways to improve work performance under one of your big “to-do” items. To create progress, you need to know what improvement looks like and how to motivate and enable the change you want to see in your organization.
In this article, we’ll go over tried-and-true tips to help you get started.
7 ways to improve work performance
Improving employee performance has always been a major concern of managers and corporate trainers.
Unfortunately, not all 20th-century productivity recipes have aged well. Today’s organizations have access to data and resources with the potential to drive improvement—if they only know how to use them.
It can be tricky to know where to start though. So, here’s a list of seven ways you can work to improve employee performance in your 21st-century workspace.
1. Measure current performance
Begin by measuring your current productivity levels. You can’t really understand what improvement looks like if you don’t know what you’re trying to improve.
Measuring productivity is pretty straightforward if your business produces physical goods by the unit (for instance, a factory that makes tires, a bakery, etc.). You calculate the units produced per day, as well as the cost per unit produced, and that’s it.
But if your business is more abstract, like hospitality, healthcare, construction, or aviation, you need to determine and track metrics relevant to its operation (for example, the number of customers served).
You’ll have to be thoughtful about the metrics that apply to your business and which are measures of real success. Here are some ideas for how to get the most out of your analysis:
- Break down your metrics. For deeper insight, try tracking metrics by product, market, office, department, or even per individual employee.
- Analyze regularly. Instead of a one-off analysis, revisit your metrics (whether that’s checking in with leadership or comparing financial data) frequently. Seeing work performance results over time will give you an idea of how things are progressing and show you real areas for concern.
- Automate measurement. Be more thorough and efficient by automating measurement and analysis. For example, import your data into a business intelligence platform. This is software specifically designed to gather your data and organize it for you. You can generate reports and even create visuals of results so you can see trends over time or across departments.
Looking at the right metrics and understanding the data you collect will help you pinpoint areas to improve work performance.
2. Set clear goals
If you’re serious about improving work performance, you need to clarify what “improvement” looks like. Set goals that align with your company’s mission and that will impact productivity.
These goals, also called key performance indicators (KPIs), will help employees understand their responsibilities and how their work fits into your company’s mission. They’ll be standards you can measure against to see where improvement is happening.
To ensure your goals are helpful, make sure they’re SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. For instance, if you’re trying to improve sales by building better customer relationships, you might set a customer service goal like, “Improve customer satisfaction scores by 25% in the first quarter of this year.”
3. Iterate and improve on your workflows
The workflows that once worked for your business might be dragging you down today.
Perhaps the equipment you use is now obsolete and you need to invest in newer tech to keep up with competitors. Or, maybe a production technique is no longer efficient and you need to update it.
Whatever the case, be flexible and make changes as needed to stay relevant in your industry by doing the following:
- Watch industry trends and competitors. Keep a close watch on the developments in your industry and check what your competitors are doing. Be aware of changes that would benefit your workflows and business processes.
- Test out changes before going all in. You don’t have to risk it all by adopting unproven new workflows wholesale. Instead, apply them partially (maybe only at a subset of your facilities, or just for a small production run). Then compare the results with those of your existing practices.
4. Outsource non-essential workflows
Often, the best way to improve work performance is to outsource part of your work to specialized third parties. Outsourcing makes you more agile by giving you more options. It also reduces your costs and streamlines your operations.
If you want to be successful in your outsourcing:
- Focus on your core competencies. Keep the tasks that are essential for your business under your control while outsourcing anything that’s secondary. A publishing house, for example, needs editors, proofreaders, typesetters, designers, and marketing executives to operate. But it can offload the actual printing to a book printing service. This way it avoids the equipment, office space, maintenance, and administrative costs associated with running its own press.
- Pick the right partners. Outsourcing lets you pick the best, fastest, or cheapest provider of a particular service. This enables you to respond faster to business peaks and changing market conditions.
Outsourcing non-essential workflows lets you use resources where they matter: in the areas that set you apart from the competition.
5. Ask for feedback
If you’re serious about finding ways to improve work performance, why not ask employees directly? They’ll be familiar with long-standing problems or bottlenecks in the company’s workflows, and some of them will even have suggestions on how to fix them.
And the good news is, there are only two steps needed for successfully using feedback:
- Step 1: Ask. Find out what’s going well and what could use improvement in regular employee performance reviews. Or, if you think people might be hesitant to speak up, run anonymous surveys. You can be old-school and set up a suggestion box, or use online polls or surveys.
- Step 2: Act. Once you compile the results, act on them. Pay attention to multiple comments around the same pain points or one-off observations from employees with a unique perspective. Prioritize issues that affect the most employees and problems that can be easily fixed with minimal disruption and cost.
6. Train your employees
Developing your employees’ skills is one of the top ways to improve work performance. When people have the skills and knowledge to do their jobs, they’ll be more confident, and productivity will increase.
Fortunately, setting up an employee training program is not as complicated or as expensive as it used to be. An online learning platform has all the tools you need to build, roll out, and manage employee training.
Here are a few tips for offering effective training:
- Involve leadership in your planning. To come up with the right training plan, take a look at your current needs and your future goals. You’ll get good insights into both by involving C-level executives and team leaders across departments in your discussion.
- Use training metrics to see where employees stand. Tests, quizzes, surveys, and reporting will help you see where employees stand. If you identify knowledge or skills gaps, adjust your training or add courses to help employees catch up.
- Look beyond technical skills. Productivity is dependent on soft skills as well as technical know-how. Make sure your training strategy covers both. Include courses on topics like leadership, teamwork, project management, and prioritizing that will help people work better together.
- Build a culture of learning. Foster a learning culture in your workplace. A company-wide subscription to a corporate eLearning library, for example, will give employees the ability to choose their learning paths and study on their own. Throw in some motivational rewards (special bonuses, career advancement opportunities, etc.), and you’ll have employees competing to develop their skills.
7. Focus on wellbeing
Employees perform better when they’re satisfied with their jobs and they feel valued. You can improve work performance by emphasizing wellbeing along with productivity.
Help prevent burnout by ensuring leaders don’t demand excessive hours or by monitoring workloads. And help employees take care of themselves by offering training focused on wellbeing. For example, offer courses on topics like how to cope with stress, mindfulness, or time management.
Invest in your company’s health by improving work performance
The above employee performance improvement suggestions are starting points in your journey. But improving work performance is more important to your company than just boosting key numbers.
When employees are productive and engaged, they’re more likely to hit the goals you set for them and they’re happier in their jobs. That means your company moves toward achieving its mission. It also means less employee turnover over time.
Investing in employee productivity now will help create a good foundation for your business’s overall success.
Originally published on: 24 Sep 2018