Small businesses often run with tight margins and need to ensure that they are getting as much from their staff as possible. This is productivity, and it is absolutely vital in the short and long-term success of the business. If your team is less productive than your competitors, you can fall behind in the marketplace and your business will suffer.
This puts the onus on small business leaders to ensure their team is as productive as possible. Hint: it’s not as simple as getting them to work through their lunch break.
Provide the right tools, equipment and software
Many businesses believe that a productivity problem means that staff are lazy or distracted. They think they can solve the problem by demanding more work. This is a misunderstanding of productivity. Yes, an individual member can become more productive, but business productivity is affected more by how effectively they work.
Typically, the way to improve productivity is to provide staff with better tools, equipment and software. A computer can only work as hard as its processor will allow – the same is true of an employee. Without the right tools, they are limited in what they can achieve.
Invest in the training staff actually want
It is also important to provide staff with the right level of training. Investing in education and providing members of your team with extra skills can be a huge positive for productivity across the company.
Training can take many different forms. It can be a great idea to spend time talking to your staff to understand exactly what kind of training would make their job easier. This can make a big difference to productivity.
Get the temperature right
The temperature can actually make a big difference to productivity. According to research, productivity increases in an office environment up to 71.6F (22C), but as soon as the temperature reaches 73.4F (23C), productivity flattens.
Many businesses choose to have air conditioning systems installed in the office to give a boost to productivity. They may be expensive for a small business, but the gains can be worthwhile.
Portable air conditioning units can be a good choice if you are looking for a more cost-effective solution. These can typically reduce the room temperature by approximately 4 degrees Celsius while costing significantly less than an installed system. They also offer greater flexibility, as they can be moved between rooms as necessary.
Allow flexible working
Another common misconception is that you should implement strict office hours and have staff be on premises at all times. Unfortunately, while this is common in businesses everywhere, it is not particularly effective.
Studies overwhelming show that flexible working improves productivity. In the technology sector, 89% of staff say that flexible working motivates them to be more productive. Of course, it is important that staff need to work their hours. But there is no real benefit in forcing them to be in the office or premises throughout that time.
Naturally, in some cases it is unavoidable, but being flexible can have a large positive effect on productivity.
Think about culture when recruiting
When small businesses recruit, they can often be dazzled by the employment history and skills of an individual, and this can leave them blind to the fact that this person might not be a great fit for the organisation. Having great members of the team is important – but even more vital is a strong team atmosphere with everyone getting on.
This is especially true in a small business environment where the team may be relatively small. Ensure that you think closely about the business culture and how a new recruit is going to fit in when you make your appointments.